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Northfield Mother-Daughter Duo Gets Nat'l Attention For 'Miniaturist' Projects

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Sometimes you have to think big, but build small. That's the philosophy of a mother-daughter team in Northfield.

In this week's Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how they are getting national attention for their attention to detail.

"This is my little, winter cabin. Completely rustic with the fire and wood," said Tracy Giza.

Listening to Tracy and Renee Giza you might think they were home builders or interior designers. And they are, just at a much smaller scale.

"I definitely like the way the outside looks in the windows," said Renee while looking at one house in particular.

"These are just little pieces of wood. Little pieces of wood that are glued to the roof," said Tracy.

Tracy and Renee have been teaming up on what are called "miniaturist" projects for years. Each specializing in what they do well. Renee, the daughter, is the consultant and Tracy is the contractor.

Tracy became a homeowner at the age of 5. That's when she got her first dollhouse. While most kids would be content with such a gift, Tracy wanted to renovate.

"And I added a whole, other level to the dollhouse. That was my first construction basically," said Tracy. "I just loved it ever since."

Like all builders and remodelers, Tracy has figured out which tools work best. Instead of nail guns, she uses glue guns. Instead of saws, she uses scissors.

"If I make them the right size, they are nice and firm between the shelves and they'll stay," said Tracy while creating miniature books. "I can make a whole slew of them in an hour and place them on the book shelf."

Keen eyes and attention to detail landed Tracy and Renee on a show called "The Biggest, Little Christmas Showdown" in New York City. There, they competed against other miniaturists from across the country -- and they almost won.

"We had a lot of laughs and we had tension at times. It was good," said Tracy.

"I like the challenges because I like to accomplish things," said Renee.

The experience has helped them with their work back home. The ultimate goal is to make their mini-creations look as real as possible with clay, wood, glue and plastic.

Tracy and Renee are all about using their talents to help others. Their latest project is a Make a Wish project for Lydia, a 4-year-old girl who is battling cancer.

"She's getting a bedroom renovation and this will go into the new bedroom," said Tracy. "All the presents, I individually wrapped and I did them a little bit better than I've done in the past."

It proves that the smallest of projects often have the biggest impact.

"You can go as simple or as complex as you want to with each piece and each room and each house," said Tracy. "You're creating your own, little world so you decide what the theme is."

Tracy and Renee said nothing gets thrown away. Sometimes, material used for a roof in one project becomes a lamp shade for another.

If you'd like to see more of their work, click here.

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