In the dollhouse

Published by Lori Pickert on November 4, 2007 at 01:00 PM

hoth1.jpg Construction of the Jedi temple has not quite begun. The research period is in full swing, which involves a lot of stop-action watching of the second trilogy.

In the meantime, a small box was added to Jack's birthday LEGO set, the Hoth base, to enhance it to his standards. (Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie. All we need now is an AT-AT.) There is also going to be some painting of the old corkboard he's using as the ground -- white, for snow, of course.

Soon the temple will begin to be built for real. So much debating about what will make the best elevator, etc.

One great thing about homemade constructions — Jedi temples, car garages, dollhouses, etc. — is that there is no guilt when you dispose of them when they are no longer played with. Also, they are, of course, the ultimate green choice — don't buy new, don't buy at all! Make something out of recycled materials, which can later be recycled again when you are finished.

hoth2.jpgMost important, there is an entire creative research, materials choice, construction, and decoration that the kids get to do. It becomes art, craft, and science project in one. (Have you ever made a garage door? an elevator? a rotating helipad? Simple machines, baby.)

msk-carwash.jpgYou may remember the great Martha Stewart Kids article about making a car wash and garage out of things from around the house. (Why did they cancel that magazine again? Best magazine ever. I saw an entire set for sale on Ebay not long ago. Too rich for my blood, but boy would I love to get a hold of the issues I missed.) I have tried in vain to find it on Martha's website; it was in the MSK winter/spring 2003 issue.

Elisabeth Dunker of Fine Little Day has a fantastic flickr set of the wonderful dollhouses she and her daughter made. They are wonderful, and they remind me of a classier version of Phoebe's dollhouse on Friends.

I want to make one of those for myself.

Dutch of Sweet Juniper made his daughter a quick, inexpensive, modern-style dollhouse that I lurv.

Of course, another great thing about the homemade dollhouse/garage/Jedi temple is that you don't have to worry about those pricey dollhouse dolls and accessories. You can use what you already have on hand -- action figures, Hotwheels, Polly Pockets. Start with the people to choose your scale.

Of course, anyone who owns a dollhouse will tell you that it is inevitably overtaken by unusually large and/or small friends anyway. The Hamburglar living in the back bedroom, Strawberry Shortcake hanging out in the kitchen, not to mention plastic dinosaurs and teeny plastic jungle animals lurking around the back door.

Then there's this groovy modern plexi dollhouse from Better Homes & Gardens Gifts to Make Yourself in 1972. Love the fireplace, baby.


Not as futuristic as a Jedi temple, but still plenty cool.

Finally, our friends Pete and Tom made this amazing Dalek city. Super cool, isn't it? Show that to any medium-size child and the ideas should start popping.


Comment by molly on November 4, 2007 at 04:53 PM

We are currently reading the third book in The Littles series (literally, right now, the book is on my lap and my children are waiting for me to stop typing and read, mama, read!). I love the pictures of the tin can elevator, and the ottoman made from a tuna can. Then there's the Snippets with their bent wood furniture made from maple roots. I would love to create a "dollhouse" out of found and recylcled objects. Have fun with the project!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 4, 2007 at 11:21 PM

i'm not familiar with those books, but they sound great. i remember reading (and watching) "the borrowers" when i was a child and loving how they made everything for their tiny home out of things they stole from the household.

i had a barbie ski chalet (my malibu barbie also had the camper van -- my barbie was a happening chick, let me tell you) and it came with mod little accessories. wish i still had it!! but i added all kinds of homemade accessories and furniture made from bottle caps, lids, etc.

actually, now that i think about it, i furnished that first house pretty much the way i furnish my house now...

Comment by Melissa on November 5, 2007 at 11:33 PM

I am also in LOVE with the MSKids magazine. I think it is probably my favorite publication for big or little people, ever. I was a subscriber until they went under, and then I spent months perusing ebay to get each issue I didn't yet own. I am proud to say that I am now the proud owner of the complete library. Because some of the auctions I won were lots I have some multiples. If you would like to send me a list of what you are lacking, I would love to see if I can help a friend out!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 6, 2007 at 12:15 AM

oh man, i am going to take you up on that! lol

i am lacking most issues; unfortunately i never managed to get a subscription, so i have random issues. actually, i was shocked to see the complete set on ebay -- i mean, shocked to see how many issues there were!

i'll e-mail you... maybe i'll delete your comment, too, just to be safe... lol

Comment by Molly on November 6, 2007 at 06:13 AM

I love that you reference Pheobe's dollhouse on friends. That's too funny. We are entirely guilty of having the plan toys version and the IKEA furniture. Still, it always seems to be filled with random colored feathers, rocks and construction paper scraps. Today's remarks about allowing them to leave it out and continue to build, layer by layer, really stuck a cord here too. - Molly (with the uppercase)

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 6, 2007 at 03:59 PM

we had the plan toys dollhouses at school along with the Target furniture and people (and the people we had were bought on clearance, so they were all dressed as 17th-century french royalty, but whatever -- the kids didn't seem to notice!). i'm certainly not against regular dollhouses, but since they do always seem to end up personalized with feathers, scraps, and happy meal people, if you haven't already bought one, you might consider just making one! ;^)

phoebe's dollhouse was really memorable! lol

(and thank you re: striking a cord...)

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