When I was a child, my dollhouses provided me with hours of free-play joy. What made my dollhouse experience perhaps different from other children is that I tossed out the dolls and played with the furniture. Adorning the rooms of my dollhouses then were a combination of molded-plastic furniture and furniture I made out of found objects from around the house. The household’s junk-drawer, my dad’s tool box, and my mom’s sewing basket were among some of my favourite places that yielded bounties of dollhouse outfitting.
Fast forward a few decades and my love for furniture hasn’t subsided. I reimagine life-size antique and vintage furniture at Hollis Newton but like everyone else on the planet, Covid-19 has suspended my routine and the future of everything is on hold.
Re-enter Childhood Pastime
Being unable to return to Burkcraft Furniture Company during social isolation hasn’t stopped my reimagining of things. I just had to downscale a bit. To a 1:12 ratio to be exact.
The Plan and Playlist
Even though I had intended on replicating my actual living room, that plan proved to be too ambitious and I ended up just capturing the things in the room that I love most, those being, vintage and thrifted furniture, art, plants and books. The only thing missing was music, and if this tiny suite had a playlist, you would hear tracks from Curtis Mayfield, Fela Kuti, Roy Ayers, ATCQ, EW&F, Donald Byrd, Hall & Oats, Steely Dan …I could go on. Planning is good but I wasn’t inflexible.
For this miniature suite, I was determined to make everything with objects I had on hand. The only exception was backsplash sticker tiles I bought from the Dollar Store. However I wasn’t going to use them as the manufacturer recommended therefore, no backsplash. But I did use the adhesive tiles—cut up into tiny squares—as my fireplace hearth and as fireplace-facing inlay tiles. Other found object that I reimagined were beads, lip balm caps, nail polish, a woven belt, toothpicks, matchsticks, chop-sticks, coffee stirrers, and barbecue skewers. The take-away: Nothing was off limits from being reimagined.
I’m not sure how this happened but it did. I go for walks in the morning and evening and in a span of three weeks, I managed to find five fake plants on totally random routes. I washed each thoroughly once home then cut the foliage into miniature plants. On yet another outing, I found a tiny “R” which just happens to be my initial. My lesson: The power of attraction only works if your eyes are wide open.
The Tools, Gear and Materials
If you’re planning on making miniatures, the most valuable tools you’ll have are time and the internet. YouTube provided me with a great paper-clay recipe which made plant pots, vases, bowls and a fireplace brick facade. I also used Pinterest for inspiration and to source traditional African masks.
Below I listed all the tools, safety gear and materials I used. My one regret is that I didn’t take more process photos—same story, different scale. If you want to know how I did something specifically, comment below and I’ll do my best to take you through the steps. Or at least, point you in the direction of a good tutorial.
– Right-angle ruler
– Straight ruler (with imperial and metric units)
– Glue gun
– Utility knife
– Artist paint-brushes
– Sewing needle and thread
– Darning needle
– Graph paper (invaluable for making things symmetrical)
– Cutting mat
– Sewing machine
– Miter box (great for making 90° and 45° cuts)
– Printer (for book jacket covers)
– Dremel tool kit
– Dusk mask
– Utility gloves
– Safety goggles
– Work Apron
– PVA or white glue
– Carpenter’s glue
– Acrylic craft paints (for wall art, plant leaves, furniture “stain”, and rug yarn “dye”)
– Model-grade plywood (for furniture and wall art “canvases”)
– Various thin wood scraps (for fireplace mantle, and wall art “canvases”)
– Fireplace matchsticks, Bamboo BBQ skewers, Chop-sticks, Coffee stirrers, and Toothpicks (for furniture and Mid-century modern plant stand )
– Paper-clay (for plant pots, African masks, fireplace brick facade, decorative bowls and vases)
– Beads (for vases and lamp base)
– Scrap fabric (for upholstery and pillows)
– Yarn (Bernat and Lily brands for rug, pillows, macrame plant holder)
– Masking tape (for plant leaves)
– Paper (for book jacket covers and pages, wall art collage, flower pot decoupage)
– Cardboard box lid (weaving loom for rug and pillows)
– Old business cards (for book covers)
– Thin wire (for plant stems)
– Cosmetic container tops (for plant container molds and plant pots)
– Metallic Nail-polish (as gold and brass details)
– Fake plants
– Boxwood hedge leaves and other plants that kept their shape once dried
– Wood building blocks (for fireplace construction)
– Backsplash sticker tiles (for fireplace hearth and tile inlay)
– Jute trim (for flower pot)
– Old woven belt (for flower pot)
– Small tree branches (for fireplace logs)
Thank you friend, it was fun!
