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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Life in Miniature


My interest in miniatures began when I was 6 when I collected and traded the little miniature toys that came in gum ball machines.  It wasn't until early 1978 when I was 27 that my interest expanded to dollhouses when I took a class in making miniature furniture.    With the help and guidance of the teachers I made 12:1 scale reproductions of my dining room table and hutch.  By the next year I was a Mom to a baby boy so I set my hobby aside until I had a little girl to share my interest in dollhouses.  Well, three boys later, that was not to be.  Fast forward to 2008.  I'd been a fan of Tasha Tudor for 16 years by then.  I'd been collecting all the books by and about her for several years, one of which was "Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse"....

It's a close-up look at the contents of her dollhouse on loan at the time to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Colonial Williamsburg.  I was fortunate to visit in the late 1990's.  You can see how it looked in her Vermont house where it occupied the alcove next to her bedroom in The Private World of Tasha Tudor.  When she was still in New Hampshire the dollhouse took up a whole room.  This is an excerpt from the October 1957 Yankee Magazine article about her farm: Then there is the Doll Museum, which is really a huge doll house inhabited by Capt. and Mrs. Ethan Shakespeare. The doll house is twenty-five feet long and five feet high and contains most of Capt. Shakespeare’s family, including numerous relatives. The furniture is in perfect scale, and some of the items are priceless, such as the Steuben decanters made especially for the Shakespeare household. 

So, what happened in 2008 to spur me on?  Tasha Tudor, just before her 93rd birthday, passed away.  Even though I'd never met the lady I felt as though something had gone out of my life.  Just the knowledge that she was no longer in her home painting or out tending her garden left me feeling bereft.  That is when I started collecting for my dollhouse.  My boys were grown and gone.  This would be just for me.  I knew I wanted it to be larger than the 12:1 scale--Tasha's was one quarter human-size (about 3:1).  I decided on a 6:1 scale, found a doll I liked, then started scouring yard sales, antique shops, and A. C. Moore for miniature items.  I also knew I wanted it to be set in the early 1800's, just like Tasha's.  At first I set it up on a tabletop in our front window....

But soon I realized I'd need something much larger to house my growing collection.  That's when I found this cabinet....

Would you like to come inside for a visit?....

Parlor

Most of the items I found in yard sales were a dollar or less.  I found the cabinet in the corner at a thrift store for $3.  The settee and coffee table are plastic Barbie furniture (!) which I will replace if I ever come upon an upholstered settee.  The tea cups are fine china that I found in an antique store along with the candle holder--one of my splurges.  The candle in the holder is an ordinary birthday candle--just the right size.  The rug and tablecloth are doilies.  The fireplace is a photo frame in which I placed a photograph of a fire.  The chandelier was $2 at a yard sale... 
Hannah welcomes her sister Emily in from the winter cold for an afternoon visit.  Their sea captain husbands are off at sea and they rely on each other for company.

At yard sales I found the basket under the cabinet and the dishes inside and on top, as well as the miniature German Christmas Pyramid--it actually spins!  In the cabinet is one of several miniature Williamsburg Pottery pieces (the pitcher on the top shelf) that I bought when I bought larger versions for myself years ago.

See the kitty (she's part of the photo frame) and the balls of yarn and knitting needles (nails) in the basket?  


Children's Parlor

The patchwork chair in the corner is a pin cushion!  The quilt and quilting hoop, bookcase, chair, bench, wood stove were all yard sale finds....
Rebecca is visiting with cousin Anna while their mothers are having tea.  The girls are drinking hot chocolate and eating gingerbread cookies.

The musical instruments are Christmas tree ornaments.  The coffee table is my 12:1 scale dining room table I made in 1978.  It's resting on a cup coaster.  The "yet-to-be-painted" Mary Cassatt painting ☺, "Mother and Child" (1897), on the wall is from A.C. Moore....

The bookcase is a 12:1 scale, but I figured it could pass as a small bookcase for the children.  I made the miniature Tasha Tudor books by scanning her books and downsizing them.  The Internet offers sites where you can print out generic book covers in miniature.  And of course, my doll has a copy of Susan Branch's "A Fine Romance"....

