By Alison Rooney
Darren Thomas Scala is the owner of D. Thomas Fine Miniatures, which opened in October at 103 Main St. in Cold Spring.
What intrigues people about miniatures?
Most people love them but aren’t always sure what to do with them. But you don’t need a doll house to love minis. You can own a specific piece, without context, simply because you like it.
Is there a standard scale?
The 1:12 scale is the most traditional and popular. Anything can be recreated: pottery, flowers, fashion, furniture. Minis are a great way to capture a memory. For instance, a client’s husband was retiring and leaving his home office of many years to move to Florida. It was hard emotionally for him, so she arranged to have it recreated in 1:12.
How did you become interested in miniatures?
My dad was a cabinet maker who made credenzas and curio cabinets, working freehand. The smell of the wood intoxicated me. When I was 8 years old I announced I wanted a dollhouse. Although 8-year-old Brooklyn boys in the 1970s were not generally interested in dollhouses, my mom told my dad, “It doesn’t matter, you’re going to make him a dollhouse!” I developed a huge interest in miniatures from that.
Has the digital era changed the market?
There was a generation not exposed to miniatures, but I saw signs of life online. I tapped into the “makers” movement, because with miniatures, you can construct them, paint, blow glass, so many things. Now there are hot spots for miniatures, including in Japan, Spain, Russia and Poland, along with the U.S.
Why did you open your store in Cold Spring?
My retail operation was in Hastings and I was selling a lot of dollhouse items there but I wanted to reframe the story away from play and toward fine art. I looked for space in Beacon and elsewhere but my friends and I were visiting Cold Spring and happened upon The Shoppes [in the former Palen Drug Store] and all had the immediate reaction, “Here it is, the perfect place.” There happened to be an empty space, and my display cabinet fit perfectly. I knew Cold Spring because, as a child, I came from the city with my family for brunch, the antiques and experiencing all the history.