British Columbia

Vancouver poet makes teeny, tiny homage to local bookstore

Isabella Wang, a local writer and poet, is expressing her love for independent book stores by creating mini versions of them — right down to the books on the shelves.

Making miniatures has soared in popularity during the pandemic

Vancouver poet Isabella Wang has recreated independent bookstore Massy Books in miniature. (@isabellawangbc/Twitter)

Many people love independent bookstores, but poet Isabella Wang took her big love further than most — recreating Vancouver's Massy Books down to the door, the seats and books on the shelves in miniature form.

"It's necessary for me right now. I'm not going out as much especially during the pandemic and so this is therapeutic. It lets me do something with my hands in a productive way while relaxing," said Wang to Gloria Macarenko, the host of CBC's On The Coast. 

Wang, who is also a student at Simon Fraser University, was inspired to start making miniatures after doing an assigned reading by Roland Barthes in her sociology class. In it, Barthes wrote about French miniature toys, describing them as a microcosm of human life. 

"What he wrote really resonated with me," Wang said.

Before the pandemic, she says she was going to poetry readings at Massy Books and other independent bookstores at least four or five times a week.

"As a writer and poet myself, these are community spaces where I have a lot of good memories with friends."

Wang has spent a few hours every night for the last two months working on the Massy Books creation. (@isabellawangbc/Twitter)

Model-making and miniature kits have become a very popular hobby during the pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported one manufacturer — Hands Craft U.S. — saw a 650 per cent increase in year-over-year sales of its miniature kits. 

Wang started out with a DIY miniature kit bought online before moving to creating her own pieces which she now cuts and glues together. 

Wang says she has spent the last two months working on her miniature bookstore project, spending a few hours every evening, and working full time on it during a week in February. (@isabellawangbc/Twitter)

She has spent a few hours every night for the last two months working on the Massy Books creation, including a week of eight to 10 hour days in February during her reading week break. 

"My roommates were like, are you OK? Please get some sleep," she said, laughing.

Isabella Wang's replica of Massy Books next to the real thing. (@isabellawangbc/Twitter and BookNetCanada)

Wang said she hopes to do replicas of other beloved bookstores in the city.

"So many independent bookstores in our area [are] just really grassroots gathering place[s] for many poets and writers in the community," she said. 

With files from On The Coast