The other day it suddenly struck me that miniatures have actually expanded my world rather than scaled it down. I've been involved in the hobby since the year 2000. Although I actually only make two main kinds of miniatures at the moment, miniatures have been the impetus behind both my venturing to new places, and to my learning a variety of things I could not have predicted I would learn about.
For example, I'm now a regular at the local gem and mineral shows, where some of the dealers now "get" miniatures after I've shown them examples of what I make. The staff at my local Ace Hardware store start to wonder what new problem I've got that needs a tool or product used unconventionally the minute they see me coming. They probably cringe at some of the uses I plan for their tools! The stained glass shop staff now have a revised understanding of how thin "thin" glass can actually be, and the problems of cutting it. The local woodcraft shop people already knew about miniature turnings, but not much else to do with miniature woodwork. The local railroad hobby shop owner humors me as I look for materials to use, and is great at looking up other stuff for me in his supply catalogs. The art supply shop is a good resource for different kinds of paper, but I have to find out for myself how each type works in a computer printer.
Miniatures got me to visit all these shops for the first time.
And then there are the things that I have learnt because of miniatures.
I've learned to use a drill press and a Dremel. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I taught myself basic HTML computer programming in order to set up my own web site; now I'm learning XHTML and CSS in order to upgrade it. I learnt some web design stuff, and how to set up a hosting account. I've done basic renovation on a couple of vintage sewing machines that I use for miniatures, and am learning more mineralogy all the time.
I now understand much more about digital photography and image manipulation, as well as lighting. I'm much more comfortable scanning and printing things, and know more about paper choices. I know that there is a huge variety of glues for different purposes, and I own many of them. I can now navigate the intricacies of eBay, and put together and submit an ad to a magazine. I also have a much greater understanding of copyright laws, and recently found myself researching 17th century Dutch costume for a friend (a good excuse to re-watch "Girl With a Pearl Earring"!). I've even learnt about producing and promoting a miniatures show and sale.
I've had contact with miniaturists around the world, from such places as Australia, Turkey, Israel, the UK, France, India, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. I've learnt about the origins of silk in China and the Silk Route, and bought sea shells from Australia. All of this because of tiny things!
How have miniatures enriched and expanded your life and learning?