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St. Louis boutique challenges artists to think small

The owner of the Bonboni Mercantile Co. wanted local artists to try fitting big ideas onto a canvas the size of a business card.

ST. LOUIS — Artists tend to work on large pieces. They use canvases ranging from your typical five-by-seven inches to murals on the sides of buildings. 

The owner of the Bonboni Mercantile Co. in the Shaw neighborhood wanted local artists to think smaller.

"TThe size of a business card,” Lauren Thorp told 5 On Your Side.

When Thorp reached out to the St. Louis art community, the response was bigger than she expected.

“Put this out into the universe, and I was going to be excited for 20 participating artists. I didn’t know what to expect. And the applications just kept coming in, and in, and in,” she said.

In all, she said 54 artists entered the Tiny Art Show at her shop. Each was eager to take on the challenge of working small.

“It was an interesting challenge,” artist Jessie Schoenrock said.

“It’s a fantastic challenge,” artist Carolyn Lewis said.

The challenge came with numerous obstacles they had to overcome.

“You have a lot of big ideas. You’re like, how do I fit that into this small surface area?” artist Katie Calfee said.

“[It's] difficult to work small with clay when you feel like you have big man hands,” Schoenrock said with a laugh.

Together, the artists were able to create 253 unique miniature masterpieces, including pottery and tiny paintings of portraits and St. Louis landscapes.

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“It really runs the gamut of different mediums,” Thorp said.

Lewis used a variety of textures and materials to create inspiring mini collages. 

“I just knew that people would want a little tiny guardian angel,” she said.

Schoenrock made small vases and a little working lamp. 

“This light just goes on and off," she said. "There’s a little click. I try to make things that are functional. That’s kind of like my niche."

With the art being smaller, the artists believed it was important to pay attention to the intricacies.

“I was floored at the detail,” Thorp said about the miniature artwork.

“When you work this size, every single detail matters,” Lewis said.

Lewis was impressed with what she was seeing. 

“I am blown away by talent. Can’t believe what these artists captured in such a small, small space,” she said.

It was the small space of Thorp’s shop that inspired the Tiny Art Show. 

“We don’t have a lot of room," she said. "Because I was limited on space, I limited the size of the art so we can cram a lot of art in."

The art maybe tiny, but the works are a big representation of the creativity and skill in St. Louis.

“I think St. Louis has a fantastic art community,” Lewis said.

The pieces are available for purchase at Bonboni Mercantile Co., located at 2246 Klemm St. To learn more about the Tiny Art Show, click here.

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