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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dollhouse Garden Shed Vignette

I've been intending to write about this project for some time, but kept on putting it off. Well, now is a good time, as I can't reveal what I've been working on lately until after Camp MiniHaHa '13 next week. As you can see, I've always liked miniature flower gardens, and this was my first one, as well as being the first "doll house" I ever built, with my husband's assistance for the wood cutting. (I have a bit of a phobia about power tools...)

The shed came from Venus and Martin Dodge's book, Making Miniature: Dolls' House Projects in 1/12 Scale, published in 1989 by David and Charles. This is the book I hold entirely responsible for my interest in scale miniatures. It was a gift from my parents (at my suggestion) for my birthday in 1996, and this little shed was completed in 1999. It is stick-built, i.e. it has framing just like a real building. The flooring and siding for the shed were cut by my husband with a home-made jig on his full size tablesaw, using the rough wooden ends of a box of mandarin oranges.

The shed is not very big, in fact a miniature person  would have to watch the roof beams; I sometimes think it is more suited to 1/16 scale rather than 1/12, but I really went to town on this vignette. This is the back view into the shed, showing all the stuff inside, most of it made by me over the years. To my chagrin, the door opens the wrong way out, just like in the instructions, but it would have made more sense, in retrospect, to have hinged it to open onto the side path. Notice the nice green toad in front of the forsythia and the pansies....

That's part of my real-life garden in the background, but most of my plants have ceased blooming. The mountain ash looks pretty good though, one of these days I must try to duplicate that in miniature. The brick path is painted mat-board, a favourite medium of mine. The flowers in front of the shed are mine too, but the basket at the far end is a resin mini I picked up at a show somewhere. For grass, I used a mix of railroad foam colours with a tiny amount of vivid yellow added, and I do quite like the effect. It isn't as bad at catching dust as I always feared, considering this vignette has been around for fifteen years!

The front has a removable flower garden, planted with spring flowers. Thanks to Joanne Swanson and the old Nutshell News, for starting me on my flower addiction! There are irises, daffodils, tulips, pheasant eye narcissus, grape hyacinths (poppy seeds glued to a stem and then painted purple, with aquarium plastic foliage), and crocuses (flower stamens painted the appropriate colour, again with  plastic foliage), as well as the inevitable dandelion. One of our (now deceased) cats contributed the white fur for the dandelion clock. The up-ended bricks are pieces of cut wood painted to look like bricks. The gnome came off a pick of some kind, and the gazing ball was a Camp MiniHaHa tidbit (thanks Candace!). The idea with the removable garden was that I would make changeable beds for the four seasons, but that hasn't happened as yet, it is permanently spring....

And here is the fourth side; it has a bunny hutch set on a brick surface, and although it isn't visible in the photo, there are bunny droppings under the hutch - more poppy seeds! The bunnies are unpainted pewter, I am not sure whether they will be replaced or not. The door really opens, as does the hatch over the nesting area, using leather hinges cut from a glove that lost its partner. I didn't make the wonderful deck chair, that was purchased from its maker, who came from Prince Edward Island. The garden table is from a planter of some kind. For the wire on the hutch, I used hardware cloth, the flexible plastic version used also in screen door and window replacement. I was given some offcuts of this at the hardware store, useless scraps for them and a gold-mine for me. Hmm, I need to plant a little more grass on the corners, guess it came off when the wooden framing was added recently.

You might have noticed a brass nameplate in the first photo; I've been adding these to my completed vignettes, and they include what the vignette represents, my name, and the year I finished it. This is kind of a neat way to reward myself for actually completing a project. (Although in my opinion at least, no project is ever truly complete, I keep adding and changing things.)

Joanne Swanson is also the designer of most of what is in the garden shed, as I used her designs from the old Nutshell News for much of the furnishings and accessories. She is a teacher from whom I have learned just about everything I needed to know about making minis, and I have the greatest respect for her work and instructions for making things of all kinds.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of one of my oldest projects; for all its age, it's not half bad, even if I do say so myself.


  1. Wonderful project! I especially enjoy the rabbit hutch. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Decirte que hoy he descubierto tu blog a través de otro blog, me ha encantado el jardín que has realizado, yo estoy con algo parecido y me has dado muchas ideas para hacer. Te felicito por los trabajos que has expuesto, ya tienes una seguidora más. Un abrazo, Arantza.

  3. You used some of Smudge's fur...? I never knew that. Awww.... *Sniff*.

  4. You used some of Smudge's fur...? I never knew that. Awww.... *Sniff*.