Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A little hobby is a dangerous thing

My life-size home décor has been described as "early dormitory," with mismatched chairs, inexpensive kitchenware, and posters stapled to the walls. Among the most boring stores to me are the enormous furniture or household emporiums with five varieties of sofas and bathroom rugs. I look at the price of a simple tea kettle and decide I can boil water in one of my three sauce pans.

But shrink everything down to dollhouse size and I can spend many hours and many dollars on that perfect Victorian couch or a really tiny barometer for a dollhouse living room wall.

It's always easy for me to pass up clothes for myself, also, but I'm a pushover for an adorable pair of jeans, 2 inches long, or a winter cap made from the fingertip of an old woolen glove.

I made a trip to Shellie's Miniature Mania in San Carlos, CA, about a month ago, with the idea of setting up a signing. I did that, but I also found the tiniest kilt, the most amazing 1/32-inch paper clips, and other items that I had to have, including lots of guns. (It's always fun to ask a crafts store owner: "Where are your weapons?")

You have to love miniatures stores. Where else can you spend hundreds of dollars and walk out with everything in one small bag that fits in your purse? (Okay, jewelry stores, but I'm not really attracted to them!)

What else am I'm willing to do/spend for my hobby? Much like Joanna, in her great blog yesterday, I have lots of travel-far-and-wide stories, detouring for a miniatures show or shop.

Once I spent a whole day's per diem from my employer! I was in Chicago on business. I'd heard so much about the Thorne rooms, but never seen them. I was disappointed to learn that Art Institute, where 68 of the rooms are housed, was clear across the city from the hotel where I was staying.

After work, my colleagues headed for happy hour and dinner; I got in a cab and spent my entire per diem ($75, a lot at the time) on a round trip to the museum.

The Indianapolis Children's Museum has one Thorne room that I've never seen. If I'm missing at one of the panels at Bouchercon this fall, you'll know where to find me!








The Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications.

18 comments:

Fat Cat said...

I collect rocks and cut and polish some of them into display pieces, beads or cabochons. I'm not going on as many digs as I used to, and I have definitely cut back on the rock buying.

But that rock siren still calls to me. I broke down and bought the most beautiful piece of calcite and fluorite from the Elmwood Mine last week. It's a world famous locale in Tennessee, and I didn't have a specimen from there, and there was this half-price sale...and oh, well. You know the rest!

Camille Minichino said...

Wow -- you need to tell us more! Like, what kind of tool do you use to cut and polish rock??

Anonymous said...

The Thorne display brought back such MFA memories many, many years ago and one that inspired me to start working on a dear cousin's doll house. This work would not go on display, of course, but the time spent on it and with that dear cousin was priceless! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed today's post.
Thanks,
Annette

Monica Ferris said...

What is it about miniatures? I am not a huge fan of them, but I can remember a newspaper cartoon series about teeny little people who used human-size trash (old tin cans, for example) to build their little neighborhoods -- which inspired me to set up a village of my own in our back yard. I spent many happy hours thinking up ways to use old pencil stubs and paper clips and empty spools of thread in the village. From the sublime (your photos of those magnificent rooms) to the silly (my little village, miniatures rule!

Maria said...

I just wanted to say thanks--I got the little gift package you sent my way from the contest! I'll be sure to share the postcards with my librarian (and one of the pens too because I know she likes author pens!)

thanks for your generosity!

Maria

Terri Thayer said...

Quilters make miniature quilts, too. In scale, so the pieces are extremely tine. A labor of love to be sure.

Camille Minichino said...

What wonderful, creative, play, Monica -- maybe helping you on your way to shelves of books by you!

I'm glad the little (!) package arrived, Maria.

And Terri -- I saw a tiny quilt at a show. It was about 4 inches square and had over 500 pieces!

Camille Minichino said...

I don't remember the Thorne rooms being at the MFA -- wonder what year that was?
And why anonymous never told me??

Julie said...

I've seen a couple of absolutely stunning miniature oriental rugs needlepointed for dollhouses. What is the fascination with tiny things? (I keep thinking about knitting mini sweaters for Christmas ornaments.)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Great post! I remember actually seeing what I was told were early Thorne rooms for sale in Valparaiso Indiana some 25 years ago or so. I was told that they were Mrs. Thorne's early attempts. I don't know if that was true, but...

Camille Minichino said...

I'd gladly take a Thorne reject!

Betty Hechtman said...

It's too bad you missed Colleen Moore's doll house at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Doll house is really a misnormer - more like miniature castle. There is even a gorgeous tiny bathroom with running water.

Camille Minichino said...

Betty I've seen lots of pics of that castle but never saw it!

Chris V. said...

WTG Camille! Who needs drinks after work when you can see the Thorne rooms instead! Or the Colleen Moore fairy castle (My fave, you have to see it but be warend - it's so aggravating they keep that so dark it's hard to see! But it's worth staring at over and over!)

Be hard to give up minis - or books, and I have a lot of both. Not eating could have many benefits. ha!

MareF said...

I've signed on to teach crocheting and knitting classes this fall for adult ed. to support my new cross stitch habit. My knitting and crocheting habit is well stocked through years of purchasing and people giving me yarn, but this cross stitch thing is making me nuts. LOL. I've seen soooo many new patterns I want to make, sigh, teaching will be fun?

Ann Parker said...

Wow! These photos are of MINIATURES?? That's absolutely amazing. Maybe we should add an extra day to our Bouchercon trip!

Anonymous said...

After checking bookstore shelves every few months or so for the next periodic table mystery (It's been quite awhile!), I finally thought to type your name into google - Well at least now I know you have moved on; I just need to decide if I can afford to become engrossed in something else ... miniatures? Really?? :->