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VOC woman portrays life in miniature

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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She creates 3-D, tiny replicas in small boxes

Many people record important people, places and times in their lives in a diary or journal. Judy Reichert records them in boxes.

In every room of her Village of Oak Creek home, Reichert has life in miniature inside wall hangings, lamps, bookshelves and shadow boxes. All of them are lit to showcase the interior. Even the lights are in miniature, and of the type appropriate for the theme.

Reichert once owned a doll house and miniature, store, Jeepers Miniatures, in Nashville, Ind. It was one of the largest miniature shops in the United States.

"The miniatures is a hobby turned business back to a hobby. I like the boxes almost better than a full doll house. You can theme them," Reichert said and turned toward a small, freestanding book shelf with two glass-encased rooms on top that portrayed two scenes from novels in the Harry Potter series, "The Sorcerer's Stone" and "The Prisoner of Azkaban."

Just outside the kitchen area is another tribute to Harry Potter, an Old English-style set of attached, brick buildings with pitched roofs and chimneys.

"I love this piece. We have all sorts of plans for it," Reichert said. "It's going to be Diagon Alley. It will open up and you see all of the scenes and shops."

Near the entry hall is a general store designed how it would look in the late 1800s with a main floor that contained all of the items found in a general store like food, brooms, tools and household items. The upper loft was the women's department with bolts of fabric and sewing items. Reichert's husband, Jim, built the store and she decorated the inside.

On top of a display case is a doll house sized replica of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation in Virginia. Reichert will work on decorating the inside soon.

In the master bedroom is a box that contains dozens of miniature items that have meaning to the family like a decorated Christmas tree with lights, a fire place, three dogs, grandchildren and a "Phantom of the Opera" program.

"That's our favorite opera," Reichert said as she pointed out other items and explained their significance.

The Reicherts retired and moved to Sedona in January. The miniatures, more than 80 of them, decorate'the house. In fact, the house was specifically designed to display them.

"One of the things that's always appealed to me is you can use many different techniques like needlepoint, painting, macrame, quilting — all in miniature," Reichert said.

Some of the miniature scenes not only have their own theme, but a theme for the room in which they are displayed. In the kitchen is a reminder of Reichert's grandmother on top of a pie safe her husband built. Grandma, in her day dress and apron, is walking across the backyard of her farmhouse carrying a chicken she was going to prepare for dinner. A red rooster is looking up at the figure.

"He's angry because grandma killed his favorite hen," Reichert said.

Among her themed pieces, Reichert has a number of wine tasting scenes with racks and tiny wine bottles barely 1/4-inch tall inside a single-bottle wine box. She entered one in the Sept. 22 and 23 Sedona Wine Festival's inaugural Juried Art Exhibition, which won a blue ribbon.

"They're just fun to make," she said.

Reichert started making miniatures in her early 20s after she saw her aunt create a doll house replica of the home she and Reichert's father grew up in.

"I thought if my old lady aunt could do this — my 'old lady aunt' was in her 40s then — I could," she said.

Even the bathrooms have miniature boxes, all with a bathroom theme.

In her workshop are several projects in progress. One is of the inside of an old department store at Christmas time. It was made from a music box and has windows in the back that look out on a winter scene, complete with falling snow.

On another shelf is one Reichert calls "December 26." It's of Santa and Mrs. Claus relaxing on a south seas beach, an umbrella drink in his hand, in front of a seaside hut. In the background are elves enjoying a soak in a hot tub and another in the hut making fudge.

The shelves around the workshop have items waiting to be transformed, like a bare tree in which Reichert plans to build a tree house.

She opened two cupboards to reveal a series of drawers and trays with miniature fixtures, food and utensils all organized into categories. Another open cupboard has slots and tubes filled with wood pieces.

"This is my lumber yard," she said "You have to be organized."

Even Reichert's tools are miniature like the scroll saw and a table saw with a 3-inch blade.

"One year all I wanted for Christmas was my own reversible drill. I was happy to have my own so I didn't need to go borrow Jim's," she said.

Each of the miniatures boxes, depending on size and detail, take from about one week to several months to complete.

"They can be time-consuming, but when I get in my studio, time disappears," she said.

Reichert used to teach minia tures workshops and hopes to do the same in Sedona. Many of her boxes were the result of a workshop.

"My dream in life would be to have a miniatures museum. I love to show them off," Reichert said after the tour through her house of miniatures.

Copyright 2012 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 7, 2012

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