It has now been a year since I bought Womble Hall. Of course it was not delivered until August, but I have been the happy owner of this unique property for a year. This invites reflections.
Firstly, I am really glad that I didn't wait until I was retired because I still have some years until retirement, and I have already enjoyed this house so much, and I know I will go on enjoying it. It has been very good for me. It gave me relaxation when I most needed it. It has also given me a lot of confidence when I had to solve seemingly unsolvable problems.
The other day I was talking on skype with an old friend. I was rather depressed and told her so. When I say depressed, I don't mean temporarily upset because you have broken your favourite cup; I mean medically depressed without any particular reason. My friend recognised and acknowledged it. We went on talking, and I started telling her about the dollhouse, turning the iPad here and there for her to see. Then she said: "Have you noticed now much happier you feel when you talk about your dollhouse?" I hadn't, but she was absolutely right. My dollhouse is my best therapy. (That said, when I am really depressed I don't even want to play with the dollhouse. Then I know it's really bad).
Secondly, when I bought the house a year ago I thought I would finish it by Christmas. When it was delayed, I admitted that I probably wouldn't finish it by Christmas. But I had no idea that it would be so slow. Of course I have a full-time job and more, so I can only work on the dollhouse some evenings and some weekends. It does not say much that I have worked for seven months. But I have kept a log. I have so far spent 548 hours on this project. I am nowhere near completion. With luck, I may finish by Christmas. Then, what do we mean by "finish"? A dollhouse project is never finished. Which means I will probably go on for the rest of my life. I don't want to think what happens when I am gone. Perhaps I ought to make arrangements for that.
Thirdly, I know that if this had been my very first project I wouldn't have managed it. Now, I don't believe a beginner would ever dare start with something so grand, but seven years of dollhouse- and roombox-making was a very good training. I knew what tools and materials to use, how to do this and that, what pitfalls to avoid. Still, this project needs so much careful planning. I am glad I haven't done anything in a hurry. Lots of initial plans didn't work or there were better plans, better ideas, better colour schemes. I made tons of mistakes, but fortunately nothing fatal - yet. I haven't damaged anything beyond repair, I haven't hurt myself (except for my back and shoulders, but I do this when I am gardening as well). I haven't broken any of my precious mini items - I do have a couple of really valuable ones.
Fourthly, and not unexpectedly, the initial costs of the kit itself was just the beginning. I keep a log of purchases as well: materials, extra parts that didn't come with the kit, paint, tools. So far, I have spent in addition half of the cost of the kit. There are many indirect costs too, like I ask my husband to buy gluesticks when he goes to the supermarket. I recycle a lot using things such as wrapping paper for wallpaper so I don't spend a lot of money on things I can make. The most expensive have been doors, that I cannot - yet - make myself, and lighting equipment. If I had bought everything I could have bought: wallpaper, flooring paper, roofing, door knobs, fireplaces - I know I would have doubled and tripled the bill. It is also important that I have most of the tools necessary for miniature work. I don't have any sophisticated tools, just the very basics, but I know how to use them. There may be tools I don't know I need that would make some things easier. I also have all the materials I have saved all these years so whenever I need a piece of wood or a bit of fabric or a length of wire, I have it.
People who have seen and admired the house don't understand much about it. When I had my Christmas party and my guests wanted to see the house, they ah-ed and oh-ed, but at that time the house was dry-assembled, with bits of wallpaper white-tacked here and there, no doors, half-finished floors, unpainted edges. They didn't see it. But then I probably wouldn't have seen it before I started miniature-making.
I have become much more demanding, in a positive and negative way. On the positive, I want to make things properly. On the negative, I have reluctantly discarded some of my early-day furniture and objects because I am no longer satisfied with them. Sometimes they are not in scale. Sometimes they are too crude. But some things I would never have the heart to throw away. Certainly not the dolls.
Finally, and sadly, I have been so focused on this house that I have completely neglected all my other mini projects. I have given away a couple of dollhouses; I haven't made any new room boxes, and I haven't made any improvements on the two dollhouses I have left: the Tudor house and the retro house. I have definitely lost interest in half-scale. I notice that I pinch objects from room boxes to put into the new house. Maybe that's the way it should be. I am not yet ready to let go of the Tudor and retro houses, but I think I may at some point. I am not a hoarder. Well. I am, but...
In short, it has been a fantastic dollhouse year, and I have learned a lot and had fun. The Facebook groups have been supportive and encouraging. I am looking forward to whatever the future has in store.