Dolls House Emporium 3 Cullet Drive
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What I love about my dolls' house hobby!
20 July 2012
At last we can reveal the winners of our recent competition to find out what you love about your dolls' house hobby!
Thank you for your entries - we'll be sharing snippets from them all over the coming months.
The winner of £200 of Dolls House Emporium vouchers is 13-year-old Phoebe Turner, from Cumbria.
She wrote a lovely letter telling us: “Some reasons I find the hobby so enjoyable are the facts that it invigorates skills I didn’t know I had, it has helped me escape from the assiduous, busy world of life, and I found that it fortifies creativity and imagination."
She added: “There is so much detail in each delicate piece – the possibilities are endless. To me they aren’t just tiny models, they each tell a story or bring back a memory.”
She highlights key aspects of her wonderful hobby as “building, sharing, socialising, imagining, exploring and discovering”.
On the video side of the contest, Rebecca Micallef in Malta sent us a photo, some writing and a video charting her Dolls House Emporium projects through the years. Her effort wins her £200 of vouchers too!
She says: “This photo represents the beginning of my greatest hobby. It was taken on Christmas Day in 1983 when I was four years old. Here you can see me opening my Christmas presents and there is when I got my first dolls house. I still have it and will cherish it forever.”
There were many more wonderful entries.
Among our favourites were were Nicola Butcher, from the West Midlands, whose hobby has become her career.
Nicola has had a Springwood Cottage since she was 11 and uses the miniatures in her photography work.
Wendy Bridger, of West Sussex, is bedridden but doesn’t let it stop her enjoying her miniatures.
Wendy told us: “As I am bedridden I have had great fun sitting up in bed til the wee small hours finishing staining wood for skirting or gluing the bannister rails in place! I also lay awake at night imagining what the folks in the house are up to!”
Pauline Bennett, meanwhile, sent us a lovely poem.
Here’s an extract - we'll run the whole poem in a blog of its own very soon!
The house is always tidy,.
The pets are always clean,
Not even muddy paw prints,
To show where they have been.
My perfect little children,
They never misbehave,
And all the handsome daddies,
Are tall and bold and brave.
There is no need for doctors,
My people are never ill,
No stitches, plasters or bandages,
Not even a headache pill.
No Washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning,
Nagging, rows nor moaning.
No blocked up drains, no aches and pains,
No need for silent groaning…
We knew she was a novice house-builder so asked her to spill the beans on how her project took shape.
Here's what she said:
When I visited my brother in Belgium for Christmas 2009, he was busy making a wooden dolls’ house for his girlfriend – he was training as a carpenter so was practising on a slightly smaller scale.
The dolls’ house was lovely and she had collected some children’s furniture for it and was enjoying using scraps of paper and furniture to decorate it with.
Being a primary school teacher, and used to making things from scraps, I was immediately inspired to try and make my own.
I searched the internet for a cheap basic model which I could use. I was looking to make a small model as my first attempt but couldn’t find a suitable wooden kit anywhere.
Having been born and grown up in North Wales I wanted to build a model based on the local Victorian smallholders’ cottages.
Not wanting to give up, I used an old cardboard box as a basic box room kitchen – and experimented with creating boulder texture on the walls using rolled up newspaper and modroc.
The next challenge was creating realistic cottage style windows that would fit into the thick walls – the usual clip on type used on kit models wouldn’t fit so I had to make window frames out of scraps of balsa and use polyfilla to stick them in just like real windows. I used slate style paper cut into tiles.
Next was the fun bit – choosing furniture! I ordered a few pieces from various websites, including the Dolls House Emporium, and made other pieces like a kitchen table – the style had now changed to a modern holiday cottage in the hills.
When I was happy with the kitchen, I decided to move on to the rest of the cottage – a much bigger cardboard box was needed but it wasn’t very strong and fitting the roof and ceiling would be difficult out of cardboard.
I was just about to start thinking of buying some MDF to make a frame when the Dolls House Emporium’s monthly catalogue came through the letterbox... I couldn’t believe it! The annual competition was about to start and the kit was just what I had been looking for! I had already planned and designed my cottage by the time the kit came through the post so I was able to start work straight away.
