Dollhouse Builder Information


Insider Info

dotTo dollhouse enthusiasts, the world of miniature houses is a childhood passion carried into adulthood.

Builders and restorers fashion tiny houses out of wood or other materials and customize them according to a particular era or design trend. Some even go so far as to outfit their home with electricity and real working lights!

Many people had a dollhouse as a child. The fascination for creating a miniature world started there. From choosing decorations and arranging furniture to creating landscapes and gardens, there are so many decisions! Personal preference and style help people to make dollhouses into the creator's own little world.

dotSome historians say that dollhouses were found in ancient Egypt. But all tend to agree that they definitely can be traced back to the 17th century. At this time, dollhouses originated in Germany. It is likely that only very wealthy families would have had dollhouses made for their children.

At that time, furniture makers created miniature samples of their products. That's because traveling from place to place on horseback with life-size wares was impossible. These miniature samples were sold as toys. Dollhouses evolved as a result.

dotDee Hacker is a hobbyist and wholesale dealer for miniature products and tools. She says that more and more people are becoming involved in dollhouse building and restoring all the time. "I think that with the population growing older, people have more time to devote to hobbies such as this."

Retailers of dollhouses, furniture and other miniatures sell to a mix of men and women. Customers are usually adults rather than younger people.

dotIf exploring the world of dollhouses and miniatures is something you think you might like, these jobs might be for you:

Hobby store owner: Supply other hobbyists with the tools and supplies they require.

Artisan: Create miniature works of art for sale or display.

Historian: Learn more about how the dollhouses of today came to be.

Getting Started

dotBuilding a dollhouse and creating furniture for it requires a big time commitment. Money is the other factor that comes into play. For people who want to buy a top-of-the-line, ready-made dollhouse, spending $1,000 is not uncommon.

Students from architectural or animation programs have also been known to purchase miniature pieces for school projects. Girl Guide groups or classes of elementary school students often create dollhouses or dioramas as a group project. A diorama is a scene using models and miniature objects.

dotFor beginners, or people who don't want to break the bank with this hobby, there are other options. Dollhouse kits can be purchased for about $30. Or for an investment of about $10, you can make a small piece of furniture to put in a little dome or shadow box. Often, people give these miniature creations for gifts.

There are also less expensive options to consider when decorating a dollhouse. Dollhouses on a Shoestring is a Web site that offers visitors advice on making dollhouses, while at the same time being budget-conscious.

A few tips they have are as follows: pierced earring backs make terrific salt and pepper shakers. Blue Saran Wrap makes very believable ponds and streams. In cake decorating departments, you can find gazebos, statues and pillars that can be flex-stoned to look like granite. Visiting your nearest dollar store with a creative eye is a good place to start.

dotIf you find that dollhouses are becoming a passion, you can probably find a club or organization where you would meet fellow hobbyists. Check on the Internet or at a local hobby shop that sells supplies.

For professionals who create miniature reproductions for collectors of dollhouses, miniatures, gifts, crafts and scale models, there is an organization called Cottage Industry Miniaturists Trade Association (CIMTA), Inc. It has about 300 members. They are recognized worldwide as professionals who put a great deal of artistic talent and creativity into their work.

Another organization related to dollhouses is the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. Its goal is to promote fine miniatures as an art form, removing them from the category of crafts. The guild sponsors a show every year that features miniature pieces by a variety of artisans. This show includes an auction for such pieces.

dotBecause of the intricacies involved in working with miniatures, hand dexterity is an asset. Another thing you need is patience.

Joe Roberts is a hobbyist. "You have to have time to dedicate to this hobby. Making a dollhouse is not something that you can do overnight. It's a large project."

Associations

Cottage Industries Miniaturists Trade Association Headquarters
P.O. Box 42849
Evergreen Park , IL   60805
USA
Internethttp://www.cimta.org/

Publications

Classic Dolls' Houses,
by  Faith Eaton
Make Your Own Dolls' House Furniture,
by  Maurice Harper

Links

Calling All Dollhouse Collectors
Find out about dollhouse collections

Info on Dollhouses from the Smithsonian
A list of references

Dollhouses on a Shoestring
Tips for the budget-conscious builder