Jen Arnold – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #134

August 2023

Jen Arnold

For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features artist Jen Arnold, who creates miniature replicas of people’s most sentimental places. She gets commissions to construct tiny copies of first homes, local shops, heritage buildings, barns, grandparents’ homes, famous movie houses, and other structures.

Arnold fabricates these pieces, which can be held in the palm of the hand, from recycled cardboard. She designs and cuts the cardboard to make the appropriate shapes and, from start to finish, the process can take fifteen to seventy-five hours (or more), depending on details and size. Like her father and her sister, previously featured WRAC artists, she is from Winnipeg but calls the Lac Du Bonnet area her second home. Her parents built their cottage in 1976 and she’s been enjoying it ever since.

Arnold has always been intrigued by architecture. As a child, she’d look through her dad’s architect books and magazines, fascinated with the variety of styles and angles. As an adult, her love for the tiny colourful and glittery Christmas dwellings (“putz houses”) began, and she knew immediately they’d be easy to create.

She said, “My first project was building the three homes that my mom lived in, and I displayed them on a Christmas wreath. After posting this creation to social media, my passion grew. What encourages me to keep going is the love of the art form. And my 2-year wait list.”

In her day job, Arnold is employed as social worker in community mental health, and she appreciates having an outlet for her own self-care. Working on the miniatures inspires her and she loves finding out what her next project will be. She has several upcoming projects, and some are still secret. As mentioned, she has a wait list for her pieces, so she stopped taking requests. But they keep coming.

Arnold hasn’t done any instructing, but she’s had numerous teachers message her to ask if they could share her work and if she could teach this art to their students. Also, she has no formal training in creating miniatures; it seems she has an innate talent for this intricate work.

She said, “When people ask what scale I use for the miniatures, I giggle. Honestly, I don’t have one. It just comes naturally and just works out!”

She has been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press, and has been interviewed on 680 CJOB, Global News in the morning, CBC Radio morning show, and Canstar community newspaper.

“We all have a passion, and I have found mine. To create sentimental miniatures that make people smile, and sometimes even tear up. To have a handheld memory in the palm of one’s hand inspires me. To recreate a home that has since been torn down inspires me.”

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