When it comes to collecting miniatures and playing with dollhouses, this isn’t just a hobby for young children. In fact, Janine Lentsch, manager of Earth and Tree Miniatures and Dollhouses of Amherst says that this hobby started out very popular among women in their 50s to 70s, but now has a wide range of followers. “It’s become so much more than a kid’s toy, it’s really an adult hobby — especially with social media.” But, she says that it is really a hobby for everyone and any age, as well as any kind of budget.
Lentsch said that the first thing you should do when looking to start in the hobby of miniatures and dollhouses is to have a plan. “You will need to look at how much space you have available, what your budget will be, and next would be what style you’re interested in.” There are log cabins, contemporary houses, Victorian houses, even castles. It’s important to figure out what style you like before you start looking, because it will be easier to find what you want and not feel overwhelmed.
You should also think about how much time you want to invest and how much skill you have to offer in creating your miniatures and dollhouses. There are so many options when it comes to assembling a house. “Some people start from scratch and they get the plans and make the dollhouse themselves. Some people just buy the kit and put the house together, but they’re putting in wiring and wallpapering,” Lentsch said.
If you don’t have a lot of room, Lentsch suggests trying a little room box instead of a whole house. When creating your miniatures and working on your dollhouse, Lentsch advises, “It should be something that makes you smile. The things you put in it, or build on it should be memories, or things you love, but wouldn’t buy for your real house — things that you enjoy looking at. Because, when you’re finished building it, it’s going to be a 3D piece of art that you are just going to enjoy visually.” She also stated that it doesn’t have to be a house, or even involve dolls at all. “Someone who loves horses, may build a barn. Someone might work in a doctor’s office and decide to build a room box for a doctor’s office. You can create anything that you’re passionate about — it doesn’t have to be a dollhouse.”
Once you’ve picked out a house or a room and know what you want to do, it’s time to be creative. Don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way though, like what kind of glues work best with certain materials and asking for tips or tricks from people who have more experience. Lentsch says asking questions is a great way to learn more about the hobby. She says that she gets plenty of calls from people with questions at her shop, but people also turn to Youtube videos because they are informative and easy to pause and fast forward as needed. There are also tons of miniature specific Facebooks groups that many people follow. “You can post a picture and ask a question and you’re reaching thousands of artisans,” Lentsch said.
When looking for dollhouses and miniatures, besides Earth and Tree Miniatures and Dollhouses, there is a store in New Bedford, Mass., called Flip this Dollhouse. They offer secondhand miniatures. You can also find a small selection of miniatures at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. But if you’re looking for something specific, Lentsch suggests turning to Ebay.
Though Earth and Tree Miniatures and Dollhouses carry miniatures in all different price ranges, from cheap kid’s miniatures, to more expensive estate pieces, Lentsch feels it’s important that people know that one of the great things about this hobby is that it can fit into any budget. Even if you can only afford to buy the house itself. “There are Facebook groups that are dedicated to making miniatures out of everyday items that you already have at home. Like trash-to-treasure types of things,” Lentsch said.