The Other Work In Progress

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Today I thought I would talk about my other creative endeavour – my doll’s house project.

I’ve always been fascinated by dolls’ houses. If dolls were characters to me, dolls’ houses were settings.  But I always wanted them to be like real houses, with things in drawers and cupboards and food in the fridge. When I was a child, I decorated my dolls’ house with offcuts of carpets and wallpaper. I cut squares of cardboard, drew pictures on them and put them in the hi fi cabinet as record album covers. I drew pictures of dresses on coat hangers, coloured them in, cut them out and stuck them in the wardrobe.  I fashioned food out of Play Doh and put it in the little fridge.

I had the concept right, if not the scale. As an adult, I decided I wanted a proper dolls’ house, with everything in the correct scale. For my 30th birthday, my husband got me a flatpacked Georgian Townhouse. This has been a work in progress ever since. As my 42nd birthday is a couple of weeks away, this will give you an idea of how long it’s been a work in progress. I am attaching a picture of how it currently looks. Perhaps, you might think, not much progress in 12 years. But everything in this house so far I have created with my own two hands. Look at those staircases. Each step had to be glued onto the backboard, each rail had to be painstakingly glued onto a corresponding step, and the bannisters had to be affixed to the top of the rails. And then they had to be painted, and screwed into the house. And note there are three of such staircases…

I have to say this sort of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. I have no manual dexterity, and no patience. But working on the dolls’ house is a creative outlet of sorts. I have to think about how to decorate each room, and I’ve been collecting furniture over the years. There is some satisfaction in making progress on the project. OK, it’s not looking perfect. There are brush marks and blobs on the paint work, and air bubbles in the wallpaper. Some of the edges look rather scrappy. And I still have a lot more work to do on it.

We have recently been doing some sorting out at home, and in the process of this the dolls’ house was moved from the cupboard in which it was hiding. It’s now on display in the dining room. Being on display means, of course, I have to make progress on it. I am hoping this will be a little more frequent now that I am looking at it on a daily basis. Time is a factor. In order to make any meaningful progress I have to have several hours free, with no other demands on my time. This doesn’t happen very often

But when working on the dolls’ house, I feel, should be my preferred activity when I’m not writing and getting frustrated by not writing. It’s a creative outlet, and it gives me a similar sort of satisfaction to writing.

Hence, now the house is out, I am pledging to spend more time on it and not forget about it for years at a time, as has happened up to now. It might even help me through my current writers’ block.

I will endeavour to post progress reports on this blog.

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