My first foray into miniature dollhouses didn't come until I was 14 years old. I had my first regular paying job (besides a paper route) and saw a 1/24th scale dollhouse kit by Greenleaf. I saved and saved, and was delighted the day I got to bring it home. And that's where it stayed, safely in it's box for many years. I think I was just so intimidated by all of the pieces, all of the instructions, and probably afraid to ask my grumpy dad for help. Eventually, I actually glued it all together, decided it was more trouble than a wife and mom had time for, and stuck it out in the garage. I did find a dead mouse in it years later, so I guess it came in handy for someone!
Miniatures came into my life again in 1998. My husband, myself and our two kids, a girl age 10 and a boy age 8, had just moved back to Washington after living on the Central Coast of California for 10 years. During one of our weekend explorations, we happened upon Dolly's Dollhouses in Seattle. My oh my! It was as if my whole life had been leading to this moment! I was completely infatuated! I decided right then and there that my daughter's childhood just wouldn't be complete unless she got a dollhouse and all the fixings for Christmas.
Secretly, my husband and I went back to Dolly's without the kids. Dolly was just awesome, and helped us pick out a pre-built but unfinished 8 room house built by a local wood crafter. Then it was up to me to secretly paint, wallpaper, finish and decorate - all while my daughter was in school.
I was actually shocked at the cost of all the little things a dollhouse needed. It was like setting up an actual house, and some items had price tags bigger than the real life items I owned!
After spending about $600.00 and still not satisfied with the completeness of this legacy gift, we had to get creative. We could not afford not to! I'd make trips to Dolly's or search on ebay for the things I still needed, then try to imagine ways that I could make them myself. It was incredible! I learned so much about Fimo, resin casting, mini woodworking, printies and how to re-purpose or rehab found items inexpensively. If I was crazed with miniatures before, I became obsessed with making them! I probably spent even more money initially, because tools and supplies can also be expensive, but creativity was an addiction!
My daughter loved the dollhouse initially. I even got her to sit with me and create mini foods for the kitchen. I'd left two rooms unfinished so that she could enjoy the decorating part too. All too soon though, she discovered the boy band Hanson and moved quickly into her preteen activities. The dollhouse just sat like a monument in her room, collecting dust.
For me, however, I discovered that I could make miniature prepping food scenes and actually sell them on ebay! I had fun with this for months! I made enough in profits that I could actually begin to purchase more tools and materials and expand my creativity. It was a short lived dream, because my part time job turned to full time. Mini's would have to wait again until 2002...
|Three Bears Porridge Breakfast|
I decided that I should try to live my passion and that meant working in my passion! I cashed in my 401K and started Rainy Day Miniatures. I got a business license, created a web site, started a new ebay account, ordered a ton of miniature items (wholesale costs were awesome), made a ton of items and went "live" in late February. I even had a table at The Seattle Dollhouse & Miniatures Show!
Every month on the web site I would publish a "How To" article with step by step photos. I did lighting, constructing, foods, furniture etc. Soon, between ebay auctions and web site purchases I was shipping about 80 packages per week! This was amazing, and I loved the techie side of my job, too! I was able to complete many projects, and really started to feel confident in my new little skills!
The problem with all of this joy, was that I was working 15 hours a day just to keep up! On top of this, I always seemed to "reinvest" my profits back into more mini treasures for me. You cannot be a miniature addict and work in a miniature business - not if you actually need to make a living at it. In October of 2003 I got a "real job". Little did I know that life would redirect me away from minis for nearly nine years... Somehow raising kids and working full time can derail you from some things you love.
Fast forward to 2012... Suddenly an opportunity to work from home presents itself. I jump on it, and knowing I no longer have to work 50+ hours a week or commute 2 - 3 hours a day, I begin to dream in miniature again!
My first project back in the mini world was a replica tourist store and campground that my husband and I had dreamed of owning for years. Since we live in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, our dream business is called Encounters Gifts & Grub. It's a place for tourists on their way to Mt. Rainier National Park to camp, eat, and learn about all things Bigfoot! Please take a look at the page!
Encounters Gifts & Grub