The window in the room was part of a "scene" that you'll often find sold as wall decor.  I added the Christmas card snow scene.  I change out the pictures in the windows and doors with the season.   Another Williamsburg Pottery is on the ledge....


Kitchen

Welcome to Hannah's kitchen!  The wash tub is hanging on the hook waiting for laundry day or the children's weekly bath in front of the warm stove just like we kids did in our Mamaw's kitchen.  I made the rag rug.  It reminds me of the kind my Mamaw used to make....
The Amish cook, Ruth, is rocking her child while she's waiting for more cookies to finish baking.  Ruth only comes in the afternoon to get the baking done.

The rustic lower cabinet looks to be hand-made--a perfect size.  The water pump is a pencil sharpener.  The cabinet with the pottery (glued to the shelves) has a tag that says "Portugal - Hand Painted"-- another yard sale find.  The pewter plates from an antique store were bought with birthday money.  Six in all, they have different Benjamin Franklin quotes printed on them around a scene from Ben's life.  There's a rug beater along side the cabinet....


This wonderful cast-iron stove, with cast-iron pots and pans, was my first purchase.  I found it at a shop on-line.  The needlepoint hanging was 25 cents!  I found the spice rack at A.C. Moore.  The cookies on top of the stove are gingerbread men buttons!  The cookie sheet is just foil-covered cardboard.  The vegetables came from a garland of vegetables.  The basket of firewood next to the stove I chopped myself ☺.  

The kitchen continues to the left....I made the table using spindles from A.C. Moore.  The chairs were found at yard sales.  The screened door, with a winter scene and cotton puffs at the bottom, was from one of those wall "scene" decors.  You'll see the white picket fence later that was part of the scene. I found the utensil hanger (on the wall) at a small general store in Amish country.  It was the only one and it hung forlornly high up on a hook. The shop owner didn't even realize it was in his inventory.  He let me have it for $8.95.  The pretzels were a snack handed out on an airplane flight....
Rose, the house servant, serves Emma, the 3rd youngest sister, a pretzel.  Then she'll need to get started on supper.

I found this delightful cabinet at a flea market.  It  was meant to hang on the wall like a little shelf with drawers.  You can see some of the hanging utensils better here...potato masher, mason jar holder, whisk, hand broom, and there's even a feather duster.  I found the cookie cutters at Michael's as part of the package of gingerbread men buttons....

More Williamsburg Pottery and tiny tins.  This authentic-looking lantern was a real find for 25 cents.....

I love that I found "copper" molds for Hannah's kitchen because I have copper molds on my dining room shelf.  In the cabinet are blue-speckled pots and pans.  I made the straw broom--just like Mamaw used to make....

Attic Bedroom

This floor of the house is "under the eaves" and is the servant's quarters.  The bed was too small for my 6:1 scale, so I'm using it as a child's bed.  The coverlet is a handkerchief--there is another quilt at the foot of the bed.  The mattress is the feather-filled pillow my Mamaw made for my doll in the 1950's.  It is made from the same ticking she made her own pillows and mattresses.  Notice the little girl's slippers....
Rose's daughter, Maggie, is in their bedroom waiting for her mother to retire for the night.

The window is another photo frame with a winter scene outside and has it's own shutters!  The picture on the night stand is the exact same one my aunt gave to me when I was a child.  Mine was painted on a slice of tree.  I always felt an angel was looking over me and my little brother because we looked just like the children in the painting.  When I saw this one at A. C. Moore I got goosebumps....

On the same floor is the attic storage room.  Here the Christmas decorations are kept out-of-season, along with miscellaneous clutter....

Hannah's Bedroom

The quilt on the wall is a Boyds Bear quilt.  The cover on the bed is a pot holder (my yo-yo quilt will take some time to make I realized) and the rug on the floor is another coaster.  This is the bed I just made.  I found the ornate head board at a yard sale.  I don't know what it originally belonged to, but I envisioned it as a headboard.  I've made the bed high off the floor like my own bed is.  We once slept in Edmund Ruffin's bed at a B&B in Virginia. It was so high off the floor that you needed steps to get into bed.  It was wonderful!  I came home and had my husband build a frame to lift our mattress an additional foot off the floor....
Baby Susanna is asleep in her cradle for her afternoon nap.

You can get a better look at the head board here.  Of course, I had to make it a rope bed.  I also made the mattress.  This one is stuffed with polyfiber, though....  

