Monday, November 7, 2011

"I'm A Giant"-- Or How The Internet Justifies My Oddities...

Sometimes my creativity comes in bursts of genius and sometimes bursts of insanity. More times than not I can't tell which category it actually fits into, though judging from the silence I am met with when telling others about my ideas, I could probably guess. And it's not the favorable one. Recently I found myself with too much time on my hands one weekend, and somehow (I honestly can't even remember how), I began harmlessly searching for dollhouse miniatures on eBay. Or so I thought.

It started simply enough, just perusing what the market had to offer. I figured, in 2011, with, like, three dollhouse stores left on the entire west coast, it would be pretty slim pickin's anyway. Probably lots of old Victorian furniture and stuff. But the result was quite the opposite. Unlike when I was a kid and was hard pressed to find items that resembled real life toys or food items (and more often than not simply had "Cola" stamped across a generic blue can), nowadays there was everything from miniature "Harry Potter" books to a Starbucks mug full of coffee! So what started out as "window shopping" turned into a three hour time-suck as I started to build one perfect room: the office I hope to have someday when I have a show on television.

Though I started this project about a week ago-- well, really two weeks ago but it took about five days for even my first purchase to arrive in the mail-- a friend send me a link to a blog challenge today that I felt was absolutely perfect timing. Emily Henderson, an interior designer who shares my love of miniatures, posed the "I'm A Giant" challenge on her own blog back in September, telling all of her fans and readers about how she finally purchased her dream home in LA, and even though it only had three walls, she couldn't wait to start filling it with furniture, accessories, and love.
Since announcing the design event, she has been updating with photos of finished pieces and areas (she's even giving the special guy in her life a room-- a designated man cave all his own that he in no way will fully appreciate!), giving everyone in the project until December 15th to complete. Now, I'm only doing one room since I don't know
where I'd fit a full dollhouse, nor do I have any interest in buying furniture for a tiny dining room, and when I don't even have interest in buying a real table and chairs set, so realistically, I should be done soon and then can just sit back and watch these others' come together, right? Oh, you'd think, but finding miniature versions of my very specific taste is proving tougher than anticipated!

I can admit it: after seeing all of the "cool" new miniatures out there, I designed to build this "roombox" simply because I found a website called Miniature Bookshelf that sells 1/12 scale copies of real novels. You can actually flip through the pages and see insanely small scribblings that I assume are words on the pages. How do I know this? Because upon the discovery, I got so excited I bought a copy of Stephen King's "It," my favorite novel, and then a copy of "Cujo" and "The Shining," too, just for good measure. Then I saw they also sell food items and happened to have a box of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, which I ate everyday for lunch for at least a year in high school, took it as a sign, and bought them, too.

But where would I put them? Originally I was just going to build "my perfect desk" and keep these items in drawers or stacked on top, but the desk proved to be the hardest piece of furniture to satisfactorily find (I'll get to that soon)
, so I expanded my mind a little bit and decided to go for the whole office. But first I needed the actual box itself. And that was something I wanted to buy in person.

There used to be a dollhouse store on Magnolia Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. When I first moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago, I remember driving by it and thinking 'Oh that's cute; I should go in there and see if they have anything for my dollhouse.' When I was nine, I begged my parents for a dollhouse. I mean, I had had one before, but it was a small little Fisher Price chintzy thing. I wanted a real dollhouse. One with real craftsmanship-- one that I could use a model as to what I wanted my dream home to someday be. And even though I was getting to the age where playing with toys wasn't cool anymore, I argued that this was a collectible, not a toy, and I wouldn't grow out of interest. So one weekend we took a trip out to the other side of Brooklyn-- or Queens, I really don't even remember where this dollhouse shop was-- and bought the house. It was beautiful. Three stories (an attic, what the hell?!?), bright white with green trim, a front porch, and a balcony with French doors that led into the master bedroom. I don't want to know what my mother spent on it. I do know that it was enough that she only let me buy meager furnishings to go with it. She said it was something we could "add to" as time went on, but immediately I was way more interested in spending $5-$10 on a teeny guitar or Ouija board or bowl of cookie dough with a matching cookie sheet that had an open bag of Nestle morsels on it than practical things like a couch or chairs or toilets. Not much has changed all these years later.

Anyway, long story short, I never finished that dollhouse. I started wanting to spend my holiday money on things like movies, music, and clothes instead. The dollhouse store closed (I think). It proved too much of a hassle to dust and eventually got covered with a plastic tarp. Then when I moved out to LA, I didn't think I had room for it, and it was too fragile and expensive to ship. I never ended up going into that dollhouse store in Sherman Oaks, mostly for fear I would fall back in love with a hobby that disappointed me once in my youth.

Of course, now that I was looking into this again, that store no longer exists. But I managed to find one down in Torrance that was still in business. My Dolls House is run by a nice older woman named Margie, who knows a lot about miniature culture and is super helpful when it comes to things like which glue to use for flooring versus wallpaper. Admittedly most of the items in her store, furniture wise, were of the old-fashioned variety, but she had an amazing selection of animals and food items, and she also does custom houses. I drove down there hoping to see some of the furniture I had already "added to my cart" on eBay in person but most of it was only available to me in her catalog. The point of this, though, is that I did walk out with a roombox. I had been hoping for one you could look down on, diorama style, but that seems to be yet another thing I invented that doesn't actually exist. So I settled on a pre-built, pre-painted white box with the fourth wall a plexiglass sheet for easy peering into. I would have loved a plexiglass top, too, to look down and in, but honestly, the only one she had in that style was almost double the price, and it was a plain wood color that I didn't like. So I compromised on the space because I'd rather spend the cash on the adorable tiny things. Things, which, if you stick around, you will read about shortly!

I swear this is not a crafts website now; I'm just really into the spirit of "I'm A Giant!" Two blog challenges in one month, and I promise both have roots in pop culture...

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