Tiny Stuff

New Year’s is traditionally a time of taking stock and often that includes trying to simplify your life (usually translated as “get rid of stuff’). I support minimalism but also enjoy being surrounded by pockets of visual richness. It occurred to me that one solution might be to just have small stuff that didn’t take up much space. This got me looking around the house to see if I could test the theory and be amused at the same time.

Quickly a couple of dozen intriguing, diminutive, but useless items were assembled. Perfect for adorning a desirable, tiny house or my future corner in the Golden Age Facility. For scale in the photo there is a camera memory card in the lower right corner.


A miniature library contains only picture books.


The oldest, from the 1860s, is a photo album of the famous dwarfs, General Tom Thumb and his wife Lavinia Warren. Perfect.


A petite souvenir volume for the 1911 Coronation of George V includes photos of his parents Edward VII and Alexandra.


A 1950s mini book of Halifax photos has room for all the traditional subjects: Public Gardens, view from Citadel Hill, a bagpiper in full Scottish gear, etc.


And if  minuscule notes are required there are pencils of an appropriate size. One has a line attached and perhaps was for filling in names on your dance card. The other was a promotional item from Time Magazine.


To sharpen the pencils there is an appropriately itsy-bitsy jackknife; nineteenth century with a very stylish blue and white celluloid handle.


Some of these collections could be carried around the house in a teensy black ash basket, a traditional Mi’kmaq craft.


Just for the pleasure of the eyes is a wee, wooden watermelon.


and a single diminutive plastic shoe.


This theory isn’t working out so well after all, I’m not picking up sparks of joy. Maybe it’s back to the original plan which was have more fun getting rid of stuff. “Have fun” is the constant.


  •   Talk of the miniature in Halifax always brings to mind Charles Dickens’ seven hour stopover in the city in 1842. By chance the Legislature was opening and he recorded his impressions in American Notes:

It happened to be the opening of the Legislative Council and General Assembly, at which ceremonial the forms observed on the commencement of a new Session of Parliament in England were so closely copied, and so gravely presented on a small scale, that it was like looking at Westminster through the wrong end of a telescope.

  • There could be a reference to Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture but I’d have to watch it again to be sure.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.