Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Welcome Home

Nothing like a new set of doors to call a place home! My large VERO, while in lovely restored condition when I received it from Germany earlier this year, was missing the original front doors. I emailed the very talented Elizabeth Le Pla of Elf Miniatures and she agreed to make custom doors based on a picture of the original.

The original:

And Elizabeth's custom pieces to recreate them -- the threshold is first to go in...

Then the left side filler piece, since the door frame is uneven (some creative holding of the glue bond)

Followed by the top bar and doors (kids' blocks come in handy!) and then the right side filler piece, also requiring sanding and fitting.


Thanks, Elizabeth! They look great and your directions were superb, even for a carpentry-challenged gal like me. I truly hope I did not get anything wrong.

Now that the doors are in, I want to turn my attention to the wallpaper on the second floor of the house; a reminder:

The previous owner used vintage papers, but the flowers are really not to my taste and do not match the nice original papers on the back wall. I have been looking for new (vintage) replacements for a while, and came across two (perhaps from the 1960s) 1:1- sized papers on US eBay that I think will work very well:

Aren't they great? They are both labeled "Eisenhart," which is a wallpaper company that is still around. I can also put them to use in my other VERO, and perhaps even the Citadel. By the way, I received a very large roll of each, so I might be up for a little swap with someone down the road who might be interested in one (or both) of these lovely papers.

Fitting these doors and thinking about changing the wallpapers reminded me to share this wonderful little book, The Doll Family, which was printed by Wonder Books in 1962. Here are a few pages, which show the family of Erna Meyer dolls packing up to move into their new home. I sure like those glimpses of vintage German furniture, lamps, and plants!

Good night!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ceiling for Floor

I continue to be amazed by the quality of the AG Minis line, and it is a shame it was discontinued. I have a fair amount of the furniture and accessories, but do not own any of the room boxes. I don't think I will anytime soon, but I did come across two of the flooring/ceiling pieces on eBay and they arrived last week.

This scene features one of the pieces on the floor; it was meant as a pressed-tin-looking ceiling for the loft room, but I like the effect for the floor. Of course, the shape of the piece was a challenge, since it is customized for the room boxes, which taper in toward the back. I cut out scrapbook paper sheets for the sides and then covered the walls in another brown metallic paper I had lying around. I like how the flooring picks up on the legs of the sofa and coffee table.

Here's a picture of the whole VERO house, still a work in progress. I hope to attack the room on the lower left next, which I will make a bathroom. I have given up on scraping off all the layers of paper and heavy paint, and hope to paper it over. I also bought some balsa wood to create the balcony on the second floor and have a few flower boxes for the front window.

On that sofa...it is a wonderful creation by Annina and I love it -- thanks!!!

The textured ottoman is piece I cut from a natural sponge from the SFMOMA store (on clearance!). I had seen Modern MC use a few in her blog a while ago and loved their organic look. I should have bought more...

I used the Chilewich placemat again for screening in the back -- it is very handy indeed.

Credits: Couch handmade by Annina; chairs and plant are vintage German; lamp is vintage Strombecker; nesting coffee tables are by Paris Renfroe; postcard (featuring paper cut artwork by Nikki McClure), sponge "ottoman," and screen in back are from the SFMOMA store; silver flooring is AG Minis; scrapbook paper from the Paper Source was used on the floor and walls. Accessories are Re-ment and AG Minis.

Re-ment: I accumulated a lot of Re-ment on my west coast trip, but have not yet sorted it all away, so I am too overwhelmed by the choices to use it right now! But, one coffee cup was at the top of the pile, so I threw it into the scene. It is the cup on the table, and it is from Pretty Placement #2, and is good for 1:12.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

MoMA Giveaway: The Winner

A big thanks to the twenty-two of you who participated in the MoMA Play House Giveaway. I appreciate all of your responses and comments.

First, the comments revealed that you really like my Brio and Citadel houses (a tie), with the Vero running closely behind. There were some votes for my K House and Stockholm houses as well! Thanks, and this will make me work all the harder to renovate the Citadel and the Vero, which are in active rehab. And, it will get me thinking creatively about my Brio.

