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Mad Small World

I had a dream the other night that someone sent me an email in all caps (shorthand for AWESOME) that said "UPDATE YOUR BLOG OR TAKE IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!".

(There may have been an "eleventy!!" in there somewhere, but I don't keep a dream journal, so I can't tell you for sure.)

So, I thought I'd update. There's been lots of interesting stuff going on in the world recently, and I recommend you idly play around with my links bar to get some great insight on it, because I'm going to talk about my dollhouse.

Yes, this weekend I took the components and bits of my little thrift store doll house to the farm and spent a lovely rainy weekend painting and putting it together. I managed to hurt myself quite spectacularly with spray painting (squeezing/pressing the sprayer is exactly the kind of action guaranteed to get every nerve in my arm screaming), but I took yesterday off to rest it, and even though the pictures I took are dark and blurry (I took them at night, and didn't have spotlights), I think you'll agree that it was worth it.

Even if you don't, I think it was worth it. The thing with chronic pain is that you just can't wait for a bit and do things when they don't hurt, sometimes you just take the consequences. And I love doll's houses.

Anyway - I got this house at a thrift store, as I said, for about $12. It has only four rooms (I added an extension of a box room that Bob made for me a few years back), it was painted a hideous purple and fuschia pink, was missing several roof shingles, and the staircase to the upper floor. The staircase was in an awkward spot anyway (in front), so I planned to simply fill in the hole and pretend the stairs were in a part of the house you can't see. Alas, I didn't take a picture of the old paint job, but trust me, it was pretty bad.

I had tried to paint it a while ago with acrylics, but the outside really needed to be sprayed. I did, however, do up the insides somewhat, using some wallpapers that Bob got me. But I never finished two of the room floors (after prying up the horrible ceramic tile the previous owner had put in), and the house sat idle for a year or two, with vague plans for something in the future.

Well, I ended up getting some furniture, so I thought now was as good a time as any. This was spurred on by the fact that Catherine Grace, Ansel, Isaac, and Emily visit sporadically and end up doing house stuff for us which is amazingly nice of them, and Emmy really likes the Playmobil "tavern" and pirates I have, but was disappointed that the building doesn't actually open, so you can't get to all the rooms. I thought it would be fun for her to have an actual dollhouse to play with next time they visited, and I like playing too, so I hauled various shoeboxes of miniature furniture and accessories, paint, flowers, and bits of craft stuff down to the farm this weekend and went to town.

I put in floors, painted the outside, and temporarily furnished the house. I have plans (thanks to Bob's excellent suggestions) to attach the room box to the side with a slightly larger wooden base underneath which will also give me a little room to make flowerbeds, and to turn the flat top of the room box into a rooftop patio/garden. The outside of the room box needs to be painted, but enough of my plans - you want pictures, amirite?

The front of the painted house and the top of the room box:

The house is actually white, not cream, but it was photographed in low light. Keep in mind, all the trim used to be lilac purple, and the walls bright fuschia/magenta pink. I based the trim paint on a real house of roughly that vintage that I saw in Ellicott City. I made the pots of flowers from bridal picks I bought from Michael's Arts and Crafts (they also have the mini terracotta pots).

The bits and pieces on top of the room box (you can see it's completely unfinished on the outside) are going to be made into a potted plant garden - the plant stand came from a bag of random dollhouse bits I picked up in an antique store for $14. I added the wooden pots (also from Michael's), which I will "age" later, when I bring down my paints next time.

The interior rooms:

This is the house - I made the larger downstairs room the dining room, and the room box is the sitting room. I have all female dolls right now, though I plan to get some men eventually. I have a housekeeper (she's in the kitchen), and a maid (in the sitting room, not in this photo). Now, the rooms in more detail:

The Kitchen:

Again, apologies for the dim lighting - I was on the floor, and it was evening. Once it's finally put together, I'll take better pics, I promise. But in these pictures you can see the housekeeper, a bit of the stove (which is really too big for this house, and I'll be getting a smaller one, and the bigger one will go into the bigger house I plan to get), and my favourite, the dresser (sometimes known as a Welsh Dresser), which has some Victorian canned goods and stuff on it. The small cans are permanently glued in, because otherwise, they'd go flying every time I jogged the house, but I have other cans that can be used for other dioramas. I love little tiny bits.

Here's a slightly better picture of the downstairs, with less furniture that I took a few weeks ago:

You can see how tiny the kitchen is!  I switched dressers around and decorated the new one - the black dresser is now in the sitting room, waiting for books and items to be glued to it so it looks cool.

The furniture is mostly from Hobby Builder's Supply, as is the doll, and the canned goods are from an antique store. Other bits have been gathered over time from craft stores and painted, especially the pink bowls, which I did myself.

