TinyIreland has just launched a new edition of its ingenious flatpack, ‘Build your own Tiny Clonakilty’, with a new set of models to cut out and assemble, inspired by the pubs, shops and old buildings of Clonakilty. The new set includes models of An Sύgán, Halla an Bhaile, DeBarra’s Pub, O’Donovan’s Hotel, The Old Linen Hall and even a tiny statue of Michael Collins.
In designing these models, Anke, the Ballydehob based modelmaker behind TinyIreland, tries to capture the essential feel of the town by creating beautifully detailed miniature facades as well as ‘mini murals’ on the gables and rears of the buildings depicting scenes inspired by the town – like a steam engine seen at Clonakilty’s Old Time Festival, a session at DeBarra’s, a very famous monkey climbing around the back of O’Donnovan’s Hotel, children climbing trees.
TinyIreland began just over two years ago, when Anke launched her first ‘Tiny Towns’ – Ballydehob, Schull and Skibbereen. The idea came to her when she was making a tiny Ballydehob for her son’s model railway layout. Since then she has gone on to create 15 model kits including Clonakilty, Kinsale, Cork, Cobh, Glengarriff, Dublin, Bunratty, Killarney, Dingle, Limerick, Galway and even a miniature diorama of Gallarus Oratory. She has also designed kits for individual buildings upon request
“I get all sorts of unusual commissions; a few months ago I was asked to make 18 models of Dingle and Annascaul Pubs for a wedding reception. The models, which were lit up from the inside with led lamps, formed unusual, quirky table centre pieces. The guests were given the name of the pub instead of the table number. A lot of the guests were themselves owners of the pubs – it was a wonderful surprise for them to see a miniature of their own pub as a centre piece on their table.”
Initially, Anke thought her market for these kits would be primarily children who enjoy crafting and modelbuilding – but she soon realised that adults loved sending them to each other as quirky souvenirs, and that a lot of adults have nostalgic memories about assembling paper model kits and really enjoy them. Bearing this in mind, Anke designs her kits so “they can easily be assembled within an hour or two, avoiding too much fiddly bits but still giving enough challenge to satisfy.”
Anke hand paints all the artwork herself, before processing it into the final models on the computer. “Setting up this business has been a huge learning curve for me – I had to learn a lot about computer aided graphic design, dealing with printers etc as well as meeting the challenges of marketing, selling, bookeeping and cash flow. The Local Enterprise Office was a huge help to me – I have repeatedly taken on board the valuable help offered by them – a stand at Showcase 2013 in the Enterprise Zone, various courses and numerous one-to-one mentoring sessions.”
The new Tiny Clonakilty kits are now available in Clonakilty Bookshop, which has been selling TinyIreland kits for the past two years.
“Small shopkeepers like Geraldine of Clonakilty Bookshop do such a great service to their community – not only do they make the town alive and vibrant with their beautiful window displays and inspiring selections – they also provide perfect outlets for local artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs, like me. I’d like to give a huge thank you to all the shops who have supported me around West Cork and Ireland. Without their support, encouragement and feedback I just wouldn’t have had the courage to stick through the challenges of setting up this business.
“And really, this is also what my kits are about – acknowledging and celebrating all those shops, pubs and old buildings which make our towns unique and dear to us. Clonakilty may not have an Eiffel Tower or a Big Ben – but its colourful streets have their own special charm created by centuries of everyday life; a mosaic of entrepreneurial and community spirit.
The new edition of ‘Build your own Tiny Clonakilty’ is available at Clonakilty Bookshop for €15.
All TinyIreland products are printed and packed in Co.Cork.
To see TinyIreland’s full selection please visit: www.tinyireland.ie.