bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Oh boy, you don't need to like minatures to love this book, which comes from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art center: if you like cool pictures of kitchens, folk art, toys, etc.

Susan Hight Rountree. Dollhouses, Minature Kitchens and Shops. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1996.)

The centerpiece of the collection covered here is the Morris-Canby-Rumford Dollhouse, originally built and furnished circa 1820, and donated to the Folk Art Center in 1981. (Children of the family to whom the dollhouse belonged are still allowed to play with it by permission.) A significant amount of the dollhouse furnishings dating from the early and mid-nineteenth century survive, while other pieces were added over the years. A number of the newer items, from the 1930s through 1950s, are reproductions of old family pieces. This is a dream dollhouse in the cabinet babyhouse style, with elaborate accessories-- the kitchen and dining rooms, in particular, with their extensive collections of china, metalware, and even glass pieces, are droolworthy.

The Long Island Dollhouse, found by a contractor in 1968 in a house he was demolishing (origin unknown), is more of a 20th century mansion type, built longer and lower than, but similarly to Queen Mary's Dollhouse. Donated items combine with the furniture that was in the dollhouse, but the overall effect as curated by the Folk Art Museum is still 19th c. A number of items from the Folk Art Center have been duplicated in minature to furnish the house as well-- the toys in particular. A mix of scales is more evident here than in the other dollhouse. The Music room is especially entrancing. The kitchen in the Long Island Dollhouse is beautifully full of accessories of every description, including a black silk Brazilian doll. Wood, copper, china, and even marzipan (in foodstuffs made by a Colonial Williamsburg pastry chef) will have cooks' fingers itching. There is even a well-furnished toolshed.

The last part of the book is focused on 19th century toy kitchens and shops, usually German-made, in the collection. The Nuremberg Kitchen, early 19th century, will look mostly familiar to connoiseurs of early modern German kitchen prints; there is also another tile-roofed kitchen, and a turn of the 20th century kitchen, as well as a Dry Goods Shop, Millinery Shop, and Post office. For anyone who was ever entranced by the Playmobil Kitchen (http://store.playmobilusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site/en_US/Product-Show?pid=5317&cgid=Puppenhaus) or Playmobil Royal Kitchen (http://store.playmobilusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site/en_US/Product-Show?pid=4251&cgid=Maerchenschloss), this is the pre-21st century equivalent... Oh my.

The pictures are large, glossy, and well laid out. The text is just enough to give the reader a sense of what they are seeing. This is primarily a picture book for the collection/exhibit, but it's well worth a look. (Me, I want to buy a copy.)
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
I've been pursuing some of my favorite "make your own dollhouse furniture" books from my childhood. While this one isn't one of them, if you're interested in Minatures, it's a good read.

Marian Maeve O'Brien. Make Your Own Dollhouses & Dollhouse Minatures.. (Greenwich House, 1975).

While a bit dated, especially since it makes references to pricing and suppliers, this practical book gives practical instructions and patterns for making your own minatures. Of particular interest is her section on what tools and equipment are useful. The writing is pedestrian but practical, the photos a bit crowded and small scale, but the patterns and drawings are excellent. Instructions for making dollhouses from scratch and from supplier's materials are also included.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Caroline Osborne, Small Scale Modelling (Ramsbury, Wiltshire: Crowood Press, 2000).

Yes, I'm back on the minatures/dollhouses kick again, even though (or because) my real house is such a mess. Anyway...

This lavishly color illustrated paperback concentrates on the author's collection of houses, scenes, shops, etc. of 1/2" to 1 foot scale or smaller. As the author points out,
Most collectors and modellers swiftly discover that in an average-sized house (including full-size humans), three or four 1/12 scale houses are delightful. Twenty is an embarrassment of riches and suggests it is time to open a museum.

The author writes with a sense of humor (somewhat British) as well as a great deal of enthusiasm, though one could merely page through the book and marvel at her creativity.
I have a completely unique distressing system for furniture: I just leave it in my studio (the garden shed) for two of three months, and the combination of damp and pottery dust usually does the rest. This only recommended if you want real Victorian/Dickensian dirt.

