Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

The write up of the Shopping Sherpa‘s dollhouse exhibition in Canberra got me theorising about dollhouses again:

Across time and place we readily identify with domestic settings; from ancient Roman villas, to the round houses in the PNG highlands. We recognise domestic spaces used for sleeping, eating, washing etc. Like mini house museums, Anna Maria’s dolls’ houses are repositories of material culture of the Western era from 1957 – 2007. (see source)

Except I still wonder if the houses are really repositories of material culture, that we can all possess, or reflections of the material culture we aspire to possess?

From her blog:

I find it constantly surprising how miniaturists in the late 20th and early 21st century seem to have suddenly reverted to creating Victorian country dolls houses. I’m not sure if it is because those pieces are easier to obtain commercially (and here’s where I start asking chicken and egg questions) or if it a “dumbing down” of a hobby (can I be so arrogant as to use the phrase “art form”?) that has been round since the 15th century at least.

If you are interested in some of the famous dolls houses through history you might want to look at Mon Plaisir (1704-1751), the Dutch cabinet houses of the 17th century and, more recently The Thorne Rooms in Chicago and (of course) Queen Mary’s Dolls House at Windsor Castle.

Each of these collections gives us a very clear idea of how people actually lived in the times they were constructed and are a very useful social history tool.

So why oh why aren’t we doing this any more? Are future generations going to have to look to TV to see how people lived in our times? And will that mean they’ll get some completely unrealistic idea (eg: how do the people in Friends actually afford to live in a flat like they have?!)

(see source)

I don’t disagree with any of the points she has made, either in her blog or in her exhibition; but I do wonder whether the repositories of present/modern life are only slightly less idealistic than those which envisage a far off, unrealistically perfect period of Victoriana.

I think that even modern dollhouses might be aspirational repositories – what we want to possess, where we would like to live – of modern life; rather than reflective repositories – where we actually live, what we can actually afford to own…rather than being a reflection of  material culture, they are, perhaps, a reflection of materialistic culture.

Without spending alot of time digging out stats and figures and correlating percentages of ownership of key items against the dates they appeared in dollhouses, this is only speculation.

But in the interest of randomly collating facts found on the internerds and coming to a (possibly flawed conclusion) consider the Shopping Sherpa’s late 50’s dollhouse which was initially dated as being produced in 1947 and features a television. There is an interesting site about TV History which included alot of US figures about tv ownership, and prior to 1955, less than 50% of the USA owned a TV (see source).

Admittedly this is a US specific site, it would be more interesting if the stats were from the same region as the dollhouse – Lundby started in Sweden. And it would be more interesting if there were more than one “key items” which could be correlated against statistics for uptake and ownership….but it was quite a cool thought while it lasted.


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Well Christmas is over and in that brief hiatus before our eyes are assaulted with visions of chocolate rabbits and bunnies and bilbies; there is just time to curdle the heart of anyone who has visited the antivalentine website with visions of pink and red and fluffy toys holding “I wuv U” and chocolate and roses…I could go on, you know.

Turns out, if you are a 1:12 boy in need of a special something to impress a 1:12 girl on V Day or you are in the 1:12 doghouse and need to get out…there is hope.

Valentines day ?joy? has spread into the 1:12 world:

Say it with flowers

Say it with flowers

Disregard my bitterness that seasonal, religious and corporately promoted festive moments have permutated into the 1:12 world (aka my singleton bitterness), these miniature artists are really talented.

Awww...you shouldn't have. I didn't get you anything....

Awww...you shouldn't have. I didn't get you anything....

I mean, the above is even wrapped in cellophane – talk about attention to detail!

Anyhoo I think I am well on the way to having a Bridget Jones moment with a bottle of vodka and Chaka Khan; except I might substitute Chaka Khan with Patti Smith…or Diamanda Galas:

Gosh. I forgot how wonderful and yet incredibly scary Diamanda is…

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If you make a cosmopolitan and you put extra cranberry juice in it to dilute it, does that make it a metropolitan? Or a suburban?

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…the 1:12 abyss looks back at you.

And yes, I just co-opted a Nietzsche quote into a blog about miniature world. Cool, eh!

So while I am pondering whether to dip my toe further into the abyss and also pondering whether – if in pondering – I am already dipping my toes further into the abyss; I discovered where Minimodern gets her mid century modern / Eames/ Snelling / Parker / Le Corbusier dollhouse chairs – they are Reac chairs.

I can’t remember where I saw it but someone suggested getting the box sets rather than buying the chairs separately – more economical.

I wish I could find that blog post so that I have objective “evidence”. Anyhoo, I found a collection of the five volumes sets on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=250291642658#ebayphotohosting

And before you ask, no I haven’t bought them yet, i still teetering on the edge of the abyss trying to decide whether to stay where I am, descend gradually or dive bomb straight in.

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Escape from New York?

It’s too hot to sand, I need to buy balsa wood and fix some windows before I progress further and I have hit a roadblock in my layout planning. Plus I am recovering from the bounties of bombay basil and cosmopolitans I partook in last night.

