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Honey, I Shrunk the Chanel! This Artist Turns Major Bags Into Mini Masterpieces

Aug 05, 2023

By Laia Garcia-Furtado

Ana Sofía Casaverde is a true believer that the best things come in small packages. Make it miniature packages. The Peruvian artist and interior designer, who was born and raised in Lima, is known for her minuscule reproductions of objects—from commonplace items like chairs to icons of art and design like Van Gogh’s Starry Night or the Hermès Kelly bag. “I’ve always been in love with design, even before I understood what it was,” she tells me. From a young age she would recreate things that she loved in the pages of magazines or television. “Do you remember the Marc Jacobs mouse flats?” she asks me. (Do I!) “I bought simple flats at the store and then I bought leather, and I cut and sewed it to make my own version.”

Eventually, she started sharing her creations online—first on a blog and later on Instagram and Facebook—and as she began working as an interior designer and her interests expanded, so did the scope of her work. “I got really into making miniature chairs,” Casaverde adds. Around this same time she became enamored with working on paper and began exploring Japanese origami techniques, eventually starting a project where she worked on a different origami piece every day for a year. This, in turn led to her miniatures: “I started shrinking down the pieces that I was making. One day I wanted to make a miniature of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and it came out really well, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam eventually reposted it.”

Apart from the miniature paintings, Casaverde is guided by the materials, and she keeps a large collection of different types of papers and lets them dictate what she would make with them. The Kelly bag featured here, for example, came from Hermès perfume samples. “The packaging was so good, it was almost like leather so I thought maybe I’ll make a Kelly some time.” Her replicas are fully functional. “It’s important to me that all the pieces work, that you could maybe put things inside,” she says. “Wouldn’t it be so fun to do a ‘what’s in my bag with it?’”

Despite the playful nature of her work, there is serious design work that goes into it, often coming straight from the source. “A few years ago Hermès released patterns for people to make their own normal-size Kelly bags,” Casaverde tells me. “I re-drew the pattern in the computer program AutoCAD, and I made it as small as I could, while still making sure it could be built out of paper.” Other than AutoCAD, most of her tools are relatively basic. “I use a lot of simple needles and tweezers, like just the kind you get at the pharmacy.” Her most idiosyncratic tool is a magnifying watchmaker loupe, which she attaches to her glasses and uses when adding details. “I bought one of those glasses that surgeons use, with a light, but it was too annoying,” she tells me laughing. “It got too heavy! So now I just use my loupe, even though it’s older.”

Most importantly, her head “works like a scanner,” anticipating the challenges ahead. “While I was working on the bags I kept thinking about the lock and going through all of the things in my house that could work for it, maybe a bit of an earring, or a random piece of wire.” She rarely has do-overs. “They usually come out at the first try,” Casaverde explains. The paintings though, are another story. “I did a Monet and it took me three tries to get the color combination right.”

Some of her favorite things to make in miniature though, are the simplest. “My mom’s dream was always to have a flower shop, and during the pandemic I started making these little custom bouquets,” she explains. “For my first exhibition in London I sent one of my bouquets, to make my mom’s dreams come true through my work—just at a smaller scale.”

Here she shares her process with us, and makes three of the most adorable bags we’ve ever seen.

“A few years ago Hermès released patterns for people to make their own normal-size Kelly bags. I re-drew the pattern in the computer program AutoCAD, and I made it as small as I could, while still making sure it could be built out of paper.”

“While I was working on the bags I kept thinking about the lock and going through all of the things in my house that could work for it, maybe a bit of an earring, or a random piece of wire.”

“It’s important to me that all the pieces work, that you could maybe put things inside."