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Nancy Williams Finds Focus in Itty-Bitty Figurines

Date: May 3, 2002
By Jennifer Carter
Contact: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photo by Lisa Ventre
Archive: Profiles

UC telephone operator Nancy Williams puts soul into all of her artwork. Williams, a senior in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, finds that it is her artwork that gives her the most joy. Williams has been an artist since the seventh grade.

"I like designing and being creative, and I'm more like what you'd call a collective artist. I collect junk," says Williams. Theresa Staley, left, admires a piece created by artist Nancy Williams

She then turns junk into art. Leaves, toilet paper rolls, pecans and even saltine crackers have turned into Williams' art.

Her most well known art is her "miniature folks." Made of pipe cleaners, balsa wood, wood balls, floral wire, fabric, card paper and assorted paints, these tiny scenes impress everyone who sees them.

The scenes are all handmade with a lot of patience. They consist of women and children involved in various activities. A mother pushing a stroller, a woman walking with a shopping cart, an administrative assistant and a nurse are just a few of the many scenes she has designed.

The children in the scenes stand only a quarter of an inch tall. In addition to the people, Williams adds small handmade props to her scenes, including wastebaskets, desks, computers and stethoscopes to list just a few. Williams has even been known to add jewelry to her characters.

Most people's first reaction to Williams' "miniature folks" is a shake of the head. Each scene is so tiny that it seems impossible that she does all of the work by hand.

"The joy that I get out of doing these itty-bitty little folks is that it takes patience and focus," says Williams. "It's a good therapy if you want to practice patience." In addition to her miniature folks, Williams creates cloth dolls that are known as "Momwow" dolls.

Williams' daughter originated the name of the dolls when she first saw one in her mother's suitcase.

"She opened it up and she said 'Oh, Mom wow!" and that's where the name comes from, says Williams.

A trait that can be found on all of Williams' works is big, wide, white eyes.

"The most important thing is eyes. And, your eyes are the window to the soul," as it says in the Bible, says Williams, who has done everything from interior decorating and oil painting to creating bronze sculptures. Her artwork has been displayed at various sites around Cincinnati.

Williams currently works out of her Bond Hill home, but would love to have a studio of her own one day. She has already started her own company called Soul Art Inc.

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