Friday, August 10, 2007

The Next Generation Hobbyists

Anthony is 13 years old and loves to work on his grandmother's dollhouse. If he were my grandson and touched MY dollhouse, things would be different.

But even when Anthony was little, his grandmother, my cousin, Jean, encouraged him to do what he wanted with the house. She let him move things around in the tiny rooms, cut up photos for mounting on the wall, and arrange the lighting as he wished.

When he was only eight, he decided the dollhouse needed an attic. He lifted the roof off and constructed a fourth level, which is now a rec room.

Last week he became aware of the serious lack in the dollhouse neighborhood: there was no place to play basketball, his favorite sport. He remedied the situation by adding a small court to the side of the house.

He started with a metal ring. Who knows where this came from since Jean keeps scraps of everything: fabric, wood, metal, paper, string—anything that won't decompose before Christmas. The metal circle might have started life as a piece of jewelry, a key ring, or a distorted paper clip.

Anthony cut a piece of net fabric to size and taped it around the ring. The backboard is a piece of cardboard. He taped the ring, net, and backboard assembly to the house. The free-throw and other court markings on the "ground" are from Anthony's clever use of a Sharpie on a thin piece of wood.

When he's a famous architect, all this will be in his biography. And he will have his grandmother to thank.

Me? I won't let anyone touch my dollhouses unless I am personally supervising. I would have put the house under lock and key every time Anthony visited and, thus, deprived the world of his wonderful creations. Since he lives on the other side of the country from me, I don't have to make that decision, so we still love each other.

Recently two children came to visit me unexpectedly. I had a very elaborate bedroom scene in progress on my crafts table. Nothing was glued down yet, and some of the pieces were as tiny as one-eighth inch. The children, about 6 and 8, headed straight for the scene, proceeded to finger things and, before I recovered from that shock, to throw them at each other.

I nearly behanded them.

How do you share your hobby? Do you hide your crafts materials when kids or clumsy adults visit? How do you react when someone who has just licked barbecue sauce from his fingers picks up your scrapbook materials, your dolls' clothes, your yarn, your embroidery thread?

I like to think of myself as a generous person. I send so many presents to family and friends all over the country that the postal clerk thinks I sell on ebay. I even make and decorate dollhouses and room boxes to give away at charity events. But when it comes to a work in progress, or the houses and scenes I have around my home—hands off, unless you're invited to touch! And no one under 21 has that privilege.

I know that the only way to make sure our hobbies survive is to encourage young people to take them up. If for no other reason—we don't want yarn, doll, and hobby stores to close for lack of new crafters, making it harder to find get supplies.

And I'm depriving Anthony and all the other budding miniaturists out there of hours of pleasure. My bad.

Jean says I need to get over this protectiveness about my crafts. I'm not sure I'm ready!


Deb Baker said...

Great to know this gift runs in your family. The throwing thing was very disrespectful. But Anthony obviously respects the craft. If young people are interested, you could always give them their own space to create as they like.

Camille Minichino said...

I usually have a crafts table ready if I know kids are coming, but with paper, markers, stickers, and the like. Why did I never think of having one with miniature potential?
Great idea ... next time I'll have a pile of furniture and raw materials for a room box.

Send all your kids!

Deb Baker said...

They will be on the first flight out!

Anonymous said...

What is a boy doing playing with dollhouses when he should be out shooting hoops?

Kathryn Lilley said...

My "hobbies" are diet and exercise, so I share by going out to eat with my friends, for which I must pay penance by dieting--and getting exercise, lol!

kd said...

Tunnel vision on the basketball comment! If you read the blog he DOES play basketball! Id hate to live with your narrow thoughts! Go Anthony!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Heck, I thought Anthony a budding architect! I dated one in college and he'd have been all over a dolls' house.

You know, Camille, I was told there are "dollhouses" and "miniature houses." The later is sort of an art form and a collectible. I have a "miniature house" with a very expensive leather chair from D'Ann Ruff (did I spell that right?) and I'm not about to let anyone--adult or child--touch the house. It's not a "for touching" house.

But I will concede, it was hard for me to stand back and let my son do his own scrapbooking without wanting to straighten this or that. I did, though. I did. (Then I went and had a glass of wine!)

Camille Minichino said...

Joanna ... what's the size of your miniature house? I thought one difference was that the furniture in miniature houses was permanently attached. And tell us more about the chair!

Monica Ferris said...

I collect Fontanini Christmas figures -- counting the flock of sheep, I have around 200 pieces. I love them because they are beautiful, but another reason to like them is that they are unbreakable. When kids come over, they can play with them. Meanwhile, I put the stitching away. Just thinking about a child with jammy fingers picking up a needlepoint canvas . . . well, my heart just sinks. A good definition of a harridan would be me finding a dirty-fingered person exploring the texture of a 100-hour piece of stitching.

Camille Minichino said...

I love Fontanini, Monica. What an amazing collection.
And thanks for the harridan picture ... clearly, I'm with you!

Anonymous said...

Never having had kids, this leaves me with much food for thought. Thanks.

kd said...

anonymous, thanks for the reconsideration..... :)