The wash stand was found at a flea market for $2.  The hat is a pin....

Barnyard

I change this seasonally....snowed-covered evergreens....green-leafed trees, flowers, and gardening tools....colorful autumn leaves and pumpkins and a scarecrow....
Oldest sister, Sarah, and twin brother, Gabriel, are heading out into the pasture for a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

The animals sit on the ladder to the hayloft.   You can see a bit of the white picket fence....

 I love that I found this wrought-iron gate with ivy growing on it....

The chickens are coming out of their coop, another picture frame find....
~
The sun sets by late afternoon on this winter day.  The household has lit the candles.  Hannah and Emily have finished their tea....

Rebecca is saying her goodbye to Anna....

Emma is helping Rose set the table for supper....

Ruth must head home to her own family....

It is now evening and Rose has put little Maggie to bed....

At last, the household is quiet as Hannah gets ready for her bed....

GOOD NIGHT!


I read a delightful children's book called "The Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventures" that introduced me to the Thorne miniature rooms at the Chicago Art Institute.  If we ever make it back to Chicago, I plan to see them for myself.  

I've visited the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA, where the R. Lee Taylor miniatures collection resides.  On the grounds is the Glen Burnie House which was commissioned in miniature by Mr. Taylor, right down to the furnishings.

I found this list of miniature museums on-line.  Perhaps there is one near you.

As your reward for making it all the way to the end of this post I'm giving away the extra copy I have of "Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse."  Just leave me a comment saying you'd like your name entered in the give-away.  Hannah will draw a name next Friday, the 24th, then I'll post the winner at the bottom of this post....so be sure to check back sometime on Friday to see if you've won.  


AND THE BOOK GOES TO......

Emily came over for a visit early this morning because she wanted to see who gets Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse book.  The names have been written on a little slips of paper and put into the bowl....
Hannah selects one....
Emily watches with bated breath for Hannah to reveal the name....
....the book goes to....
Congratulations go to Elaine!  You can send me your address in the comments section (which I won't publish) or you can find my e-mail address on my Profile page, and I will get the book out to you posthaste.  

I want to thank everyone for their lovely comments.  I know how Susan Branch feels now when she can only give one person her gift. ☹  Come back later in the day because I have a delightful surprise for everyone.  I'm doing a post about Sharon's wonderful miniature cabin and giving you the link to Shelly's delightful miniature greenhouse.  If anyone else has photos of their miniature world you'd like to have included, e-mail them to me right away.

37 comments:

  1. Cathy. . . . .What a delightful visit to your miniature house!! Once we spoke on the telephone. I'm the person who called to encourage you. Anyway I do enjoy keeping up with your wonderful,inspiring blog. We have so very much in common it amazes me. Our Santa Barbara weather is setting records. . . warmly beautiful yet threatening drought and dangerous fire season. You are a fabulous online friend so thank you for brightening my days.

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    1. Thank you, Joann. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to Hannah's house!☺ Should I enter your name in the drawing for the Tasha Tudor book?

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  2. Oh my goodness Cathy--I'm speechless! How wonderful my visit to your charming dollhouse was! Every detail is done with such perfection. I love the cabinet that you house your treasure in. Your collection is just priceless--I hope you have a grandaughter one day to share it with. Tasha Tudor is a favorite of mine and I would love to have my name put in the hat. ♥

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    1. That "one day" is very soon now--March 31st our first grandchild is due--a girl! ☺

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    2. Congratulations Cathy! How wonderful for your family! ♥

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  3. Cathy, oh my I don't even know where to start. I loved the Thorne Rooms and have seen them in Chicago, Phoenix, and Indianapolis! My grandmother made me 2 dollhouses as a child. My first one was handed down to my sister and I still have my second one. It was a huge plantation home that my mom (who is a MAJOR miniature enthusiast) and I have been changing into a colonial saltbox. My mom also has a porch that she made that has Mary Cassatt sitting on a chair, it's supposed to be her home, and the inside of the porch has little paintings by Mary. I'll have to see if I can get her to send me a photo of it. I loved seeing the Mary Cassatt painting in your collection as it reminded me of my moms. I have a miniature greenhouse that I will try and do a post of this coming week that I think you will enjoy. It's really lovely, I made most of the plants on the inside but I did buy a few of them at this wonderful little miniature store in London about 15 years ago. The more I learn about you Cathy the more I adore you. Wonderful post, and of course I love that you added Susan Branches book!!! Wonderful collection Cathy! I hope you will count me in the drawing. What a wonderful book about Tasha Tudor's dollhouse!

