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The Rijksmuseum Dolls' House Collection

23 January 2018

We recently posted on our Facebook page about Petronella Oortman, who created the beautiful dolls’ house which inspired the book ‘The Miniaturist’ and the tv adaptation of the same name. As it went down so well, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the collection of dolls’ houses kept at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where Petronella Oortman’s dolls’ house now resides.

The museum has three dolls' houses in total, which date from the 1600’s and 1700’s and are an exciting window into what a wealthy home would have looked like in Amsterdam at this time.

Petronella Oortman

Petronella’s dolls house was given to her as a gift by her wealthy husband Johannes Brandt and she set about filling it with beautifully hand-crafted replicas of the real items from her home, between the years 1686 to 1710. Although the dolls’ house was incredibly realistic and it may not have been an exact representation of the house that she lived in, it may have represented her dreams and aspirations.




At this time, dolls' houses were a popular hobby for women and would have offered the same enjoyment as a curiosity cabinet would have done to the gentleman of the time. In fact, Petronella’s husband had a curiosity cabinet and you can see the miniature version in the bottom right hand room of the dolls’ house.



Petronella loved her dolls’ house so much, that she had a painting commissioned of it. The painting shows the yellow curtains which once protected the front of the house, as well as the original dolls that she had made for it. Unfortunately, all the dolls have now been lost, except for the baby in the cradle.



Petronella Dunois

The second dolls’ house in the collection at the Rijksmuseum was made by Petronella Dunois. Petronella was an orphan who lived with her sister in Amsterdam but was a wealthy lady and an art collector. Both sisters made their own dolls’ houses, but only Petronellas survived.



Unlike Oortman’s dolls’ house, Dunois filled her dolls’ house with ready-made furniture, many of the pieces are marked with the year 1676. The dolls’ house contains a peat loft, a linen room, a nursery, a lying-in room, a reception room, a cellar, a kitchen and a dining room.



Grachtenhuis

The third dolls house in the museum was made in 1760 and is quite different from the other two. Instead of a cabinet housing the main attraction being the realistic rooms inside, it is instead the exterior of this house that is the most interesting and realistic. Like the other two, it is a model of a real house.

The front of the house is removed to reveal the rooms inside. The house is divided into a basement with two cellars, portal and kitchen; first floor with hall, small hall, staircase, dining room; second floor with bedroom, small room, stairs and nursery; attic with two attics.



We hope that you’ve enjoyed this little tour of the Rijksmuseum's dolls' house collection. You can find out more by visiting their website.

The Strange Snow Globes of Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz

8 January 2018

We love all things miniature here at The Dolls' House Emporium, and now that we're fully in the depths of winter, we thought it'd be a great opportunity to look at some of our favourite miniature wintry artworks: the snow globes of artists Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz.

The husband and wife team have been creating miniature works of art inside snow globes for more than 15 years. They use these tiny spaces to create scenes that are surreal, beautiful, touching, funny and sometimes sinister.

You can find out more, and see a showcase of their work in this lovely video.



We've selected some of our favourite pieces of their work to show you here. Enjoy!


Traveler 300, 2014 & Traveler 306, 2014


Traveler 286, 2012 & Sleepy Head II, 2016


Traveler 78 at Night, 2003 & Traveler 290, 2012


Traveler 153 at Night, 2005 & Traveler 170 at Night, 2005


Traveler 48 at Night, 2004 & Traveler 79 at Night, 2016


Traveler 186 at Night, 2006 & Traveler 126 at Night, 2004


Traveler 40 at Night, 2006 & Traveler 293 at Night, 2003

As well as these amazing snow globes, the duo have also created a number of miniature panoramic scenes.


The Orchard at Night, 2005


The Movers, 2011


Pretty Birds, 2011

We think that their work is absolutely stunning. Beautiful and thought provoking, their work is a testament to just how wonderful miniatures can be.

You can see more by visiting their website.

