September 2009
Featured Gallery
of the Month
Juza Miniatures
By Mike Juza
By CDHM Assistant Editor
Alice Bell
Photos courtesy of
Mike Juza
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures

CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures It's all for the mini ladies (and gents) - or is that 'many'?

Turner Mike Juza, of River Falls, Wisconsin USA, created his first mini goblets over 20 years ago in high school. It wasn't until the late 90s that he picked the hobby back up again to create some lathe-turned pens and miniature forms.

A full-time CAD Designer (i.e. a modern-day Draftsman), he loves his job, his wife and his two daughters in addition to miniature lathe work. His daughters - as well as a great many other collectors - love his work. And that's where things got interesting. At least from his wife's point of view.

"When I first started turning in high school, I dabbled in everything. It was at that time that I made several miniature goblets. Over the years, I made more and gave them away before I started selling pieces. Anything that doesn't sell I let my daughters have to play with," he said.

The two girls took some of these mini pieces to their school's show and tell and gave their teacher a whole new picture of their father.

"My daughters always asked me who I was making these things for, and I would tell them that the "mini ladies" would purchase them from me.

CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures

"The day after the show and tell I dropped the girls at school in front of their teachers, who started laughing, asking me how my "other girlfriends" were doing!

"It seems that when they asked my daughter what daddy did with these little vases she replied, 'Oh, it's for one of his MANY GIRLFRIENDS!'. Innocence at its best!" said Juza with a laugh.

He turns in all scales: miniature vases, bowls, boxes, tables, eggs - anything round - plus some larger forms. He sells his creations in his gallery on CDHM, and has sold pieces on Ebay under the moniker 'packermike.'

"It depends on what material I use, what I make, and how much time it takes me to make it, but I typically price pieces from about $15 on up. When selling on eBay, I usually start my auctions at $9.99 and let the market decide what they're worth," he said.

Pieces inlaid with semiprecious gemstones like turquoise or lapis lazuli, or made out of unusual stone like Dendritic talc, can be worth quite a lot when collectors vie for possession during an auction.

CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures He uses a great many unusual exotic and native woods, antlers, tropical nuts, acrylics and other materials as base material for his vases.

"I'm always looking for new and interesting media to make things from," he said.

"But it's also very important for me to have as little impact on our environment and wildlife habitats as possible. It's been over five years since I've purchased any wood - most of my stock came from a pool cue manufacturer's scrap pile. By using things that would have been thrown away, I feel like I'm maybe helping out a bit in that regard," he said.

Not to mention these rare, beautiful pieces of material can easily feed the creative process.

"I find inspiration mostly in the rough material I chuck onto the lathe: the grain pattern of the wood, the colors of the stone, or natural cracks here and there. It sounds corny, but I try to bring out the natural beauty of the material I turn. I try to incorporate what might otherwise be considered a flaw into a work of art."

He has a small area in the corner of his basement roughly 10 feet long by three to four feet wide filled with his mini lathe and supplies.

"My bigger equipment - saws, drill press, etc. - is out in the garage. But my most valuable tool is my diamond sharpening stones. Without sharp tools I wouldn't be able to make anything on my lathe," he said.

Sharp tools are definitely a necessity for the paper thinness he achieves on his pieces.CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures

"When I try to make very delicate, thin-walled vases or vessels I make certain my tools are extra sharp. One little mistake and you lose the entire piece. It's time-consuming, and more often than not, the piece doesn't turn out. But when it does, it's very rewarding."

He wants to have a long and happy career as a miniaturist and looks forward to creating many more pieces in the coming years - even if he has to invest in a strong magnifying glass to help him with some of the smaller pieces.

"I'm getting to be far-sighted, I might need some help with those scale pieces soon! But I just enjoy making minis. I don't ever want it to become something I have to do; I prefer doing it as a hobby, as I have time," he said.

Explore Mike Juza's Turnings here on CDHM.

Explore the Turnings Galleries here on CDHM.

CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures
CDHM artisan Mike Juza of Juza Miniatures

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