In October/November 2022 I took a class at the Smithsonian called Build a Tiny Interior, taught by Marcie Wolf-Hubbard. Yes, it’s an offshoot of a class I have taken a couple of times before taught by the same artist – Build a Tiny House!, and you have seen examples of my Tiny House work here on the blog.
As I have mentioned before, I have always loved dollhouses and as a child spent a lot of time building my own mini homes in various materials. Now so many years later, I am rediscovering this path with great pleasure.
In a short series of posts I will tell you about my Tiny Interior project.
When last we saw our Tiny Interior it was in a transition state. Nothing about it was completed but several processes were going on. At this point I decided to focus on doing the furniture because I thought that once I saw how it looked in the space, I would be able to do a better job on the room decor.
I used several small boxes to form the structure of a dresser and a crib. Since I planned to papier mache these items I didn’t have to make my frameworks pretty; they just needed to be sturdy.
You can see that for the dresser drawers I attached cardboard to simulate the look. I also cut out the bottom of the box to make legs and then fit another piece of cardboard underneath so the box would not be open at the bottom.
For the crib, I used a box and cut the two long sides away; I glued it on top of another box and cut out the legs. For the slatted sides I used cereal box cardboard. I cut a series of openings and left a line along the bottom that I then glued to the “legs” box. I glued the top rail in place. Then I taped everything up good and secure.
You might say, why didn’t you just leave the box as it was and cut the slats in the long sides? The reason was that I wanted to use an exacto knife to cut the slats nice and even. I could not accomplish this cutting into the interior of a box with scissors, I felt.
When I went to the papier mache step, well, applying it between those slats was tedious and difficult. Looking back, I should have papier mached the slats, then attached the top rails and papier mache them. Oh well, it did get done and it looks fine. Which is what counts.
The dresser by comparison was a breeze, since it is basically a sort of cube with little detail to fuss over. I did need to work carefully in applying the papier mache to make sure the drawers retained their definition.
As I worked on the crib I found I needed to add more structure to the back top rail to make it look right. No problem, just add some more pieces of cardboard with tape, as looks correct, and then apply the papier mache! In the end, I ended up with a cute little crib. Here it is painted and with details drawn in with India ink.
And here is the dresser.
Now that the furniture was complete I felt the need for a couple of accessories. The bed looked kind of hard and uncomfortable. So I sewed a little mattress out of fabric scraps and knitted a simple little blanket.
For the rug, I considered various options, such as terry cloth, etc. It always came back to scale. I didn’t want the pile on the rug to be knee-deep to the Tiny Occupant or with loops so big she would trip and fall. There is also the issue of how crowded the room might have become.
So I took a collage I’d made for another purpose and turned it into a visually appealing but flat rug.
Here is all the furniture and accessories, completed.
This is a great project. I’m sure Leona will really enjoy it !
Apparently she enjoys playing with it so much that her parents are getting her a simple dollhouse (age appropriate) for Christmas. A new generation of dollhouse fans in my family? I feel my work is done.
Interesting concept!! I really like the newspaper carpet in the bedroom.
Thank you. I’ve been having a lot of fun doing these Tiny Houses and Interiors and this one in particular was special to me all right.
Wow look at the evolution, I did not realize how the furniture develops!
Thank you. Papier mache (anything) is really more a matter of building a good framework than anything else. Get that right and the rest is easy!
Easy for you – ha! 🙂
It all looks completely charming. I love that you are able to miniaturize your textile arts too as part of this project.
Thank you. I am pretty happy with the fabric work too, myself. I am kind of surprised I got it to work out fairly easily, I guess measuring things did help…(duh).
Astounding attention to detail
Thank you. I find in these Tiny House projects that somehow the process of making them, which has so many steps, kind of slows me down, and I don’t feel the impatience and hurry I often feel with paint. I move with more deliberation and that leads to more detail.
Ah yes. Making those delightful soft furnishings and furniture can’t be done quickly