Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > General Discussion > The Blunt Truth

Holly
Member
Posts: 168

I have been doing some general DH DIY over the last week and shopping in various places for stuff I needed to work with. I went in one place and mentioned it was for a Dolls House and was amused to be told tongue in cheek but also in no uncertain words I was too old for a Dolls House.


My husband said I should have quipped that my mother has one so what do they think about that? I took it on the chin admirably I thought ;)


It made me think sadly the probability is in this era more people of our age group have dolls houses now than young girls or boys. I hope us Dolls House collectors never become an extinct species!


I had a Dolls house as a little girl and have always loved them.

I do wonder though if we don't start off young perhaps we won't have the same love for them in older age? Thoughts anyone?










January 20, 2018 at 9:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

jenny
Member
Posts: 187

I think you're right Holly about fewer children having dolls houses, the ones sold for children now are horribly basic and lacking in interest. I do hope it is only a blip and dolls houses will once more become a popular toy. Strange how it's perfectly acceptable for  grown ups to have model train sets no one ever says they're too old!

January 20, 2018 at 10:01 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Jeanette
Member
Posts: 74
I disagree, I think you just met a snippy sales assistant that had a flea in her ear ...I work in a school and I'm in contact with a lot of kids. They just have different brands of houses and they are usually made of different materials from wood. Millions of children the world over collect Playmobil and have all the different houses, hotels and castles. Two years or so ago the biggest girls Christmas present was the Frozen Castle. When I was young most toys were made of wood, tin or paper...majority of dolls' houses were wood. Now that they are supposedly doing away with plastic what will the majority of toys be made with in 20 years time... I do think that we as collectors , collect the higher end of the market and maybe todays playmobillers will join us...but plenty of adults collect playmobil too...
--

...

January 20, 2018 at 11:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Holly
Member
Posts: 168

It was a man who was being a bit of a joker :roll:

@Jenny I do agree in the main about modern dolls houses in general the ones for children in the UK tend to be early learning type basic wood and simple block furniture and many other mainstream modern stuff is all very similar.


Of course much of this change is due the health and safety regulations, toyshops would not be allowed to sell the types of houses I played with as a child all those small parts and bits of metal and all sorts of things that are deemed 'unsafe for children' these days!


@jeannette, I supposed I am being a bit of prig but when you mentioned all those modern plastic toys like the frozen castle and things I don't really perceive those as dolls houses  which they aren't in the traditional sense, in my mind they are more like general toys, but you are right they are much the closest thing these days that kids play with.


Things like the Frozen castle to me are more just like a game a kind of add on to a film or other gimmick that doesn't always inspire imagination as the children just role play the film the accessory is from rather than the fun we had creating our own little families for houses and the back stories that went with them as children.

I know that many adult collectors collect playmobil especially those who had them as children in the 80s etc. I do love some of the playmobil houses and can see their appeal but plastic is generally really not my thing!


I have an unspoken 'no plastic' rule in my own older dolls houses as it just kind of doesn't feel right to me, although I keep thinking I would quite like a Lundby one which of course would have all the 1970s plastic furniture and bathrooms etc.


You make a really interesting point about the ecological aspect of plastic toys lets hope this spurs on a return to more traditional houses and crafts :)





January 20, 2018 at 2:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Linda B
Member
Posts: 1505

My daughter (in her 50s) laughs at my dolls houses :( Although she has to sleep with them when she stays :lol:

My 2 young neices played with one of my houses but were not even slightly interested in having one of their own.

I do think that unfortunately technology has overtook traditional toys, children today don't seem to invent play, they need it ready made.


Incidently, talking of trains, my 40 year old son has nearly completed his train layout which runs round the whole of a 28 ft x 7 ft room!

--

:)


January 20, 2018 at 5:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2508

I so wanted a proper dolls' house when I was young. What I got was a basic box with a few divisions, plain doors and windows made by Dad. It was a wonderful stage for my prized furniture and Grecons but I longed for a Triang Princess or Stockbroker. When I saw those two in Hamleys my life changed! I drew them from memory and prayed for one every night. My prayers were not answered!

So when years later I was able to buy them as a Grownup, I made sure that my small daughter had a dolls' house of her own. Sadly she was never very interested despite becoming surrounded by them as the years passed.  She is delightfully tolerant of my mini habit these days and searches for stuff for me. But no personal interest in these tiny things.

I restored a Hobbies house for my grand daughter and I think it may have amused her for a few hours and is now stored away on top of a wardrobe.There just doesn't seem to be the interest in such toys, now they have their ipads and other electronic things that need little imagination. And they have NEVER read books for pleasure. Unbelievable!!!

