I’ve always loved dolls. I know plenty of grownups with a doll or two (or an entire collection, from Barbie to American Girl and everything in between). While I loved my dolls, I spent much of my childhood playing with my dollhouse.You’re never too old to enjoy miniature scale dollhouses! There’s an entire world of serious adult (women and men) miniature collectors. I’ve recently discovered it’s a great big miniature world out there…
My best childhood Christmas was circa 1977. My dad had a “workshop” in the backyard. Daddy was a traveling salesman; woodworking was a hobby. I’d happily play outside, frequently popping in to see what Daddy was creating. One day, I was no longer allowed in the workshop, the doors locked. Being a curious elf, I tried peeking, but to no avail! I didn’t know what was being built, and curiosity was killing me!
That Christmas Eve, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep! With tree lights twinkling in the living room, a shadow was cast on my bedroom wall: the silhouette of a dollhouse!
Daddy built an amazing dollhouse: a saltbox with shutters on the windows, a hand-carved chimney and porch lights repurposed from cufflinks. Mama bought beautiful, handmade realistic furniture to go inside, and a family of German-made dolls.
On special occasions my parents would take me to “World Toy and Gift Shop”, a toy store in the Houston “Village”. My dad shopped there when HE was a kid. The store was amazing – much of it “old stock”- with a miniature section like no other. My parents were thrifty, but when it came to toys, I had the best.
My dollhouse had tiny, choke-worthy pieces a small child wouldn’t be allowed to play with nowadays, but I learned to take care and cherish it. Sadly, when we moved in the late 80s, my dollhouse got lost! I only have the one old photo, with my teenage brother making a funny face through the window (cracks me up to this day).
As an adult, I never forgot my dollhouse. For years, I’d search eBay thinking, maybe someday, like a needle in a haystack I’d catch it for sale.
Recently a vintage dollhouse popped up on a Facebook tag sale that looked similar to mine, and my family thought it’d be a great Mother’s Day gift. I’m amazed how much it reminds me of MY old dollhouse, learning from the seller that the original owner was my age and that her father built it circa 1977! As a bonus, it came with several boxes of furniture and accessories, some the same pieces I had as a child! It’s like it was meant to be.
Miniature scale can be 1:48 (¼”), 1:24 (½”) or 1:12 (1 inch) scale (like mine). Larger scale, or “play scale” is 1:6. It’s relaxing and fun setting up the dollhouse, now sitting in our living room. I especially love MAKING miniatures!
“Printies” are sites with miniature printables you can print. I’ve printed out posters and photos, and made books, comics and jar labels. I’ve made hat, match, food and cleaning supply boxes. Open desk drawers and there’s bills, letters and even a mini passport! A few of my favorite “printies” sites are printmini.com and jennifersprintables.com.
I’ve created dish towels and curtains from ribbon and scrap fabric, making curtain rods from barbeque skewers and beads.
Old rags became towels. I made a shower curtain from fabric and the wire egg holder from a box of Easter egg dye. A thimble became a waste paper basket. I’ve filled jars with real flour and bath salts, and there’s actual soap in the soap dishes.
I’ve repaired old, broken furniture and and made new bedding and pillows. I’ve taken mass produced items and “dressed them up”. I’ve knitted and crocheted throw rugs, blankets, doilies, and winter wear for the coat rack using the tiniest needles and yarn, usually while drinking my morning coffee.
The dollhouse, miniature, and diorama hobby is going strong. The Facebook group, “World of Dollhouses and Miniatures”, has over 13,000 members! My mini’s theme is 1930/40-something, and while cute, it’s “rough” compared to some of the amazing work of some! I think ours looks pretty good, considering we only started working on it in May.
“Miniature Conventions” take place around the world. In June, my daughter and I attended the Molly Cromwell Dollhouse Miniatures Festival in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. We were amazed at the jaw-dropping detail! All the artisans showed immense talent, but our favorite booth was that of Lisa Meyer and Stephanie Watt, known as “Mini Maniacs Miniatures”!
Mini Maniacs Miniatures (“MiniswithMusic” on Etsy) has everything 1:12 scale to decorate for Christmas – realistic tabletop trees, decorated mantels, wreaths, and dreamy Christmas trees (complete with lights). There’s “mystical” items, too- miniatures can be any theme, (think “Harry Potter”, for example). Their detailed work also includes one-of-a-kind vignettes and music boxes featuring miniatures.
Lisa, Production and Recruitment Coordinator for the Deparment of Music (as well as a professional singer and choral conductor), and Stephanie, a concert pianist and full Professor and Director of Theory and Piano Studies in the Department of Music, became friends after meeting at Long Island University, where they both work. Lisa loved dollhouses as a child. She got started creating miniatures in 2006 while making a gift for her mother, after finding that the pieces she was in search of were too expensive or not available. By 2011, miniatures was a serious passion for Lisa and the Etsy shop was born.
Lisa loves how the world of miniatures has limitless possibilities, able to transport the beholder to any time or place. She finds all mediums can be used, including wood, fabric, and paint. Both Lisa and Stefanie have won awards for their miniature work. Lisa’s creation, a wizard’s castle, won second place in November 2017 at the Philadelphia Miniatures Show!
My teen daughter and I have enjoyed decorating and picking pieces for our mini-home at craft stores, Etsy and at a delightful miniature store in our state, Whimsies Dollhouse Shop!
We can keep adding to the house, looking forward to decorating it for the seasons, too!
Hope you enjoyed this peek at the world of miniatures! Leave me a comment here so I know you stopped by. Wishing everyone a Happy Fourth of July!
*Here’s a video if you’d like to see the dollhouse in greater detail:
Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole