Miniatures are on the march at Woodville Plantation


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Thousands of tiny soldiers will be on display Sunday for the third year of Military Miniatures Day at Woodville Plantation in Collier.

What started as a display of figures in the small house at the back of the property has outgrown that space. This year, the exhibit will be in Neville House, the main historic house at Woodville that was built in 1775 as the home of John and Presley Neville.

Most of the figures on display will be soldiers from the late-18th and early-19th century.

David Frankowski of Mt. Lebanon will display nearly 400 figures from his collection.

While his collection concentrates on American figures from the Revolutionary War and Whiskey Rebellion era, other collectors will display soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the American Civil War and the French Foreign Legion.

Some of the exhibitors on Sunday collect figures, while others paint their own. Some do both.

Mr. Frankowski paints his own figures, using enamel and acrylic water-based paint and incredibly small brushes.

“You have to have good lighting, good vision and a steady hand,” he said.

Another exhibitor at the event, Lee Howard of Mount Washington, also paints his own figures and has had his soldiers displayed at the Heinz History Center, Mr. Frankowski said.

The figures can be very detailed, depicting eyes, eyebrows and even shadows on the face, he said.

Most of the figurines range in height from less than an inch to a little more than 2 inches.

“I always had a big interest in history, military history in particular,” said Mr. Frankowski, who started collecting and painting miniatures as a boy.

Now 50 years later, the retired special education teacher is still working on his collection.

Other collectors who will display soldiers in the exhibit are Paul Mackowick of Peters; Al Lind from Poland, Ohio; Jim Denny of Mt. Lebanon; and Jim Vinski of the North Hills.

Figures from the late Frank Herock’s collection will be on display, Mr. Frankowski said. Herock was an Upper St. Clair resident who was considered a “grand master” by the Miniature Figure Collectors of America, an association dedicated to the art of miniature figure painting, Mr. Frankowski said.

Some life-sized representatives of the late 18th century also will be at the Neville House on Sunday.

Military re-enactors from 1780 to 1820, the era of the New Republic, will be available to talk with visitors throughout the day as they drill, weather permitting.

The hours for the exhibit are noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6-12, and free for children younger than 6.


Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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