National Heritage Gallery

240 Roberts Lane
Seymour, Tennessee 37865


Production Methods

Master craftsman, Leo Preisler begins the exacting task of creating a miniature reproduction of a structure by sketching the spatial relationships of heights and widths, noting the textures, shadows, color and surroundings. He continues his record with measurements and photographs and examines the foundation and construction, each wall and corner, each opening and overhang.

In his studio, Leo prepares a scaled drawing, usually 3/32" scale. Then sculpting the clay miniature begins, taking from six to twelve weeks. Art that is made from molds must be designed and carved so the pieces can be removed from the mold without damaging it. Structures with overhangs and porches cause particular problems. In order to solve this knotty problem, Leo carved some of the miniatures in separate pieces, such as a separate roof and cabin base. This increases the complexity of the carving and molding, requiring two to three times the effort of a single section piece. This additional care makes each sculpture that much more accurate and valuable.

After the structure has been rendered in clay, a silicon mold is made. Once the mold has cured, the clay sculpture is removed, destroying it. The detail of the clay sculpture must be captured in the mold. The mold is then thoroughly cleaned and a unique mixture is poured into it. When the mixture sets, it is removed from the mold and becomes the master. When it has dried, it is used to make additional molds.

A crushed alabaster mixture is used for the casting of the miniature’s pieces. After they have been dried in a drying chamber, they are painted to portray the original color and texture of the structure. Different colors and types of paint are used. Often the desired effect is achieved by a combination of techniques. After final inspection and approval, the pieces are signed and numbered.

A carefully researched history, written by Barbara Preisler was prepared for each piece. She may have found that the present building is a replacement of an older structure or that a part of it is a later addition. Often, Barbara found anecdotes of the settlers’ lives and added a family recipe brought to mind by the picture of the settlers lives. This history is printed on a card that is included with every piece sold.


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