Friday, April 24, 2009

A little seduction never hurt anyone

I have a theory that one of the things miniaturists find so appealing about dollhouses is that we can create our fantasy worlds in miniature. Things that we may not be able to do or have in real life become possible in dollhouses and room boxes. Actually, that's not just a theory. I know a lot of miniaturists and I've asked around. They all agree. It may not be the primary reason for why we do what we do, but it ranks up there in the top ten. That's why there are so many dollhouses featuring witches, wizards and fairies. We love to exercise our fantasies in miniature.

So, why is it that mainstream miniatures are all so traditional? Are manufacturers missing a huge demographic? I mean, it's not like they don't ask around about what miniaturists like. If I can find out about the fantasy thing, I'm sure they know about it too. So why is it that all we see is the same victorian, mahogany, white upholstered, cabriole legged, brass handled furniture? Oh, there are examples of modern furniture and the occasional side trip into rustic country or shabby chic but who made the rule that all dollhouse furniture has to fit into a stereotypical form? I'm pretty sure that not all our fantasies have to do with victorian houses and Queen Anne furniture.

I know, I know, it's all about mass appeal and manufacturers and retailers are always going to cater to the mainstream. Believe me, I'm not complaining because it's that mainstream philosophy that gives us artisans a place in the miniature world.

I've made so many of the furnishings in my houses because I couldn't find retail miniatures that fit the themes. I built kimono chests and tatami mats and futon frames for my samurai's house. I ventured into the world of paperclay because I wanted leaf shaped furniture for my fairy's house. It's been more fun than the law should allow.

When I started dressing furniture for sale I began with the traditional styles. After all, according to the retailers, that's what people wanted. It didn't take long before my Muse insisted that traditional is just not what we do and pretty soon there were four-poster beds with enough sequins to make a mirrored disco ball feel inadequate and other four-poster beds made of leather and lace that came with accessories like a little leather whip.

I'm a very sensory person (a handy thing for a textile artist to be) so when I create miniatures I like to use a lot of textures so the owner will enjoy handling them as much as looking at them. I still make mainstream miniatures that fit into victorian or country decor and but they use vivid colors, textures and patterns that put a sparkle into small rooms. But more than anything else, I love using sensuous fabrics like silks and velvets. I love seeing a rumpled silk bed that makes one wonder what the little person of the house has been up to!

Sometimes it's a touch of virginal innocence and sometimes it's the steamy passion of heavy velvet and animal prints, but isn't it all delightful to see a hint of seduction or a touch of sensual expression showing up where you least expect it!


  1. I am definitely with you on this, I have to make a lot of Period miniatures because it is what my Customers request but I always add a piece of dirty rag, a mouse or rat and I sell Kitchen debris for the Tudor/Medieval house.
    I like to see cracked, broken eggs & spilt milk, it is more normal than spotless tidy and no sign of anyone living there.
    I am now wondering 'who has been,what, in that bed?

  2. I agree whole-heartedly! It's the details, and bits left behind that really make great miniatures. Out of the ordinary and even, dare I say, "subversive" miniatures are the best and most interesting.

    I found a gorgeous full-body 1:12 porcelain doll once on-line years ago. She was very buxom, with flowing blond hair and dressed in a dominatrix outfit holding a cat-o-nine tails. I really wanted to purchase her but the artist never returned my emails. I've never seen any other dolls quite so intriguing since.

  3. Deb, I'm so glad you're thinking 'outside of the box' on miniatures, furniture in particular. It's so nice to see something different and you certainly provide that! Madame Riaboushka can vouch for that! LOL!!

  4. Deb, there's an award for you on my blog. Hop over and pick it up when you can. :-)