Next, our lucky winner, chosen via the Random Integer Generator. The number chosen is:

Eight!! So, comment number eight is: Deirdre! Congrats, Deirdre! Please pass me your mailing address at call-small[at]call-small[dot]com, and I will send it to the nice folks at Chronicle Books, who will send you your play house!

I hope I can offer more giveaways down the road. Thanks again to all for following!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Modern Miniature Pioneers

For me, one of the most rewarding things about being featured in the recent New York Times article about modern miniature design are the stories and experiences people have shared in person and over email. Those new to the hobby are intrigued, and a bit fascinated in the desire to collect small and wonder how I got started and how I keep it going. Some reminisce about their own doll house days and flirt with the idea of renovating a long-forgotten house or indulging in a new purchase or two.

Others, like Myrna Gopnik and her family, are inspired to share how ingenuity, patience, and imagination can produce a modern doll house wonder ahead of its time. Myrna, a retired linguistics professor, emailed me after seeing the Times article in her Toronto newspaper and thought I would be interested to see what she and her family built from scratch...forty years ago.

What started as a dining room box for her daughter Melissa eventually grew into a veritable townhouse of rooms filled with handcrafted pieces of furniture, instruments, artwork, appliances, and hand-wired lighting. For Myrna, her husband Irwin, and their six children, this became a family endeavor that involved hours of creating intricate modern pieces. Myrna even had some furniture fabricated in a modern style, to the puzzlement of a local vendor.

In Myrna's words:

I read about you in the Globe and Mail in Toronto and thought you might like to see some pictures of a dollhouse that was made about forty years ago. It started as a single dining room for my youngest daughter, Melissa. Then it just grew, with many of my children helping. We inlaid all of the floors with veneer, hooked all of the rugs and made every single piece of furniture ourselves. I bent copper wire for all of the Bauhaus pieces and then took them to a chrome plating business in Montreal (where we lived for thirty years, my husband and myself were professors at McGill University). The man laughed when he saw the pieces and said he had never seen anything like it and chrome plated everything for $5.00. Each room has its own lighting and you may see that there are buttons on the stove to turn on the light in the oven and to turn on red lights under the burners. The harpsichord, which I made with my dear son Blake has all of the necessary wires and each key moves independently-not just painted on. It was great fun to make and many children and grandchildren have enjoyed it. And, of course, as the children pointed out they needed a market so we made one. We were able to buy some of the fruit, but we had to make all of the meat and bacon and hams ourselves. Hope you enjoy seeing it as we did making it.

I love the fun, handmade vitality of the pieces and rooms. The Rietveld-inspired chairs and bed in the child's room and of course the modernist Corbusier and Wassily loungers in the living and dining areas. I am floored by their ability to electrify the house and create artwork. I inquired who had the house now, and Myrna responded:

The dollhouse is at our place now because all of the kids and grandkids are grown up. I had to do some rewiring and fixing up but it is in good shape now. What is fun is that we have most of the pieces in life size, i.e. the Corbu lounge and setee, the Wassily chairs and the dining chairs (though the big ones are canned and the little ones are suede) and we too have stainless steel appliances. If I had made it all at once it would have a more Miesian kind of structure, but since it grew one room at a time the overall structure is more conventional.

I was completely enamored of this story and became more and more intrigued with this family. My interest was further piqued when I saw her last name: Gopnik. My first thought was New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, whose work I greatly admire. So, I asked.

So glad you like Adam's work. He is my elder son and has been writing since he was a little boy. Here is a picture most of the family (my oldest daughter, Alison was off with her boyfriend) in 1973 when Irwin and I were on sabbatical leave and we took all of the children out of school for the year and just traveled around Europe to fifteen countries. We had an apartment in Paris for five months and that was Adam's first taste of Paris which then led to Paris to the Moon.

And there they are at the Parthenon! What a great opportunity to travel abroad and expose your kids to a whole new world. Is it any surprise that they created their own modern mini masterpiece decades ago?! I am grateful to Myrna for sharing this piece of her family history, and for granting permission to share it with you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Giveaway: New MoMA Modern Play House

The nice folks at Chronicle Books have offered a free copy of their new MoMA Modern Play House, and one of you will benefit! I feel lucky to be able to offer something so cool to my readers and followers.

