“A Special Spirit”: Angeles Gonzalez reproduces Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work in miniature.

“An artist or creator expresses a feeling through the work…. An artist pleases himself. If the work pleases you too, perfect!”

Detail of a fine replica washstand, around five inches high.

When we discovered Angeles Gonzalez’s exquisitely detailed miniature furniture, we were immediately hooked. From flamboyant piano to elegantly practical washstand, these pieces are faithful reproductions of furniture designed by the great Glaswegian designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928), whose name is synonymous with Scottish art nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement. Looking at Angeles’s work, we could almost believe that Mackintosh himself had come back to make a few more pieces.

Angeles lives in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona) with her husband and son. She declares herself dedicated to family, especially to her twelve-year-old boy. In the past, she worked with children and childhood development, following another passion.

Now pursuing what she calls a hobby and others would rightly call art, Angeles crafts each piece with care that takes months to achieve, delicately cutting each piece and finishing it with uncountable layers of paint and glaze to achieve the depth of the original.

These are the types of miniature furniture truly worthy of a museum (a term tossed around all too lightly among miniaturists) — at a surprisingly affordable price. The scale of her work is 1:12, or one inch to one foot; if you gaze at her work long enough, you might forget what size you are and be tempted to sit down at her tiny piano and start to play.

Angeles pays careful attention to details, from Mackintosh’s signature stylized pink rose to painstaking effects of painting to give an authentic sense of Arts and Crafts handmade aesthetic and distinctive staining.

In connection with our “Small Things, Partial Cures” theme of 2018, we knew we had to talk to Angeles about her very small, very perfect artworks.

Susann Cokal — who spent three summers teaching creative writing at the Glasgow School of the Arts, which was entirely designed by Mackintosh (and where she might or might not have sat down in one of those infamously awkward chairs) — conducted the interview via email and translated Angeles’s autobiographical statement and answers to interview questions.

We provide both English and Spanish versions here.

Nota bene: Angeles has an Etsy shop, NinasBCN, in which she offers her work to international buyers. If you want one, be sure to order early and wait for your item, as each one is made to order.

Interviewed, with translations, by Susann Cokal.

Photographs of Angeles and her work by her husband, F. J. Molina.

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Angeles’s Artist’s Statement

Beginnings

My passion is building dollhouse furniture, especially replicas of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s designs. Simply put, I love that autor — creator, designer.

It all started about five years ago, when I decided to have a dollhouse … Actually, I started building the house only because I was already looking for miniature furniture. I never got that house completely done; instead, I channeled my energy into making the furniture itself. In the end, I still haven’t finished the house.

“As it turned out, my true calling was making the furniture and accessories.”

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Design Collaboration

From the very beginning, I’ve counted on the help of my husband, F. J. Molina. He is truly an architect. He gives me advice and support; above all, he shares his knowledge about creating blueprints based on the images I found of Mackintosh’s work, since there are no blueprints available. Without him, I couldn’t have begun to make these pieces.

He also takes pictures of the furniture I make, after having helped with the designs. So he’s very “handy.”

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Piano

My most difficult piece to make, without a doubt, has been the “Piano for a House for an Art Lover.” This started as a commission from a U.S. customer.

I’ve made a number of pieces for that customer: a chandelier, a wardrobe, artist’s cabinet, table, clock, piano, easel, towel rail, revolving bookcase, coeval mirror, fireplace … She is putting together a dollhouse furnished exclusively with furniture and accessories by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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Washstand

No matter which piece I’m replicating, it takes a lot of patience and precision to get the details right.

Close-up on the washstand’s tilework.
Angeles gives the wood special treatment to reproduce aging, dimension, and normal variations in grain.

To make the washstand, for example, I take solid wood and give it an ageing treatment. The tiles are made one by one and hand colored, which brings out a range of hues and an effect of crystal on top. These tiles are adhered to cement.

It measures 133.7 mm high by 103 mm wide and 40.6 mm deep — 5.25 inches x 4 x 1.6.

The washstand is usually made with blue glass and tile; I recently completed this special order for a client who wanted one in white, pink, and lilac (see below for photo).

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Read Angeles’s original Spanish statement here, and scroll down for some follow-up questions and more images.

Mi pasíon es la construcción de mobiliario para casa de muñecas, especialmente del autor Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Me encanta este autor. Simplemente.

Comencé con esta actividad hace unos 5 años, cuando decidí hacer una casa de muñecas. La casa de muñecas la hacía para mi, como hobby. Debería haber empezado a construir la casa primero, pero solo la empecé a hacer, ya que empecé a buscar los muebles antes de tener la casa, por lo tanto, solo la empecé, nunca la tuve totalmente preparada para poner mobiliario, ya que desvié mi trabajo hacia los muebles y finalmente la casa no se llegó a hacer, mi hobby: la fabricación de muebles y complementos.

Poco a poco, buscando mobiliario, pensé en hacer mis propios muebles y accesorios. Podría haber hecho muebles convencionales, pero tuve la inspiración del estilo de Mackintosh, fue muy rápida su atracción, no se definirlo, simplemente me gustaron sus diseños, sus detalles.

