Approaching the Finishing Line

This project began just as the weather started to cool last summer. It’s almost time for the cooling to start again and I’m closing in on the completion of the construction.


The list of new skills I’ve added to the tool box is pretty big. Many were already there, but needed to be adapted to work tiny. I’ve put a few hundred miles of trim up in my life but I rarely needed a razor saw to cut it.

Some of the lessons have been difficult. Furniture is hard to make. If I had saved all the false starts…Phew! It’s humbling to see how inaccurately you can measure when tiny differences make all the difference. For those who are interested, woodworking tools were, in many cases, abandoned for machinists tools.


I can’t tell you how important lighting is. Tiny imperfections show up in the most inopportune places. The workshop is getting a lighting upgrade.


I populated the interior from a collection of sources. Shout out to Lady Delaney’s etsy shop. Her catalog is amazing and her custom work is beyond amazing. A huge THANK YOU for her kind words and for leading the cheering section.

A considerable amount of evidence was appropriate to include in this tableau. Much of it was crafted specifically. Can’t find a bent knife with blood stains on the internet.IMG_1002

For as much evidence as I’ve included, there are volumes that couldn’t be. There’s really no way to model interviews and case notes. While I had to gloss over the volumes of trace and blood evidence due to the size limitations, anyone who has ever had any experience with criminal investigations will know how much work a single drop of blood on a wall will represent.

The construction frustrations that were the hardest to work through were the lack of mid-20th Century artifacts available for doll houses. Couches, beds, dressers…my thought was that it would make a perfectly acceptable subject for modeling. Turns out the powers that be don’t agree. Plenty of turn of the 20th Century items. Not so much from the age of Aquarius.


I was particularly happy with how my book making turned out. While you can’t open and read them, it’s a pretty darn good looking collection.

The victims proved to be very difficult to model. The resources I have include autopsy and crime scene photos so i had the most accurate examples to work from. It was impossible not to think about the real people represented here, though. The mother took the longest time to ensure the injuries were represented as accurately as possible. Even in miniature it’s disquieting to repeatedly puncture a piece of plastic when you know what you’re copying.



As I’ve progressed, I’ve received a considerable amount of support from places I didn’t think it would necessarily come. The local media has been chomping at the bit for information. Thanks to Cecilia for the awesome story! The University has been a huge supporter, too. Thanks to Kristi Evans for spreading the word through NMU! Faculty from several departments have expressed their admiration for the project.

I did get an email from a source I wouldn’t even have hoped for, someone who works with the original collection of Nutshells. I can’t tell you what those kind comments meant! This is still a new field for me and to hear anything positive from someone who’s career involves the definitive example of what I’m tying to do has bolstered my confidence and spurred me to create more and better examples. Thanks, Mr. G.

The delivery of this Nutshell is coming close. I’ve got a few more details to add, things that don’t impact the evidence but make the scene more complete. While crafting these pieces I’m still working with NMU to present the concept to a collection of Criminal Justice professionals and students in September. From there, I’m still hoping to help craft an advanced Criminal Investigations class for the winter semester featuring this Nutshell. Once this one is out of the shop, there will be space to begin the next one. Or two. Or fifty.

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