Dog-groomer-turned-dioramic-artist finds her niche

Date Published: 
April 27, 2012

Art comes in a variety of forms, across a multitude of mediums, and Deborah Martucci’s dioramas are no exception. Since 2007, Martucci’s careful touch and attention to detail has turned curious eyes onto a unique style that has been mastered by very few.

Coastal Point • Ryan Saxton: Figurines and hand-crafted clay sculptures are brought to life in Deborah Martucci's artistic dioramas. Martucci, who found her passion in 2007, will be featured this coming Memorial Day at the 5th Annual Millville Artisans Fair.Coastal Point • Ryan Saxton: Figurines and hand-crafted clay sculptures are brought to life in Deborah Martucci's artistic dioramas. Martucci, who found her passion in 2007, will be featured this coming Memorial Day at the 5th Annual Millville Artisans Fair.From pebbles and sand to a collection of figurines and polymer clay creations, there are no limits to what goes into the dioramas and, with meticulous decisions, each creation is brought to life, telling a unique story.

“I find it to be very therapeutic,” Martucci said of her craft. “I can just sit down and get lost in everything. It’s actually very easy to lose track of time when I get involved.”

While most of her dioramas are housed in one-of-a-kind domes, fashioned with wooden bases, for some of the creations, Martucci employs mirror-backed glass boxes and fixed-up lanterns. Some of the old lanterns are even equipped with a working light above the centerpiece for added effect.

Beach scenes, weddings and angels are some of the themes in her dioramas, though her Christmas-themed art is among the most popular pieces with her customers.

“I just get an idea and go with it,” explained Martucci, who spent more than 30 years as a dog groomer before finding her love for dioramic art. “I can just look at the different figurines, see what goes well together, and just go from there. There’s a lot of creativity and artistic influence that comes with dog grooming, too, and I like to think it carried over into the dioramas, too.”

Martucci said she grew intrigued by the dioramic art of former neighbor, Frank Bruno, while living in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Seabrook, Md. In 2005, she began assisting him with shows before she decided to tackle the art herself.

“I started working with him,” she recalled, “and he told me I had a knack for dioramic art, so I decided to take it on myself.”

A single diorama can take days to complete and, as with any style of art, can even conjure up frustration. But in the end, every piece is something completely unique and special. More often than not, Martucci noted, brainstorming the idea can take just as long, if not longer, than putting everything together.

“With dioramas,” she said, “everything is one-of-a-kind. People really appreciate the detail and time that goes into each one. At shows, men sometimes spend more time looking at each diorama than the women do.”

While she has featured her dioramas in a number of art and craft shows, she is now joining the list of 40 artists and crafters at the Fifth Annual Millville Artisans Fair, scheduled for Saturday, May 26, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Millville Fire Hall.

“I’ll be featuring some dioramas with a firefighter theme to them, for the show,” Martucci noted.

The show, assembled by the South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter, will raise money for scholarships for Indian River High School and Delaware Tech students.

Many of Martucci’s creations are designed specifically for a given customer, whether it includes a specific breed of dog, a love for cats, a particular event in someone’s life, or a theme or hobby that best portrays an individual. The domes, which help to protect each diorama from dust, range in size, varying from 7 inches in diameter to 12 inches.

“I like making something personal that people connect to,” she added. “It makes every diorama different and special. And dioramas aren’t too common these days. I think people really enjoy them because they’re something that they don’t often get to see.”

For more information about Deborah Martucci’s dioramic artwork, including contact information and a gallery of some of her work, visit www.DAMInspirations.com. For information about the upcoming Artisans Fair, including volunteering opportunities, contact fair head coordinator Ione Phillips at (302) 539-2172. Read the Coastal Point in weeks leading up to the Millville Artisans Fair for exclusive interviews with featured artists and crafters.