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Desde el principio puedo contar con la ayuda de mi marido, F. J. Molina. Es el auténtico artífice de mi afición, con sus consejos y apoyo y, sobre todo, la realización con sus conocimientos de los planos constructivos basados en las imágenes (ya que no hay planos constructivos disponibles), para poder hacer las piezas.

Ademas, el toma fotos, primero haciendo los diseños y después en algunos detalles. También es muy “manitas.”

The door and the cheval glass installed in a life-size replica of the apartment Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, shared. The apartment has been reproduced in Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum.

Mi trabajo más difícil, sin duda, es el piano de House for an Art Lover. Un auténtico reto encargado por un cliente de EEUU. Para ella he realizado varios trabajos: chandelier, wardrobe, drawing cabinet, table, clock, piano, easel, towel rail, revolving bookcase, cheval mirror, fireplace…. Ella se está haciendo una casa de muñecas con mobiliario y accesorios de Charles Rennie Mackintosh exclusivamente.

Este trabajo exige mucha paciencia y poner especial cuidado en la precisión y los detalles.

Concretamente: este artículo, washstand, está fabricado en madera maciza, con un tratamiento de envejecimiento. Las baldosas están hechas una por una y coloreadas, lo que conlleva un colorido diferente en ese punto en futuras miniaturas, dichas baldosas están adheridas con cemento. Tiene un efecto de cristal en la parte frontal.

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And now for some follow-up questions …

BROAD STREET: Angeles, what is your definition of “creator” (“autor”)?Las medidas son 133,7 alto x 103 ancho x 40,6 mm. profundo. Concretamente he puesto el washstand hecho para ti (encima), ya está acabado y una variante hecha para otro cliente en color blanco/rosa/lila.

An artist or creator expresses a feeling through the work. Whether you like it or not doesn’t matter; an artist pleases himself. If the work pleases you too, perfect!Artista o autor: expresión de un sentimiento, les guste o no les guste, le da igual. Lo hace para él. Si además gusta, perfecto.

What attracts you to Charles Rennie Mackintosh? What do you love about his designs? And when did your fascination with his work begin?

Angeles: I greatly admire the Arts and Crafts movement, and when I discovered Mackintosh’s work, I was inspired to furnish my dollhouse with replicas of his creations.

I have always taken pleasure in antique objects, above all old wood — its “feel,” its shapes, its finishes. Other types of material can reflect the essence of the designer or creator, but in woodwork I see a special spirit or sensitivity. I have to add that my talent or skill (if that’s what I have) is with this type of material, and it helps that this is my favorite medium.

In Angeles’s words: El movimiento Arts & Crafts cuenta con mi consideración y descubrir la obra de Mackintosh me llevó a empezar a crear muebles para mi casa de muñecas basados en réplicas de creaciones de Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Siempre me han gustado los objetos antiguos, sobre todo en madera, su “tacto,” formas, acabados. En otro tipo de material se puede reflejar la esencia del diseñador o autor, pero en los objetos de madera veo una especial sensibilidad. Debo añadir mi habilidad o destreza (si es que la tengo) en este tipo de material, también ayuda a que sea mi medio preferido.

The Hill House from the exterior, designed by Mackintosh inside and out. Wikimedia Commons.

Have you toured the Mackintosh houses — the ones he designed from walls to furniture? Readers may recognize them by names such as Hill House, House for an Art Lover, and so on. How does it feel for you to be immersed in a setting completely designed by one person?

I haven’t been lucky enough (yet) to visit any of his houses in person; I know them only through the internet. Because of where I live [Barcelona], I’ve been able to tour Gaudí’s buildings.

When you’re in a place that’s entirely the work of one artist, you get an awe-inspiring sensation of balance and a certain organic naturalness.

No he tenido la suerte de poder visitar personalmente (todavía) alguna de sus casas, solo a través de información en internet. Por la proximidad a mi residencia, si he podido estar en construcciones de Gaudí y es impresionante la sensación de equilibrio y naturalidad de toda su obra a tu alrededor.

I do hope you get to go someday! The immersive experience of the houses is breathtaking. And someday, maybe I’ll get to see the Gaudí sites …

You have written that your husband is an important part of your artistic life. Mackintosh’s wife, Margaret Macdonald, was an artist in her own right and contributed to some of his settings — embroideries, paintings, and sketches. How do you see the two of them working as collaborators in life and art?

Mackintosh and his wife collaborated closely in their work. My favorite is “Desk for a Drawing Room, 120 Main Street, Glasgow,” with the engraving on the front.

Respecto a su esposa, sé de su estrecha colaboración en sus creaciones. Mi favorito es “Desk for the drawing room, 120 Main Street, Glasgow” haciendo el grabado frontal.

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Do you work in other styles and designs?

Lately I’ve been studying furniture and accessories by Gaudí, who is also a very interesting artist for me.

Ultimamente estoy viendo muebles y accesorios de Gaudi, para hacer algún mueble de este autor, ya que también es muy interesante para mí.

Thank you for the interview, Angeles! We’re excited to show your work off to the world.

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And readers, remember that you can find some of Angeles’s work for sale — or send her email about her work — through her Etsy shop, NINASBCN.

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