The Doll and Miniature Show- March, 2010

Very few people can resist miniatures, whether it is a  train set or a doll house filled with tiny furniture. Adults worries fade away when we ‘think small’ and  live in a make believe world.

Some full grown adults actually spend all their time creating or collecting miniatures, and they are probably some of the happiest people around.

“We are all kids at heart” says Doreen Johnson, an organizer of the Doll and Miniatures Show coming up on May 1st in Riverview, and one of the twenty members of the Moncton Miniature and Doll Club who will be displaying their goods. Doreen has four dollhouses at home and a collection of ‘room boxes’  (a  miniature replica of one room).  Collecting dollhouses can take up a lot of room so “sometimes people will just do a room box instead of a house”, says Doreen.

The annual show draws miniature enthusiasts from all over the Maritimes and even Ontario, eager to show off their ‘finds’, sell their miniature wares and share their passion with other like minded souls.  Doreen says visitors to the show are going to see a variety of things from dolls and miniatures, to doll houses and room boxes.

About two hundred visitors are expected this year but Doreen says the numbers were much higher about twenty nine years ago when they started. “It depends on the economy, we used to have five hundred to six hundred people in the beginning, but it has decreased over the years”.

“We have both (collectibles and homemade crafts)” says Doreen. “People like to display what they have collected and  we have a number of people in the club that are talented at making things. One lady does beautiful wicker work; she can look at a picture of a chair and reproduce that in  miniature. We also have a lady who makes flowers out of paper, and we have another lady who does a lot of different type of food made out of Fimo (modeling clay). They are so realistic they almost look good enough to eat”.

Warrenne Agnew, co-coordinator of the show, has two main doll houses, a Christmas House and 1750-1850 Southern Mansion. Her desire to own a doll house came from her childhood when she had occasional blissful access to her big city cousins’ doll house. When she would return to her own home she would create doll houses out of cereal boxes and create miniatures from catalog cut outs.

“I had always wanted a doll house, since I was a little girl.  But my parents could not afford it and I come from a fairly big family”, says Warrenne.  Around the time of her retirement she noticed a craft  shop in Moncton that was going out of business and a  Southern mansion doll house was part of the sale,  “I thought I’d love to have it, says Warrenne, “and on the very last day, they marked it way down and I got it for a song.”

What she didn’t realize was how big the house was, measuring more that five feet tall with fourteen rooms. However, that was the beginning of a very happy retirement hobby.  “My hubby helps me a great deal”, say Warrenne, “That  was our project that we started together when we both retired , and it has been really great”.

Kathy Morningstar, a  long standing member of the club, also owns a doll house that is too large to travel to the show. This particular doll house  is a replica of a Sea Captain’s Californian home that her father-in-law made many years ago, “ He saw a photo in a magazine and he wanted to see if he could replicate it “, says Kathy. The Sea Captain’s house is over five feet tall and includes a swimming pool. It must be dismantled to leave the house, and needs a moving van and a few movers.

Of the four main doll houses that Kathy owns, two are made by her Father-in-Law and two by her husband. As in many cases, the passion  for dollhouses and miniatures is shared by the couple, with the husband building the house and the wife creating the domestic scene.

Dollhouse enthusiasts usually display their houses as if the occupants were in the midst of an activity  or special occasion. It is not unusual for the dollhouse owner to have created a life for her miniature family. Warrenne has created a family for the fictional Southern mansion that goes back five generations. “The family history comes from my head”, says Warrenne.  

Kathy says her husband Rick has “Always been into crafts, he was into trains and that field, and he got into building doll houses as a hobby. He has done a few for me and a few for other people”.

Making very small things takes patience and creativity. Kathy says that when  her husband renovated her Victorian doll house, moving the bathroom to the third level, ” He told me, this is as much work as renovating a regular house!”

Doreen says the key to creating miniatures is to look at the original and “ Just think small, if you think about it you will  be able to come up with an answer”.  The normal scale for doll houses is one inch to the foot but there are also doll houses and miniatures that work on one quarter inch and one eighth.

Club members are busy planning what they will bring to the show. Kathy Morningstar says she is hoping to bring her almost three foot high Victorian house, if it will fit in a van. Kathy plans to take time to go through the show. “There is fabulous food, gardening stuff, and really exquisite furniture and needlework”.

Warrenne is thinking about bringing a variety of collectibles, a few room boxes and her log cabin dollhouse to the show. Doreen has decided to bring her ‘rooms in a bag’, “A  number of years ago I bought some bags that were designed to look like a store front” says Doreen, “One was a bakery, one was a kennel shop and the other one was a cafe. I made the inside of the bag look just like the inside of the shops. I will bring those for sure this year”.

What : Moncton Miniature and Doll Club’s Annual Show and Sale

When: May 1, 2010, 10 AM to 5 PM.

Where: Dan Bohan Center, 5 Fatima Drive, Riverview, NB

How much: Entrance Tickets $2.00, Children 10 and under are free.

Who to contact – Organizer – Doreen Johnson – dljohn@rogers.com

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