By Richard Chin
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Lucy Francis creates three-dimensional, pocket-size portraits of dead but not forgotten family pets. The artist often incorporates bits of the dog’s hair. That way the grieving dog owner can “feel like they still have a little bit of them there,” Francis said.
A lot of people get emotional when they first see the dollhouse-sized figures that Lucy Francis makes.
“I cried. It took my breath away,” said Carol Bryant about opening the package Francis sent her about 10 years ago.
Inside was a tiny sculpture of a dog, a replica of Bryant’s beloved pet, a cocker spaniel named Brandy Noel who had recently died.
“It’s like she took my dog and shrunk it down,” said Bryant, a pet blogger from Pennsylvania. “It’s like a memorial to her.”
That’s how Francis has been making a living for the past 20 years, creating three-dimensional, pocket-size portraits of dead but not forgotten family pets.
The Hastings artist (lucyfrancisminiatures.com) combines pieces of fur and fiber, wool and wire, and ends up with a miniature, fuzzy model of a dog, often incorporating bits of the dog’s hair.
That way the grieving dog owner can “feel like they still have a little bit of them there,” Francis said.
Francis charges $300 to $2,400 for the custom sculptures, depending on the size and complexity. Demand is strong.
She’s sent her dog sculptures to 17 countries, from Japan to South Africa. One customer was a sheikh from Qatar who collects miniatures. She’s currently working on an order of several dogs for a customer in Portugal. She’s made miniatures of some celebrity pets, including dogs owned by Martha Stewart, Shirley MacLaine, John Prine, and Andrew W.K.
At her home, where she lives with a cairn terrier named Bob and a Chihuahua terrier mix named Fred, Francis has shoe boxes filled with plastic zip-top bags containing tufts of hair sent in by dog owners to be used in miniatures.