Monday, March 9, 2009

It may be small, but it still needs to be comfy!

Wanna know one of my wee obsessions? I think that miniature furniture should be comfy. Yes I know, the dolls aren't real people and they won't notice if a bed is comfortable or not. That doesn't change the fact that my brain insists tiny furniture should be soft and inviting. For one thing it adds to the goal of realism in miniature scale and that's always a good thing. But my obsession goes one step beyond that to actually making the furniture so comfortable that if you let your imagination take you away for a moment you can really feel yourself sinking down into deep cushions and downy pillows.
I'm very sensory oriented so that probably explains my obsession but I love being able to put it to use in miniatures. When I dress a bed, I use fabrics that are a delight to the senses. I combine different textures in each bed to create a piece that's not only visually stimulating, but are also irresisitble to touch. Run your finger across the top of a bed and feel silky satins, soft cottons, sensuous brocades and delicate lace. I like to add in surprising touches of velvet and buttery soft suedes. Most of all, I like to create a contrast between the wood and fabrics that brings out the best of all textures.
Recently one of my best clients asked if I could get him a specific style of living room furniture. I dug around thru my dealer catalogs and found the style he was looking for. The next thing I knew, we were discussing re-upholstering the furniture to match the decor in his miniature living room and how many pillows and throws would be just right. Somewhere in the middle of that conversation I realized that we were discussing a custom order and that I'd be venturing into a new type of miniature textiles. I was delighted! For one thing I like trying new things but mainly I loved how our conversation of "what if" had naturally evolved into a real dressed living room....something I'd thought about but had never gotten around to making.
I'm going to digress just a little bit about how much I love the planning process. I spend a lot of time with my clients when they request something special. It's a rush for me to discuss miniatures and get a visual of someone else's ideal dollhouse room. I love to find out what kind of wallpaper they'll be using.........what type of flooring.......will there be heavy woodwork in the many windows........will the room have lamps or will it be a little dark......... Those questions not only delight the miniaturist in me, but it gives me the information to create the furniture to make that room picture perfect!
The conversation can go on for days and even weeks. I like to learn everything about the room. I want to know the era of the house and what styles are represented in other rooms in the dollhouse. I ask about the story behind the dollhouse or roombox and what kind of people live there. Finding out the personality of the people living there is one of the most important things to know since the furniture will reflect that personality. So in addition to getting to know my clients, I also get to know their dollhouses and the little people who live there (even if there aren't any dolls in residence) When I learn things like "she's a very practical lady with strict victorian sensibilities but she does appreciate the finer things in life", I know to make a bed that's spartan and functional yet has the softest cotton blankets and a silk bedspread. Learning that "she's a world traveler who likes the exotic, yet she still has a sense of girlish whimsy" leads me to making a bed with unique and sensual textures and just a light touch of femininity. I think the planning process is so much fun for me because that's when the creating process begins.
That ties into my obsession with making comfy miniature furniture. I don't perceive it as dollhouse furniture.........I see it as a small representation of our dream homes. Therefore the furniture should be as inviting as it is in our big houses. Chairs and sofas should have soft cushions that sink deeply when pressed with a finger and pillows should be fluffy. A throw casually tossed over the arm of a chair or daybed is close at hand to snuggle under if one should want to drift into a sweet nap. All these little comforts come together to make miniature furniture that transforms a dollhouse into a miniature home.

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