The Dining Room:

It's a bit overfilled, thanks to the tiny size of the house, but I like it. The dining table and chairs and the corner cabinet in the back came from Williamsburg Pottery, and the flowers on the table came from a shop in the UK. The carpet and the side table were part of the room Bob made for me, and the clock was part of the bag of stuff from the antique store. The dolls are from The Victorian Trading Company (referenced in an earlier post).

I did not set up the entire dining table, but I did put out the tray of pastries I put together:

I bought the cake years ago, but I got the pastries from Hobby Builder's, and glued them to a plate I painted myself. I love minature food.

Let's go upstairs to the bedroom!

I love this room - the dolls (mother and baby) came from the UK - they're separate dolls. I got the bed and the vanity stool in the aforementioned antique store bag o' bits (I had to glue it back together), and the terrible bedding is from a thrift store bag of doll bits. The rest of the furniture came from Hobby Builder's, and the teddy bear in the cradle is a miniature ceramic. The rug is a hand made antique, and I love it. I filled in the hole where the staircase was (it's an ugly fix, but it's hidden by the floorboards), and that's where the doll is sitting.

The vanity has several miniatures from all over - once upon a time, Michael's had a bunch of miniatures (back when little dioramas were big among the crafty set), and I got things like the teeny tiny box of tissues then. I ordered the tray for the perfumes, and made the perfume "bottles" myself from beads, except for the moulded top "crystal" piece, which was part of a set I bought at a toy store in Ellicott City, which is one of the few stores around here that still sells doll house stuff.

The bathroom:

Pretty simple - but I love the tiny loo paper rolls by the loo. I got those years ago. The bath, loo, and sink came as a set, and I indulged myself with the bath caddy you can see a bit better in the second picture - it's by a company that is used by the Smithsonian to sell doll house dioramas. It was a little pricey ($16), but nothing compared to the price of some of their stuff! The floor is just paper, but I figured it was such a tiny room, anything heavier would take up too much room. Of course, as you can see by the empty towel rack, I need towels.

I plan to make a lot of the textile pieces I need - sheets, pillows, curtains, towels. I might even make a tiny quilt. Fun!

And finally (I know, long post!), the sitting room:

This is the room box that Bob made for me - I've added some things to it, but he made it and furnished it as a birthday present several years ago, after he found out that I loved doll houses. One of the funnier things he got was the cat in the front of the coffee table, which I had to repaint slightly, as it had the most obscene tummy, with giant nipples (it was supposed to be feeding kittens, or something). It ended up being in the perfect position to cause mischief, so it's been attacking that bowl of roses for years. :)

It still has a lot to be done, but I'm very pleased with how it's looking so far. It's meant to be played with, so I'll be gluing some of the really tiny pieces in (so they don't get lost or annoying - having things fall every which way every time you reach in to move something is maddening), and finishing off the box, and adding the base so the whole thing can be moved as one piece.

And maybe making a back for it, so I can keep the dust out. Right now, it's sitting on top of the piano, covered in a sheet, as leaving it on the floor guarantees spider squatters moving in. Painful or not, I really loved working on it this weekend, and there's still a bunch to be done. This is my fun experimental house before I make the bigger one someday, so I'm playing with different ideas. But it should be a wonderful toy once it's done, and I will have added another delightful memory from my childhood to my house. This makes me happy.



( 48 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Sep. 29th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
This is not helping me forget I have an entire box of dollhouse items stashed away for a dollhouse that was never finished. IT'S NOT HELPING AT ALL.

Sep. 29th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Heee. *waves hands enticingly*
Sep. 29th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
I cannot remember if you came down here for KASF in 2003 and saw this, but one of our local folks built and displayed a complete minature medieval manor house (dollhouse-sized) and included hidden anachronisms for the kids to spot as a game.
Sep. 29th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Forgot to say...
...very nice! Minatures fascinate me--but then again considering that I have model railroading as yet another hobby, that isn't too surprising.
(no subject) - blaze2242 - Sep. 29th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dragonazure - Sep. 29th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dragonazure - Oct. 5th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blaze2242 - Oct. 5th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - salviati - Sep. 29th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ballistabob - Sep. 29th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mermadn - Sep. 29th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dragonazure - Sep. 29th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mermadn - Sep. 30th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
It's gorgeous! I love miniatures. Particularly the miniature embroidered caskets that were up on the Embroiderer's Story website a few weeks ago--did you see? ::drool::
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
Yup - I have to work myself up to that kind of thing slowly. :)
Sep. 29th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
It is lovely! We wanted to try to come up this weekend and see you all, but we managed to put the furniture back in our house instead (we stripped, sanded, stained, and sealed the whole first floor this week)and I needed a couch or I was gonna go crazy! (we had no furniture on the first floor for 6 days.)

You made it look so beautiful and full! When you spray paint do you use one of those little gun attachments that make it more of a trigger pulling action rather then a button pressing action? They are only a couple of dollars but I find they really help with hand cramping.
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Furniture is much more important! We just hung out inside, since it was cold and rainy.

