Added to museum: 5/10/13
Dollhouse builders Jan and Joe Haring at a Christmas party. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Builders of model railroads, dioramas and miniature dollhouses find satisfaction and peace in creating and caring for their own little world. In a real world were so much is usually beyond our control, there is a comfort in being in total control of this one little piece of real estate. Everything can be exactly how and where we want it.
For some time, the Craftsmanship Museum has worried that the majority of items on display, such as engines, tools, vehicles and guns might appeal mostly to our male visitors. In reality, most female visitors can appreciate them just as much, but the recent acquisition of a large and beautiful collection of dollhouse miniatures was originally seen as a great way to appeal to our women visitors. What has been satisfying to see is that the craftsmanship and clever storytelling involved has been just as interesting to the male visitors. It seems craftsmanship is craftsmanship.
Calling these structures “dollhouses” is a bit misleading in the first place. These are not the kind of dollhouses that your young daughter plays with. These are scale structures decorated with finely made furniture and decorator items. Usually open on one side so the interiors can be seen, these scale structures and their tiny contents test the ability of a group of talented builders.
Typically built at 1” = 1’ scale, the houses include just about everything you would find in a real house from the gas meter outside to the fuse box in the basement. Joe’s technical sense and attention to detail saw to the structural parts of the structures. He included proper details like copper roof flashing under the individually split cedar shake roofs, ornate railings and stiles on the staircase and even an electronic sound module hidden under a porch that creates the sound of a toilet flushing in the bathroom when a tiny button is pushed. Corner joints are all tight, paint jobs are flawless and floors are fitted with individual wooden planks and tiny bulbs light up. Exterior yards feature ponds, grass, trees and flowers.
Joe Haring--Retired Marine and master craftsman in miniature. (Click photo to enlarge)
Retired US Marine, Joe Haring was also a sailor and a friend of Joe Martin’s. They would meet at Oceanside Harbor where they often got together to talk sailing and boats. When Joe Haring passed away, Joe Martin knew he was a craftsman but didn’t know that he had built these beautiful dollhouses. We were both surprised and pleased when his wife Jan offered to donate them to the museum to honor his memory.
The big 1"=1' house is modeled after one from the 1930's to 1940's. This is probably the most popular scale for dollhouse miniatures, and many accessories are made by various artisans and craftsmen for decorating them. (Click on either image to view a larger version.)
Joe’s structures include a large and ornate 3-story house from the 1930’s or 1940’s, a Santa’s workshop room, a 1950’s basement apartment room, a 2-story witch’s house with a swing-open front wall, a ladies dress shop, and even a diorama of a gypsy camp that doesn’t include a house, but rather several wagons and lots of activities going on.
This French Colonial is built in a much smaller scale, 1/4" = 1'. Note the size of a quarter in the foreground. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Several additional structures are built in the much smaller ¼” = 1’ scale. One is a French Colonial home and another is a model of “Mimi’s Café,” like the one in Oceanside, CA. A mantel clock has also been used as a structure with four floors lighted and decorated at this small scale being the glass where the pendulum used to swing.
With the exception of a few rooms like the attic and workshop in the 1930’s house and the basement details of the 1950’s apartment that Joe decorated himself, Jan took over making the house a home in miniature. Beautifully crafted oriental rugs cover the floors, and tiny lamps with working bulbs light many rooms thanks to hidden electrical wiring by Joe. The pieces of furniture are collected from some of the finest makers who specialize in that field. Furniture makers like Al Cushman and Bob Carlisle make scale items in miniature from beds to tables and chairs to desks, bookcases and telephone stands. Porcelain dolls are by Fern Vasi. Tiny books even have printed pages, like the witch’s book of spells open on the table. Tiny mugs printed with evil names like “Atila” and “Wolfman” sit on the cupboard shelves awaiting their visit. In the 1930’s 3-story house, each room is packed with details. Many tiny ceramic cats also populate the structure, some playing with kittens and one toying with a fish in the fishbowl by a window. On the porch, the kids skateboards and bicycles await their return and a rotary lawn mower sits in the yard.
Petit point art by Jo Berbiglia with stitches so small you need magnification to see them decorates chair seats and wall hangings. Tiny kitchen utensils sit on the countertops and Joe’s upstairs workshop has a tool box with fine woodworking tools from Germany. Each piece is chosen with care and installed to add to part of the story of the room. Visitors can stare at the rich detail and imagine what life would be like in the homey little structures.
What about the dolls?
