Photo by  @iamefremsahr

Photo by @iamefremsahr


The Maker

Sylvia Da-Ming Royall is a self-taught artisan who has been creating miniatures since childhood. At age 5, she was gifted a collection of half-inch-tall Guatemalan Worry Dolls. She fell in love with them and within a few weeks, began making her own Worry Dolls out of odds and ends she found lying around her Philadelphia house. Making miniatures quickly became her passion.

For years, young Sylvia spent countless hours fashioning tiny creations from clay, textiles, paper, wood and other materials. Before long, adult life got in the way of Sylvia’s art. But true passions never die. A few years ago, she returned to her love of miniature-making and hasn’t looked back since.

Sylvia is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is a member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) and serves on the IGMA Guild School Committee.

The Work

Petite Afrique

French, n. - def. Little Africa

(peh-TEET ae-f-R-EE-K)

The name “Petite Afrique” is a nod to Sylvia’s commitment to increasing the visibility and representation of Black and Brown miniaturists. Through Petite Afrique, Sylvia creates highly detailed and realistic 1:12 scale* objets d'art that embody culture, vibrancy, modernity. and uniqueness. The work encompasses an ever-growing variety of categories, including shoes, books, plants, home goods, ceramics, and needlework. Many of the pieces are influenced by artwork, iconography, patterns, and imagery related to Africa and the African Diaspora. Petite Afrique offers a fresh point of view that contributes to expanding diversity within the wonderful world of miniatures.

*1:12 scale is a traditional scale (ratio) for models and miniatures, in which 12 units (such as inches or centimeters) on the original is represented by one unit on the model. Depending on application, the scale is also called one-inch scale (since 1 inch equals 1 foot).