Within a range of "normal sized" turnings, a set of aesthetics have developed for differnt FORMS of turning - hollow forms, finials, boxes, plates, bowls, vases, etc.. And a general set of "rules" have been developed that will result in a pleasing piece for each of the general FORMS, at least providiing an envelope for the proportions - height to width, foot size, neck size, where "shoulders" should best be located, etc.. And these "rules" generally do produce an aesthetically pleasing piece - IF the piece is similar to one of the "regular" forms.
For less often turned, or never before turned forms - unfamiliar forms, the aesthetics are developed by the turners, Escoulens' "golf club driver", Gary Fisher's eccentric works, now Barbara Dill's multi axes pieces.
I've been doing a LOT of miniatures over the last several days. Miniatures are usually merely replicas of full sized pieces, scaled way down. But, at a small enough scale, the wood will not let you go any smaller, there just isn't enough strength left, or due to the limitations of the fine motor skills of most humans.
It's at and below these threshold of scale that things can get pretty interesting. And when you go small enough, there are few if any "rules" to follow. As a result, there's plenty of room to play in
If you just want to explore forms and proportions, a poplar dowel is a great blank to start with. But if you want to add the color and grain of the wood,choosing the right wood can be the difference between a really nice piece - and merely a pleasing little piece. Fruitwood, cherry, plum, apricot or pair - the heartwood - works well. These woods arre pretty strong,the grain is pretty fine and there are color variations - perfect for turning thin and delicate - relatively speaking, given the scale of miniatures.
Back to the aesthetics thing. I'm finding that, because of their petiteness, you look at miniatures differently. You don't pick them up and look at them - unless you're willing to crawl around on the floor to find them when you drop them. They sit still and YOU move around them. What you perceive and experience is quite different from "normal size" pieces. Its the side profile and the top view that registers in your mind's eye, NOT the total piece. There's no HEFT or LIGHTNESS, the pieces only a half gram or less. And if there's figure in the wood, the piece is examined as if it were a gem rather than a turning - you look VERY closely and see tiny details you probably wouldn't notice in a larger "normal sized" piece.
Oddly, what would seem thick and massive at "normal size" may look just fine at 1/12th scale or smaller.
Here are some shots of FOUR MORE. At larger sizes, each might look THICK. But at this small size, I think they look "right. Ok, so the bead at the foot of some could be a little finer - but . . .
Comments, critieques, suggestions welcomed.