I spent about 15 years of my young life building a dollhouse and all its contents by hand. It has a Swiss-like stone exterior, and an early American interior. I called it Idylwild.
I loved dollhouses and miniatures. I read antique magazines and could tell you what styles and eras I liked the best. In fact, my favorite store was the dollhouse store located on Pier 39 in San Francisco.
Now to make a beautiful dollhouse, I knew you need to have high standards. I wrote myself the following rules: Everything in my dollhouse I had to make by hand from scratch (not buy or make from a kit); everything should be in scale; the lights should turn on; the era and style should be authentic; and finally all the knobs and drawers should really work (as opposed to being painted on and tromp l’oeil).
I first built the pink chair and pink bed, out of wooden dominoes and small wood pieces. You see them here in the “Pink Room”.
I did not have good tools as a kid, so the early work is very crude. I recall that I used an old steak knife like a saw to cut all the wood for the furniture. I recall working with bad tools until my fingers hurt and blistered. What a dedicated fool I was!
However, I think this dollhouse helped me become a better artist and craftswoman. It turned me into a lifelong scavenger, saving small metallic things found on the ground and broken jewelry as materials. I kept these scraps in a little fish hook tackle box.
Every now and again I still take out this tackle box, sort the little trinkets inside, and continue dreaming of how I might use them. I think I will finish it in my retirement years.
Doll House Building Tips and Materials:
Almost everything in my dollhouse was made from common materials. Here are some of my better ideas while building this dollhouse:
- Green grass blades can be woven together to look like wicker seat covers for the little chairs. (Pick and weave the grass when it is still green.)
- Antique wooden picture frames make great gingerbread for the house exterior.
- The paper wrappings around Swiss chocolates have small attractive pictures, just the right size to make miniature book covers and wall pictures.
- Wooden beads make good cups, vases and lamp bases.
- The metal ends of pencils also make good cups. Simply break the metal end off the pencil, then carve out and discard the pencil wood and the eraser.
- Acorn shells make great wooden bowls.
- Some buttons make good dinner plates.
- Clip earrings can be folded at a right angle, the perfect shape for a wall lamp.
- A white ping pong ball, when sliced in half, is the perfect size to use as shade on the miniature hanging lamp!