You may have already seen reviews by petite nouveau and Dream Dollhouses. I, too, enjoyed trying out this great new product, especially since it is well-made, affordable, fun, and compact.

This product is great for adult collectors like myself who want to do something contained and simple, but it also stretches your creativity. Every square inch of the playhouse components are used: the nesting boxes, constructed of thick, durable cardboard, have a glossy sheen and are fashioned with different textures (brick, stone, color) on all the sides. The accompanying flat cards can be used for indoor or outdoor flooring, and the fun decals enhance and animate the settings with lights, plants, clocks, and other accessories.

The furniture that accompanies the playhouse is very easy to construct (my nine year old had no trouble with them at all), and they have wonderful modern colors and profiles. There are also inserts for window-like cutouts in the boxes where you can create an instant painting, fireplace, or TV!

The price is incredible for the quality: $19.99! And it is a snap to store. You may know that I love fold away or pop up vintage houses, not only for their color and vitality, but for their inherently small carbon footprint :) This house has the same appeal for me!

In order to qualify for a free playhouse, please leave a comment on this post by 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, May 21, and let me know what house of mine you would like to see more of -- I try to alternate and set up scenes in different houses, but would love to know which one you would like me to focus on and post about! In order to qualify for the giveaway, you must live in the US or Canada (sorry, my overseas friends!).

I will draw a number based on the total amount of comments using the Random Integer Generator (used by The Shopping Sherpa - thanks!), on Saturday, May 22. The number relates to the order of the comments left (so if you were the fifth to leave a comment, and the number is five, you are the winner).

Good luck, everyone, and thanks again for following!

UPDATE, 5/16/10: Apologies in advance, but I will have to reject any comments from overseas, since Chronicle Books will only ship to the US and Canada, as noted in my post. Sorry!! I will read all of the comments and I really appreciate you writing in, but they cannot be included in the total number since that will be used as a basis to generate the random number for the winner.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Great (Small) Experiment

I journeyed to the west coast for a friend's wedding and have now returned. We saw lots of friends, relaxed a ton (the kids stayed with my Mom), and I had some mini fun. I went to the Re-ment Fan Club meeting in LA (see Robin's report here), and received many wonderful free goodies, and purchased a bunch with some birthday present money :)

Once we were in San Francisco, I made my way to SFMOMA and found some treasures in the store there. One find was a place mat that has a great metallic sheen and a modern lattice-like design. I knew I could put it to good use somehow...

So, an experiment in the K House:

And one in the Citadel:

I really felt inspired to use it in the Citadel, since I received some very creative responses to my post about what to do with the unwallpapered double-height wall. Some folks suggested that I "animate" it with texture. I like the effect.

Another great effect is created by the use of my great new Arc lamp, made with precision and care by minimodernistas. It is delicate and bold at the same time -- I love it!

By the way....my next purchase might just be this phenomenal fish "condo" with room box potential from the SFMOMA store. I did not see it while I was there, but thanks to online commerce, I can get it shipped!

photo courtesy of the SFMOMA store website

I wanted to extend a big "thanks!" to all of my followers, and to the many new people who found me after the New York Times article. I really appreciate your support!

Coming up next...a MoMA playhouse giveaway! Some of my blogger friends have already shared their reviews and giveaways, so you'll have another opportunity to get your hands on one! Stay tuned...

Credits: K House: Amazing Arc lamp by minimodernistas; white sectional couch and coffee table base by Bozart; marble table top is a soap dish from TJ Maxx; base of marble table is a console by Paris Renfroe; chairs at table are from Manor House Miniatures; clear Bertoia chair coffee table top is a coaster from SFMOMA; plant is an aquarium plant from a rummage sale. Citadel (repeats from K House scene excluded): rug by Peppercorn Minis; plant is from Lolly's; plant pot is by Manor House Miniatures; small-scale house is by Tomytec; two gold drum table chairs are vintage Petite Princess; yellow and green chairs and table base for house are vintage VERO; bowl on table by Gigi Studio.