Thursday, 22 November 2012
I always wanted a dollhouse. We moved around too much to make it feasible (RAF), so I made my own, out of cardboard boxes, cutting windows and doors,, that “hinged” at one side, and could open and close. I used mum’s pretty embroidered hankies for curtains, and her mah-jong box for a bed, with dad’s large white hankies for bedding. I made little dressers out of matchboxes, glued together, and I borrowed bamboo place mats for the floors. Buttons and bottle-tops made plates, and larger bottle caps made cups and vases. Mum’s lacquered jewellery box made a nifty wardrobe, as it was a very fancy one, with three doors, and little drawers underneath. When you turned the switch on the back, the geisha lady in the centre cabinet with glass door would twirl to music from the music box.
I never stopped wanting a dollhouse, and over the years, I vaguely collected things for it, and tucked them away into cupboards, carried them all around the world with me, and would sometimes get them out, admire them, tell my husband I’d love him to make me a doll house, and then, tuck them back into the cupboard for a while. I got a yellow-wood and imbuia dining suite in Knysna, in South Africa, complete with two captains’ chairs and six regular chairs, also a wonderful jongmanskas (tallboy) from the same place. That was a furniture makers’ workshop, they must have also had a yen for smaller things! I snatched up a black, mother-of-pearl-inlaid set of benches and plant-stands in Chinatown in Singapore, similar to some I saw in The Blue Mansion in Penang, I bought little teeny-tiny things anywhere and everywhere, and stashed them all away.
I have collected tea-pots for many years, and whenever I saw a miniature tea-set, I collected that as well. I displayed those in a nifty wooden box with a Perspex front, which originally contained international beers, that I bought for my son one Christmas, telling him that I hoped he liked the beers, and could I please have the box if he didn’t need it?!
Then last year, I was trawling the internet, and found a place where I could buy a 1/144th scale dollhouse, and the microscopically small furniture to put inside it. I had never heard of Jewel Lewis at that point, I just knew I had to have the dollhouse. I could afford that teeny one! So, I sent off for it, mail-order, and when it arrived, I set to and assembled it. I learned a lot from that experience, and one very important lesson was NOT to sneeze near tiny pieces, as they fly away. I have never found the tiny taps again... I have made several other Jewel Lewis 1/144th scale kits since then. I think I’ve got better at it!
Later that year, I visited the UK, and went and bought myself a kitset dollhouse from Maple Street Miniatures, in Hertfordshire. It was the biggest one I thought I could carry, weighed 14 kilos, goodness know how I got away with it as baggage on the flight home, and as soon as I started putting it together I realised two things: it wasn’t big enough, and I knew NOTHING about this stuff!
So I joined a club. North Shore Minis, in Auckland, the nicest, friendliest and most helpful bunch of people you could ever hope to meet. That dollhouse is still only half assembled, as the more I learn, the more I know I need to learn. I hope to get on with it over the next few months, as I have ordered a much grander dollhouse, something along the Downton Abbey sort of line. It will be pre-assembled for me, as another valuable lesson learned is that I like the decorating part more than the building of the carcase, so to speak. It should be ready mid-year, so I will have time to finish other things. Watch this space.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
I made the kitchen last year, but my daughter wasn't all that interested until I started to decorate the minis for Xmas, as well as my real house. Suddenly, it's all SO much more exciting! The tree will come out from under the house, and the decorations have been brought down from the attic. The baking just needs to be mince pies, instead of pastry.
Saturday, 17 November 2012
A project taken from The Dolls' House Magazine issue 86, July 2005. Heaven and Earth, by John Cutts. Made from a coat button, a ping-pong ball, some broken earrings, matchsticks, glue, wire and paint. It looked simple, and effective, and so it turned out. I am very pleased with the result! Now, I just need to make the attic for it to be in. I see a gentleman, in his attic, using the telescope to observe the stars, through the skylight, and having his brandy close by, together with his pipe and tobacco jar, on the small table beside his armchair. He will have bookshelves, and a footstool, and maps on the wall, also star-charts, and anything else I can think of to clutter the place up. The telescope is also a project by John Cutts, in the same magazine issue. I shall do that next.