TinyIreland began in the little West Cork village of Ballydehob. Anke Eckardt, an enthusiastic model builder, was making a miniature version of Ballydehob for her son's railway layout, when she came up with the idea of designing model making kits so that everyone could enjoy her work. Anke has worked as a furniture maker and boatbuilder in West Cork since 1995.
Her fascination for paper modelling goes hand in hand with her woodwork. Making paper prototypes has long been her way of “playing” with a project before actually even getting out the timber.
"As I design and paint my miniature streets, I try to capture the essence of the colourful, vibrant Irish towns which we all love.Months of preparation go into each of my gift kits: beginning with a visit to the town itself, talking to the locals and researching about its history. I take photographs of every thing that catches my interest - trees, graffiti, birds, road signs, whatever! I carefully choose the models to be featured in my kit, trying to recapture the atmosphere I perceived while walking through the town's streets. Each town has its own heritage architecture to be proud of - but repeatedly I find myself drawn towards those colourful old pubs and shops. They speak of the courage and tenacity of small businesses throughout the history of Ireland. To me, it is these quirky, traditional old buildings which give Irish towns their unique character."