The author makes many of her own scene houses and dolls, though she also uses a generous selection of purchased items. Sections of the book include Making minature people & animals, furnishings, building your house, minature gardenign and landscaping, interior decoration, accessories, pottery houses, paper mache houses, cold porcelain projects, Shops (of 1/12, 1/24, and 1/48 scale size), period projects, outdoors designs, and complexes. Her take on making minature gardens is especially intriguing; I've long wanted to make a model medieval garden and her work gives me a place to start. The Grocer's shop and the Alchemist's house are likely to appeal to history buffs and herbalists as well.

Unlike some of my other favorite doll's-house books, this volume gives merely verbal directions and ideas rather than patterns, but it covers a much wider variety of materials, and is the best kind of 'idea book'. The tools and materials section and the section on making dolls are more detailed. The list of sources and magazines in the back will be dated by now, but the book benefits from a good but simple index.
bunnyjadwiga: (wunnerful)
No, really.
I found an image in Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts of Queen Elizabeth's cutlery set, and was enthusing about sucket forks... and of course my geek tried to pretend that sucket-forks aren't cool-- this is a man who lusts after the titanium spork in the ThinkGeek catalog (ok, let's get real, geeks really want one of everything on the ThinkGeek website, please)...
Anyway, so I was looking at Google Images of sporks, and found this book:

The Authentic Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House by Brian Long

which includes images/documentation of convertible sucket-forks, not to mention all kinds of other documentation including LATRINES...


Go look. Drool. I shall call B&N tomorrow and order it. Buying books I can't afford again.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
For years I've been hunting for a dollhouse book that the Seymour Library in Brockport used to have (though looking in their catalog suggests they no longer have it), that was full of useful tips for making dollhouse furniture from things around the house. I still haven't found it, but I wanted to mention two books that do a similar thing.
Read more... )
bunnyjadwiga: (knowledge)
I don't know how many of my readers have children of the playing-with-dolls/dollhouses age and persuasion.
However, I've been hunting for a particular dolls & dollhouse furniture making book that I found in my local public library in the 1980s and have never found anywhere else since (Lots of suggestions for making really nice dollhouse furniture etc. with everyday materials.) I still haven't found it, but what I did find is this:

The Most Wonderful Dollhouse Book by Millie Hines. 1981. It's available in a bunch of libraries and can be bought 2nd-hand. The dolls in this book are 9" tall, about 1/8 scale, and their furniture is to scale-- these are not collectibles, but made to be made inexpensively and played with, even by younger children.

The dollhouses are made out of one or more cardboard shipping boxes, and the author gives many decorating suggestions. (My first dollhouse was a small 3-shelf bookcase. The 'window' in the living room was cut out of a Marlboro ad.) Tables, chairs and beds do betray a certain 70s influence (See the sock couches and chairs), especially in the color pictures, but truly would be perfectly adequate for modern play in modern patterns. The use of recycled materials for dollhouse furniture is outstanding, despite heavy reliance on quart milk containers, which few people buy any more. (One wonders if pint containers could also be used for some things.) She uses Sardine containers or soap dishes for sinks, and upside-down small two-prong hooks for faucets-- that's inspired in my book.

Where the book really shines, though, is in two areas: instructions for making food and other minature objects out of bread-crumb clay; and the dolls and their clothes. I'm sure you can find the bread-crumb clay and instructions for modelling on the Internet (though I would never have thought of making pots and pans from 3-ounce paper cups).

The dolls are cloth dolls (and a set of cloth bear family), and patterns for all the doll pieces and clothes can be traced or copied from the book. Both pre-dressed and dressable dolls (adults & baby) are covered. These dolls can easily be used in an SCA setting, especially with proper dress(es). These are items that could easily be made by the average 10-12 year old on their own -- no machine sewing is necessary. The author suggests certain projects that are easy enough for learn-to-sew, like a mobcap, apron (using bias tape for the string), felt vest, etc. Also there are patterns for dollhouse scale cats and dogs made from scraps of fun-fur.

All of the pieces can be made from leftover fabric from sewing or worn-out clothes-- no large pieces of fabric needed. For SCAdian and homesewing parents this is a plus. Those who have a lovely collection of single socks will find the patterns using socks/sock ribbing from adult and children's socks a great relief.

I am planning to use some of these patterns to make clothes for the 9-9.5" scale Sunshine family dolls (http://collectdolls.about.com/od/dollprofiles/p/sunshinefamily.htm) I have from my childhood-- of course I'll need to make them more narrow.


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