Dollhouses in Amsterdam

On vacation in Amsterdam I discovered that the Rijksmuseum has dollhouses!! A whole room full of them. It’s in the 1600s-1700s galleries, which I think are on the second floor. These are to scale (looks like about 1.5″ to the foot), made by cabinetmakers. Apparently, collecting for dollhouses was a hobby in the 17th century. These ladies would feel right at home with our dollhouse groups now I think.

























Sassy Lady

I rarely buy dolls, but when I had a chance to get this one by Marsha Backstrom, I couldn’t resist. I love her attitude, her confidence, her dress sense, and her indifference to age!

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Love that hat.

I wanted to display the doll somewhere (a) my cats wouldn’t get at her; and (b) in a setting that went with her. I decided she’s just gone shopping to supplement her wardrobe–or at least what’s underneath it.


Here’s all the stuff I gathered–shoes from Sylvia Rountree (Dolls’ Cobbler), and lingerie and more shoes I found at Mainly Minis (they carry terrific accessories).

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Here she is, surrounded by her just purchased accessories.

I built a quickie scene in a display box, and here is the final product. This sits in my foyer to greet guests.

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She’s gaw..geous!

Big House Music Room–Mostly Done

I have mostly finished the Music Room in the Big House Remodel, so I will regale everyone with pictures! (Click for close-ups)

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First some general overview pics. The whole space is 16″D x 17″W x 12″, though I took away about 2-3 inches of depth with a false wall and French doors leading to a garden.

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I hadn’t started out to amass a musical instrument collection (figured I’d put in a couple of things), but I kept finding opportunities to acquire them. Took me a couple of years, but here they are. (More details on each below.)

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Beautifully made mandolin is part of a set of instruments I bought at auction. They were handmade by L.W. Norman.

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Dulcimer is part of the L.W. Norman instruments. Most of the decorative items in the built-in shelves I purchased at the Mini Time Machine musuem’s shop (glass, silver wedding vase, ceramic quail). A couple of the pots I bought from Craig Roberts at a show, the top one in this picture is from Poco Pots (it has horsehair in it, mane clippings!).

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Two beautiful guitars from L.W. Norman.

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The guitar on the floor stand is by Nantasy Fantasy. I believe I bought this via Mainly Minis. I made the stand (as well as the hanging stands). How to make the floor stand baffled me, until I found a pattern for an easel and modified it.

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Banjo is the fifth and final instrument in the collection from L.W. Norman. Gorgeous! I also fell in love with this Knowle sofa made by Ron Hubble. I custom ordered it.

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This is a lovely music cabinet made by Shannon Moore. I’m annoyed that this photo came out blurry, but you can see the burle veneer on it–so pretty. The violin on top was part of a Reutter Porcelain set.

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The cabinet open. It’s beautifully made. Historically, the cabinet was meant to hold instruments, such as violins, as well as music books.

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A shot of the room via the front hall.

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The instruments I’ve bought are works of art in themselves. This is the Nantasy Fantasy guitar. Perfect workmanship.

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The painted harp is by Ron Kerr.

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This is a Ralph Partelow piano. I had in mind to buy a regular grand piano, but I liked this one because it’s unusual. It’s a box grand.

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Inside the piano. The detail is a little hard to see in the picture, but the stringing and soundboard look very real.

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Another thing I splurged on was this fine chandelier by Luminations by Mr. K. It’s hard to take pictures of it, because the camera spreads the light. This pic is a little dark, but easier to see detail.

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At this angle you can see it lit a little better.

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Some “through-the-windows” scenes for fun.

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Switching to the front hall, which is not quite finished, but getting there. I redid the floor in parquet to match the music room.

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Another shot. Sofa is hand carved by Susanne Russo. She describes how to hand carve like this in an issue of the Scale Cabinetmaker. When I saw the sofa at the auction, I recognized it from the article and decided to bid on it.

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Back to the music room. The chair is “vintage” Bespaq I bought from Mountain Miniatures. I figure the lyre motif went with the music room! The still-life picture is by Cezanne. (He didn’t actually paint this one! It’s a cut-out picture I framed.)