Yes, dolls do populate the houses. How could you have a Santa’s workshop without Santa and Mrs. Santa? What would a witch’s house be without a witch and a small trick-or-treater? A 1950’s basement apartment is the perfect place to be inhabited by a young couple dressed in classic 1950’s garb to go with the old TV and other 50’s appliances by Carlisle Miniatures. Like the other furnishings these dolls are made to scale by some of the finest miniature builders and have a lot of personality and detail in keeping with their often costly nature.
Fern Vasi made this porcelain witch doll. Cats, skulls, bottles, baskets and other features are made by other craftsmen who specialize in building for this hobby. Each environment is a collection of fine work from many people, selected by the decorator. (Click on photo to enlarge image.)
A shared hobby
Building the tiny homes and picking the items to decorate them was something that Joe and Jan enjoyed doing together, and their individual talents complemented each other. We thank Jan very much for allowing us to bring these fine structures to the attention of our visitors and welcome them to her tiny world.
Jan has kindly volunteered to be a docent at the Craftsmanship Museum several mornings a week where she welcomes visitors and points out the details of these miniature masterpieces to those who come to see them in person. For those who can’t visit the museum, we present some photos that will give you an idea of the richness of the detail.
For those interested in pursuing this hobby there are several magazines that cover the subject including Dollhouse Miniatures, Miniature Collector and Dollhouse World. There are also many books on the subject.
(Click photos for larger images.)
Miniature dollhouses and rooms, 1" = 1' scale
1930's to 1940's House
The 1930's-1940's house was Joe Haring's largest and most complicated structure. Architectural details are rich and correct. The structure is also wired with hidden wires and small wall outlet plugs behind some of the furniture. Ceiling and wall lights with tiny bulbs can be illuminated.
Bathroom: Lights-Marie Toner, Shaving table--Al Cushman, Shower-Hammer-N-Smith
Library: Magazine table with lamp, table and radio-Bob Carlisle, Desk-Al Cushman
Bathroom: Lights-Marie Toner, Shaving Table-Al Cushman
Bedroom: Sconces-Marie Toner, Painting-Kendall, Paper flowers-Kathy Meagher
Dining Room: Chairs, China cabinet-Al Cushman, Petti point on chairs-Jo Berbiglia, Lights, Chandelier-Marie Toner, Telephone, phone bench, floor radio-Bob Carlisle, Paper flowers in vase-Kathy Meagher
Front Porch: Paper flowers in pots-Kathy Meagher, Paper flowers in pots on sidewalk-Debby Noland
The last photo shows the museum's custom built display case for the house built by Paul Healy.
Here we take a look at the abundant detail in each of the individual rooms of the big house. Can you count how many cats there are in the house? Hint: there are more than 15...
Attic Bedroom: Furniture-Bob Carlisle, Petti point on bench-Jo Bergiblia, Wicker pet bed and crochet hat-Alice Buerkle, light-Marie Toner
Upper Hall: Bookcase, three printed books (Kidnapped, The Pooh Story Book, Hanzel and Gretel)-Barbara Rahab, Paper orchid-Karl Blindheim, Light-Marie Toner, Petti point in progress-Jo Berbiglia
Living Room: Paper flowers in vases-Kathy Meagher, Side table, radio/record player-Bob Carlisle, paper orchids-Karl Blindheim, Petti point pillow, needlework in progress, stool-Jo Berbiglia, Sofa and chair-Sally Hardy
Laundry: Porcelain doll-Fern Vasi
Kitchen: Paper flowers in vases-kathy Meagher, table and chairs, kitchen stool: Bob Carlisle
Closeup photos show details including skates and skateboard on the front porch to tools in the workshop to the telescope in the octagonal cupola. The porch now also features a bicycle and lawn mower not shown in the photo.
Back Porch: Paper Hollyhocks-Debbie Noland
Attic Hobby Room: Tool box and tools made in Germany
Details: Needlework in progress-Jo Berbiglia, Radio/record player-Bob Carlisle
Cupola: Table-Al Cushman, Paper flowers-Kathy Meagher
You can't call this a dollhouse, as there is no house, but the scene is packed with details from singing and dancing gypsy dolls to two tiny hedgehogs in a fruit box.
Porcelain Gypsy Dolls-Fern Vasi, Wagon kits-Al Cushman
1950's Basement Recreation Room
All the details from the 1950's are there from the poodle skirt on the girl to the tiny round TV screen featuring "I Love Lucy." Joe Haring put a lot of authentic detail into the utility room on the left, from the laundry tub and cleaning products to the fuse box, hot water heater and copper pipes.
