Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Doll's House Shop - in 1/12th Scale

It's been a while since I posted; real life has, rather inconveniently, been getting in the way of my miniature one. Recently however, I have found the time to finish off some fairly major miniature projects. Knitting and stitching barely feature in them..... but I'm going to show them to you anyway.

Starting with my 12th scale version of a Dolls House Shop.

This project was born when I saw something similar that my good friend Margaret had built for a Club project. I fell in love and had to have one! But whereas hers was petite and a manageable size, I bought the biggest room box I could find - a huge 18 inches wide and 11 inches deep - and conceived a Grand Plan. What I didn't appreciate at the time was just how many 1/144th scale miniatures it would take to fill it. I now know the answer: A Lot. 

Some years ago, at great expense, I'd fallen in love with, and bought, three little 1/144th scale room boxes made by a Dutch lady called Ank Schaap (see below). I thought they were amazing and wanted to fill my Huge Enormous Dolls House Shop with tiny room boxes of similar quality. 

Unfortunately, given that I effectively wanted to live a champagne lifestyle but had only a lemonade budget (as the saying goes), I realised early on that simply buying all the contents was not an option; there was nothing for it but to make as much as I could myself. And not really knowing where to start, for a long time I simply didn't. And so the Huge Enormous Room Box in the corner of my dining room sat there reproachfully until I couldn't bear the guilt any longer. 

So I covered black and cream cardboard in clear sticky-backed plastic and cut one inch squares to make a quick, cheap and effective tiled floor. The walls and ceiling were painted green using an emulsion tester pot from the local DIY store. The effect - unintentionally -  was not unlike the 1930's bathroom that I rermember from childhood visits to my great-aunt's house!

I bought the large shelving unit on the back wall as a kit from The Dolls House Builder and painted it cream and black. I built the angled corner units from mountboard, to exactly fit the space available and painted them cream and black to blend them into the main unit. Cheap white-wood shelving units were transformed with black and cream paint for the side walls, while I built the central U-shaped display counter using mountboard and made the bookshelves on the front of it from leftover lengths of 1/12th scale coving. The books and magazines themselves were made using cut-outs from catalogues and magazines.

So far, so good. But it was still very empty. A visit to the local Railway Modelling shop procured some N-Gauge houses made of resin for a couple of pounds each and I used brick paper in the same scale to re-cover some nasty cheap dolls houses I'd bought at a dolls house fair. Some wonderful kits from Jane Harrop and Templewood Miniatures provided a better standard of house for the more prominent displays and I snaffled a lovely wooden house made by Jacqueline Crosby from my big dolls house. But there was still an awful lot of space left to fill.

I knew I wanted a DIY section in my shop and so 'The Creation Station' was born. I made rolls of wallpaper from magazine and catalogue cut-outs. Rolls of carpet were made using samples of velvet paper. I glued lengths of leftover stripwood into an empty plastic container and filled the lid of the container with cut-out pictures of carpets and rugs from various magazines and catalogues. I made fat quarters from scraps of fabric, arranged in wooden seed trays. The wall-mounted wallpaper display was made using a couple of cheap wooden plate racks, painted black and used vertically rather than horizontally. The wallpaper displayed on it was printed from the internet and the sandpaper in the display was made up using printables from a dolls house magazine.

I made the larger bottles of woodstain and varnish using beads and those plastic caps that cover the pins on the plug when you buy a new electrical appliance in the UK. The labels were cut-outs from craft catalogues. The smaller white bottles were made from my daughter's 'pop-a-point' pencil (don't think she's noticed that it has been appropriated for mummy's use) with the pencil points snapped off and the top of each segment painted black to represent a lid. I made tiny tubes of paint using thick metal foil wrapped around a cocktail stick, flattened at one end and with a seed bead stuck on the other end to represent a lid. Paintbrushes were made using the fancy end of turned cocktail sticks - rather hilariously sold in Marks & Spencer one memorable Christmas as 'Posh Pricks' - with the end painted black to represent bristles and the handle painted red, blue or green. 

