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AROUND HOME : Building Doll Houses

October 08, 1989|JUDITH SIMS

MINIATURES ARE fascinating--we stare in rapture at teeny sofas, tiny beds and itty-bitsy plates when we wouldn't even notice their life-size counterparts. We're completely enchanted by a 4-inch pipe organ that really plays or 1-inch boots that lace up. We marvel at little staircases and wee ovens.

Miniatures are a huge business these days, and almost every miniature is related to a doll house. Victorian or modern, cottage or mansion, bakery or stable, doll houses are still special gifts for little girls, but they are also compelling hobbies for adults.

Although some people buy everything for the well-furnished doll house, most feel that they have to make something-- maybe the house itself, or the curtains. One doll-house book author made ceramic dishes and shaped and welded a set of copper pots for the kitchen. But nothing equals the amazing doll house owned by former silent-film star Colleen Moore that is on display at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Moore commissioned Hollywood set designers and miniaturists to craft the fairy-tale castle and its furniture; two chairs were made using Moore's diamond-and-emerald jewelry.

Perfectly fine doll houses can be made from shoe boxes and orange crates, although most of us might prefer a three-story brownstone or antebellum plantation. Once the shell is made or bought, the fun begins: decorating. Doll house aficionados today can choose from hundreds of items, in stores and mail-order catalogues: hardwood floors, Art Nouveau wallpaper, itty-bitty bathtubs and mini-magazines.

Classes in miniature construction are available at Lilliput's in Torrance, which also has all sorts of supplies (such as lighting, tiny books, gardening tools, landscaping items, brickwork and holiday decor). Angela's Miniature World in Camarillo offers classes for various projects (such as complete house building, making miniature food and doing electrical wiring) and also has a full line of supplies and kits. Accent on Miniatures in Laguna Hills has no formal classes, but the owner, Barbara Gregory, will "work with customers one on one" if they need assistance; it also has all necessary supplies.

Carrying supplies are The Doll & Miniature Shoppe , and Miniature Estates, both in Los Angeles in Los Angeles; Casey's Wee Littles in Anaheim, and Tiny Town in Temple City.

Nutshell News magazine, published monthly by Kalmbach Publishing Co., 21027 Crossroads Circle, P.O. Box 1612, Waukesha, Wis. 53187, includes how-to instructions and features many doll-house projects.

Dover Publications Inc. has issued several books specializing in doll houses: "Needlework Designs for Miniature Projects," by Eileen Folk; "Miniature Iron-On Transfer Patterns for Dollhouses, Dolls and Small Projects," by Rita Weiss and Frank Fontana; "Build Your Own Inexpensive Dollhouse," by E.J. Tangerman, and "Ready-to-Use Dollhouse Floor Coverings," "Ready-to-Use Victorian Dollhouse Wallpaper" and "Ready-to-Use Art Nouveau Dollhouse Wallpaper," all by Muncie Hendler. For a catalogue write, 31 E. 2nd St., Mineola, N.Y. 11501.

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