I also feel that plastic castles and such don't really count. I have an aversion to plastic although some of my childhood stuff are some Kleeware plastic chairs - and very nice they are too! The Puck ones had a tendencey to warp as did so much of that stuff. The Lundy plastic is most acceptable, sturdy and well moulded.

Times change but what will happen to all our collections eventually?

January 21, 2018 at 3:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Edel
Administrator
Posts: 483

I got my first dolls' house for Christmas in 1974. I can remember badly wanting one, but I'm not so sure why - none of the children I knew had one. I was only six, and hadn't yet read Rumer Godden's "The dolls' house" or been to the wonderful Museum of Childhood in Palmerston Park in Dublin, now sadly closed.

The only likely inspiration that I can think of is the Sesame Street minifilm "Two little girls in a little dollhouse" which I could have seen - we got our first (rented!) television early in 1974 I think and I used to watch Sesame Street. The dolls' house film was made in September 1970 and shown many times on the programme, so I could have seen it sometime in 1974.

You can see the film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWrUykkc-bs. I remember especially loving the two marauding cats!

I agree with Rosemary and Holly that plastic doesn't really count - apart from my dislike of the material from aesthetic and ecological viewpoints, I think part of my aversion stems from its unalterability - you can't sand it to change its shape or details and it's terribly hard to paint it successfully. Whereas wood and card are so endlessly malleable and alterable, and the doing and making and adapting aspect of dolls' houses has always had an addictive quality for me.

Holly, you're not alone in being told you are "too old" for a dolls' house - I have heard other people trying to explain my interest to themselves in the oddest ways, from "you must have something very childlike in you" through total perplexity and incomprehension to "it's probably because you don't have a daughter" ;) (but my older son loved my childhood dolls' house and played with it frequently; and both of my sons made me little objects to go in it as children and teenagers).

But I don't really care if people don't understand, it's such a delightful and pleasurable hobby.


--

Edel

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shero6820/

January 21, 2018 at 4:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2508

Well, if anyone is rude and disparaging about our grownup hobby, just point them to the good ladies of Amsterdam and their magnificent Baby Houses. They certainly SPENT and look at how useful - never mind how beautiful - they are as historical examples of domestic life back then.

January 21, 2018 at 6:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Judy C
Member
Posts: 280

During the past week I had someone assume I must be referring to a dollshouse I had when I was a child, and watched a 9 or 10 year old girl crooning to a (plastic) carriage full of characters and drawn by a unicon.  She was definitely indulging in imaginary play, but I wouldn't be surprised if she has nothing like it at her home.

--


January 21, 2018 at 7:24 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Maddy
Member
Posts: 92

I have come up against the same amazement at my interest in dollshouses.  I think some people lack our kind of imagination.  My two girls had little houses and rekindled their interest in them when they were older.  I never even met with dollshouses in childhood.  I just loved tiny things.  

My two grandchildren, with my help, made cardboard ones and the furniture was made for little animals that were popular at the time.  I just cannot remember the name!  But it was beautiful and I have a fridge and chest of drawers by them in one house.  The grandchildren grew up to be not in the least interested in such things.  However, one great granddaughter loves dollshouses.  She has always been fascinated with her grandmothers house and Jane made a little house scene in a glass fronted cupboard for her.  This Christmas, at age five, Jane has given her a house of her own.  It has chunky furniture which is quite charming but wooden dolls which are nothing like some of the dolls she had played with.  But I am happy to see the dollshouse interest is thriving in the family.

of course, we don’t know how many children are playing with houses now.  When I helped in my friends dollshouse shop, although many customers were adults, there were quite a few children who spent their money on little things for their houses.  Let us not despair.

January 21, 2018 at 7:24 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Zoe H
Administrator
Posts: 1740

Holly at January 20, 2018 at 2:02 PM

It was a man who was being a bit of a joker :roll:

@Jenny I do agree in the main about modern dolls houses in general the ones for children in the UK tend to be early learning type basic wood and simple block furniture and many other mainstream modern stuff is all very similar.


Of course much of this change is due the health and safety regulations, toyshops would not be allowed to sell the types of houses I played with as a child all those small parts and bits of metal and all sorts of things that are deemed 'unsafe for children' these days!


@jeannette, I supposed I am being a bit of prig but when you mentioned all those modern plastic toys like the frozen castle and things I don't really perceive those as dolls houses  which they aren't in the traditional sense, in my mind they are more like general toys, but you are right they are much the closest thing these days that kids play with.