To help fill the shelving on the left hand side of the shop I used some little N-gauge sheds from the Railway shop and made a display of dolls house dolls using some tiny figures from the same shop. Scrap wood wrapped in paper with a picture of a dolls house on served as flat-packed dollshouse kits. I made some little paper houses using cut outs from a dolls house magazine. 

Finally, it was time to tackle the huge (and still empty) central shelving unit. I painstakingly made twenty eight little room boxes from mountboard, measuring just 2" wide. I painted them brown on the outside to look like they were made of wood and painted most of them inside using emulsion tester pots, although I did wallpaper some using catalogue cut-outs. 

The furniture was a bit of a headache. I bought some lovely pieces from Barbara Moore of Pear Tree Miniatures and a few  bits of white-metal furniture from Tee Pee Crafts, but they were nowhere near enough to fill all those room boxes. I couldn't afford to buy more and began to think I would never get the thing finished. On one of my visits to the Railway shop I noticed some styrene tubing in all manner of different sizes and shapes. I experimented with some square and rectangular tubing and discovered that if I used small sections of it as a base or armature, I could create quite passable furniture by covering it in thin card, adding false drawer fronts with minute no-hole beads (or nail caviar) for handles and painting the whole thing. I made chests of drawers, cupboards, wardrobes and bedside tables this way, for mere pennies. 

Furniture by Barbara Moore. Homemade plant, pictures and accessories.

Furniture by Barbara Moore. Homemade Mirror and pictures.

Furniture by Barbara Moore. Homemade runner, plant, bowl & pictures.

Furniture by Barbara Moore. Homemade toybox and accessories.

I also found some styrene with the profile of a capital "H". When cut to size and covered with card in the same way I found that this made quite passable beds, to which quilts could be added using more magazine cuttings. I made passable settees and armchairs using tiny scraps of wood and painted an appropriate colour. They aren't strictly to scale but I think they look the part and I am really quite pleased with the result. Best of all, they were so cheap as to be almost free!

Homemade (and inspired by Cath Kidston).
Entirely homemade using styrene tubing covered in cardboard.

Carpets were made using scraps of velvet paper and cut-outs of rugs from dolls house catalogues were used as, well, rugs. I made tiny pictures using cut-outs from craft catalogues, framed on scraps of cardboard. Mirrors were made in the same way using silver sequins. Plants were made using tiny scraps of lycopodium and reindeer moss glued into seed beads. Cushions were made from tiny squares of velvet paper. I made bottles and jars using nail caviar and lamps from beads and jewellery findings. I found some little cupped sequins which served as bowls and made tiny books using the picture from an advert featuring a 12th scale book-making kit.

Metal Bed. Homemade chests of drawers and accessories.

Metal Dresser & Clock. Homemade settee, armchairs, cushions, pictures and coffee table.

Furniture by Barbara Moore.

Furniture by Barbara Moore, homemade accessories.

Furniture by Barbara Moore.

Entirely homemade.

Entirely homemade from styrene tubing and cardboard.

Wardrobe built from a kit, remainder of room homemade.

After a lot of very fiddly and frustrating work, not to mention endless hours of cutting up magazines and catalogues, I finally had enough furnished room boxes to fill my shop. I made some little signs using my computer to add realism and introduced the shop's first customer: Mrs Wallet (miss 'is wallet - get it?!) and her long suffering husband (both from Crumpled and Rumpled). 

I'm sure I shall add even more bits and pieces to the shop over time to make it truly cluttered and lived in.  I am currently recruiting a Shopkeeper to run it for me. Right now though I wouldn't care if I never made another thing in 1/144th scale - it's back to my beloved 1/12th scale for me. Who'd have thought that 1/12th scale could ever seem so big?!

Next time I will show you my Mouse House. And there's even some knitting in it!



  1. For a long time I haven't made any miniatures, but have plans to build a dollhouse shop. This is giving ideas. Your shop looks great! Greetings

    1. Thank you so much! Getting started is the hardest part😊

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