Monday, March 10, 2008

Doll House Miniatures

I started collecting dollhouse miniatures when I was eight years old because I liked my friend E's dollhouse (You know... the friend who kept drowning?) My first dollhouse was made for me by my parents. It was a large wooden box, stained dark brown, with two shelves (which made 3 floors) and crookedly sawed out windows and a door. I loved it! My mother wallpapered it with wrapping paper and helped make a lot of my earlier pieces. I think she enjoyed it as much as I did. I continued to collect miniatures throughout college and still have two (sadly neglected) room boxes and one (equally neglected) dollhouse in my current home.

I always worked in one inch scale (or "an inch to a foot") which is the most common dollhouse scale in the USA. What that means is that anything that would normally be a foot long in "real life" is an inch long in the dollhouse. When I was younger, the miniatures I had weren't always to scale because, although most of my items were store bought or professionally made, some items were made by my mother, some were made by a neighbor, and some were just found items. But many of my original items were to scale, and I still have a lot of them today.

In high school, several friends liked my house and decided they wanted to collect miniatures too. My best friend (whom I'd known since I was 1 year old -we were neighbors) even took an internship at a dollhouse store. She bought a kit (Duracraft I think) and started to build a really large 10 room house. She assembled most of it, the main structure anyway, but never quite finished it. Several years later we had the following conversation:

I need to get rid of some stuff. What do you want of mine?

I don't know... clothes? Or um... that frog over there? I don't know. I have no idea. I really don't need anything.

Yes you do. Think big.


No. What do you really want of mine?

(I was confused. I really wanted bookshelves! Then I realized...)

Oh my gosh... your dollhouse??!!!

Yes! Take it out of here, do whatever you want with it. I'm sick of looking at it. Finish it, paint it, wallpaper it, anything you want. Keep it as long as you'd like. One or ten years, I don't care. My only requirement is that when you don't want it anymore, even if it's ten years from now, you promise to give it back to me and not get rid of it some other way.
I never jumped on a deal so fast in my life!

I kept her house for many years. I wallpapered it, carpeted it, painted it blue with white trim, and installed electricity. I never used electricity in any of my houses, but I always installed it because ideally the wiring should to go under wallpaper and flooring. So it's better to install electrical wiring in a dollhouse and not use it, than to not install it and decide you want it later!

I had a great time with that house, and returned it to her many years later. I kept my furniture, but she got back a finished, wallpapered, electrified house. -Then she got married and gave birth to two boys! ;)

I don't think I ever took pictures of the exterior of that house (aka "The Blue House"), but I still have some photos of the interior rooms. -Guess what I'll be posting throughout the next few weeks? ;)



MP said...

This made me smile!

I remember my dollhouse like that, my mom was way more into it than I was. I had issue cause it was too small for my barbies...and I wanted them to play in it.

ps..mine had electricity too..

Vanessa said...

What an amazing story, talk about a labor of love. I didn't even know they could have electricity!

Mac and Cheese said...

You can babysit my dollhouse any time!

Melissa said...

mp: Definitely too small for Barbies! Though they do make barbie sized ones now too. Wooden ones, not the Barbie brand ones.

Would you believe I never actually "played" with mine? I would set up "scenes" or tableaus and just leave them like that, and it made me happy. But I wouldn't pick up the dolls themselves and play house or act things out with them. I did that with other dolls in my room, but not with the dollhouse!

Re: your mom... if you had electricity it definitely sounds like it was *her* house! Lol! I'm surprised she "let" you play with it! :D

vanessa: Although I've installed electricity in my houses "just in case" I don't usually like it, so I've never used it. I like it if a specific room is supposed to have a dusky kind of mood, and I love it for christmas trees, but other than that, miniature lights are usually too dim for my taste.

FYI: I have a friend who wants running water in hers. Yes, she's a bit insane. ;)

mac: I wish I still had room! That's why I gave back my friend's. Besides, if I babysat your house, then when I gave it back you'd only have BOY children! Lol!

- If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, we can haul out your dollhouse and work on it :)

Grandy said...

I can't imagine the amount of patience for such a beautiful hobby!! YEAH (I see pics coming).

Melissa said...

Lol! I'll have more pictures over the next couple of weeks. I didn't want to post them all in a row.

The largest amount of patience this takes is waiting until you can find and/or afford all the pieces you want. Not everyone (certainly not me!) can go out and buy EVERYTHING they need to complete a room in one swoop! Some people can (and do!), but most add little by little over months or years.

That was always the most trying part for me. Making things can be difficult and require patience too, but waiting and taking 2-3 years to complete one room took much more patience for me!