Dollhouse miniatures can trace their origins to a pretty surprising place...ancient Egypt! In preparation for the pharaohs' deaths, hundreds of miniature amenities were created with flawless detail to make sure that the departing king would be comfortable in the afterlife, right down to tiny replicas of their palaces and servants.
Hundreds of years later, the first dollhouse miniatures were created by German royalty as a way to teach the young ladies in the palace about daily life. For the princesses who had no other contact with the outside world and maids-in-training who had never seen such lavish facilities, these were critical teaching tools rather than an enjoyable pastime.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the world of dollhouse miniatures enjoyed their first appearance as an ornamental item when large English cabinets known as "baby houses" were decorated in great detail to resemble the houses in which they were located.
These days, aside from architects eager to show their clients what their long-awaited house will look like, dollhouses and dollhouse miniatures are primarily the domain of collectors who work long and hard to make their tiny replicas look just like the real thing. Dollhouse furniture and dollhouse kits have made the job of the enthusiast even easier, with new designs and models coming out all the time.<br><br>
Today's technology is making the miniature world even smaller, so to speak. The Internet has increased our access to information on how to build a dollhouse from scratch, where to find unique dollhouse furniture and kits, and the ability to purchase and trade them fairly quickly. People are able to get in touch with other collectors and learn techniques that might have taken them years to learn on their own.
Dollhouse kits come in every style and size these days. The most common scale is 1" (also referred to as 1:1), which means that each inch is equal to one foot. Builders who want a larger model without compromising detail work in 1/2" scale, while those who want a bit more of a challenge work with 1/144" scale models.
No matter what scale you prefer, the great thing about dollhouse miniatures is that they are infinitely customizable. Most dollhouse kits come unfinished, so you can paint your Victorian mansion or your Southern manor any color you like, adding shingles and landscaping to suit your fancy until you have the miniature house of your dreams. However, the fun doesn't stop there because then it's time to decorate!
If there's one thing in the world of miniatures that I would rate as being the most fun, the most varied and the most amazing in terms of detail, it would have to be dollhouse furniture. From the tiny knobs on working dresser drawers to hand-painted flowers on a cup no bigger than a ladybug's back, dollhouse furniture and furnishings are nothing short of tiny works of art.
While some people are fascinated all their lives by miniatures, touched off perhaps by a dollhouse miniature they saw in Grandma's attic or a replica in a museum, for most the fascination is first sparked by the finding of a piece of dollhouse furniture at a garage sale or even in a hobby store (or maybe it was that perfect miniature of a jar of honey found at the state fair).
No matter how you get started, it often seems a lot like that potato-chip commercial...you can't have just one!
After you've been in the game for a while, though, you start to get tired of the same old stock at the hobby store and start wondering where else you can look to find new dollhouse miniatures. Often, you can find some nice surprises at garage sales or flea markets if you're willing to spend a little time searching for the perfect treasure. Estate sales are another place to find unique pieces, sometimes even whole dollhouses that are filled with amazing bits of the past just waiting to be uncovered.
The Internet is a wonderful resource for finding miniatures for your dollhouse or even for shadowboxes. In addition to shopping for dollhouse kits and components, the Internet has made it easy to find and contact artisans who would have been nearly impossible to find before. Some artists specialize in miniatures, creating one-of-a-kind dollhouse furniture and collectibles to each customer's specifications.
For those who prefer to make their own, there are also dollhouse furniture kits available. These are quite detailed and best for the advanced collector, but they really are quite a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy building your own dollhouses.
The final detail, which can be added or omitted depending on your particular taste is the dollhouse family. Some collectors prefer to decorate the rooms and leave them as a work of art while others feel that adding a family gives it a more realistic feel. In addition to the traditional soft-bodied dollhouse dolls which can be used as a decoration or played with by children, newer figures sculpted from polymers are also available. While they don't have as much of the "play factor" as soft dolls, they are wonderfully realistic and quite often inexpensive.
Most people start off with simple dollhouse kits and continue to build their hobby by moving on to more ornate and detailed houses, decorating them with wallpaper, tile and furniture in every way imaginable. However, if you prefer to jump in with both feet and start with a highly detailed 1/144" scale Victorian manor and gazebo, go right ahead!
The great thing about dollhouses is that, much like decorating your own house, you can tailor it to suit your own personality and the only limit is your imagination!