Meet Robert Olszewski, the 'miniature master'
By Michelle Barefield
Have you ever wished for your very own Magic Kingdom? Well, miniature and sculptor artist Robert Olszewski's creations allow collectors to piece together their very own "Happiest Place on Earth."
Miniature artist Robert Olszewski displays some of his works in progress.
Michelle Barefield: First things first...how do you pronounce your last name?
Robert Olszewski: It's Ol-shes-ki, but my fans just know me as Bob.
MB: How did you begin your career as a miniature artist?
RO: I was a painter first for about 15 years. When my daughter was born I built her a dollhouse and looked for figures to put in her dollhouse. I couldn't find anything so I started creating my own. So, that is how I got into this art form.
MB: What is one of your favorite pieces you have created and why?
Olszewski is proud of his Steamboat Willie piece because he pushed the boundaries and asked himself to take his design beyond the original request of a black-and-white figurine.
RO: The one that set me apart was a Steamboat Willie piece for a Disneyana convention. It was a big hit! They wanted me to do a black-and-white Steamboat Willie at the ship's wheel as a miniature. I asked them to lend me the film short and asked if I came back with a suggestion would they consider it, and they said yes.
When I did that piece I wanted to do something really unique. For that piece, I asked myself could I add color to a black and white film and get Disney to approve it. I thought about it for weeks. One night while lying in bed, I woke up suddenly and thought I'll do a movie theatre! I'll put the characters in a movie theatre and add color. It was radical! I'm particularly fond of the Steamboat Willie piece because it was such a challenge.
MB: Is there a piece you created that has sentimental value to you?
RO: I carved a piece to propose to my wife. It's a little guy with red hair sitting on a bench and he has a ring in his hand. My wife looks great in pink so I put her in a pink outfit with a pink bonnet, and he is proposing to her. I carved and painted it and presented it to her at our favorite restaurant and proposed. It was a wonderful way to propose, it chokes me up to think about it.
The third installment of the Main Street Electrical Parade series includes five new floats.
MB: Can you share some details on the process and steps it takes to create things in this scale?
RO: The work we do here at the studios is not linear - it doesn't follow a straight line. However, here is the framework I work in for every project, from PokitPals to the Main Street, U.S.A. buildings & attractions: Research, sketch, gather input, concept approval, build paper model - yes all projects are built in paper first, sculpted in clay, then submitted for approval, we produce a final sample - coloration, lighting, etc., then submit the final sample for approval, manufacture it, and then launch and market the designs to the collectors. At all steps, I focus on the feeling of the piece. Details should be left out, if they do not support the feeling.
Mickey and Minnie go for a spin in the Mad Tea Party in Olszewski's latest Gallery of Light piece.
Robert Olszewski will be appearing on June 12 from 9-11 a.m. at the Disneyana Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. Olszewski will be signing and releasing the third set of the Main Street Electrical Parade and two new Gallery of Light pieces. Check out www.ArtofDisneyParks.com for times and event details.