Sunday, November 17, 2013

Undersized Urbanite Dollhouse Contest- Past and Future

I have a love/ hate relationship with November. I love Autumn, falling leaves, the days cooling down (I live in the D.C. area, the British used to pay their diplomats tropical pay for living here), the growing excitement as the holidays approach (I start my annual Bing Crosby movie marathon this month), and I even love the occasional grey sky. I don't like November because it is my birthday month (November 1st was my birthday) and birthdays are coming waaay too fast these days....(I have to say, however, having a birthday beats not having one, hands down! ) How is your November so far? Let me know.

Why does the title of this blog say past and future Undersized Urbanite Dollhouse contests? It is because I am still working on my last contest entry, the Art Deco Radio Bungalow. I absolutely love the Art Deco era, its art, furniture, fashion, and architecture, and when I deem the bungalow finished (after I add a bedroom, bathroom, and garden), I will probably begin a new Art Deco house. I recently learned that the love of Art Deco runs in my family. Here is my British grandmother, circa 1921.

She passed away in 1997, and I saw this photo for the first time only a few months ago. Unfortunately, the grandmother I knew rarely smiled. She was very creative, (she taught me sewing and knitting), and she was always elegantly dressed and made-up. Nonetheless, the two world wars, the depression and years of hardship took its toll on her, and, sadly, I never knew the smiling, pretty enigmatic woman in this photo. I think the younger woman would have loved my Art Deco Bungalow, and her picture will be going up over the fireplace.

There have been a few changes to the bungalow since last spring, many of them were made this month. I replaced all of the appliances, the furniture and the sink in the kitchen. It now has more of a 1930s feel to it. In fact, it reminds me of the kitchen in the New York City pre-war apartment I lived in when I graduated college. Many of these pre-war NYC apartments, to this day, have their original appliances-- it keeps the rent down. Here is what the Art Deco Bungalow's kitchen looks like today:

Oh, how about that, a young Frank Sinatra is visiting!

Where would a 1930s, NYC Art Deco apartment of a single woman be without King Kong to protect her?

And a knight in shining armour?

The living room has "new" vintage Art Deco furniture,

With a new ashtray,

And the Bungalow has some long needed stairs under construction:

Without these stairs, it has been difficult getting to the rooftop terrace for the pre-theater cocktail.

The construction of the futuristic, Undersized Urbanite dollhouse also is underway. A visit to the Dollar Tree store yesterday was quite inspiring. I bought a number of boxes of perfectly sized wood pieces for $1 each,

These pieces are being used to build the stairs.

The house will have a lot of stairs,

The futuristic house also will have some interesting lighting, and I have been seeking inexpensive ways to create battery LED lights. I found these funky hairpieces at the Dollar Tree, they come in purple, green, blue and orange and they light up!

I bought them in orange and blue, and promptly removed the "hair," which left these.

I will be working with these, and other dollar store LED lights, to come up with some lighting ideas. The lights are pretty strong, so only a few will be needed for the light I build around them. Here is another light I intend to make using LED lights,

and these little glass jars from the Dollar Tree,

I also found these pencils with tiny, ready made, removable drinking glasses protecting the erasers (thank you Tanya from Ty-nee-stuff at Yahoo groups for letting me know about these pencils),

I bought quite a few since the downstairs of the house will be a cocktail lounge. Even though it is set one hundred years from now, I sure glasses will still be needed. Other parts of the pencil will be useful for vases and clear door handles.

I also found these miniature drums (and miniature holiday gifts)

The drums will be remade for overhead lighting, and small tables in the cocktail lounge

I might use the tops of some as serving trays,

For wall covering, I have discovered that the mapping of electrical circuits is both reminiscent of MidCentury Modern design and futuristic at the same time. For example, the first Mickie Gemla dollhouses in the 1950s had fabulous red wallpaper that reminds me of electrical circuitry. You can see that wallpaper in this dollhouse room the Shopping Sherpa posted on her blog,

( (I love this room!)

One or more of these patterns will be used as wallpaper in the futuristic house:

In my next post

In my next post, I will writing about Kathy and her amazing MCM houses that she makes from Michael's cd crates. Here are two of them.

If you shop for miniatures on eBay, you have seen these houses. Kathy's story about her dad and how he inspired her is an extraordinary story that moved me, and I know it will inspire you as well.

Elsie De Wolfe's Chair

Elsie De Wolfe entered a party by turning cart wheels when she was in her 70s, and married a lord when she turned 60. It was her first marriage. De Wolfe's iconoclastic style hit New York City in the late 19th century when she introduced white furniture and lighter interior colors to Victorian society ladies. In the 1930s, De Wolfe was the designer that introduced Hollywood to stylized Art Deco glamour (think Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire). One of her most famous designs was this chair,

In my next post, I will have a tutorial on how to create a miniature version of her chair in three easy steps using beads and floor protectors like these.

I will also show you how to create this ottoman,

And this futuristic dining room set from the same type of floor protector (plus one more thing).

Wishing you only good things,


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Undersized Urbanite Dollhouse Contest- Inspiration

For the Undersized Urbanite contest, I am building a miniature house of the next century, guessing at what the architectural and interior decor styles of 2114 will be. Art Deco borrowed from the Egyptians,

And the Art Deco period depicted a future based on technology,

So did the MidCentury Modern period,

and it added an outer space influence,

(Both of the above illustrations are Arthur Radebaugh )

From where, or when, will the future borrow? Please don't say the 1980s...... My guess is that elements from both Art Deco and MidCentury Modern styles will be a strong influence, with additional elements yet to be invented (but I will try).

A contemporary artist, El Gato Gomez, has an interesting retro MCM style, that includes a large dose of retro-futuristism. In other words, she depicts the future as it was believed to be 50 years ago. Her art also has a geometric aspect that reminds me of Art Deco. See for yourself, compare her painting,

With an Art Deco design,

Her version of the future is "slightly" more optimistic than the zombie and vampire overrun future found everywhere today,

Gomez reaches back to (and, yes, idealizes) a period where society did believe the future would be bright. Like this:

I have a few other inspiration-photos:

The house depicted below existed in Boulder, Colorado, but unfortunately was destroyed by a fire. Its one side-uplifted roof, that stops half-way down, and walls of windows are very inspiring, and very "futuristic." I am unable to restore this house, but I am able to use it as an inspiration.

Hopefully, I will start building very soon.

Wishing you only good things, Neen