The Miniature Clay Baha’i Gardens of Sama Shodjai

I may never understand why tiny things inspire such awe (remember this tiny prayer book and this tiny introduction to the Baha’i Faith?) but when first I saw Sama’s work I was delighted! Below is a small gallery of Sama’s intricately detailed miniature Baha’i gardens (the locations of the gardens represented are in the captions) and a few of her words on what inspires her and how she creates them. 

Gardens adjacent to the Haifa Pilgrim House

Gardens adjacent to the Haifa Pilgrim House

Gardens south of the Shrine of the Bab

Gardens south of the Shrine of the Bab

A segment of the path on the Arc on Mount Carmel

A segment of the path on the Arc on Mount Carmel

A segment of the path on the Arc on Mount Carmel

Courtyard of the House of Abdu’llah Pasha

Courtyard of the House of Abdu’llah Pasha

Bahji

Baha’i Blog: Could please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Artist Sama Shodjai

Hello! My name is Sama, and I am most recently from Canada—but my heart is in South America where I spent most of my childhood. Over the last several years I have pursued architecture, life coaching, and, strangely, a pilot licence. Currently, I’m doing a term of service with my husband at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel, where I have discovered a new love for growing house plants! I plan to continue my studies in landscape architecture and pursue a creative field in designing uplifting spaces in which communities may grow and flourish.

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us about your miniature gardens? What are they made of? What is the process like to put them together?

My miniature gardens are made of modelling clay, also known as plasticine. The only tools I use are a toothpick and a fine tea strainer. Sometimes I take a picture of a portion of a garden that I want to recreate and I work off of the image; however, most of the pieces I’ve completed are made up from my imagination. I usually begin by covering the surface I’m working on with a thin layer of modelling clay, and then I add topography by molding the clay into small hills and slopes, and finally I start adding different types of plants and other features.

Baha’i Blog: What inspires you to make them?

I was first inspired to make miniature gardens when I was 11 years old after going on pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. I started making gardens that were very manicured and symmetrical like the Baha’i gardens. My style evolved to capture the beauty of nature’s unpredictability, as I started creating wilder landscapes. Now that I’m at the Baha’i World Centre and surrounded by the most perfect gardens once again, I was inspired to create a set of miniature sculptures—the idea is to be able to hold a small piece of the Holy Land in your hand!

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Sama, for sharing your incredible works!

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All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

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Discussion 7 Comments

  1. That’s quite, very beautiful dear Naysan. I have not seen anything so beautiful yet. Many thanks for these beautiful pictures and congratulations. And the glory of God shines on the very beautiful bahaiblog. I greet everyone warmly

  2. Amazing detail!!! I have never seen anything like this. These are beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your art with us.

    1. Hi Bonnie! Great question but as far as I know, Sama is not currently selling these. Thank you for asking though!

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