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Bridget holds one of her miniature set creations, the comic book store from the show The Big Bang Theory
Bridget showing off her diminutive dioramas
Bridget McCarty

Behold: Instagram’s Queen of Marvelous, Mini Dioramas

These stunning and meticulously made miniatures will make you feel like Alice after she sipped the hallucinogenic “drink me” potion!

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

June 20, 2024 11:13 am

A true magician is someone who can combine iconic set design from TV and movies with artistic precision in a way that totally transports you into a tiny, cozy alternate dimension…one that you kind of want to live in, like a family of cartoon mice holed up in the wall. Bridget McCarty, whose account @bridgetmccartyminis features ultra-tiny, super-detailed, Lewis Carrollian mini dioramas, will pull you through the phone screen and into a whimsical wonderland. Bridget’s work is at times very pop culture-y, as she’s made the coffee shop from Friends (complete with a working TV and Marcel the mini monkey!), the diner from Seinfeld (with pitch-perfect attention to detail, down to the Lay’s selection) and the Byers’s living room from Stranger Things (with functional Christmas light communicator). Let’s find out how she does it.

Neil Patrick Harris: So, how’d you fall into this? Probably similar to how Alice fell through the looking glass, I assume?

Bridget McCarty: I’ve been into making miniatures since I was a little kid — but professionally, I’ve been making them for about 20, 25 years. I noticed that they were showing up a lot on social media, so I tried to think of a clever way to show viewers that it’s not a real full-size set, by opening the tiny door at the start. That’s the problem filming a miniature on social media — people may think it’s a real home and just move along to the next post!

NPH: Hey, they can be real homes! To ants and the mice in Cinderella! Do you have an art background? Because these tiny little sets are top-tier terrific.

A gif of a small door opening to a hand-made kitchen and living space
Mouse holes in walls have never been more magical

BM: I grew up in Los Angeles and went to animation art school. I was going to begin a career in animation but I felt like I didn’t fit in, so I ended up trying to do my own thing, which was to escape into miniatures.

NPH: Escape into miniatures?! But you’re far too tall! You need to be pushin’ three inches, max, to fit into one of these things. But you don’t have a shrink ray…so I am going to assume you meant “escape” figuratively. Gear shift: on average, how long does it take for you to put one of these dioramas together?

BM: I guess it depends how much coffee I’ve had! Miniatures can take a week to a month, even a year, because they are so intricate.

NPH: How do you decide on a project? On what to make next?

Miniature set remake of the coffee house from the show F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
I’ll be there for youuuu…and Bridget will be there with spectacular miniature creations
Bridget McCarty

BM: Looking on Pinterest is a big inspiration for me. But it may also be the latest movie, or an old show I’m having some nostalgia for, or whatever I’m watching at the moment. I work with studios on projects as well, and when that happens I’ll watch the movie or show and then build the model.

NPH: But how do you get so accurate? Are you best friends with every set designer in Hollywood? Do you have a pal who’s a cartographer who helps out?

BM: It’s a little bit tricky to get the layout exact, because the sitcom sets are so large [in real life]. But generally, I look at a lot of photos from different angles, and then start from the size of a typical dollhouse door, which is 1:12 scale. From that place, I can generally start to measure the rest of the scene.

Miniature set remake of Boo's purple room from Monsters, Inc.
The wallpaper border…the used easel…Sully’s hand…the details are unmatched
Bridget McCarty

NPH: I’m guessing if you really could pull an Alice and shrink down to thimble size, you would, right?

BM: I already do shrink down — every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.!

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