Is It Real Or Is It A Dollhouse?

A real crime scene?

Many people assume that, since I’m into dollhouses, I also love dolls. Not!

I do love dollhouses. It’s people I can’t stand. Not all people, just the ones that inhabit dollhouses; i.e., dolls.

You should be able to take a picture of any room in a dollhouse and have it be indistinguishable from a real house, unless there’s a ruler or a coin in the photo.

But as soon as you put a doll in the house, it no longer looks “real.”

I know there are “realistic” dolls of the right size for a dollhouse, but no matter how expensive and “lifelike” they are, they still stare into space and are usually capable of only one expression on their faces. Sure, some are “poseable,” but until there’s a living, breathing doll that can move around on the one-inch-to-one-foot scale, I’ll stick to vacant houses. I’m thinking of putting a SALE PENDING sign on my latest cottage so no one will be tempted to give me dolls.

There’s a way to have a dollhouse look like people live there, without having to deal with the faux people. To that end, I crumple small pieces of paper and put the “trash” on the desk and floor of a miniature office, toss clothes on the floor in the kid’s room, strew laundry around the basement and crumbs on the kitchen counter. I even plant cobwebs (thread) in the attic.

It’s enough that people have been there; you don’t have to see them.

The UK calls them “dollshouses.” I don’t like this spelling, because it implies that dolls live in the houses, whereas I live in them. I live in the Victorians and Tudors and room boxes I build and decorate, and even in the much nicer houses I visit at miniature shows and museums.

I imagine myself putting away groceries in the tiny kitchen of one of my dollhouses, resting on the living room couch, eating at the six-inch dining room table, climbing the stairs to lavish bedrooms and even cleaning the tiny bathrooms. (I can help you make a tiny plunger using a toothpick and a small piece of crafts clay.)

Before you get ready to cart me away, let me explain that you’d have to lock up entire communities of miniaturists if you’re worried about this tripping out, imagining we live in our tiny houses. There are sound reasons for the flight of fancy.

In fact, they’re the same reasons readers give when they escape into a novel.

You know those discussions authors and readers have about “fiction” vs. “reality”? Should writers be super-careful about one-way streets if they’re using a real city as a setting? Should historical writers check every detail to be sure they’re not off by a few days of the invention of ink or zippers? TV viewers complain about how “off” CSI is as it relates to the daily life of a real crime scene tech, but it’s still one of the most popular shows on the air.

It’s fiction. Does it matter?

Miniaturists have the same kind of discussion. How realistic should dollhouse furniture be? Should dresser drawers open? If you can open the oven door, should there be a rack with a tray of cookies in there? A light? Should we spray chocolate fragrance?

It’s fiction. Does it matter?


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