Courtesy of Rosa de Jong

An artist has crafted the housing equivalent of ships in a bottle.

It’s as if Amsterdam-based artist Rosa de Jong took the traditional ship-in-a-bottle idea and turned it on its head.

For her latest ongoing project, “Micro Matter,” de Jong replaced the bottle with glass test tubes and ships with intricately handmade housing structures barely the size of your palm. Inspired by a desire to “go into the art,” she built a series of landscapes that include skyscrapers resting on a puff of cloud, houses sitting on mounds of rocks, and tents shadowed by towering trees. The tubes stand vertically, and in some pieces, the buildings look like specimens suspended in mid-air, as if the land were floating in the sky.

“It can still be abstract, but I really love it if there is space inside, a small world to go to,” she wrote in a press statement sent to reporters.

A video posted by rosa de jong (@byrosa) on

De Jong used a range of materials from the outdoors: sticks brought in by her cat, sand from the Monument Valley, and rocks from the campsites of the Caribbean island of Curacao. As for the design of the buildings, which are made using cardboard, de Jong says she mostly winged it. “Nothing is planned,” she tells CityLab via email. “I just look at it while working on it, put it in a tube, see how it looks, maybe change something.’” Each piece, she adds, inspires the next.

At first, she’d start by sketching each design, but she often found herself lost in trying to transfer tiny details from the paper to the actual model. Still, each building is filled with intricate bits. Everything from the roofs to the wires and greenery that surrounds each building has been meticulously put in place with tweezers. Dissect one of her tiny cottages and you can see that the tiny details are anything but simple.

Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong

Originally, de Jong had wanted to make miniature cities with trains running through them. But she eventually abandoned the project after becoming fixated on perfecting the gears that made the trains move. They would take her days, and de Jong says she’s never been fond of long-term undertakings.

So, armed with a handful of test tubes that she’d bought on a whim, she settled on a shorter project. Each piece in her “Micro Matter” series took her less than a day to complete, which meant that she could promptly see her creations come alive. That, she says, was most important to her.

The project is ongoing, and so far, de Jong has made more than a dozen pieces. Until it gets “boring,” she wrote in her statement, “I still feel like there are more worlds to create.”

Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong
Courtesy of Rosa de Jong

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    In a Pandemic, We're All 'Transit Dependent'

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Maps

    Readers: Share Your Hand-Made Maps of Life Under Quarantine

    As coronavirus transforms our private and public spaces, how would you map what your neighborhood and community look like now?

  5. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

×