The Dollhouse Project Finale, Finally.

Without obsession, life is nothing. — John Waters

I finally finished The Dollhouse Project (the origins of which I detailed in earlier posts here and here), but for some reason have not, until now, shared the photos of the completed project, which I exhibited in 2012 at the Tusinski Gallery in Rockport.

The Interiors

I furnished the dollhouse as though its interiors had seen several phases, just as interiors do in real life, devolving or evolving with our rising or falling fortunes, suffering from neglect, bad taste or even an excess of good taste. The decor of the dollhouse is part homage to the famous style of the 2oth-century decorator Dorothy Draper, and part homage to the television show Hoarders, in which generally decent, intelligent people show no restraint when it comes to their obsessions.

TRH dollhouse studio 5

TRH dollhouse living room 2


TRH dollhouse living room 3

The Story

The story behind the interiors is this: the last occupant of the house was an unemployed, middle-aged aspiring artist who lived alone, moving in to his parents’ house after they died. He left his mother’s Draper-inspired interiors largely intact, except for her sewing room, which he turned into his studio. He was obsessed with the human form as the focus of his painting, especially inanimate versions of the human form, returning for subject matter to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius at Pompeii again and again.

TRH dollhouse studio 6

TRH dollhouse studio 1



TRH dollhouse studio 4

It Really is Done. I Think.

It’s kind of a sad, broken-down little place — my 6-year-old son is irritated by how depressing the interiors are (he’s constantly asking me, very diplomatically, if we can spruce it up). But to me, its imperfections make it seem more real. I find myself staring at it and thinking about the imaginary occupant as though he really did exist. That’s because somewhere, at some point, someone just like him lived a life just like the one depicted in this house. A frustrated artist, finding a sort of satisfaction in a life dedicated to a single pursuit.

TRH dollhouse bathroom

TRH dollhouse bedroom

TRH dollhouse bulletin board

TRH dollhouse kitchen sink

Estate Sale for Tiny People

yard sale 2

I’ve wrapped up the interiors of the Dollhouse Project — details on that later. In the meantime, it’s time for a yard sale. Too much tiny furniture, and as decluttering comes second only to losing weight on the list of annual New Year’s resolutions, clearing out extra furniture, even if it’s on a 1:12 scale, still feels pretty good.

yard sale 6

yard sale 1

yard sale 3yard sale 4

Interiors: Of Dolls & Murder

Last year around this time I mentioned the a book about the work of Frances Glessner Lee called The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. A documentary on the same subject has just emerged, and no wonder, as the fascinating vignettes  depicting crime scenes created by Frances Glessner Lee in the early 20th century are truly compelling, both for their function as small studies in crime and for their macabre quality. These dollhouses are all work and no play, a deadly serious business, and still in use today for training detectives, surprisingly enough. Frances Glessner Lee’s attention to detail, her obsession with getting everything just right, was not only the hallmark of a serious craftsperson, it also allowed her to create timeless pieces that will, sadly, always offer a story to tell, no matter the technological advances we make when it comes to catching murderers.

Check out the link to the documentary here: Of Dolls & Murder. And here’s a link to more information on the Studies themselves from a book by Erin Hooper Bush — well worth a look.