Fortunately it is not too hot to think. Well not too hot as long as the fan is on and I am drip feeding myself cola. So I am back to pondering the way of the dollhouse.

Given most of the items I am seeing on sites are for collectors and/or are not suitable for children; for now, let’s leave aside the dollhouse as toy.

As mentioned previously, if you trawl through ebay and dollhouse sellers’ sites, you will see a preponderance of Classic US, Georgian, Edwardian, Tudor and other Period architecture, structural components, furniture and etc.

So there appears to be a predominant wish to create reflections (or rather interpretations) of previous periods of domestic life.

Interpretations of previous periods is more correct given these reflections are filtered through our own experiences of (current) domestic life and are themselves pasteurised and prettified. How many accessories and plans are there for Victorian tenements and slums?

So this action of creating an interpretation of a previous period is an action of creating an ideal (or idyll) of domestic life in stately and upperclass homes in the Edwardian,  Georgian and etc periods.

It’s an escapist fantasy of a house populated with rooms and concepts which don’t exist in real life – not in this current time, nor probably even in that far off time period we seek to replicate.

And these are no small homes either – they are stately and or upperclass homes. How many of us could afford something similar in terms of size, money or lifestyle in real life? Very few, I imagine.

So, for now, we’ll call this action of creating idyllic reflections of domestic life “escapism”, for now. It’s kind of a blunt terms and it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that, okay?

As they say, whatever floats your boat.

However, what really interests me is if this act of creation and interpretation is the creation of an idyllic domestic reality and an act of escapism from humdrum/difficult/whatever you want to call it reality…why on earth are there minature washing machines, ironing boards, cleaning products darning boxes and vacuum cleaners?

12 size stain, we'll fix it!

Have a 1:12 size stain, we'll fix it!

Seriously – if I want to escape from reality, I don’t want to take the fact that there’s ironing and washing to be done with me.

Don't you have chores to be doing?

Don't you have chores to be doing?

That’s…not escapism.

12 world?

What day is bin day in 1:12 world?

Who wants to be reminded there is vacuuming to be done and bins to be put out in their idyllic world?

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As I boldly go through this 1:12 world, where few others dare…I have discovered that you pronouce Bespaq (the Chanel of dollhouse furnitures) as “Bes-park” not “Bes-pak”.

This is not a “to-mah-to”/”to-may-to” issue, or a “colour”/”color” issue.

Making this mistake is sort of like the difference between pronoucing “Hermes” as “Hermes” rather than “Er-may”, in the 1:1 world.

The dollhouse afficionado to whom I mentioned I liked the Bes-pak furniture said “Yes the Bes-park furniture is very nice. Thank you, Hyacinth – I stand here more edu-macated than previously.

Bespaq Furniture is the very thing. If only they made the same furniture at 1:1 size. Consider:

Bespaq Versailles Bedroom Suite

Bespaq Versailles Bedroom Suite

Or my personal favourites, the Bespaq Art Deco Moderne suites:

Bespaq Art Deco Moderne - love the colour of the satin on the left

Bespaq Art Deco Moderne - love the colour of the satin on the left


Bespaq Art Deco Moderne - anyone say Great Gatsby?

Bespaq Art Deco Moderne - anyone say Great Gatsby?

They are very striking pieces of furniture at very striking prices – $514.8 USD for the set above, so $739.21 AUD.

Not that they are probably not worth it, given the care and attention put into these pieces – the black leather on the set above is actually real leather.

For my purposes and finances, though, they are out of reach. Plus I am not sure I would want to live out my love of art deco furniture vicariously at 1:12 size.

Having said that, consider the price if they made them 12 times their 1:12 size (so at 1:1 scale) –  $6177.6 USD or $8870.52 AUD. Ouchie!

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No matter what anyone tells you, size does matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or…not telling the truth.

This fact of life in the 1:1 world also applies to the miniature world. To the uninitiated, this tiny little world may seem to be  one undefinable, indistinguishable mass of replicas of real life objects…which are alot smaller.

A lot smaller.

You would think that would be the end of it, right? Wrong…

In real life, objects can come in a variety of sizes (is that all?, tiny, small, medium, large, extremely large and…impressive). While over in miniature world, there are also a variety of sizes (aka scales) for objects – the sizes (or scales) are known as 1:12 (the most common), 1:24 and 1:48.

This small fact becomes important when you purchase furniture or stairs or some other component which, not realising the multiple complexities of scales, you purchase the item in the wrong scale.

Like, for example a kitchen:

24 kitchen

Why size does matter - a 1:12 kitchen vs a 1:24 kitchen

On the left we have a 1:12 kitchen which is roughly the right size for the house, on the right a 1:24 kitchen.

Quite a significant difference, no?

(You can also see the interior walls with two coats of sealer and my puttying efforts around the window, which I will have to sand again but am putting off because it is just so damn hot at the moment: 39 degrees).

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