To 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
Some 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.
Dee 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.
If 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
Artisan: Create miniature works of art for sale or display.
Historian: Learn more about how the dollhouses of today came to
Building 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
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.
For 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
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.
If 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.
Because 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
Cottage Industries Miniaturists Trade Association Headquarters
P.O. Box 42849
Classic Dolls' Houses,
Make Your Own Dolls' House Furniture,
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