How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Things That Inspire in Me a Story: Dollhouses

First of all, I wish you a happy Independence Day! I hope you’ll remember the real meaning of this holiday during whatever your activities are, because what God did in the founding of this nation is truly something to celebrate. If you do anything special, please share!

As for the subject of this post, it’s another “inspiration” post. I’ve covered dolphins, abandoned buildings, and blue willow, because, for whatever reason, these are some things that make me imagine stories. The same goes for dollhouses.

When I was little, like most girls I played with dolls and dollhouses (I think acting out the lives of dolls tied in with my love of storytelling); but instead of me growing out of that love, it transfigured into a different kind of passion. I now call myself a miniaturist, which means -- and this is my own definition -- someone who thinks miniature objects are ten times more special than their normal-sized counterparts. I can go nuts over a six-inch-high cabinet complete with intricate details while giving a six-foot one a couple of glances, at most. (It does depend on the cabinet, though.) The same goes for doll dresses, maybe to a lesser extent, when compared with people-sized dresses.

So while we can’t always explain these deep-rooted passions of ours, we can have fun with them. I’ve made dollhouse items that I thought you might like to see:

I made the shelf, the chair, the couch, and the fireplace screen. The Navajo pottery are beads, the trinket on the coffee table is a marble, and the lamp base is awaiting a bottlecap shade.

A different view of the unfinished living room, awaiting wallpaper and a rug. I'll be painting the china cabinet. I cut the picture of the reclining lady from a catalog and framed it with brown ribbon.

The unfinished dining room. The only thing I can claim to have made is the potted plant. I love the tiny figurines, don't you?

Even looking at pictures of miniatures is catnip for me. I love scrutinizing a photo of the back of a full-size dollhouse when all the rooms are arranged, and when it comes to single rooms, the more stuff they have in them, the better.

It’s no wonder that I also like dollhouse stories. Two of my favorite childhood books are Midnight in the Dollhouse and When the Dolls Woke by Marjorie Stover, a historical fantasy novel and its contemporary sequel about a handmade dollhouse that’s passed down in the family. Midnight in the Dollhouse is set immediately after the Civil War; the dolls solve an important mystery connected with the dollhouse, and in When the Dolls Woke the dolls once again must save the day. Most of all these books weave a story around the warmth of home, a close-knit family life, and the simple pleasures of well-loved objects.

The Borrowers, about doll-size people that live in the houses of humans, was one of my favorite movies, and I liked the book, too. Borrowers allegedly borrow household trinkets, like buttons, string, and matchboxes, to use in their own homes. I drew two pictures for my grandma of Borrower rooms and asked her to identify the objects that they took from the humans -- postage stamps, necklace pendants, thimbles, spools, ring boxes, et cetera, et cetera. (The stamps became wall pictures, the pendants toys, the thimbles plant pots, the spools table stands and stools, and the ring boxes chairs.)

While I haven’t written a story, I’ve definitely played with ideas. I may write a light fantasy eventually or something else that features something to do with dolls or a dollhouse. (It would certainly be tamer than the other story ideas I’ve had lately!)

Do you have memories of creative ways you played with dolls or dollhouses?

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