My mother, Mary Payne, worked as a road designer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, specializing in highway interchanges. Before her retirement, she began to make bread dough flowers as a hobby, and in the early 1970s she visited a friend whose collection of dollhouses became her new focus and inspiration. Soon after, she taught herself to work in this smaller scale and graduated from bread dough to specialty craft papers and acrylics to create her flowers. She started a new business named Posy Patch Originals and began making flower and plant arrangements for her friends and customers as well. Her talents soon caught the attention of the media, and she was featured in local newspaper articles, on TV and ultimately in TIME magazine.
She joined the new National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts in 1973 and became a member of its local club, the Atlanta Miniature Society. Later, she was to be nominated to the National Association's Academy of Honor.

In 1979, Mary was contacted by Alice Pirie Hargrave, curator of the Thorne Miniature Rooms collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, who had seen her flowers and recognized the quality of her work. The Thorne Rooms, created in the 1930s and '40s under the direction of Mrs. James Ward Thorne, represent distinctive examples of interior design throughout the centuries, interpreted in one inch scale. Ms. Hargrave asked my mother to help replace the 'colorless and badly worn' flowers and plants in the rooms.

Beginning with the tulips in the California Living Room, she worked during the following eight years to remove and recreate flowers and plants in both the American and European Thorne rooms. Ms. Hargrave also asked her to help replace the out-of-scale flowers and plants in her good friend's 'Fairy Castle'. The friend turned out to be the actress Coleen Moore, and her Fairy Castle is now on permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

After retiring from her 'real' job, my mother remained active with her club and within the miniatures community and continued to make and market her flowers and flower kits until her death in 1999. Here are some examples of her work:

Two rose arrangements in silver bowls, created for an exhibit of miniature makers' art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
Spider Mums, Lillies and Roses in small arrangements.
The "Bouquet for the Victor" in miniature. (from the flowers presented to the medalists at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta)
...and finally, to put things into perspective...

My mother kept her first attempt at miniature flowers on her worktable, to remind herself to be humble and to strive to improve.
She called them her "Snoopy" flowers, after Charlie Brown's poor Christmas tree, and had the hand-blown glass figure made by Atlanta glass artist Hans Frabel.



Here is a list of the Thorne Rooms containing Mary's work:



Massachusetts Living Room and Kitchen, c. 1675-1700
Salem Dining Room, early 18th Century
Connecticut Valley Tavern Parlor, about 1750
Marblehead, Massachusetts, Drawing Room, c. 1768
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Entrance Hall, c. 1799
Peabody, Massachusetts, Bedroom, about 1800
Haverhill, Massachusetts, Parlor, c. 1818
Warren, Rhode Island, Parlor, about 1820
Cape Cod Living Room, c. 1750-1850
New England Bedroom, c. 1750-1850
New York City Parlor, c. 1850-1875
Philadelphia Drawing Room, c. 1761
Millbach, Pennsylvania, Great Hall, c. 1752
Shaker Community House, Living Room, about 1800
Mount Vernon, West Parlor, c. 1743-1799
Henrico County, Virginia, Drawing Room, c. 1754
Carter's Grove Drawing Room, c. 1751
Charleston, South Carolina, Ballroom, c. 1775-1835
The Hermitage Entrance Hall, c. 1835-1845
New Orleans Bedroom, c. 1800-1850
"Middletown" Parlor, c. 1875-1900
Santa Barbara, California, Living Room, contemporary

English Late Tudor Great Hall, c. 1550-1600
Eighteenth Century English Cottage
English Library, c. 1700-1750
English Early Georgian Drawing Room, about 1735
English "Chinese Chippendale" Bedroom, c. 1760-1775
English "Hepplewhite" Salon, c. 1770-1780
English Georgian "Regency" Rotunda and Library, c. 1810-1820
French Louis XV Library, about 1720
French Normandy Eighteenth Century Boudoir
French Louis XVI Salon, about 1780
French Contemporary Library or Foyer
Japanese Interior