Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Smallest Dolls' House in the World (and another regular size one)

Today I've received links to two amazing dolls' houses.

The first is by Willard Wigan, and appears in a video of him talking about his art on youtube. The dolls' house is some way in to the clip, but there are some other amazing miniatures shown before it, such as this little girl with a balloon, stuck to the head of a needle:

(This picture is from a webpage about microscopic art.)

The other dolls' house is a very simple DIY house, which blogger Amy Hanson made and decorated as the home of two characters from children's books, Charlie and Lola:

As you can see, the house is just the four walls, which can be placed on a table or the floor and set up with furniture and accessories. Amazingly simple!
I love the wallpapers she's chosen, and she made the dolls from iron-on transfers of images copied from the books.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two old photos of two German houses

Earlier this month, Pubdoll published a photo challenge she received from Miniatyrmama.
The rules were:

1. open the 4th file where you store your photos...
2. pick out the 4th photo & publish it to your blog...
3. explain a bit about it...
4. pass this challenge to 4 other blogs...

although Pubdoll changed the last step to:
4b. pass it on to all who would like to have an excuse for posting old photos!

I've taken a while to do it, but the 4th photo I found in the 4th file was an early one I took of my Bodo Hennig house, before I had much furniture for it:

Recently also, my sister scanned and uploaded a colour photo of the house we grew up in:

This house was built in the early or mid 60s by a German builder. I think you can see why the Bodensee reminds me so much of it! Although I'd like to find one that shows the whole front of the house, as you can't really see the roofline in this, nor the balcony.

So thank you, Pubdoll, this has been a good reason to dig in my photo files! Like Pubdoll, I'll leave this up to readers to take this challenge up or not, as you prefer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

To Brio or not to Brio?

When I saw these pieces on Australian ebay, they looked familiar. The Shopping Sherpa, for example, has the shelving units in her Brio house. But did Brio make them in these colours and these finishes? I wasn't sure.

I bid on the auction, which also included these pieces:

and won it.
Not long afterwards, a boxed set of kitchen furniture was listed on Australian ebay too:

The seller gave the brand names shown on the box - EUROPA on the left, and RUSCO OF AUSTRALIA on the right.

Well, I'd heard of Rusco as an Australian company making dolls, but was not aware that they produced any dolls house miniatures. I also thought that by the 1970s, manufacture of plastic dolls house furniture had pretty much ceased in Australia. So I was intrigued - and could see in the pictures on the box the other pieces I'd just bought, as well as an identical sink unit.

So I bid on this set too, and when it arrived, discovered, in small writing on one side, that it was MADE IN HONG KONG.

Also, that this is
Modern Scandinavian Design Doll House Furniture
Neues Design aus Scandinavien Puppenhaus-Möbel

Presumably this was marketed in Germany as well as in English-speaking countries.

It seems that there was quite an industry in Hong Kong making plastic dolls house furniture based on the designs of other companies. I have Blue Box furniture, made in Hong Kong, which is almost identical to Jenny's Home (Triang Spot-On) pieces, and other pieces of Blue Box furniture which look very like the 60s designs made in the former East Germany. This box does not give the name of the Hong Kong company which made the furniture, and all the furniture is unmarked. So it wasn't Blue Box, and in Australia seems to have been marketed under the Rusco name - if it was sold in Germany, it surely would have been under another company, though?

As well as the photos on the sides of the box showing each set of furniture, there is a photo on the back of a Europa dolls house filled with Europa furniture. Again, the house looks very like Brio dolls houses, even having the brand name on a central pediment:

The box doesn't show any of the chairs or sofas in the Arne Jacobsen Egg and Swan designs, however, so there was clearly a limit to what they would or could copy!

Has anyone produced a book on Hong Kong dolls house furniture, I wonder? Carola's dolls house website does have a page on Europa furniture, so perhaps she knows a little more about it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Familiar Furniture, Unfamiliar Themes

In the library the other day, I discovered the book Hatched! The Big Push from Pregnancy to Motherhood, by Sloane Tanen - who also wrote Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same. Pubdoll and The Shopping Sherpa both mentioned Bitter in their blogs (though sadly I can't find TSS's post right now).
The furniture is very familiar:

and so is the topic, but not in this setting:

I also stumbled across a webpage about an exhibition called "Shrinking Childhoods", (Tate Modern, 2004-2005), in which children who had been sexually or emotionally abused depicted their experiences through life-size or dolls house-sized installations. I won't copy the images here, as they're pretty shocking, but I was pleased to see dolls houses being used to let kids act out not just sanitised or romanticised versions of daily life, but the gritty reality.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gerrit Rietveld Dolls House in the Brooklyn Museum

Daddytypes posted a couple of days ago about a wonderful dolls house built to plans by Rietveld (thanks, Greg). The dolls house is now in Brooklyn Museum, apparently - I wonder where the plans are?

See the Daddytypes blog post for the history of the house and another photo.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lines DH/C ca 1924

My latest dolls house arrived today. It popped up on Australian ebay a couple of weeks ago. It was listed as pick-up only in Melbourne, but thankfully the seller was happy to pack it for collection by a freight company. It's a house in the same series as the DH/D which I am restoring (slowly), and of the same vintage. The series of Lines Bros houses named DH/A, B , C, D, etc, appears in catalogues from both 1921 and 1924, with slight differences. Both my DH/D and this DH/C are from 1924 on.

This DH/C has also been overpainted inside and out. It's missing its chimneys and shutters from the outside, and the fireplaces, wall- and floor-papers and window glass from the inside. But apart from that it's in pretty good shape.
A previous owner has put up two partitions in the upper room, creating three small spaces, and attached a homemade fireplace to the wall downstairs. I was hoping to use this house as a cottage hospital, and in fact the interior is perfect for that. So I will keep the dividing walls upstairs, and the green paint and flooring, which look very institutional!

(A stained wooden shelf had been attached upstairs - I've removed it, as you can see from the line of yellow paint, as it was at the wrong height for the hospital beds.)

The curtains are not the original ones, but are also very appropriate for a hospital.

Underneath the curtains, you can see evidence of several repaintings - first cream, then green, then red!

I hope to have the hospital set up very soon, as I already have the beds, the staff and the patients! I'm not sure whether to try any restoration of the front of this house - especially as I haven't finished the DH/D yet! Perhaps I'll just remove the paint from the lion knocker and the letters sign.