Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dollhouses galore

I had to go to London for a meeting so I took the opportunity to see this exhibition at the Museum of Childhood. Their permanemt dollhouse display is impressive enough, and I have seen it several times, studying details carefully, taking notes and sketching. For this exhibition they have selected from their hundred plus dollhouses from four centuries, and then a number of modern artists and designers created a roombox each (this was the least interesting part since anyone in my dollhouse groups can do it).

I took about fifty pictures which I will not share, for several reasons. Firstly, the images on the web are much better, and if you invest £14 in the accompanying catalogue it is full of great pictures. I took most of the pictures before I bought the book, and most of them turned out to be unnecessary after I browsed through it.

Secondly, I took pictures for a particular purpose, for instance, to see how the curtains are fixed, or how the edges are finished, or how the wallpaper is separated between floors on the inside of the front. These are details I wouldn't even think about last time I was there, but at the moment these are the problems I am grappling with.  I have made some valuable observations for my project.


What I instead want to share are some reflections. For instance, I noticed once again that many objects in the famous dollhouses are not in scale. The dolls are too small in relation to furniture; suddenly there is a little chair or a large vase, and it doesn't really matter. So I won't feel bad about putting smaller cupboards in my rear corridors.

I noticed that wallpaper often has very large patterns, and it works. The catalogue says that in some cases dollhouse makers used leftovers from 1:1 sise wallpaper. I guess this has to be tested, like everything else.

I noticed that fireplaces in most houses are on side walls. It will not work for my house because I have windows and doors on side walls, but I wonder what the aesthetic effect is. 

I noticed that the insides of fronts had the same wallpaper as the corresponding room. Many dollhouse books that I have read suggest that by making wallpapers or wall paint different you create a sense of additional space, fake space. I will consider both options.

I was able to confirm something that I could see a month ago when I visited Queen Mary's dollhouse in Windsor: realistic lights are less important than good illumination for display. Almost none of the houses had working lights, but the lighting, just as in Queen Mary's house, was cleverly hidden behind cornices. I have already bought equipment for this, but it will take some time before I will be installing it.

I noticed that very few houses showed wooden floors; mostly floors were covered with carpets or rugs. But I am working hard on my fancy parquets so I don't want to hide them with rugs.

I noticed - and the catalogue confirms -  that quite a few houses are very sparcely equipped. The catalogue mentions 1,900 objects altogether; I believe I have more in my current project, and I have just started. There is a point: you can see the displays better. But some rooms look bare.  

I noticed how great dolls peeping out through the windows look. I had not considered this option at all, but I will now. Maybe, for the front, I could make small shelves for some dolls to stand on by the windows. And some should be on the balcony.

I enjoyed the exhibition, and I have learned a lot from it and from reading the book, so I can warmly recommend both.

But MY dollhouses are unique and like no one else's.

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