All images © Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz

Christmas Miniatures

18 December 2017


We thought we'd celebrate Christmas being just around the corner by bringing you a round up of some of our favourite festive miniatures scenes from across the web.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Credit: www.flickrhivemind.net


Credit: www.telegraphherald.com


Credit: www.whimsicalworldtravel.com


Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/kumasawa


Credit: www.clipartsgram.com


Credit: www.nicolescoles.com


Credit: www.christmasvillagefun.blogspot.co.uk


Credit: www.mammabiscuit.com


Credit: www.writingstraightfromtheheart.blogspot.co.uk


Credit: www.dteliving.com

Your Pictures - December

4 December 2017

We recently asked to see some pictures of your dolls' houses over on our Facebook page and we had such an amazing response that we couldn't resist posting some of our favourites here!

Here are just some of our favourites (if you sent us a picture and it doesn't appear here, please don't think that we didn't like it, we just received so many that there was no way that we could post them all!)

Enjoy!


Credit: Debra Alison Kirby


Credit: Debra Alison Kirby


Credit: Carol Chambers


Credit: Carol Chambers


Credit: Carol Chambers


Credit: Victoria Crumplin


Credit: Marie Knight


Credit: Marie Knight


Credit: Marie Knight


Credit: Marie Knight


Credit: Paige Paul


Credit: Peter Valentine


Credit: Sue Cotter


Credit: Sue Cotter


Credit: Sue Cotter


Credit: Sue Cotter


Credit: Becky Hayden


Credit: Kath Cryer


Credit: Helen Turner


Credit: Sue Murton


Credit: Elaine Scanlon


Credit: Carol Shone


Credit: Bruce Woods


Credit: Bruce Woods


Credit: Christine Kott


Credit: Christine Kott

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed pictures of their projects. We absolutely loved seeing them.
If you'd like to share pictures of your house with us, we'd love to see! Head over to our Facebook page and post them there!

All images © their respective owners 2017

J.R. Art Gallery - An Interview with Rebecca Micallef

20 November 2017


Our good friend Rebecca Micallef, who is a fantastic miniaturist and dolls’ house collector, recently finished a very special project, her J.R Art Gallery.

We’re thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Rebecca where she gives us some insight into her work and what went into the creation of this beautiful miniature. Enjoy!





Hi Rebecca! Thank you so much for agreeing to sit down with us for a chat. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I am pleased to be here. My name is Rebecca Micallef. I am from the Maltese Islands. I guess I am a dolls’ house miniaturist. I am a very busy lady I would say. I’m a mum of 3 young kids. I work as an Assistant Principal within the Local Government and I run my own miniature business through Etsy. I enjoy making my own miniatures especially for my dolls houses. It gives me a great satisfaction to be able to create something so small in detail.


How did you first become interested in dolls’ houses?

That is quite a difficult question, because as far as my memory goes, I always loved dolls’ houses. I had my first dolls’ house at the age of four which I still have and it’s still in an immaculate condition. It’s been over 20 years now since I started building my collection of dolls’ houses.

I remember I was only 17 when I started building my first dolls house. It wasn’t easy, due to the fact that the term “Dolls’ Houses” in Malta is a complete taboo. You won’t find any dolls’ house or miniature shops anywhere. The internet was still pretty new at the time and I remember when I actually had access to the internet through my home computer that I went through a search engine and typed the word “dolls’ houses” and from there a whole new world opened its doors to me. I guess from that day forth, I never looked back.


We love your J.R. Art Gallery, the attention to detail is incredible! Congratulations on such a stunning result. What was the inspiration for the project?

Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so happy that you liked it. I have this street of dolls’ house shops called Regent Street and I wanted to add the Dolls’ House Emporium Corner Shops to it. Very honestly I had many ideas for it but they didn’t really stick. A few weeks before I started working on it, a dear friend of mine and fellow miniaturist artist José Pereira Torrejón sent me gifts of two miniature paintings on canvas which he had painted himself for me. I was blown away with the detail of the paintings especially on such a small scale. At first, I thought of adding them to one of my dolls houses, but it didn’t feel right. I thought the paintings deserved to be in a more prominent place. Finally, inspiration hit and I kept picturing these paintings in an art gallery which it would have suited them better. Then I guess J.R. Art Gallery was created.


How did you go about creating the gallery?