Thank you Dee! Glad you enjoyed!
Great work! Great article! At first glance I couldn’t tell they were miniatures.
Wow, thank you Clarence!
Omg! I love these so much! I airways watch those miniature coming shows and miniature garden creations. You’re so talented!
Thank you Stephanie! I’m going to have to look out for those shows!
Wow, so blessed and talented as usual!! I love all the art on the wall, the furniture, the upholstery, even plants!!!
Wish I could move-in today?
Making such good use of this time of isolation. Keep up the good work!!!
Thanks so much Natasha! You just made me think of a new word: “Miniature-isolationism”!
I want to shrink down and hang out in your tiny room! It looks divine! Honey, I shrunk myself… so I could live in this miniature room. Amazing job! ?
Haha…great movie! Thank you Lindsay!
You’re just sooo freaking creative Roxy ???
Awhhhh…thanks hun! :*
I am blown away by your craftsmanship. I’ve been working on updating my childhood dollhouse, this is so inspiring!
Thank you Becky! I’m familiar with your great work! It’s me who’s inspired by you! Would love to see you update your childhood dollhouse, that would be amazing!
This is so inspiring! I enjoyed reading your backstory. How did you do the mini book and magazine covers?
Thanks Tasha! Actually I found mini book and magazine tutorials online. You take the spine of an actual magazine and wrap a miniature book cover around it then cut the book or magazine out. In the end you have books and magazines that have real pages and a spine. It was a game changer for me.
Such an inspiration. Love your imaginatuon and style!
Thank you so much Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed!
I love your style and representation of culture in your minis. As soon as I looked at yours I got inspired. There are so many creatives and talented miniaturist, but so few are them are of color. I have been to several miniature shows around the country and sometimes I am the only one I see.
I will be following you and looking forward to more inspiration
Thank you G, for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it! I was able to connect to a few people of color through Instagram and it’s been a great experience but you’re right, not a lot of us out here. It’s important to me to represent the culture and also use the medium to raise awareness about social issues that impact us. Thank you for following, take care!
Oh, I love this!!! I spruced up a few dollhouses I had, added Christmas decor, and put them in the windows at the museum I volunteer at. So that kids can check them out. It was certainly nice to see yours as well! (I never really played with Barbies either, just made their homes. A cap from Downy way back then made the perfect lampshade when I put it on a perfume bottle.
Thanks for commenting Chrissy! Awhhh…you’re bringing back memories of product caps as lampshades…perfect shape, right? I love that you spruced up a few dollhouse as a Christmas window display! Would love to see that if you have a social media account. I’m sure the kids (and parents) are enjoying it!
I found your page via a booktutorial on pinterest and just wanted to thank you for your very detailed “good to have” list and even more so for presenting a different style of minis. Almost all come in the same style and it’s good see something more ethnic or representing another part of this planet. How about a Japanese dollhouse … have to check if there is one who is truly in an old asian style.
I do hope all is well and that your absence here is due to you being back at work even though this pandemic is not over yet.
Stay safe and healthy. 🙏
Thank you so much Lee, and you’re very welcome. I’m doing well but busy as I make some changes to my business. Yes, I haven’t been coming across too many miniatures that have a more global representation. I’m working on increasing that. Hope you’re doing well and healthy too!