Porcelain dolls-Fern Vasi, Paper flowers-Kathy Meagher, BBQ in utility area-Cindy Treadwell, Saddle shoes table-Cindy Treadwell
Dress Shop Boutique
This tiny dress shop is packed with all the latest styles--from many years ago.
Porcelain doll-Fern Vasi
Girl's room window vignette
This small scene still features a lot of detail, from the cat pestering the fish in the fishbowl on the table to the beautiful petit point work on the seat of the chair. Outside is an awning over the window and flowers being planted along the wall below.
Polymer clay doll-Alice Buerkle, Petti point seat on chair-Jo Berbiglia
Santa takes a snooze amid construction of many toys, while Mrs. Santa serves homemade cookies to the hard working elves. Notice in the final photo that Santa has been building a doll house himself.
Porcelain dolls-Fern Vasi
From the back side, the house is painted bright yellow and looks cheery enough, but as you come around to the front door, things start to get a little scary. Joe Haring built the house so the roof tips up and the front walls swing outward displaying two sides of the witch's life. Upstairs is her well cared for boudoir, filled with feminine things and the comforts of home. Downstairs is her workshop with vials of poison and potions on the shelves, lighted skulls on the table and a poor, hapless trick-or-treater in a pumpkin suit being offered an apple by the witch herself.
The last photo shows a detail you might miss--the tiny flowers in the pot by the window are actually "tiger lillies." Can you see the tiny tiger faces? Jan delights in finding tiny details like this to decorate her scenes. You will have to spend a long time inspecting these houses in detail to catch it all, and when you come back the next time you will see things you missed before.
Lower Level: Candlestick on chest, sconces, chandelier-J. Getlan, Pie safe, witch's work table-Al Cushman, Welcome Mat-Jo Berbiglia, Paper "Tiger Lillies" in vase in window-Alice Buerkle, Porcelain witch doll-Fern Vasi, Doll in pumpkin costume-Blackfoot Daisy
Uppper Level: Chandelier-Phyllis Nissen, Fireplace screen, petti point on chair, petti point pillow on sofa-Jo Berbiglia, paper flowers in vases-kathy Meagher, Crochededd Bedspread-Ronni Wetherall, Butler-Cindy Treadwell
Miniature Dollhouses, 1/4" = 1" scale
This model represents a favorite eating spot in Oceanside, CA; Mimi's Cafe. The decorations are much smaller in this very small scale. A US Quarter is shown in the photos for size reference. Joe also put the base on a rotating stand so the viewer could turn it around to see the front, which has finished walls as well as the back which has open walls so you can see the details on the two stories inside.
French Colonial Home
Another model in small scale on a rotating base, this two-story features style and furnishings in the French Colonial style.
Four-story "Clock House"
Who needs a house? This small wall clock has had the pendulum replaced by four rooms, one above the other. Note that it is fully lighted on each floor with tiny bulbs and chandeliers. From bottom to top are a dining room, living room and two bedrooms.
This clock-home and the two 1/4" to the foot models above are started as kits designed by Debbie Young.
|A display case at the Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA houses many of the smaller exhibits, with the witch's house on top. The big 3-story home and gypsy camp have their own display bases. A large selection of furniture by Al Cushman is on display courtesy of donations by Jan Haring and Jo Berbiglia.|
Furniture and decorator items by dedicated craftsmen
Petit point fireplace screen
by Jo Berbiglia
All dollhouse photos: Craig Libuse
Shaker and other wooden furniture
by Al Cushman
The late Al Cushman was typical of the makers of fine furniture at the 1 inch = 1 foot scale most common to dollhouse miniatures. Magazines dedicated to the trade have ads for fine pieces by many makers. Note the finely built dresser drawer detail showing the tiny dovetailed joints at the back of the drawer. This is a detail that will only be noticed by a close observer but will be appreciated by woodworkers in any scale.
Furniture pieces donated by Jan Haring and Jo Berbiglia
Straight leg table
by Gilbert Mena
Bottom signed by Mr. Mena.
|NOTE: There is a craftsman's guild just for people who build miniature items like the ones seen decorating these dollhouses. The International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) has a web site at www.igma.org. The guild offers a school in Maine where craftsmen can learn the techniques used in making miniature objects for the dollhouse collectible market. Included are videos of some of their classes, a class schedule and a list of artisans and their own web sites.|
Cannon models by Joe Haring
|Joe Haring also built models of cannons including the three turned from brass shown here. The first photo shows a couple of wheeled field artillery cannons. In the last photo, the cannon sits in a wheeled support carriage that rolls on steel rails to take up the recoil. The lower carriage support also has casters in the back so the entire rig can be swung left or right for aiming. A US 25 cent coin shows relative scale.|
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