Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A house of one's own

When I was in the sixth grade, I received a dollhouse for Christmas and I was pretty disappointed. Although I had always been fascinated by miniatures and had, in fact, owned a half-inch scale dollhouse when I was quite a bit younger, I'd asked for a camera that Christmas and was unhappy that I didn't get one. And this dollhouse wasn't even built: it was a kit that my dad would have to help me put together! I also received a booklet of dollhouse-scale wallpaper and some furniture kits. All in all, not a terrible haul, but disappointing because of the lack of camera and perhaps a little irritating because it seemed that my parents still saw me as a little kid.

As usual, I got it wrong. During the next four months, as my dad and I slowly assembled my dollhouse on our mostly unused dining room table, I began to realize that my parents saw me as someone with a deep and abiding interest in both miniatures and crafting -- they understood, even if I didn't at first, that both the process of making tiny things and ending up with a miniature house would be deeply satisfying to me. And they were right. I wish my parents were still around so I could thank them for their great skill in recognizing and encouraging many of my childhood interests, which included art, crafts of all sorts, music, and especially reading. In fact, when I got a camera for my birthday a few months later, one of the very first things I photographed my was nearly-finished miniature house, now lacking just a few rows of shingles and the roof ridge.

Sadly, I no longer have that dollhouse; it finally succumbed to being moved too many times and pretty much just fell apart. But my love of miniatures has continued. Every now and then I'll go to a miniatures convention and wander the showroom floor, gaping at all the tiny, tiny treasures on display (and inevitably buying a few things). I've amassed quite a library of books devoted to building dollhouses and making miniature furniture, accessories, and textiles. I have an entire book about stitching needlepoint Oriental rugs in 1/12 scale! Last week I did something I've been thinking about doing for years: I ordered a dollhouse kit, and today it arrived. I am going to build a dollhouse of my own.

My dollhouse is in the style of a bungalow and is called The Rye. (All dollhouse kits, you'll learn if you spend much time researching them, have names.) I ordered it from a place in New Hampshire called Earth & Tree, which sounds delightfully hippie-ish. I had a bit of trouble finding a bungalow kit because all anyone seems to want to build are Victorian-style dollhouses, which are just not my thing. But I finally came across this little guy, and it looks perfect for a mini starter home.
Four rooms, or is it five? It's hard to tell if that little roomlet upstairs is big enough for a bathroom or if it's more of a closet. No matter; I'll figure it out. I ordered some lovely 1/12 scale Arts & Crafts style wallpaper from a store in New Jersey, and this morning I found a tiny rocking chair with a footstool, a miniature wicker chair, and some itty bitty tools when I was cleaning out a cupboard. (What was I thinking when I bought that little meat cleaver?) I feel as if I'm well on my way to getting started on this next big craft project. I'll post pictures periodically as my work progresses.


Norman said...

Delightful! Don't screw it up, as I do plan to take residence.

~ Lucy said...

OMG! I'm SO EXCITED for you!!! What a great craft idea.

One of my all time favorite gifts as a kid was a big book on the history of doll houses. Last time I ran across it (while moving) I literally stopped in my tracks to sit and sift through it.

I too love miniature things so I'm afraid I must insist that the next time you go to a convention... you have to take me along. I can't wait!

Mr Maskrado said...

Dollhouses are a girlie version of my beloved Micronauts.