Monday, July 1, 2013

Let's Get Small: the 30 Dresses Wrap-Up

As promised, here are (most of) the 30/30 Dresses pics, which show off both the dollhouse and a few other 1/12 scale roomboxes I have made over the years, including the mermaid room and Matisse room. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goldilocks Returns: Welcome to the Dollhouse

So there it was, eight months later, (at Brimfield),
 sitting in almost the exact same spot it was sitting in when I blogged about it the first time in September 2012. "How much is it this year?"  I asked the seller.

"$250."  (Down from $500..which was down from $900).
 Then he pointed me to a box laying on the ground several yards away that had a whole bunch of spare trim parts and wallpapers and furnishings that all went with the house.  He accepted my $200 offer and I carted it all off to my car.

When I got home, I set up the house in my studio to assess all the work ahead and identify its maker.   One great thing about this house is the convenience of the three separate stacking sections, which makes it easy to move and work on.

I pulled out my collection of dollhouse books and my googling machine, and quickly determined that this was a Christian Hacker dollhouse made sometime in the 19th Century.  Rough as it was, it still had plenty of signature details, the most obvious to me being the painted outline details and the kitchen cupboards.   

(The cupboard was completely disassembled in eleven pieces but I have put it back together since taking this photo. The metal wash stand was something I had in my collection already but wanted to see "in action".) 

The box of spare parts was loaded with stuff. I spread it all out on the floor to inventory.
 At the bottom of this picture you can see where somebody had salvaged old layers of wallpaper scraps from the house and noted which room they came from.

 They had also saved the glass windows and what appear to be the original lace curtains.

To top it all off  there was a nice random assortment of old furnishings in different scales from different eras.
The metal pendulum clock was in one of my books and described as German, 19th century.  (It has a winding mechanism but I can't get it to work yet!)

Photographs of the house taken in 1989 were amongst a small amount of paperwork, which included a couple of dollhous-y newspaper articles and a handwritten note calling the house a "Captain's House with a widow's walk."
  It was already in poor condition in 1989, with many crude repairs, but someone had plans to restore it further.    Loose wooden replacement trim parts had been hand made by a woodworker,  and a stack of bad 1970s wallpaper was waiting to get installed (Yikes, Noooo!).

(2nd floor facade with smashed doorway, staircase pieces, random trim, balustrade/widow's walk)

I've had the house for one week now, and spent several hours painstakingly removing the top layers of non-original wallpapers (some walls had 4 layers)

and glueing the entire house back together.

It's been like a putting a jigsaw puzzle together, and there are still some stray parts and unsolved mysteries.   Lucky for me I live with an expert antique restorer, who will help me fix the hinges of the facades, broken staircase and balustrade.

What I've come to decide after a week with this house is that it does not want to be restored, it just wants to be put back together and loved as-is, with all its rough- and-tumble charm.  I feel like I rescued it from what could have been horrible further abuse, and for now, anyway, I want to keep it in "original" as-found condition as possible, without polish and inappropriate updates.  My one temptation would be to add some antique marbled papers to the walls that are in the worse condition, but we'll see.

 Here's what I read in one of my dollhouse books,  Dolls' Houses   ©1997 by Olivia Bristol and Leslie Geddes-Brown:

"When it comes to restoration the rule is Don't. The value of antique dolls' houses and their furniture lies in the originality of the condition, however distressed. Nearly all serious damage in old houses is caused by enthusiastic overpainting or tinkering...."

So there you have it.

Last Tuesday:
This Tuesday:

I will be posting more pictures in June, as things progress, when we do 30 Dresses again.  (What's "30 Dresses"?  Click Here. If you're not on facebook,  just join already.)
It will give me an opportunity to decorate, show interior pictures of the house,  and brush up on my photoshop skills (yes, I'm going to be shrinking down and
moving into the house).  Maybe I'll even talk about vintage clothing again...