Things like the Frozen castle to me are more just like a game a kind of add on to a film or other gimmick that doesn't always inspire imagination as the children just role play the film the accessory is from rather than the fun we had creating our own little families for houses and the back stories that went with them as children.

I know that many adult collectors collect playmobil especially those who had them as children in the 80s etc. I do love some of the playmobil houses and can see their appeal but plastic is generally really not my thing!


I have an unspoken 'no plastic' rule in my own older dolls houses as it just kind of doesn't feel right to me, although I keep thinking I would quite like a Lundby one which of course would have all the 1970s plastic furniture and bathrooms etc.


You make a really interesting point about the ecological aspect of plastic toys lets hope this spurs on a return to more traditional houses and crafts :)





Lovely snippet from Seasame Street, Edel. Seasame Street wasn’t part of my childhood, I don’t remember it being around until I was too old to be much interested (1980s). Wondering why this was, I just Googled Seasame Street in the UK and see it was suprisingly controversial so now I’m wondering if my very ‘right-on’ parents vetoed it. You learn something new every day!


I generally find people’s attitudes to my hobby pretty disparaging (including friends and family) and even those who try to appear to understand or to be interested generally don’t get it and leave me feeling distinctly misunderstood. Over the years, I’ve learned that that’s their problem, not mine and I don’t waste my time trying to explain something to people who can’t just be pleased for people who have a passion for something - they’re usually pretty committed to misunderstanding so there’s no point.


One of my nieces once informed me, in that terribly indiscreet way kids have of dropping their parents in it, that “Mum says you’re probably into dolls’ houses because you’re probably not happy with your own house”! So not true. 


One of my nieces likes dolls houses but didn’t get one until she was about sixteen. The other children I know have the plastic equivalents but don’t seem to be as attached to them as I was to my dolls’ house as a girl (even though I found my dolls’ house majorly frustrating!) nor do they nurture them as little homes.

--

Zoe

https://trulymadlytiny.blogspot.co.uk

http://grecondale.com

January 21, 2018 at 8:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

cestina
Member
Posts: 478

I don't think I would be too down-hearted about children no longer using their imagination during play.   Nor indeed about their loss of interest in small items though it manifests in a different way nowadays.


Many children pass through my dolls house museum and I listen to them playing, usually without adult supervision, in the children's corner.   Their imaginations are as fertile as they ever were.   And so is their delight in tiny objects.


Granted these are Czech children but their access to electronic playthings is every bit as widespread as we find amongst British children.   In Britain I think much of the time they spend on their computers etc, is time they would have spent playing outdoors in the past. Sadly, British parents are now too scared to allow this freely.


And we should not forget the delightful Sylvanian families which are hugely popular, and beautifully made though I am less keen on the houses and furniture.  The Playpeople/mobil world is just amazing - we had a whole town laid out on our spare room floor and my two grandchildren spent hours in there creating the most amazing scenarios - including a rabble-rousing speech made by my eight year old granddaughter off the top of her head when the town was invaded by pirates and needed to be defended.


I do agree about the boring nature of many of the actual dollshouses around today though.  But plastic shouldn't be disregarded - true it cannot be sanded down but it lends itself well to a certain amount of de- and reconstruction and can easily be painted with Humbrol paints or with an undercoat of gesso. I transform many items that way.


I am happy to say my daughter is a fine miniaturist and my grand-daughter is showing signs of joining in the family " business"! :)

--

Cestina's Dollshouses: https://czechdollshouses.blogspot.com/2019/04/in-eclectic-manor_20.html" target="_blank">In an Eclectic Manor

January 21, 2018 at 12:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jan
Member
Posts: 1705

I do sometimes think others begrudge the pleasure others enjoy with their hobby and I still tend to be very secretive about my houses,  in fact most things I found very early on that others tried to stop me doing anything I enjoyed and would come out with the most stupid remarks.  Have found it very pleasant to share with like minded friends on here.  Life is so much different for children today but hope they will revert back to simpler things in life as we have done to a degree.

January 23, 2018 at 8:22 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tollgate Debs
Member
Posts: 1

I love to talk about my houses and hobby and see it as model making / history / fun.  I research, make items, decorate and see it as a great way of being creative.  I ignore those that laugh at any hobby, as they miss the point of the joy they bring. 

--


January 23, 2018 at 4:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2508

Thinkuing about it, train layouts are not queried amongst the men- so why pick on us?

