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Finding Inspiration at Longwood Gardens

Last week My son and I spent the day at the beautiful Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Every time I go I wonder why I don’t visit more often because I enjoy it so much. There is inspiration for miniatures everywhere. I especially get inspired by all the beautiful plants and flowers.

One of my favorite dollhouse miniatures to make are all the plants and flowers. I think I might have mentioned before how bad I am at growing real life plants. Maybe making mini plants allows me to imagine I have a green thumb and I’ll settle for that.

Like I said, everything at Longwood was beautiful but there was one flower especially that caught my eye. There was this huge topiary that looked like a daisy bush. I can’t remember what it actually was but you can see from the picture how unique it was.

So, I had to attempt to make this beauty. My miniature interpretation is a bit less dramatic but I am really happy how it turned out. My Dollhouse Daisy Topiary will remind me to not wait so long to go and visit Longwood Gardens again soon.

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Redefined Vintage Dollhouse Miniatures

Today started, as most days do, cleaning my studio. I straightened my work space, I straightened my photo booth and then I just went crazy and started an intense organization of everything. During this process I quickly realized how many miniatures I have in my personal collection.

I have been collecting dollhouse furniture and accessories for the better part of 35 years and that adds up. I use many of my things during photo shoots for my website but most of them are wrapped in tissue paper in bins. SO SAD!

As life gets more and more busy I feel the need to have less stuff and that means going through my miniature collection and selling some of my vintage pieces as is or redefined. By redefined I mean either painted or taken apart to make a totally new miniature which is totally fun by the way.

The first piece I came across is this vintage cabinet or secretary. It had great bones but a boring finish. Sorry, I forgot to take a before picture. That would require a good memory. Hehehehe! So with a few coats of paint, some distressing and new hardware it has a new life. Just like with life size furniture, rethinking a vintage piece of dollhouse furniture is a good way to recycle and save some money.

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Loving Miniature Patio Furniture

I love the dollhouse patio and all the wee little bits and pieces that go into it. It is what got me back into making miniatures again. I think for me the patio and the gardens are something I can’t master in real life but with miniatures the sky is the limit. Not only am I a master at the art of killing plants but we have a really bad mosquito problem at our real house so from mid June to the first frost our outdoor experiences at home are nonexistent to say the least. So that means no cook outs, no pool, no drinks under twinkling fairy lights and no pretty patio furniture. So it is only miniature patio furniture for me! Luckily I love my dollhouse patios and gardens and I so enjoy making all the things that go into it.
I got back into making miniatures, like a lot of people, during quarantine. I was watching Youtube and somehow came across a miniature plant tutorial. Then I watched another and another. It looked like so much fun and I needed a creative outlet to keep my mind of the worldly happenings so thought I would give it a try. Turns out I LOVED it! I made Ferns, Roses, Lavender, Ivy and even a Staghorn Fern. There were miniature plants everywhere. All things I would never be able to grow in real life. I had a ball. Now armed with all these miniature plants I needed a place to display them so I created a French Provincial style patio. Well that started an entirely new obsession and I started making miniature patio furniture. I made potting tables, bistro tables, garden benches, cafe chairs and trellises. I made several pieces of architectural salvage like shutters and columns that fit right into the decor of my outdoor spaces. I made some corbels that acted as wall shelves so that I could have plants spilling down to the ground. I could now have those twinkling fairy lights that I always dreamed of.dollhouse miniature shutters wee little studio
After I finished my French Provincial patio I went on to make a whimsical fairy patio. Since I didn’t want to have typical dollhouse patio furniture in that scene I made some tree stump seats, an idea I stole from a dollhouse restaurant I made. You can read about that here. https://weelittlestudio.com/2021/05/24/rethinking-dollhouse-restaurant-furniture/ I made some mushroom umbrellas and acorn cups for fairy tea. It was a fun project to do with the kids.
Now with summer coming up I am thinking of making some sort of beach house. Maybe a house with a vintage beach style outdoor space or maybe a seaside cottage or maybe even an old fisherman’s oceanfront house with crab traps and row boats instead of the typical dollhouse patio furniture. I could get my Dad in on that one. The options are endless. My ideas definitely are greater than the time I have to make all this stuff but a girl can certainly dream can’t she?

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Rethinking Dollhouse Restaurant Furniture

