Archive for the ‘Dolls’ House’ Category

Dolls’ House Update: Cats and Sofas

Work on the dolls’ house project has been slow of late.  Lack of time continues to be an issue, but my own crapness also plays a role.  Working on the dolls’ house requires craft skills.  You need patience, manual dexterity and skills in analytical planning.  I seem to possess none of these traits.

The house is now erected and mostly decorated, and my lack of skill is apparent.  There are air bulges in the wallpaper.  The floors sag, and I have no idea why, or how to fix them.  None of the corners align properly, and the thing just generally looks lopsided.

I continue to attend monthly meetings of my dolls’ house club – though admittedly I tend to make less than half of them every year.  I was hoping to pick up tips.  However, everyone else there seems to be so much better at this sort of stuff than I am, and the kind of tips I need are so basic that it never seems to occur to anyone that I might not know how to do this sort of stuff.  I guess it’s kind of like joining a football team – there will be an assumption that anyone wanting to join the team already knows how to play the game, and I come in not even knowing you’re supposed to kick the ball.

However, in spite of the house not being finished yet I have been collecting various bits of furniture over the years.  Yesterday my dolls’ house club went on an excursion to the Miniatura show in Birmingham.  We’ve done this before, and it always feels a bit like a school field trip.  We all meet at the allocated meeting point at 8:30am, armed with packed lunches.  We board the mini-bus and go off on a jolly trip to the show, and at the end of the day we are dropped off again, tired and happy.

The Miniatura show is full of wondrous things.  Most of the vendors are dolls’ house enthusiasts who enjoy making tiny accessories and selling them on – everything you could possibly want for your house you can generally find there, from scaled-down tins of beans and chocolate bars to actual working dolls’ house sized television sets.  Every period is catered for.  Most people seem to prefer their dolls’ house to be nostalgic – Victorian or Tudor period, say.  Mine is contemporary.  Contemporary accessories can be found, but are not as popular.  Generally my experience has been if you browse a show and see something you like, buy it then and there because you never know when you’ll see it again.  On this latest trip to Miniatura I found a black leather sofa and matching armchairs that I thought would look perfect in my house.  So I bought them.

Dolls' house living room, with furniture to date

Dolls’ house living room, with furniture to date

I have set them up in my dolls’ house living room, along with the flat screen TV I bought at a previous show.  The furniture is looking pretty good, but the room itself is not yet finished.  If you look closely at the top right-hand corner of the picture you will see one of my mistakes.  When I put up the coving on the ceiling, I sawed the wood straight across and glued it in place, before realising that I should have cut it at an angle, in order to fit the coving along the back panel that makes up the back wall of the house.  And then I couldn’t take it off without pulling off all the wall and ceiling paper, and that took a long time to affix.  It’s the sort of mistake I typically make in this project because I really have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to fix it.

This picture also features the sole occupant of the dolls’ house.  Thus far I have not found any other figures to complete this household. I haven’t found any child dolls in modern dress I like yet, and the male dolls just never seem to look right – somehow they all come out looking like women with short hair.  I am considering making my house an all-female household.

Thus far, this lone woman doll occupies the house with two cats, complete with kitty accessories, and these are pictured below.  The scratching post and the bag of kitty kibble I found at the Miniatura fair and I thought they were so cute.  It might be hard to tell from the picture, but everything is 1/12th scale – so an inch represents a foot.  I am particularly impressed with the scratching post.

WP_000179So my dolly household contains a lady with two cats – which some might say is just perfect as it is, even if the house acquires no further occupants.  I already have a set of bunk beds, though, and quite a lot of dolls’ house size toys and games, so could do with a couple of child dolls.

1/12th scale is the traditional dolls’ house scale, but 1/24th and 1/48th scale dolls’ house furniture are becoming increasingly popular – I think this is mostly due to the fact that they take up less space.  I am really not fond of these smaller scales – that’s just too tiny for my liking, especially when it’s me that has to fiddle around placing the accessories.  A steady hand I do not have.

I fear the finished house is going to look just a bit ramshackle, and I’m not really enjoying the actual building, since I’m so crap at it.  The furniture and accessories, however – that’s the fun part.

Dolls’ House Update – Book Cases

I posted back in October about my ongoing dolls’ house project. Work has progressed on this, though the house isn’t finished yet. However, it’s nearly there, and over the years I have been collecting furniture. After all, the aim of building the house is to get to the fun part – putting in the furniture.

I have given a lot of thought to the book shelves. Obviously, a house of mine must be full of books, no matter what size it is. I have two identical book cases for the dolls’ house, so I am thinking about setting up a little library.

Filling the book cases is a lot of fun. There are three types of books that can be bought for a dolls’ house.

1. Little wood blocks cut to be shaped like rows of books, and painted a uniform colour.
2. Individual books cut from smaller blocks of wood, covered with paper and painted accordingly.
3. ‘Real’ little books, bound in vinyl or card and with proper turning pages.

Some people take this third option a step further. I’ve seen lots of vendors at my visits to dolls’ house fairs who specialise in creating miniature reproductions of actual books. So you can buy MOBY DICK or ALICE IN WONDERLAND, say, recreated in 1/12th scale. The words are too tiny to read, but if you peer at them with a magnifying glass, you will see that every word is present in these miniature recreations. They are incredible, but very expensive. Most of these vendors spend hours on their projects, and they are priced accordingly. You pay more for a tiny book than you do for a real-life sized one.

I have been painstakingly working on filling my doll’s house book shelves with a combination of these three types of books (the ‘real’ ones have blank pages, which are much cheaper), and I attach a picture of the result so far. You can see that not all the shelves are full yet, but I am quite proud of it.

I learned from my doll’s house club the secret to affixing the books on the shelves. The trick is something called ‘Tacky Wax’. It is precisely what it says on the tin. You attach a tiny bit to the book, and put the book on the shelf. It will keep the books from flying all over the place if the house is knocked, but they are still easy to remove if you want to move them around.

Now I have to work on filling the second book shelf. And, of course, finishing the house so I can get on with the task of putting in the furniture.

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.