Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dollhouse Christmas

The only recurrent change I make in my Victorian house is Christmas decorations. I always have a tree in my 1:1 life, and I use a reasonable amount of decorations, but it is fun to make miniature Christmas things. Four years ago was the first Christmas season for my dollhouse, and to begin with I needed a tree. At that point I was still exploring miniature resources in and around Cambridge so I wasn't sure where to find a tree or something recyclable to make a tree. Finally I found an incredibly ugly tree in a local superstore, which I improved by painting.

I made the ornaments with junk jewellery and beads. The present  is a small wooden block wrapped in paper. 

This is a Christmas-decorated living room. The large boxes are cut from Dollhouse and Miniature magazine that always has some nice patterns in their Christmas issue. The Christmas cards also come from it, although you can take any seasonal magazine or catalogue. I made other decorations as well.


 Of course there is a lot of cooking and baking going on before Christmas so last year I made a baking board and let the little maid make gingerbread.

At 1:1 Christmas parties, I collect junk from crackers. Perfect to make Christmas miniatures with.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A half-scale spa

With the rest of the ugly plastic furniture I decided to make a relaxation room in a spa. I know this is not quite right, because it is more of outdoor, terrace furniture.

 But I had this vision of a room in a bath house, with a large window opening into lush vegetation. Anyway, I had a small wooden box which had contained a gift of wine and cheese, and it was just the right size for a half-scale room.

I had it like this for a long time because I could not think of what else to do with it. Obviously it had to have floors and wallpaper, but I couldn't decide what would fit. Finally some time ago my son's girlfriend, who had been bitten by the dollhouse bug, sent me a parcel of small things she had found at flea markets, including a container of tiny mosaic tiles. Just what I needed after long days of work. 

I think the result is stunning. It reminds me of Gaudi. Perhaps it was the intention. I still need to decide what to do with the walls.

Half scale

In a comment to my previous post a fellow miniaturist asked whether I was sure about the half scale. She said she had similar furniture in 1:48. Here is a picture with a measuring stick:

Scales are tricky. I am not sure this furniture is in scale at all, but I can imagine that it is available in different sizes. Just as most of the manufactured dollhouse furniture is available in full scale (1:12), half scale, 1:48 and 1:144. The latter makes me dizzy, but I have just bought, in a large lot, a dollhouse for a dollhouse, which is 1:144, and I have already made some furniture for ut - will share soon.

In my modern house and in some room boxes I mix scales, mostly 1:12 and 1:16 (Lundby/Barton), and sometimes is works just fine, but sometimes it doesn't look natural. Eva Malmsten says in one of her books that if you make things yourself scale doesn't really matter as long as you are consistent. I won't miss a chance to put a lovely object into a house or box if it's slightly wrong scale; I will just find a way of placing it so that it melts in.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this is an excellent way to train your dollhouse eye.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A half-scale study

I never tried the half-scale, that is, the 1:24 scale, and never had any intention to do so until I bought this set of furniture in a thrift shop, bundled in a plastic bag among children's toys. I had no particular plans, and I didn't even like the furniture, but miniaturists are hopeless - they buy things they think may perhaps eventually likely come handy one day. I have no idea where these things come from - except that some time later I found a matching armchair in a serious antique shop, but the owner didn't know what it was and didn't see much value in it.

What I did have was a wooden wine-bottle box, the kind that come with very expensive wines that you get as a gift. It felt exactly the right size to make a half-scale room box. To begin with I simply put the sofa, desk and clock in the box and added a couple of things.

The fireplace is made from embossed wallpaper which in this scale proved just right for the carved-marble effect. The fireguard is a clothes hook. The table is made from a chess piece with a large copper coin on top. The kettle and milk jar - probably bracelet charms - were part of a lot I bought at Portobello Road market in London. I made the bookcase from two building blocks, added decoration to match the desk and glued on book rows from a catalogue (the famous image from Bodlean Library). The window is cut from a plastic fruit container. 

I then tried various flooring, but in this scale even very thin strips of wood look unnatural so I had to compromise with paper floors. I chose the smallest-patterned wallpaper, and I also used paper for rugs because even the thinnest fabric felt wrong. I made curtains from ribbons

And of course I added pictures, candlesticks and other small things. The round picture frames are buttons. The vase is the tip of a ball-point pen.

