Have you ever been caught by a splendour of a tiny miniature dollhouse? You just cannot help: you stare at its immaculate design and tiny details. You want to explore each room, you admire the scale and the craftsmanship! Perhaps you even wonder if you should get one?! Well, think again because dollhouses are no longer playthings for children.
I wanted to check what it feels like creating a miniature space and of course Carly of Velvet Rabbit Miniatures is the best to talk to about it. She is a passionate artist, creating fascinating dollhouses as a hobby! And if you are thinking of a dollhouse for your dolls, you can get loads of inspiration from Carly's designs!
- Hello Carly, can you please introduce yourself :-)? Hello, my name is Carly, but on Instagram people know me as Velvet.Rabbit.Miniatures. I am the mom to my biggest inspiration, my twin daughters, wife to a very supportive husband and cat wrangler to two adorable tabby cats.
- There is a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit “Everything that is real was imagined first” on your website. Is that what you believe in? Yes, I love this quote and it is so true. Especially for creative people, we are always imaging first before we create. So when I started making dollhouses I knew I wanted to use the name Velvet Rabbit Miniatures and this quote to symbolize that message.
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is a story of a stuffed rabbit's desire to become real through the love of his owner. Is that what you are trying to achieve with your art – make those houses look and feel real? Most definitely. When building or renovating each dollhouse I always start with “who" I image would live in the house. I picture what they do for a living, how they spend their spare time, think about what would be important to them, and from there the house takes on their unique story. It is always the smallest little details that make it look and feel the most real. - Your journey started in January 2020 when you bought an unfinished dollhouse. Did you have the required skills to embark on this project or you had to learn along the way? I definitely learned along the way. I didn’t have any building skills, let alone miniature house building skills, so everything was done through trial and error. I think coming into this without prior building skills allowed me to get really creative and think outside of the box as to how to get something made or built.
- Did you have an interest in doll houses when you were a child? Were you a player or a maker? Growing up I knew a boy that lived down the street and his house was the gathering place for all the kids in our neighbourhood. He lived in this beautiful old home with a large conservatory off the side of the house. In that conservatory his mother had this really big round dining table in the centre of the room, which had an incredible 3-story dollhouse built into the table. The basement of the house was actually built under the tabletop and the entire table that surrounded the dollhouse was completely landscaped with trees, flowers, grasses and even a white picket fence. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I would sneak away from all the kids playing to come and sit in front of this house and just stare at every little detail. I remember it had working lights, inside and out, and every room was filled with endless amounts of miniature treasures. Ever since seeing that house I dreamed of having my own dollhouse one day and when I saw that unfinished dollhouse in January 2020 I knew it was my chance to build my own dollhouse dream.
- What advice would you give to someone who is new to dollhouse renovating? What is an absolutely needed skill or ability to start with? Is that willingness to learn, patience or something else? My advice would be to just start. You could start with renovating an old dollhouse you find on Marketplace, or building a new one from a kit, and if you don’t want to go that big just yet, you could start by just making anything miniature from a chair, or a picture, or even just a pillow. Just starting and learning through trial and error is always the best way. Most of all, have fun with it. This hobby is all about having fun, using your imagination, and unlocking your inner child. -Do you take inspiration from real-life interior design or anything else? I get all my inspiration from real-life interior design. Over the years we have moved a lot. I have fully renovated 6 houses and built one from scratch and loved every bit of it. Getting to build and renovate miniature dollhouses is just as fun as doing it in real-life, maybe even more fun because if you make a mistake in your miniature build like changing your mind and wanting to put hardwood flooring in instead of tile, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to fix when building in miniature scale. :)
- What’s your favourite: to reconstruct or build from scratch? And why? I enjoyed renovating the two older dollhouses I have, but building from scratch is definitely easier for me because it’s always easier build from nothing and build it the way you want, verses having to deal with something that is already prebuilt.
- Have you ever thought of getting your houses inhabited with mini homeowners? I have purposely left my dollhouses uninhabited because I want whoever is looking at them to image their own mini people in it, just like I did when I was a child visiting my friend’s mom’s dollhouse. I find, just like with real houses, if you don’t see the people who really live there, you are free to make up your own story about the house and fill it with your own imaginary people.
- Do you use a professional camera to take photos? Your close up photos are just so perfect! I take most of my photos using my Canon 6D and switch between my 50mm 1.4/f lens or my macro 100mm for getting those real close up pictures. Still photography is another hobby of mine and I love how I can combine both of these hobbies by photographing my miniature dollhouse scenes. - Are all your house 1:12 scale? Have you ever considered going 1:6 scale? All of my houses are 1:12 scale. I haven’t considered doing 1:6 scale mostly because of space, I have a very small workspace. I even feel my 1:12 scale houses are getting too big and starting to take over my real-life house, so I might switch to 1:24 one day for space sake.
-How do you overcome this feeling of attachment to your creations? I know it is hard, but you let a few houses go… how did that feel? It is so hard to not be attached and even harder to let my houses go. Early on I sold one of my houses to a really good friend and I was okay with that because I knew it was going to a wonderful home. Recently I let another house go to the most lovely person that owns a beautiful quilting store not too far from where I live and she has the house displayed in her store so it’s nice knowing I can go visit it anytime. - Do you think we might see Velvet Rabbit Miniatures exhibition one day? Currently my dollhouses are really just a hobby. Life outside of this hobby is really busy right now and I wish I had more time to create, but the seasons of life are always changing so you never know what the future might hold.
- You have recently announced that you will soon be starting the planning of your real life house addition and renovation project? Will it look like any of your houses? Many of the rooms in my dollhouses are already based off the rooms from my real-life houses over the years. If you were to see my real house you would see how similar much of it is to the designs of my miniature homes. Both my real-life home and miniature homes are really just extensions of one another. - Any links, social media profiles you would like to share with readers, so they can find out more about you and your art? You can always find me at: www.velvetrabbitminiatures.com and on my instagram page @velvet.rabbit.miniatures
Thank you Carly for the interview and for letting us to have a glimpse of your miniature world!
All photographs are property of Carly by Velvet Rabbit Miniatures and have been published with her kind permission.