Each season of the Netflix series House of Cards seems more intense than the next, and naturally, all this action and character development has sparked plenty of memes and fan art. The show provides tons of dark themes to explore and catch phrases that die-hard fans would recognise in a heartbeat. But Tamara Gentuso instead took inspiration from something viewers might skip over: the townhouses of Washington, D.C. In 2015, Gentuso visited the area and instantly loved the architecture. The artist recognised the same townhouses in the opening credits of House of Cards and decided to start recreating them in miniature. Her clay pieces focus on this architectural form and the ways in which each home is unique. Soon her love for the houses extended to other cities.
“I began to research DC architecture and then dove in with my first row house,” Gentuso tells The Creators Project. “At present, I have done four row houses from DC, three from San Francisco, one from Pittsburg, and a bungalow commission piece from Nashville.”
The Nashville-based artist also lists her creations on her Etsy shop. In photos, most of the townhouses don’t seem quite as small as they actually are, but a townhouse modeled after a structure in San Francisco, for example, measures only 15 inches tall. Each townhouse also has little details that add to its personality, like birds or a neighbourhood cat tanning out on the porch. The clay pieces show Gentuso’s careful attention to detail and fascination with architecture.
“My fascination for clay houses began in February 2015 with a search for the perfect container for my tea bags,” wrote Gentuso. “An avid tea drinker (a hot cuppa London Fog Latte is my current favourite), I came up with the idea of creating small clay houses/cottages to hold my tea bags...the tea house idea took hold and gradually morphed into the challenge of building larger edifices.”
Each piece can also be used as a canister for stashing food or treasures. This gives them a dual function as aesthetically pleasing and functional pieces.
Gentuso’s practice extends across a range of mediums. When she’s not creating townhouses, she also works on other projects, from sculpture to photography.
“I tend to cycle through subjects/projects,” writes Gentuso. “Raku animals for Noah's Ark; caffeine-related functional pieces (tea and espresso sets, typically); portrait sculptures based on photos I've taken in the past; "world" nativity sets; large platters/bowls on which to experiment with glazes; and architectural sculptures.”
Gentuso is currently looking around her hometown of Nashville for inspiration. The artist also takes commissions for unique town houses by request — so you can get a miniature version of your favourite structure from any city. Each piece takes between four to eight weeks to complete.
The townhouses definitely have a certain charm, and as Gentuso’s project proves, House of Cards can provide inspiration on themes lighter than murder and political intrigue.
For more of Tamara Gentuso's work, click here.