Colton artist finds another NICHE with miniature silk gown

COLTON ? Mary Gwyneth Holland is back, this time in miniature.

Ms. Holland, a resident of Colton, has been named a finalist in the prestigious NICHE Award competition for the second time in three years. With this year?s piece, a one-third scale model of an original couture gown design, Ms. Holland has been advanced to being one of five finalists in the fiber, decorative category of the 2012 NICHE Awards.

?This is like the Academy Awards of the crafting world,? Ms. Holland said. ?It?s been around for 22 years, and it?s a very prestigious event. I?m up against people from all over the country who are showing their finest work.?

Hosted by NICHE Magazine, the annual awards are open to American and Canadian professional craft artists and received more than 6,000 entrants this year. In 2010, Ms. Holland was named a finalist for her full-size white peacock coat of silk charmeuse, chenille yarn and beads; this year?s piece is a green, pink and pale yellow hand-dyed silk gown called ?Rose?s Edge Gown in Miniature.?

Ms. Holland, who may spend four to six months working on a single full-size gown, said that creating a one-third scale model enabled her to preserve the detail of the gown while using a fraction of the time and materials. Although her work with silk dyes is more recent, she has been creating wearable art since she was a child in an effort to make people smile.

?I started out sewing Barbie doll clothes when I was 10,? she said. ?I?ve always been oriented towards really detailed work; I cut my teeth on sewing tiny-scale things. It was actually kind of pleasant going back to small things.?

According to Ms. Holland, both of her NICHE Award finalist pieces have featured a ?nature-spirit interpretation,? and she hopes to incorporate more nature themes into future couture projects. With the expansion of her Web presence she has been focused on selling mainly lower-price items, but all of her work features a style she calls ?very feminine.?

Since being named a finalist of the 2010 NICHE Award contest, Ms. Holland has expanded her Web presence, developed new collections (including one for which Rose?s Edge Gown in Miniature is the centerpiece) and sold pieces online to buyers as far afield as Manhattan and Kuwait. She will find out if she is a NICHE Award winner on Feb. 18, but until then she will be busy reaching out to boutiques in the hopes of selling more art in shops.

?People need to see my work,? she said. ?It?s one thing to see a picture online, but they really need to see my art in person.?

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