Monday, 11 January 2010

I love your 1/12th scale dolls' houses and yet...

Look closely...(The Tate Baby House 1760. V&A
from the book Dolls' Houses from th V&A Museum of Childhood)

Have you noticed?
Look here then...

(The Tate Baby House 1760. V&A
From the book Doll's Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood)

And this one is one of my favourites!
(Kitchen from Mrs Bryant's Pleasure 1860. V&A.Photo from the book Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood)

See the tables, chairs, plates and exquisite little inhabitants of the house: they are not well proportioned!

This is what I like about ancient dolls' houses. There is no specific scale.

Little people with very long arms and big heads, giant delicate china plates on somptuous dining room tables covered with elegant lace, a very small husband waiting for his soup to be served by a gigantic maid.

The house below was made by Norman Warne and inspired Beatrix Potter for her story The Tale of Two Bad Mice.

I've seen this house when I went to Hill Top and if there hadn't been a thousand tourists pushing behind , I'd still be in front of it right now.This dolls' house is in the room called the Treasure Room.I was touched by the clumsiness of the proportion of the tiny items.The huge oranges near the small table...could you imagine such a thing in your mini house right now?

I am sure not.

(Photo from the book Beatrix Potter at home in the Lake District)

I cannot tell you how much I love to see all the beautiful work everybody does in their dolls' houses, I once wrote to one of you that each time I look at your houses,I feel like peeping through somebody's window.I feel like visiting secret places where no human has ever set a foot but only two hands and a few fingers.I imagine your hands holding gently a chair, a vase, a plate full of minuscule muffins, a tiny scarf to wrap around the thin neck of the beloved owner of the house.They are real members of the family aren't they?

All of a sudden, we all become like Alice: too tall to fit in this space.But how we wish we could.
From Nancy Wiley's studio

What beautiful placesyou have: Bernard's House,La Petite Maison, The Antique House, Nina and Lucie's house...and many, many more!
But even if I try hard, my mind just won't fit in a just only 1/12th scale world even though I have great admiration for it.I have tried.Really hard!
It just won't...

So I hope you will forgive me if most of the time, my little world is just like those very old 17th ,18th century houses... it is proportionally not right...

...but it lifts my heart.

So...tea anyone?

I have found this link on Wikipedia about scales, but if you have any other link or book to suggest about the origin of 1/12th scale, I'd be happy to learn.
Thank you.


Unknown said...

What a lovely post!
That house of Beatrix Potter is so beautifully inspirational - no wonder she had made such an amazing stories and paintings.
And regarding the scales: do you think little girls mind if something is not the right scale? They just play - as well as you :)
Have a great days.

kathi said...

What a sweet post! I feel the same way when I visit someone's dollhouse. Mini lovers are very special people!

Lize said...

I like this quirky style Patricia! I agree it is very charming
I am torn in two...

miniacollection said...

C'est très beau ce que tu nous a montré et ton texte aussi. Tu sais même si ce que tu fais n'est pas toujours à la même échelle ce n'est pas grave, j'aime beaucoup et c'est très poétique et plein de vie.
Ta photo de Nancy Wiley m'a beaucoup plu. Je suis allée rapidement sur son site il faudra que j'y retourne. Le livre a l'air très intéressant.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

You know what I've sen here today? A passion expressed well. Here is what else I humbled by your clear delight.
Warm regards,

Mercedes Spencer @ Liberty Biberty said...

Patricia, when you're having as much fun as you are the scale doesn't matter a bit! The world you create for your beautiful dolls is the most fantastical magical place!
Taking a peek into your world is like being part of the prettiest dream - and not just for us big girls but for the little ones too.

hannajaleijona said...

Oh, I agree! There's this amazing charm in old houses and the proportions that are a bit mixed. I love that quality in your work too. I mean there are so many other qualities in your work that I adore just as well. I'm stuck on scale in some of my work and in those I find I cannot use pieces that would be lovely otherwise and it's ok. Some dolls and houses just need this kind of "laws". I'm planning a roombox with more free and magical feeling... to let that part of the esthetics go wild. You've found some wonderful photos for this post.


Sans! said...

O YES! May I just join you with a resounding YES! YES to quirks, imperfections, imagination and character :). Brilliant post!

rosanna said...