January 24, 2018 at 3:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Anita
Member
Posts: 14

I always wanted a dolls house and didn't have one as a child - just some pieces of furniture and mini plastic dolls. I had a Sindy house and loved that but i also wanted a Lundby house. I used to go round my friend's house just to play with her dolls house!

I also think, as I'm a creative sort of person, that dolls houses give me an outlet to make furniture, furnishings and accessories using craft skills I've acquired over the years. Its fun and a chance to use my imagination too! I have always loved fairy stories and adventure stories.

My daughters also love dolls houses and reading books I am glad to say! My eldest likes making dolls house food and displaying cakes on shelves. My youngest is often moving my dolls house furniture about and making up little stories with the dolls and animals. She has Playmobil and Sylvanians and plays with them too. We sometimes all sit down and make little things for the dolls house and perhaps I inspire them to have a go themselves with showing them things I have made.


January 24, 2018 at 5:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Holly
Member
Posts: 168

It does seem that dolls houses appeal to the more creatively minded amongst us. I think people often tend to be dismissive and even disparaging of other peoples hobbies and then you ask them what they like and they collect dinky cars or bottle openers or Elvis memorabilia or something that leaves us all totally cold and you think 'no wonder' probably for the best...although I wouldn't like to bet that someone somewhere didn't once build a miniature graceland.


Some people seem to get through their lives with no creative outlets at all, especially many men and I find that very hard to imagine I have always had to create in one way or another.


I think there is a tendency for the unenlightened to 'shrink'  in a pseudo Freudian way the dolls house hobby, 'it is about control' or 'unfulfilled family ambitions' or 'return to childhood' or 'nurturing the inner child'.


Undoubtedly, it is wonderful escapism and for some reason we ladies do seem to love miniature things!


I remember seeing some world war 2 propaganda somewhere I wish I could find it, perhaps it was WI or something, showing women making miniature models of barrage balloons and other stuff for some reason during the war to aid intelligence or something like, and the blurb of the article was something like "there are things women can do during the war such as these ladies making miniature models as women seem to love miniatures" with the qualification that "perhaps because ladies brains prefer little things to big stuffy facts" or words along those lines... totally shockingly sexist now but perfectly acceptable in those days.


Of course there are no rules about sexism or political correctness in our doll's houses thank goodness! We can be as traditional as we like with no concern about gender roles.


Cook can be in the kitchen, little dolls house girls can be playing with their dolls in the nursery perhaps wearing a pink dress while little boy plays with train set, mother sitting pretty in the parlour or nursing baby while father reads the newspaper oblivious to any modern day political correctness! If we like it that way ;)





January 24, 2018 at 8:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

cestina
Member
Posts: 478

Rosemary at January 24, 2018 at 3:57 AM

Thinkuing about it, train layouts are not queried amongst the men- so why pick on us?

I remember Michal Morse telling me, in her very early days as a dolls house shop owner, that she had partly set it up in self-defence against her husband's model railway hobby!


When I am showing dolls houses in Czech schools (and to a degree in the museum) I make very sure that I have the men in the kitchen or wielding the vacuum cleaner, and the women relaxing or working with tools in the workshop!   I am doing my best to counter the still prevailing views of many Czechs on a woman's role!

--

Cestina's Dollshouses: https://czechdollshouses.blogspot.com/2019/04/in-eclectic-manor_20.html" target="_blank">In an Eclectic Manor

January 24, 2018 at 9:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2508

Cestina and Holly - good on you. Perhaps there will be a turnabout in Greconville and the chaps have to do some housework, although Bryan, bless him, has always been fussy and likes to do the dusting and polishing himself. Maybe he is a new man, but I have my doubts!

January 24, 2018 at 12:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jan
Member
Posts: 1705

cestina at January 24, 2018 at 9:10 AM

Rosemary at January 24, 2018 at 3:57 AM

Thinkuing about it, train layouts are not queried amongst the men- so why pick on us?

I remember Michal Morse telling me, in her very early days as a dolls house shop owner, that she had partly set it up in self-defence against her husband's model railway hobby!


When I am showing dolls houses in Czech schools (and to a degree in the museum) I make very sure that I have the men in the kitchen or wielding the vacuum cleaner, and the women relaxing or working with tools in the workshop!   I am doing my best to counter the still prevailing views of many Czechs on a woman's role!

My husband was shown how to care for himself at boarding school, he could cook clean was clean and look after his clothes it was a pleasure to share a home with him, sadly he's gone now, my present partner is the opposite a real pain.  If they are shown these tasks when young it becomes second nature, why should it be a woman's role to care for another adult who are capable of looking after themselves.

January 25, 2018 at 6:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.