This miniature Crystal Arcade was inspired by Sir Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, which was built during the Industrial Revolution, specifically for the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations." The original structure was gigantic. When it opened in London's Hyde Park in 1851, during the height of Queen Victoria's reign, the Crystal Palace was the largest building ever constructed. It was also one of the first buildings made entirely of cast iron and glass. Soon, the triumphant period in which this occurred would be referred to as "Victorian."


Like the original structure, this pseudo replica uses glass (and plexiglass) panels that fit prefabricated sections. This particular interpretation was intended as an arcade of shops, with spaces for four to eight specialty boutiques surrounding a central atrium and staircase, under a barrel vaulted glass ceiling. Ideas for the shops might include a bookseller, flower shop, hat shop, haberdashery, dressmaker, purveyor of musical instruments, coffee shop, stationers, notions or sundries, a toy shop, antiques, clock shop, or even an ice cream parlor or small café. Whatever the interiors, this unique structure makes an excellent setting in which to view the contents of the collection.


Artist and photographer Vanessa Tiegs (miniarcs.com) acquired Mark Turpin’s Crystal Arcade for her private collection, and she transformed this unique structure into a kaleidoscope of color. Original works of art featured within the arcade are by artist Kenneth S. MacIntire (1891-1979) and San Francisco artist Maureen Morales.

Note how beautifully Vanessa blended colors and textures to create a lovely and welcoming setting in which to display her delightful collection of miniatures. The Crystal Arcade was displayed in a place of honor — a spacious bay window in her elegant town home, where the sunlight created dramatic visual effects reflected from the barrel vaulted glass roof of the arcade. These effects change seasonally as the sun moves across the sky, a rather unexpected surprise when it first occurred during the early summer months.


For the holidays, Vanessa created a magical winter wonderland, featuring a crystal tree using 300 tiny mirrors. Overhead, delicate crystal dew drops and icicles reflect the quiet beauty. Brightly wrapped gifts wait amid fresh white snow. Sprays of long stem red and white roses add silent fragrance to this crystal night, where even Tiffany’s would be envious of the lovely, festive scene. Photography by Vanessa Tiegs.


Construction: birch plywood, solid pine and poplar, basswood, glass, acrylic, metallic paint.
 
Overall dimensions: 36" wide, 18" deep, 25.5" high. Sold.


Crystal Arcade, with collector/artist Vanessa Tiegs, was featured in the Oct/Nov 2008 issue of ReadyMade magazine.


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