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Artist Turns Vintage Ring Boxes Into Incredibly Detailed Historical Dioramas

Larissa Harris

Artistic miniatures, also known as “painting in little,” have captivated art admirers and connoisseurs for centuries.

The minimal dimensions of each of these artworks are definitely not an obstacle to appreciate the carefully constructed assemblages which often remind viewers of their long-gone childhood days when playing dollhouses could last for hours.

These nostalgic reminiscences contribute immensely to the appreciation of miniatures and their continuous creating.

Fridas Entry Into Iguala. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Fridas Entry Into Iguala. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Truth be told, who could possibly resist the allure of cute, mini-representations of daily life? Not collectors for sure, since they’ve been prizing these artworks for over a thousand years while museums in different parts of the world have also been gathering and displaying miniature art through drawings, prints, sculptures, etc.

Deluge. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Deluge. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Among the numerous artists who create these tiny beauties, is the Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis Santiago, also known as Talwst.

Started From the Bottom Now We Here pt1. Photo Courtesy Talwst

Started From the Bottom Now We Here pt1. Photo Courtesy Talwst

According to The Guardian, in 2008 Talwst attracted the curious eye of the press with his unique creations. He used vintage ring boxes and turned them into scenes from popular world history events. Reportedly, this idea hit Talwst when a Parisian street vendor challenged him with an antique ring box.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

The vendor asked the artist if he could make something out of it, and Talwst immediately answered. He took a miniature figure and placed it inside the box which was covered with a seascape visual, so it appeared as if the figure was coming out of the sea.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

The vendor’s amazement confirmed the successful result of the challenge and, since then, Talwst has been creating dioramas of a multitude of scenes that represented notable pop-culture references as well as an ordinary life event and Talwst’s personal memories. In fact, his first ever diorama (the one with the seascape) was inspired by his own life occurrence.

Frolic. Photo Courtesy Talwst

Frolic. Photo Courtesy Talwst

Its name is “Wet Dream” and as Talwst explains, it is a “Venus-type scene” of his girlfriend emerging from the water.

When asked by The Guardian about his main motive and inspiration to dedicate his artistic strive on miniatures in ring boxes, Talwst explained: “I like to capture memories and fleeting moments. They feel all the more moving because of their fugitive nature. I want the viewer to open the box and feel they have been transported to another world.”

After Tom After Kim After Acid. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

After Tom After Kim After Acid. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

As reported by My Modern Met, though the scenes inside the jewelry boxes are often inspired by modern-day events, the setting and the diorama as an art form itself gives the miniatures a strong dash of antiquity.

Some scenes even merge two separate chronologies, combining, for example, a mini figure of Kim Kardashian taking a selfie, standing inside a Botticelli-like shell associated with his famous The Birth of Venus.

Nubian Origin Story According to Artist, 2014. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Nubian Origin Story According to Artist, 2014. Photo Courtesy Talwst.

The artist usually obtains the boxes at flea markets or purchases them online but, occasionally, he receives a few sent by his fans.

Talwst’s dazzling creations can be seen on his official website or Instagram account.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Photo Courtesy Talwst.

Of course, the creation of this type of real-life representation requires the utmost attention to detail and immense quantities of patience. Therefore, many may wonder what is Talwst’s secret to success?

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Here is his answer: “The work’s small-scale allows me the opportunity for a very particular kind of meditation. The overarching theme is related to time and space; to my sense of the vastness and the fragility of the world which I inhabit; and my fleeting memories of this world.”