As the gallery was going to be part of my Regent Street which is set up in the Victorian period, I had to make it fit with the other buildings. The first thing that I always do is study the kit, the building and take notes, sometime even sketch. I tend to adapt the kits to suit my purposes better, which in this case I did. Then I researched about the period, how an art gallery would have looked at the time. I researched for the tools and paints that would have been used. I have a tendency of keeping to the period to make it look more realistic.

I always start from the outside of a dolls’ house, for some reason it helps me more to picture the inside. In the mean time I get to have a rough idea what I want to add to the rooms. Once the outside décor is done I start working on the inside, starting with wall paper, floorings, ceilings and lightning. I enjoy trying furniture pieces in the rooms until I find the right ones that suit the room. Sometimes the least expected to fit are the ideal. I had so many ideas for the gallery that I knew exactly what I wanted. Inspiration was overflowing for this project.


No gallery is complete without paintings and you’ve included a great collection in yours. How did you go about creating these?

True, a gallery is not complete without paintings. The first impulse to get for a gallery was frames in different shapes, sizes and colors. The gallery alone holds 55 different paintings. There are four original paintings, three of them are in the gallery and one of the four is in the artist’s private quarters. These have all been painted by my friend José. The rest are all prints of my favorite paintings from various artists which match the period or even earlier. Some of them have a sentimental meaning to me.
Obviously having original paintings in the gallery, I couldn’t just print the paintings on paper and frame them. I actually printed them on canvas and sealed them to make them look more realistic just like a real painting. Sometimes galleries have sculptures which I have also added. The busts have all been hand painted by me and I guess they give that little extra to the gallery.


What are some of the other projects that you’ve worked on? Which is your favourite?

There are quite a lot of projects I would say. There are over 26 dolls’ house projects in my collection that come in different styles and periods. Every project holds a special place in my heart. I can’t imagine myself parting from them. They hold sweet memories of when they were being created.

Some of my latest projects were Miss Leah’s Boutique, The Coffee Corner which both are part of Regent Street. Then there is Kate’s Cottage which is built in the Tudor period. Lately I have also renovated two dolls’ house projects which were The Toll House and the Summer House called Sea Shells. I also have a very special dolls house which goes way back from 1979 called The Tudor Manor. This one was kept with its original décor and I have turned it into a 1930’s style house.
As for my favorite dolls’ house, this is a very tricky question, for I love them all…..but if I had to choose my favorite it’s definitely J.R. Art Gallery. I have poured my heart in that one.


What is it, do you think, that makes dolls’ houses so appealing? What is the magic behind them?

I think dolls’ houses are so appealing for their size and for their detail. A dolls’ house is practically a miniature of a real house and the more detail you add to it the more realistic it gets. When building a dolls house I tend to create a story to go with it. It helps me to picture it better. I actually name the dolls that will be residing in it and give them character.
At the end my favorite part is turning on the lights of the dolls’ house and admiring it. I peep from windows and doors, just to see it from different angles. I think that’s the magic behind it at least to me… That I, as an adult, can create such artistic projects, helps brings out the little girl within me.


What’s next for you?

There are quite a few dolls’ houses in the pipeline waiting for their turn to be built. I try to plan a year ahead and sometimes I’m quite successful in achieving my goal.

My next project will be part of Regent Street as well. It’s going to be called The Master Swordsman Pub and Inn. It’s quite a big building and I’m looking forward to really start working on it.

I’m also working on a bigger project that involves my dolls’ houses. Hopefully in the beginning of next year I will be opening the doors to my dolls’ house collection for the public, so maybe I can start introducing the hobby to the island.


And finally, where can people go to see more of your builds?

For the time being you can all visit My Miniature World Blog which I have had for the past six years. You can see all my dolls house projects and most of them being built step by step. Obviously once my dolls’ house collection is opened for the public, then visitors can see the real buildings.

Thank you again, Rebecca!

Thank you so much for inviting me for this interview. It is my pleasure to share my creations.




Once again, a massive thank you to Rebecca for agreeing to chat and for sharing her fantastic work with us. You can see more of Rebecca’s lovely miniatures on her blog, My Miniature World.

All images © Rebecca Micallef 2017, used with permission

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