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    1. How wonderful that you had such a creative mother who made you dollhouses! I would love to see the photos of your mother's Mary Cassatt miniature as well as your dollhouse when you have finished it's alterations. And I'm really interested in your miniature greenhouse. I actually have a miniature greenhouse that I've never done anything with.

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  4. Cathy, I am simply charmed by this delightful post! Listening to the tinkling sounds of the music while ogling each and every little detail of your photos has me in another little world right now. How lucky you were to find so many items in yard sales. I may have shared with you earlier that my husband made me a 12:1 scale log cabin dollhouse in 1987, and I had so much fun searching for items to set up house. At the time, I ordered much of the furnishings from Lillian Vernon catalogs; I've not heard of A.C. Moore, though now I must investigate. I, too, have a small collection of Williamsburg miniature pottery, although most are larger scale. They were almost as pricey as the 'real thing!' I also made a mini version of Susan's A Fine Romance. I could ramble on and on, but will close with a couple more statements: have you visited http://corgyncombecourant.blogspot.com/ ? Wonderful connection to both Tasha and Susan! And do I need to tell you I would be ecstatic to have a copy of Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse?! It would be a perfect companion to my copy of A Doll's Christmas. Thank you SO much for this post; I will be revisiting it more than once!

    Sharon in Alabama

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    1. Hi Sharon! A.C. Moore is like a Michael's craft store. I'd love to see your miniature log cabin. I was thinking I could do a post about other people's miniature houses for those who don't have their own Blogs. You could just e-mail me a photo (see my Profile for the address) and I could post it. I agree....the search is half the fun! I'm always on the lookout for things to add, but I have to be careful or else I'll have to buy a whole new cabinet to house the things I collect! I've seen Diane Shepard Johnson's Blog. Her dolls and their furnishings are so professionally done that her site is a delight to peruse. As you may know her daughter was the model for Tasha Tudor's and Joan Donaldson's book "The Real Pretend."

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  5. Love this so much, Cathy! What a special work of the heart this dollhouse is! I've never seen one made up into rooms inside a cabinet like this one. It's perfect in every way! And, my goodness, what great deals you have found at yard sales and other sources! It takes a very creative mind to see something and find such a perfect spot for it in the dollhouse! You have it laid out so darlingly (I'm sure that's not a word but it's suitable! Lol!). Tasha would love it!!! I especially love the last "Goodnight" scene! Well done! Thank you for sharing with us!! xo

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    1. Karen, you bless my heart, as has everyone else, with your kind words about my dollhouse....I love your word "darlingly" ☺ You did not say....should I enter your name in the drawing for Tasha's book?

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    2. Thank you for inspiring me to get going on my granddaughters dollhouse again! I am remodeling my daughters old house that my grandpa made her and am enjoying it but I never thought to look at odds and ends for the furnishings as you have! I'd like to make an armoire dollhouse next as I have an armoire already for the project 😊
      I would love to be entered in your giveaway!

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    3. Tina, I'm excited for you! We all need a little nudge sometime. That's how I finally got around to making Hannah's bed last week after not doing it for 5 years--my Twitter friends expressed interest in seeing my dollhouse. It's like how we seem to only clean house thoroughly when company's coming! A little motivation goes a long way. ☺

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  6. Dear Cathy, What a wonderful hobby you have grown! I too have loved Tasha Tudor and have a number of her books. They speak of such gentle times and seem to create a space for me to rest and ponder how to make life richer with simplicity. Thank you for sharing

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    1. You're welcome, Elaine. Should I put your name into the hat for the give-away?

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    2. If I'm not too late, please; but if so, that's ok. I know whoever wins will love it!

