Walking into a small, sunlit room in Carol Kubrican’s west Petaluma home is like looking through a window into another world – an immaculately detailed realm of gaudy, Parisian pomp contained in a building that’s less than a foot tall.
The ornate three-story structure is filled with minuscule relics of French life, from pastries smaller than a fingernail to an elaborate wardrobe closet that’s home to a diminutive pale pink sweater. The display is just one of a myriad of intricate miniatures handcrafted by Kubrican, who sells the creations at her True2Scale online shop, which she operates with her husband.
“I’ll see something and that will inspire me to make something in miniature,” Kubrican said. “I try to make stories up about these things. It’s the turn of the century and I’m a fun Parisian woman and I’m thinking ‘how would I like to spend my afternoon?’ I want to have the most awesome cup of espresso and then do some shopping and then just relax up in my boudoir and unpack from my travels.”
It can take up to a year for Carol Kubrican, the company’s “chief mini officer” who’s a graphic designer by trade, to scheme up and create the structure and accessories for a large-scale kit like the C’est La Vie boutique, café and penthouse.
After sketching out a design and mapping out decorative elements, she uses a 3D printer and a laser cutter to create the art.
The tiny buildings also include working LED lights that Kubrican builds. She used a pair of needle nose tweezers to place the accessories inside the structures, and her home office is filled with highly-organized collections of brushes and tools of the craft.
“The more you look, the more detail you see,” she said.
She’s meticulous in her work, incorporating elements such as tiny photos of the Eiffel tower tucked into a mirror and an elaborate lace bedspread. Much of the art, including a set of gingerbread toy shop kits, is inspired from her travels through Europe with her husband.
“We work in what’s called scales,” she said. “What’s popular right now is (when) one inch equals one foot in real life. If this is six-inches tall, in reality, it would be six-feet tall.”
It takes skill and patience to design the wee sets, but Kubrican said she relishes the challenge. Her love for crafting was cultivated during her childhood on a farm in rural Wisconsin, where she recalls cutting out photos of furniture from a JC Penny’s catalogue and pasting them onto scraps of cardboard.
In 2010, four years before she moved to Petaluma, she posted an image on her blog of a thumbnail-sized paper house she’d created. She was flooded with inquires about purchasing the tiny home, prompting her to open an Etsy shop.
Shortly after, she created website, where she now sells miniature kits ranging from spooky Halloween-themed coffin sets to pocket size “she sheds” to Petaluma-area inspired farm stands. The husband-wife team has since traveled to international trade shows, and the business has become a full-time job with consistent orders.
Tomas Kubrican, the company’s “chief fun officer,” is on deck as a “supportive force.” He helps out where he can, and occasionally finds himself vacuuming up teeny furniture or accessories, Carol Kubrican said.