Of course most of the furniture was ready-made, and there isn't much to add to this project. Yet it was very interesting to work in this scale because everything you are used to suddenly becomes gigantic. Now I certainly understand the attraction of this scale. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

Music room, continued

Apart from piano and oboe, a music room must of course have a CD player and masses of CDs. I had earlier made CDs for my modern house, so it was easy, but I had to find music that I believed Jane and I both liked.

I cut covers from a music magazine and pasted on a bit of card, double-sided. Of course it means that that there is a different cover on each side, but I paired them in an interesting way.

I made the CD player from bits of a 3D wooden puzzle. Yes, I realise that there is something profoundly wrong with the depth, but I don't care. The displays are cut from a catalogue, as it the remote. I built the shelf from wooden strip and wooden beads.

This is what the room looked like when it was finished. Guess whether Jane was surprised!

Music room

To tell the story of the music room box I first need to explain who I made it for and why, and the best way to do it is to go to my own blog. The box I made for Jane to say thank you was a combination of her music and sartorial interests.

To begin with, the box itself was a package from Phase Eight in which my pink jacket arrived. It took me some time to decide what wallpaper would be right, and eventually I had an epiphany: the paper bag from East. It had to be daring! I used a bit of paper flooring, but I left the ceiling as it was.

Then I put in a piano that I had had for some time, don't remember where it came from, and it was wrong scale, but it didn't teally matter here. I added a little table and a mirror - mirrors are always useful in miniature rooms.

I made an outfit that was almost exactly like the one Jane and I had bought and put it on a pink hanger. I also added some details: a clock (that I had before, made from a bottle cap) and a painting of our college, Homerton. I like such half-hidden messages: if you aren't from Homerton you won't know what building it is.

I made some music magazines and a magazine rack, from a broken necklace. I also did somethning I don't normally do: printed out some sheet music from the web. It's very hard to make sheet music in 1:12.

I had ordered an oboe from ebay. No way I could make an oboe that would feel satisfactory to give to an oboe player. And while I was waiting I kept adding to the room.

A little tea party

I bought these lovely dolls in a thrift shop. I knew they were too big for my Victorian house, but I couldn't resist them. I hoped that I would find a way to use them. The most obvious way was to let them have a tea party, but it wasn't until I bought these chairs that the environment emerged.

I haven't been able to find out where the chairs come from. I need to discover a website where you can post a picture and have your object identified. I am sure there are such sites. 

I didn't use a box for the tea party because of the dolls' size: they looked too crammed. They are just having their tea on a shelf. This is what I have served them:

I had the tea cups - far too big for any of my other projects, but just right here. I didn't have saucers or plates in the right size, so I made them from clay and painted with varnish so they almost look like porcelain. The cream cake is a schampoo bottle cap, with a ready-made ribbon bow, and the cake plate is a button. Another button has become a butter cup. I baked the scones and cakes from clay The tea pot is from some thrift shop.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ongoing project


This concludes, for the time being, the story of my modern dollhouse. It is far from finished. I have "repaired" the facade with new bricks and painted the door, but it probably needs door posts. I have made a lantern from a bit of a perfume spray bottle.

The interior decoration is an ongoing project, and I will share all the improvements and details.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


As you may have noticed from the pictures, I put in windows in the modern house. When I bought is, it had no windows, although the window openings were nicely painted in various colours. Still, there was something unfinished about the house, even with curtains.

As you can clearly see, there are nineteen windows. Because the dollhouse is home-made, the openings do not match the standard 1:12 windows, and it took me a long time to find a solution. I bought a 4-pack when I was visiting a dollhouse shop; unpainted and unglazed. At least I would do something myself. When I was sure I could use them, I ordered the rest from ebay.

Obviously, I began by painting them, which was quite a job. Then I cut panes from transparent file holder and glued them on the inside of the window frame


I started with the removable walls because they were easier to handle First, I fixed the frame on the outside. It covered the opening neatly, but on the inside, the opening was about half a centimeter too small.

I had to saw off half a centimeter of each inner frame bit. In such situations, you bless the inventor of the mitre box.

Just see what a difference it makes! 

On the inside, I added window sills for flowers and decorations.

The gable-wall windows were much more difficult to put in, but by then I was a considerably better miniature carpenter and glazier so eventually I managed all the nineteen.