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    3. You're not too late! Hannah will draw the name tomorrow morning,

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  7. Cathy this is such a fun post. I have always loved miniatures and doll houses but never have had any myself. When I was a child, Colleen Moore's (?) doll house was my favorite thing on our year field trips to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. And then we saw the Queen's dollhouse in England. I could spend hours looking at all the details in those large doll houses with the libraries full of real miniature books! I noticed your Susan Branch book right away and it's interesting how you created them. I'm sure it's been fun over the years finding all your treasures. Sure include me in your give away, I love Tasha Tudor!

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    1. The Queen's dollhouse! What fun that must have been. Susan Branch's book is just the cover. Did you see the Paul McCartney photo holding her book on her website? I made the cover for that--did a cut and paste of his hands. I also used it for the Squirrel Nutkin photo I put on the FOSB facebook page.

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  8. Very impressive, Cathy! The time and effort you've put in have certainly paid off - you definitely have museum-quality miniatures here - wow! And you've found so many perfect little things at yard sales - you must have trouble passing one by - I know if I were you I couldn't go past a single one without being positive I was missing out on something great! I love Tasha Tudor too - I was first introduced to her during my first year teaching kindergarten. My principal gave all of us her "Take Joy" book for Christmas - and ever since I've been a huge fan. Made me run out her "A Time to Keep" book and the edition of "The Wind in the Willows" that she illustrated - many pencil drawings and some beautiful color plates too. It's been almost 35 years and I still love looking at them. Stay cozy and warm - and have a great week!

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    1. Thank you, Janet! Should I enter you in the drawing for the Tasha Tudor book? "A Time to Keep" is one of my favorite of hers because of how she'd find something to celebrate each month.

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  9. What a lovely post! Just started a collection of miniatures 2 years ago with no dollhouse. What a smart and creative use of your cabinet! Love it!! You have a wonderful collection! Also a huge fan of Tasha Tudor. Please include me in your drawing for the Tasha Tudor book! Thank you! Off to read your previous blog entries!!

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    1. Thank you, Belinda. Happy hunting for your miniatures!

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  10. Oh my goodness! How can I just leave my comment for the drawing! There is so much I want to say and questions to ask...and when I can get to a larger screen, besides this iPhone I will have to take another look at everything! For it is the darlingest

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    1. Thanks, Christie. Glad you were able to visit and enter the giveaway.

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  11. Oh, Cathy! I so enjoyed my "walk" through the rooms of your adorable cabinet house! Your creativity is amazing! And, I would love to be entered in the drawing to win a copy of Tasha's book. Thank you for the opportunity to win. ~ Donna

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Donna. Come again anytime!

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  12. I loved reading all the wonderful comments that your "followers" have posted Sis! You have quite a following, & I too am a FAN of your creative dollhouse miniatures! I am looking forward to seeing any new additions you may add. I hope you do add the greenhouse as gardening is such a big part of who you are. Congratulations to Elaine on winning the Tasha Tudor award!

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    1. Hi Sandy! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Shelly's greenhouse, which I'll post a link to in the next Post, has inspired me to do something with the little greenhouse I have.

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  13. Hi Sis! Just trying to update the "notify" button & figure out how to post my profile pic.

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  14. Thank you! I'm delighted to win and I look forward to pleasant hours with Tasha and also revisiting your blog post on your doll house. Every time I look at a photo, I see more detail.

    I spent many hours playing with doll houses when I was young even building cabins with my brother's Lincoln Logs :)

    We made a doll house for our daughter and spent quite a bit of time creating china and accessories for it. The house was passed along to a family with two little girls who enjoy it very much.

    You and Tasha may well tempt me to do something small...

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    1. You're very welcomed. You should be receiving it in the mail tomorrow. That would be great if you got interested in miniatures again! Then you can post photos on your Blog. I'd love to see how you make china and other accessories. Did you make food for your daughter's dollhouse? Hannah needs more food in her kitchen. All she has now is fruit and vegetables! Be sure to check out Shelly's greenhouse (the link is in the next post) and Sharon's cabin (in same post). Both are inspiring.

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  15. Visiting from Podso...oh my! This is so delightful and amazing. May I pin one photo to my dollhouse file in Pinterest?

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, you may use any photo you like. Thank you for asking. :-)

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  16. Directed to this post via Podso's blog and what a delight it was to view it! That little black cookstove is similar to one my mom had when I was a child ( hers might have been bigger ) and I loved to play with it and the little pots and pans! :)

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