I agree that sometimes being too rigid about scale makes the house loose of its ingenuity but, alas, I'm somewhat picky and if I realize that proportions aren't armonizing...well, I feel weird. I've seen lovely houses in museums and I loved them because they still bore the signs of much use by small hands. They made me smile with tenderness but I shall keep to 1/12 for my own house. I love being decepted while looking at a pic and wonder: "Is it real or mini?" Best wishes Rosanna

Debora said...

Mmm, great post! I'am with Hanna, well said!Miniaturism can be expressed in só many ways. You clearly speak with passion when you describe why scale is not all that important.

It makes me scale confinding? Could it be I have lost my imagination!? No, I guess not, I sometimes wish I could shrink and be an Alice. Or an Elenore. Indeed great places are on display here that I would love to visit!

Then why is it it? Why do we stick to scale? I wonder...I rember the first time I realy got hit by a picture; it was the combination of a (1/12) piece with a real-life apple... It was an excellent piece (I can't recall what it was, but that's not the point) and beside that monstrosity of an apple it looked so great and delicate, so refine. That was the reason to use an apple; to set aside the object. But what got me most was the fact that the same time my mind had to do overtime to combine the two... it was so surreal

"Little people with very long arms and big heads, giant delicate china plates on somptuous dining room tables covered with elegant lace, a very small husband waiting for his soup to be served by a gigantic maid"

Looking at your selection of pictures reminds me of Picasso, the world is sliding, tilting a bit. "we are small" they're saying. "We are not deceving". I like that kind of honosty. It has a hard to describe quality but you have done a great job in doing so. lovely post ;-)

Kim said...

such a wonderful post. I think that it is different for everyone. I think, as Rosanna said above, sometimes it is about the deception and the beautiful intricate accuracy- real life re-created exactly in miniature in exquisite form and beauty and it fools your eye. I think other times, like you and I it is more about the magic and the play and if the scale is off- so what- it is all a tiny playland to express ourselves and to play a bit when life demands we be adults. Bernard's house is supposed to be 1/2 scale- but every time I try to make something true to scale it feels Bernard's house has become Bernard's scale. I think part of the magic in your creations for me is that you do work in whatever scale you hands and heart desires, and that is where your magic comes from my dear friend. I have rambled again. Wonderful post that made me smile ♥

Anonymous said...

Super merveilleux!
Et je découvre encore une artiste et je tombe encore en admiration sans bornes:Nancy Wiley...J'adoooooore ses poupées !!
Merci pour ce partage ma p'tite Pat!
Gros bisous!!!

Anonymous said...

Throw out the scales! The disproportion makes it all the more endearing. After all, if it was all too perfect, what fun is that?! :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent, your posts always make me smile. Look out for the Tide Mans Cottage, my little house which I am going to repair in Xanadu when the weather gets warmer.

Papillon Bleu said...

I knew this would make everybody very talkative.
I hope everyone understands that this post is my tribute to everyone's fascinating work.
Merci pour les francophones qui prennent le temps égalemnt de laisser un mot ici.Je vous demande de bien vouloir m'excuser de ne pas écrire plus souvent en français sur ce blog ci.

noodle and lou said...

oh yes...i adore the disproportion! it has a magical feeling about it. like anything is possible in this little room:) xox...jenn

Anonymous said...

Elles sont magnifiques ! Nous adorons les maisons de poupées, ma petite fille et moi :) Gros bisous :)

Anonymous said...

Ben,c'est pas grave,ça fait bosser l'anglais!!Pis,finalement,je comprends pas mal de choses sans trop d'effort dans la globalité!
As tu essayé la porcelaine froide pour créer des mini objets?de la vaisselle par exemple?
Tu as des résultats en transparence si tu n'ajoutes aucune couleur dans la pâte.
Te fais plein de bisous et attends de voir les nouveautés à rêver!!!
Toc-Angel (ça commence à m'plaire ce peudo)

parlance said...

Papillon Bleu, I agree with you about scales. In my dollshouses I don't worry too much whether things are in the same scale. If I like it I put it in. l also don't worry about cost, if it's something I've bought. Cheap over sized free toys from MacDonalds rub shoulders with exquisite collectables.
Sometimes friends or my nephews give me presents and they are the "wrong" scale, but to me they are precious because they are a gift, so in they go!

There's an article about the history of miniatures (written by me) you might find interesting at

It's a super boring site, lol, and even I never visit it, but the miniatures article is under the link "history of miniatures".