You’ve heard the expression Small is Beautiful â€“ Edinburgh Doll’s House Club members could have that as their motto. All their work is done at 1/12th or 1/24th scale, yet the detail is quite amazing. When it comes to hobbies, these folks have it all! Art, history, creativity, imagination, competition â€“ and all in a shoe box.
Last year we featured the work of professional miniaturist David Edwards, but while these enthusiasts are just as passionate about their work, they do it for fun. The group was formed 15 years ago when 4 friends, who met in each other’s (full size) houses to share ideas and to show-off their latest miniature creations, decided to open their doors to others with the same hobby. They hired a hall where monthly meetings could be held and to which speakers could be invited.
Some of the speakers come from the club’s own membership, as many are particularly knowedgeable at one aspect of the work, while others, such as David Edwards, are professional miniaturists.
The beauty of creating a doll’s house is that it can lead to all sorts of fascinating research into history and culture beyond our own and, while many people purchase the furniture and nick nacks for their houses, others like to do it all themselves, developing a range of skills from joinery to needlework, not to mention wiring and decorating.
In 1997, one of the members spotted a club competition for a miniature box in a needlework magazine, sponsored by the Knitting and Stitching show and Dollshouse magazine. The members decided to enter and chose the subject of a theatrical wardrobe mistress.
A box, to dolls house enthusiasts, is something roughly the shape and size of a shoe box, which is dressed as a single room. Emergency meetings were held in member’s homes and everyone pulled together. Mary made the furniture, including individual drawers for the cabinet and it has become a part of club folklore that the first thing she cooked in her new oven was the sewing machine cover (made from fimo â€“ a kind of plaster which is moulded and then baked).
Props were made including costumes, footwear, hats and wigs and there was Cinderella’s dress as well. Finally all the pieces were compiled and sent to London for judging and then from the London show to Dublin and then to Harrogate. As a reward for their fantastic first effort the Club members were delighted to find that they won first prize of Â£500.
Thrilled with their success, they decided to use the money for a group trip to the huge Miniatura Show in Birmingham, travelling there and back by train. Not only did they visit the show, they entered a competition there, for a Single End (left) â€“ and won that as well!
Every year the club runs a project. Maureen Runciman recalls, “Scunners Department Store from 1996 is my favourite. Everyone who wanted to was able to do something as there was scope for all sorts of things. We had a Board Room, Restaurant and Ladies Toilets as well as Haberdashery, Stationary and all the other departments.”
Maureen’s own contribution was the Wedding Department. This was the first large project by the club and has only been displayed complete 4 times. It consists of 16 smaller boxes and 2 larger ones at the top.
In 1999, the club organised a day of workshops for other clubs. “It was a great day,” says Maureen, “but it was such hard work that we haven’t done it again.”
At the moment the club has around 25 members who meet regularly. If you are interested in finding out more about this fascinating hobby, contact Louise 0131 538 6981 or Maureen 0131 661 8002 or you can email Debbie Millar
On Saturday and Sunday14th and 15th Jun 2008, the famous Miniatura Dolls House Show will be coming to Murrayfield Stadium. You can meet the members of Edinburgh Dolls House Club there as well as over 60 other exhibitors. There are a number of workshops which you can take part in too. For more information or to book tickets, click here.