Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
Doll’s houses and miniature world is a fascinating one – not for tiny tots, but for grown-ups as Ann Evans reveals.
Did you ever own a doll’s house? Maybe you still have one. But if it’s stored away in a dusty attic or shed, it’s time to blow away the cobwebs and give your old doll’s house a new lease of life.
If your memory of doll’s houses is of dull plastic furniture that vaguely resembled a bed or a chair, you will be astounded to discover hand-made cabinets and chests of drawers made from mahogany and oak, crafted using the same methods as full-sized carpentry. Rugs woven in intricate patterns and silk upholstered antique furniture. Imagine tiny crystal glassware, fine china dinner services, sparkling cut glass chandeliers and leather hand stitched books. All these and more are part of the miniaturist’s unbelievable world.
Miniatures for doll’s houses is a growing trend both as a hobby amongst discerning adults, as you can see in the above photo of an amazing Tudor House built and furnished by Heather Cormell, a member of the Wolverhampton and District Dolls House and Miniature Society, WADDHAMS for short. Doll’s house miniatures is also a thriving cottage industry. Hundreds of artisans are working from their homes and workshops throughout the UK and indeed throughout the world, producing the most incredible scaled miniatures for doll’s house enthusiasts.
These brilliant craftspeople are beavering away creating exact replicas in miniature of just about anything you would find in a full-sized building. Working to scale – not just in height, but in depth, in the thickness of materials, in patterns and in stitching. Those scales ranging from 1:12 that is one inch to the foot, to 1:24, 1:48, 1:144, and even smaller. Just imagine a fully furnished doll’s house that fits inside another fully furnished doll’s house. And peep inside that and you might just discover yet another tiny house.
Such is the work of Sonia Bethwaite, known to her friends and customers as Little Miss Miniature. Sonia explained how she first got started making miniatures. “When I first looked at all the different scales available, I didn’t know which one to choose. It was close to Christmas, so I treated myself to a 1:48 scale house kit. That was it. I was totally hooked! After that I just wanted to work in a smaller scale, so I moved onto 1:144 scale and my love for 1:144 houses and furniture was born.”
From 1:144 Sonia moved to 1:288 scale houses with furniture. She added: “My main goal is to make them as detailed as possible. When you downscale it’s easy to lose the detail and intricacy of the piece. So, I really work hard on each piece in order to bring it to life and create the realism into something so tiny. I still seem to be going smaller. Who knows where I’ll end up!”
While the most popular scale in doll’s houses is 1:12. The smaller scales are growing rapidly in popularity as they naturally don’t take up so much space in the home – and being smaller, doll’s house lovers can indulge in having more houses. Of course, it’s not just houses, there are gorgeous shops, boutiques, cafes, bistros, stately homes, crooked cottages – all styles and genres in fact and from all periods in history. There is no end to the imagination of the people who make them.
Petite Properties https://www.petite-properties.com/ specialise in authentic architecture and realistic miniature models. Their houses, cottages, shops and furniture kits range from 1:24 right down to 1:144. Petite Properties is a family business, founded by Bea Broadwood back in 2003 when she began creating miniature model buildings at her kitchen table. What started as a creative distraction quickly flourished and grew into a full-time family business with husband Tony and youngest daughter, Mo joining in. Today, Petite Properties are the leading light in the smaller doll’s house scales. Over the years they have cleverly developed different collections to satisfy every taste or genre in the miniature world as well as producing kits to suit every pocket.
One of the UK’s very best miniature shows where you can see all these amazing doll’s houses and furnishings, and meet the people who make them, is the Miniatura Show. https://www.miniatura.co.uk/ Miniatura was founded in 1983 by Muriel and Bob Hopwood and is now organised and run by son Andy – although Muriel and Bob are still very much involved.
The show brings together the very best miniature craftspeople from around the world. It’s a show for everyone who loves miniatures. In addition to all the stands, the show features workshops where you can try your hand at making your first miniature or have a go at making something new. Miniatura also supports Cancer Research and that stand always has lots of great items to purchase to help support the cause.
There are also stalls selling all the products, materials, tools and equipment for making miniatures and of course a million and one items to buy for your doll’s house. Different clubs and societies display their members’ work and give demonstrations. There are unique attractions such as Andy Spencer’s stand. Andy is a photographer and film maker who creates stylish works of art for your home, cleverly incorporating miniatures with full sized pieces of artwork. www.andrewspencermedia.co.uk.
Another unique attraction for the spring Miniatura Show will be actor Jon Trenchard’s 1:12 scale Hordle Castle. As seen in The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Times, as well as Have I Got News For You, Jon Trenchard is very excited to bring his creation-in-progress “Hordle Castle” to exhibit at Miniatura for the first time.
Organiser, Andy Hopwood had this to say, “Collecting and making miniatures is a wonderfully immersive and rewarding hobby and one of the easiest ways to start is to visit a show. You get to see what’s on offer and to meet with other enthusiasts and share ideas. You can learn a lot in a very short space of time, so you can get to the fun parts of the hobby that little bit quicker.”
Miniatura run a spring and autumn show every year. The spring show takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 21-22 March, and the autumn show is at Stoneleigh Agricultural Centre 26-27 September 2020. Free car parking at both venues. Reduced priced tickets for the autumn show will be available at the spring show. Visit: https://www.miniatura.co.uk for more details about exhibiting, visiting and to keep up with all the latest news and special offers.