The spray paint thing sounds intriguing - I will look for it next time I'm in the hardware store. Thanks!
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
This makes me want to get my dollhouse out of storage.
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Ack! I just got a dollhouse book at the thrift shop too. I think I'm going to have to start hitting the antique market in our neighborhood if they have dolly stuff too! So damn cute.
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Be patient - it took me a while to accumulate various things without spending outrageous amounts of money. Also, watch out for dealers that charge more than the stuff is worth - a lot of dealers think any miniature is worth lots of money, and will overprice stuff.

Check thrifts, too - stuff may turn up every now and then. :)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres - Sep. 29th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Rau's Country Store in Frankenmuth Michigan was the epicenter of my childhood (and adult) dollhouse fantasies. They have the best selsction of dollhouses and goodies I've ever seen. Here's a link to tempt you.
Someday... But I need a bigger house first.
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
You bad, tempting person, you. :)
(no subject) - damedini - Sep. 29th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Lurking somewhere in me, and getting more persistent, is a serious want for a doll house...

My parents had one made for me, but it came too late in my life - just about the time I was 'too old' for it, and when it arrived, I was incredibly disappointed that it wasn't a sort of late-Georgian country house, which is what I wanted (and had described to the best of my ability), but couldn't explain adequately to my parents that what arrived looked like a roomy suburban split-level Colonial and was all wrong. So it sat in my room until I left home, neglected and empty. Even though I can't stand my mother, I hope she sold it, it went to someone who wanted it, and she got a decent price for it. Since then I've found out that they were hideously not cheap to have built - even in 1970.

And now I want another one. The fact that you have one makes my desire seem less of an are-you-out-of-your-mind idea. So, I'm thinking either 1890s melange, which wouldn't be hard to do. On the other hand, I have this book http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Tudor-Stuart-Dolls-House/dp/1861084064/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254241700&sr=1-1. I'd love to do something like that (embroidery! Real linens in the press!) but taking on a project of that scope just now is madness. [but it would be cool :) ]
Sep. 29th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
There've been a bunch of nifty "decorate a medieval dollhouse" sorts of books out ... in addition to The Authentic Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House, there's also Making Dolls' Houses in 1/12 Scale, Making Tudor Dolls' Houses, and Tudor Dolls' Houses -- and for stitching up interior decorations, there's Medieval & Tudor Needlecraft: Knights & Ladies in 1/12 Scale, Miniature Embroidery for the Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House, and Celtic, Medieval and Tudor Wall Hangings in 1/12 Needlepoint.

Lots of other books on making dollhouse textiles, too, like Embroidered Projects, Curtains, and Dollhouse Decor. (Making Miniature Gardens might also be good for the room-box-top garden; I think that was one of my mother-in-law's books.)

(no subject) - tudorlady - Sep. 29th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strawberrykaren - Sep. 30th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
I love how you can just see one of them through the front window, like they're passing through.

I've loved miniatures ever since my parents took me to see the OMGGIGANTICAWESOME one in a museum (I want to say in Chicago, but I was 7 at the time), I just don't have the room or funds to get one myself. =(
Sep. 29th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry...

That was my "gateway drug" as well... I grew up about a mile from there, so every time we went I made sure to visit it.
(no subject) - strawberrykaren - Sep. 30th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for setting my way back machine and bringing up some happy memories. A relative-by-marriage wrote The Doll House Book years and years ago and my sisters and I all had doll houses my dad had made that we stuffed with furnishings made from directions in the book. Later I bought miniatures to add to the stash. This is all stored away somewhere, I just have to find it :).............
Sep. 29th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)

If I had the space, I'd get mine out and start in on it again.

Think I'll wait till the girls are older, though.

Oh ack. If we relocate to D.C. - that's another thing to move. :-( Don't want to leave it here in MI and hope I can get it later.
Sep. 29th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
I too love miniatures, but My children are much too young still.
You are an evil woman for posting your lovely doll house. and a very luck one too to have a husband who indulges you.
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
He doesn't just indulge me, he shares my love of building and creating minature things. We have plans to build a tudor dollhouse together. :)
(no subject) - corsetrasewing - Sep. 30th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Suddenly, I have an image in my mind of a miniature Palazzo Davanzati.

Ack! I don't need another project! Stop it!
Sep. 29th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Aww, man I did NOT need that evil EVIL idea. I already had a jones for a dollhouse. One that I'd have to make every accessory for, well...
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
Doll houses always remind me of Cuan, strangely enough. His poor mother loves doll houses and apparently has made quite a few really nice ones. And the poor lady, who had just the two boys herself, only has two grand-SONS.

I remember Tracie telling me about meeting her and being a bit intimidated by the room of doll houses, back in the day.
Sep. 29th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
I <3 your dollhouse. Might I suggest a browse around Pancake Meow? Tiny food that actually smells like food. A bit pricey, but fun to look at anyway.
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