I recently started drawing up plans to make a dollhouse restaurant for my collection. I knew I wanted the feel of a neighborhood cafe type of place. A place where a community would gather, neighbors would catch up on the latest gossip over coffee and buns, a place where friends could meet over specialty sandwiches. As you may can probably tell I design my miniatures around how I want real life to be. I would love to go to a place like that. Most of all I want it to be unique, artistic and one of a kind. I didn’t want it to look like a “chain” restaurant or like all the typical coffee shops you might see in Paris, even though I love that look as well. I want it to be colorful and have dollhouse restaurant furniture that is individual and comfortable. Furniture that makes you want to sink in and stay a while. It isn’t like they need a fast turnover after all.
When you search for dollhouse restaurant furniture you will find a lot of average dining room furniture, some cafe style furniture and I even saw a jukebox. It was good stuff but not what I was picturing when I was thinking about the design of my dollhouse restaurant. So with that in mind I searched for pieces that went with the experiences I wanted my imaginary miniature people to have at this little food joint.
First I thought of the relaxing feel I wanted to have in part of the restaurant. I wanted it to feel like more of a living room. So for that area I created a sofa and some oversized chairs in a Kelly Green velvet fabric. It’s not like I have to worry about stains so velvet is acceptable restaurant fabric in this case. In the center of all these cozy places to sit I put a large round wood coffee table that was stained in a dark rich brown color. “Fresh” flowers were placed on the center for a splash of color. As for the table and chair situation I found a branch outside that I sliced long ways to get a live edge look for the table tops I wanted to make. I stained them in the same stain and made simple black legs that had a metal look to them. So now I had to come up with chairs to go around the tables. I stepped away for a few days to ponder. I looked at it every now and then to see if it spoke to me. It kind of had a “forest” feel to it so I came up with the idea of making log chairs. So back outside I went to find more branches. Found them, sliced them, stained them and they were perfect.
I made a basic counter and some simple food displays. I totally went with the forest theme and decked the walls with some ferns and added mushroom prints. It had a very whimsical vibe in the end and would be perfect for some little mice or faries. I totally loved it and wished I could hang out in a place like this. Furniture can be made of so many different things. Use your imagination and go wild.

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Pair of Lavender Topiaries

I have always loved the smell of Lavender. This beautiful purple flower is known to be uplifting, soothing and helpful for reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. What’s not to love? In addition to all it’s medicinal benefits I admire it for it’s beauty. Unfortunately I do not grow it at my house. Not only do I not have a green thumb, I have many trees shading my yard and have been told that the soil at my house is literally the worst. Whomp! Whomp!

If I were capable of growing things I would fill my yard with this calming aroma and run my hands over it every day and I would have 2 great big antique urns with the most perfectly prunes Lavender Topiaries. A girl can dream right? Well, a girl can make miniatures also. Sooooo, I made these. dollhouse lavender plant wee little studio

These were made with wire, paper, sand and paint. It is a long process but the end product is sweet and just what I wanted. I love how all the buds reach up towards the sun and I love the French Provincial vibe it gives off.

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Journal with Quill and Spectacles

My inspiration for my miniature journals was my longing to hold on to the precious moments in life. My Grandmother wrote in a journal every evening for most of her life. Each year had a collections of books filled with memories good and bad, big moments or maybe just what was had for dinner that night. I love the idea about reading your own story and being reminded about times that may have drifted off to the land of things forgotten. So why not put that in my miniature story because that is what a dollhouse is in a way, a miniature story that you can touch. I believe it adds life to your dollhouse or diorama.

As you might have guessed I like vintage things. I talk about this in a previous article. https://weelittlestudio.com/2021/04/28/my-views-on-decorating-with-miniatures/ I like the character of things when they look used or lived in. This is why I tea stain all the book pages. It not only gives them an aged patina but it wrinkles them just enough so that they aren’t all perfectly aligned. I don’t want them to look like they were just bought. I want them to look like they have been flipped through, read over and written in. The labels on the journal covers were intended for a date in time. A month or year that life has been recorded in that particular journal.

The journals all come with a quill because how can anybody write in a journal without a pen. The feathers are hand crafted and tucked in a wee little inkwell. I added the miniature spectacles as a laugh at my age. Now that I am over 40 I would not be able to write in a journal without my trusty glasses. UGH!

I think this grouping is a sweet addition to a desk or night stand in any dollhouse. https://weelittlestudio.com/product/journal-with-quill-pen-and-spectacles/

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Four Labeled Mushroom Specimens

There is something about mushrooms that just appeals to me. I do love to eat them but even more so I love the mystical stories about these whimsical fungi.

When I was growing up I spent summers visiting my Grandparents in Virginia. My grandmother was like a character out of a children’s book. She was poetic and youthful and just down right fun. We would walk through the woods and I would point out all the dark holes in the tree roots that I was convinced were most certainly entrances to a beautiful fairy or gnome home. In the morning we noticed the fairy rings. Circles of mushrooms that have magically appeared overnight as evidence of a fairy gathering. I imagined the gnomes using mushrooms as a dry place to escape the rain or maybe a fairy sat atop a toadstool for a place to rest after a long day of flying.

Now that I am older and have a son who loves science, not fairies, we have a different way of appreciating these beautiful growths. My son and I like to hike and point out the different kinds of fungi and their shapes, colors and size. Once he brought me some Lichen as a gift because he knows I love the blue green colors. We built a terrarium just so we could house this tiny little mushroom that we found growing to a piece of dead wood so we could admire it for a bit longer.

These four mushroom specimens are a reminder of my time spent with family both as a child and as a parent. They are sculpted from Polymer clay and wire with very tiny wood stands and even tinier labels. https://weelittlestudio.com/product/four-labeled-mushroom-specimens/