How I spent Squish's precious hours of nap time were about to take a more inspired turn.
I felt uninspired to create for months. Although I spent/d most of my time materializing a realm of some kind of happiness for the babe and our family, I have over the past year also spent a bit of time laid out, healing, on pain killers. Needless to say, I was not fulfilling much of an existence that nurtured my passions, disclaimer being I am passionate about mothering, but man, it can wear me out.
At a recent visit to my parent's, my mom's dollhouse circa 1946 was dusted off and my sister and I laughed through blessed moments reminiscing about broken furniture while setting it up for Squish to see. I was amazed how Em's little wheels started turning as she sipped from tiny mugs and tried to sit on tiny chairs. I thought, "I could make this for her animals. I could make this for her imagination."
I felt a jolt to dust off some of the unused creativity brain shelves patiently waiting for productivity. I searched online for inspiration. Seeing that a pre-fab skeleton of a dollhouse could run upwards of $200 without furnishings, I wanted a more personal, DIY, albeit-economical version. The mental vision library started to fill with volumes of ideas. My hands wanted to create.
As with most of my projects, I started organic, ground up, without much of a plan. I hacked a bookcase in half that had been sitting in our basement, gathered junk from the Husband's mason jars of toolbox odds and ends, stacked random pocket-fillers of blocks to sewing spools to eggshells from Easter, and piled it all on the guest bedroom floor. Power tools, craft glue, tape, old scrapbook paper, material from The Craft Conspiracy, lids from various containers, aging acrylic paint, and the bookshelf lined the walls and crept over the carpet. I found a craft cutting board in a still-packed box from our move two years ago, and a razor, and I couldn't sleep. My mind was flooded with images and vision. It felt really good.
Since this vision's creative birth, I have done a little digging regarding the purposeful nature of providing children with avenues for imaginative exploration. See: TedX on Imagination, this TIME article, and this article from the International Journal of Integrative Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine; all of which helped me to justify my newfound obsession of making really small things out of junk. Regardless of your child's gender, I think there is much to be discovered in the trials and visions found in making real-life situations accessible for our kiddos to use for play. Plus, it has been great fun for me, as well. A 3D vision board, as one of my dear friends said.
Thanks for the support, the laughter, and overall, not calling me crazy for diving into a much smaller realm of existence.
And lastly, measuring is not my forte.
Main Floor Living:
I painted the stairs and glued dollhouse carpet to them.
Nothing too fancy. More scrapbook paper for the walls and a geode coaster cut in half for the bench back, which is foam with material glued on. Material and foam for the bed, as well. Popsicle sticks make the "shiplap" accent wall and picture frames. The gold leaves are from old earrings. I cutout the landscape pictures from an REI catalog. The succulent is from a grouping I have in our living room, and it is stuck in a cleaned medicine bottle with scrapbook paper around. The dresser is made from matchboxes with brads for pulls, glued to blocks. I used more popsicle sticks for the hall flooring and earring embellishments in the hallway. The bathroom has a cutout from a Ballard magazine of a clock and wooden bracelet beads are glued in the shower area. The sink is made of blocks and a lid from a lip wax container, which I nailed on. The hanging plant is a bottle cap with a wood chip hung by string. I used earring hooks with beads for the towel hooks and faucets, and the bathtub is the bottom half of a spray bottle container. I don't know where I found the piece of glass that separates the shower, but it's glued to more blocks. The shower head is an earbud colored with silver Sharpie. The vanity mirror is from an eyeshadow case.
I used scrapbook paper and took a bunch of paint sample swatches from Ace to make the herringbone floor pattern. Em's fingerpaint artwork is surrounded by popsicle stick frames on the back wall. I used one of her old swaddle blankets for the curtains and a dowel and bolts for the curtain rod. A bobbypin holder holds the blankets, which are just swatches of material. Altoid cases filled with material covered foam make the beds and I sewed material pillow cases and stuffed them with cotton balls for all of the pillows. The teepee is round dowels hair-tied together with material glued around for the sides. The rugs are an old placemat cut into squares. Another drawer pull is fixed with a scrapbook paper lampshade. The dresser is match boxes glued together, covered with scrapbook paper and fixed with brads for the drawer pulls. I used dollhouse carpet in the reading loft and material-covered foam for the seating bench. The bench end is made of popsicle sticks. The lights in the loft are a string of LED lights from last Christmas.
All of the walls in the house are made from foam board or cardboard. The floors are made from 1/2" foam board and I drilled holes in the sides of the book shelf then stuffed BBQ skewers through the holes and into the foam board to ensure the floors were level and stayed in place. Level is relative.
The house siding is a large piece of posterboard. Cutting the windows in the siding involved a lot of measuring. More cuts of foam board make the window frames on the exterior. The roof is 1/4" plywood. For the lighting, I drilled holes in the back of the bookshelf and strung the lights along the ceilings and into some drilled holes in the floors. Em pulled the one out in the bathroom, so that's taped to the ceiling!
Random items purchased: popsicle sticks; birch wood chips; three, round and one, square dowels; 1/2" and 1/4" foam board; poster board; five, drawer knobs; 3/4" quilting foam. More popsicle sticks.
Dollhouse-specific items purchased: six light bulbs and wires, a 20-volt amp, dollhouse lighting strip, 1:12 stairs, some pre-made books, and a dollhouse wagon.
Items recycled (dare I say, up-cycled): puff balls, matchboxes, Hape blocks, thread spools, a small picture frame, nuts, bolts, a hinge, spray bottle caps, cheese lids, a stem from a floral wreath, snips of faux-succulents, a geode coaster, an old liquid medicine bottle, the bottom of a spray bottle, mirrors from makeup containers, bracelet beads, old earrings, an old washcloth, paint samples, magazine cutouts, and Altoid tins.
Time will tell. Time will tell with all of it. Well, time and tiny hands prying things open, off, and apart. As of this moment, Em has ripped apart the toilet, which her animals won't use anyway (ha), taken the towel hooks off of the wall in the bathroom, managed to unscrew the hallway light bulb, pulled apart the fixtures on the tub and bathroom sink, repeatedly swung the pendant lights in the kitchen, which seem to hold up to this wear and tear, and marked up the hardwood by banging the lamp stand repeatedly. Her favorite things to do right now are wash her own hands in the tiny kitchen sink (I've even caught her washing her face with the tiny towels), throw everything in the bathroom down the tiny staircase, stuff materials, rabbits, and lamps through the windows, and put her animals in the beds to sleep. I think she almost ate a tiny book the other day while snacking on crackers during play; this remains a supervised activity. I'm hoping that by her having it before she's even two, she'll grow to love and play with it to her heart's desire...and hopefully it will withstand the wear and tear of her tiny imagination and discovery.
Thanks for the read. xoxo