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This table is a brag. I made it in a class with the Boorums at the NAME convention in 2013. I had it mostly done in the class, but finished it at home. We learned how to taper the legs, router the top, do the inlay, and cut the rest of the pieces for the table. I finished it with paste wax. (They carved the drawer pulls for us.)

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An overview shot. I need a good piano bench or stool, and I’ll probably re-do the curtains, but I think I can put a fork in this one. It’s done.

Through the Windows

While I’m in Tucson, here’s a post of pics I’ve taken through the windows of The Big House. These rooms aren’t complete yet, but this is the fun of minis. (Click pics for larger versions)

Entrance Hall

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Music Room

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Kitchen (sitting room side)

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Upstairs Hall

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Utilities Room

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Third Floor Hall

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Kitchen (kitchen side–more visible if you click for larger version)

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Entrance Hall (looking toward music room)

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The Big House–Foundation

Click pics for larger versions.

The Big House’s Foundation needed to be completely redone. It has a nice 3″ base to give it a solid porch and foundation. Originally I had glued latticework to it, per instructions, but it was out of scale and old, wood was dirty, and needed an overhaul. I pulled off everything and started again. Brick sides I left in place but grouted the spaces.

Next I created brick posts in the corners and at supports. I used loose brick corners and loose bricks plus mini mortar.

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It was a real mess under that house, but I vacuumed it out and cleaned it up. Was a bit afraid what I’d find under there…

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Next, latticework needed to be redone. I built three frames out of 1/4″ x 1/16″ strips, then crisscrossed 1/8″ x 1/32″ strips. I think I cleaned out the Hobby Bench of their basswood that day.

Frames in progress.

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Finished frames waiting to be painted.

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Lattice frames painted and glued in place.

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Next, I re-floored the porch with commercially available flooring I stained.

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Posts set in place where they’ll eventually be glued.

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I’m now working on the railings. I’m doing a top railing, plus will add some brackets to that (I think), and working on the bottom railing as well. Pics when those are done.

I’m interrupting my progress to go to the NAME convention in Tucson! Yip!!!


I have been so busy trying to finish writing a book that I haven’t had time to do much in the mini world.

However, I am shingling the Fairfield as I can. I absolutely hate shingling so it’s slow… TV shows help!

I finished the back; now I’m working on the front (as you see), and the tower. I have two sides of the tower done (will trim the edges), two sides to go.

Have only a tiny bit done on the right side (below).

A few more TV shows might do the trick. So nice that I can watch them on my laptop while I glue and stick, glue and stick.

I’ll be painting them a dark wash when I’m done. I experimented with stain–it looked terrible with the house colors. Dark gray or black it will be.

So it goes!

More Available from The Scale Cabinetmaker

Good news from The Scale Cabinetmaker, one of the best miniaturist magazines ever:

“Just a quick update from Dorsett Publications. We have released Volumes 4 through 10 of The Scale Cabinetmaker and hope to have the final 10 volumes, as well as the first in a series of beginner’s books out by the beginning of November.”

See:   for more info.

Mini Weekend: Tucson Mini Time Machine

I had the best mini weekend. Today (Sunday) shopped ’til I dropped at the Small World mini show in Phoenix, and Friday visited the Mini Time Machine in Tucson.

This is fabulous museum with a huge collection. Every serious miniaturist should visit (visit even if you’re not so serious). I’ve been twice in two months and still can’t take it all in. I went the first time expecting a few antique houses plus maybe a dollhouse or two and stuff for kids. Wrong! I took a few snapshots of some of my favorite pieces.

Bill Lankford Half Inch Scale Building

Baby House: 1/12...1/144 scale


Part of a three-section Brooke Tucker room


Side view of the truckstop by the Gills

One of the crowns of the collection: The Gamble House by Pat and Noel Thomas


Gamble House


Can't remember the artisan, but loved this vignette

This is a snippet of the HUNDREDS of room boxes, houses, vignettes and displays. The collection is fabulous. Well worth the time to stop. On Camp Lowell Road just west of Swan in Tucson (closed Sunday and Monday).