Gil Maldonado Miniatures
The Amazing Miniature Kachinas of Gil Maldonado
Gil Maldonado was born in New Mexico in 1933. His mother was Hopi, and his father, Spanish. His mother, Little Star, made sure Hopi culture and tradition were prominent in the Maldonado home. In his youth, he was initiated into the Kiva, and participated in Hopi Ceremonies throughout his adult life.
Maldonado started creating art as a small boy. He never focused on one medium, nor did he have any formal training. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that he carved his first Kachina Doll; He continued carving until around 2010.
Using a two-inch piece of cottonwood root, he carved the body of the kachina in one piece. The figures proportion, muscle tone, fingers and toes are carved to perfection. Since cottonwood root is an exceptionally light, soft and porous wood, this is a difficult task. He then added the pop eyes, ears, snouts, headdresses, clothes and accessories. He used earthen-based paint, and each doll was completely painted before the clothes were attached. To achieve the fine detailing, Maldonado used remarkably fine, sable-hair brushes, some with as few as 3 strands. Finding materials to adapt to miniaturized clothing was a constant challenge. The feathers, which for the most part, were contributed by Maldonado’s pet Cockatiel, were trimmed to the right proportions, and painted to resemble life-size feathers.