Posted in Dolls, Fashion dolls

On not knowing anything

I learn for a living.

I used to learn how to use software, and then write about it. More recently, I learn how other people use hardware and then report on it. I’ve become comfortable with not being an expert.

But I’ve never been such a novice in so many areas at once. When I first started my doll adventure, there was quite literally not one simple required task that I actually knew how to accomplish. And, not even that it couldn’t be accomplished – it was so out of reach that I didn’t even know what skill I might need to accomplish it.

A simple example – I need a wall with a window for my first scene. Something like this.


It took me days just to figure out how big that wall needed to be. It has to be big enough that the dolls and their furniture fit comfortably in it, but not so big that it’s a hassle to set up. I tried all kinds of temporary walls before I ended up with a size that worked for my layouts. Roughly, it had to be a couple of inches taller than the dolls and about twice their length (about 16″ x 24″).

To really settle on a size, though, I had to figure out what materials I was going to be working with. Lots of people use wood. Here’s a wooden room, from someone I follow on Flickr, in a slightly smaller size.

For Jo <3

If I used wood, I’d need to know how to work with wood (which I didn’t) and have wood working tools (which I also didn’t). So, not wood. At least, not for now.

Some people recommended something called Davey Board, which appears to be mainly used for book binding. Here’s someone on Flickr showing their board and a sharp object (on a side note, if you ever decide to get involved with doll houses, you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded with sharp objects. I have at least 6 different objects which tear, rip, and saw within arms reach right now.)

Cover Boards Cut

But, it didn’t seem like the sort of thing one would find at the local dollar store, where I normally shop.

What I did find at the local dollar store was 20″ x 30″ foam board. I can’t pass up a bargain, so my dolls are now surrounded by foam board.

So, I had a material for the walls, but I had to be sure that I could find materials in the right size (16″ x 24″) to cover the floor and wall. I fell in love with contact paper – it goes on just perfectly and it’s wide enough not to need any joins – but it doesn’t come in the kinds of tiny prints that you need for something in 1/6 scale, and my dolls were dwarfed by the enormous flowers on the walls. Also, I heard that it’s too shiny to photograph well.

I’m cheap, so I liked the idea of just using regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper, but I’d need at least three sheets just to span the width of the wall, and I didn’t want to deal with all of those joins.

Some sites recommended wallpaper, but I never did find a store that sold wallpaper remnants, and I didn’t need yards of the stuff.

I settled on scrapbooking paper (12″ x 12″), since it was easily available and fit the width. Here’s some here, underneath the beadboard.


But, if I wanted to give my dolls a wall a few inches taller than their 12″ inches, I’d have to find something to fill in the space between the bottom of my 12″ wallpaper and the foot of my 16″ wall.


I thought I’d describe designing the window, but I’ve exhausted myself just relating how I picked the size and material for the walls and I haven’t even gotten to what I did with those remaining 4 inches of wall. (However, for a hint about those 4 inches, see beadboard above). And then, once you get the foam board home, you have to figure out how to get it from 20″ x 30″ to 16″ x 24.

I go into this depth to give a sense of just how much knowledge goes into one simple decision – like making a doll house wall – before you ever start doing anything. There are literally thousands of steps just like this before I can send my dolls out on adventures. They span all areas of expertise, and I’m skilled in exactly zero of them.

I picked up a book last week about starting a craft business (because I’ve tossed around the idea of actually manufacturing something doll related), but they all start with the premise that you at least understand your own craft 🙂





In my (almost) 60th year on earth I decided to set my fashion dolls free of their clothes and accessories and send them on adventures. This is your window onto my own adventure into a land of crafts where I have zero skills, talent or mentors. Wish me (and my dolls) luck!

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