In order to create my cottage, I needed to make some alterations to the basic kit.
I used the garden base as a new gable end and changed the size of the front door – a porch would make the front appear different. I used leftover pieces to create the chimney and roof over the gable end. Because the chimney was attached to the gable end, I made the roof so that it could be slid into position.
I developed the modroc technique for the walls and used foam pieces which were much easier to use. The most challenging part was the windows. Traditionally they would have been flared on the inside to let in more light so I had to cut pieces of wood to create the thick walls and then add modroc. A partition was made from thin MDF and covered in plastic wood-effect plastic and then painted. The slate floor was made from a rescued roof slate and filled with filler.
Altogether, the project took me the whole six months – I’d learnt a lot as this was my first project. I really enjoyed doing the historical research and looking at real cottages in the mountains for inspiration.
There are also many museums that have recreated this style cottage. I would like to develop this cottage and turn it into a smugglers’ inn. I would create a thatched roof and take out the dividing wall to create one room. I’ve already bought some bottles and fish to decorate. I’ll change the garden and make a seashore with small boat and lobster pots.
With the prize for the competition, I’d like to create some Victorian Farmhouses – with a large kitchen and parlour and possibly using real materials on the outside of the building. I’d like to experiment with using slate for the roof and stones for the walls so I’ll need to visit Saint Fagan’s a few time to do my research!
Guest blog: Weird and wacky craft winner Debby Meister
20 December 2011
Craft competition winner Debby Meister tells us more about her hobby, her win and what she's going to do next...
The 62-year-old won our Weird and Wacky competition with what was originally a wall-hanging.
She customised the shell into a truly weird - and scary - haunted house.
"Most of what I'm buying with my prize-money will be used to make a vampire's lair room box or small house. I have two new projects I'm working on. One is a Halloween store and the other is an Alice in Wonderland room box that is more goth than cute.
Let's just say it will be fall-ish in colors.
This one is close to being put together, I'm just waiting for the Alice doll that's being made.
It will be my first mini landscaping project and I'm both excited to start and a bit nervous too, since I've never done anything like it before. The box itself was custom made by a woodworker, a pyrographic artist and my framer... they did an amazing job so I have a lot to live up to with this one!
As for entering contests... I would say give it a try. It can't hurt... I never win but I did this time! Maybe it's a start of a streak :-) I've always loved smalls things and I really love everything related to Halloween.
I wanted a dollhouse my whole life but it wasn't until 1997 when we moved from Midtown Manhattan (a really small apartment) to Greensboro NC (a nice size house), that I was able to have a place to put a dollhouse.
The next step was finding a dollhouse that would work for a haunted house and one with really nice details.
This house wasn't meant as a dollhouse but as a wall sculpture. I haven't changed the house at all from the original piece that I bought... It was perfect as it was.
At the time I didn't realize it wasn't one-inch scale and had several items, like a kitchen sink that wouldn't fit in the rooms... I panicked a bit!
Many of the accessory miniatures were purchased over the years... but a few are very special to me.
There's a small silver hour glass on one of the shelves that came from the charm bracelet I had as a kid... from around 1958. One of the bottles has a carved coral rose as the stopper that was used by my father as a tie tack in the 60's.
A blue dog's head that was also one of my father's tie tacks.
There's a small sterling silver unicorn on the fireplace that I purchased on a trip to london from a store in burlington Arcade (early 90's).
The majority of the items were purchased in the past decade on eBay or custom made by artists, when I couldn't find anything that fit the bill.
The bed and the ghost under the bed, the weather vane, the two goblins working in the house, and the green slime monster in the basement were made by Miriam Kallies, from Germany.
The witch dancing with the ghost and the scarecrow were purchased on ebay but they were both made by Pat Benedict (Woopitydoo Dolls). There's an African Grey Parrot that was made by Kerri Pajutee from a photo of one of my parrots.
And finally it's all kept virtually dust free in custom display case made by my good friend Dan Stiles."
There are more fantastic pictures at our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/dollshouseemporium