It All Starts Here

Sometimes our ideas flow from an existing kit to bash, a house style to scratch (aka custom) build, or from an interesting doll who needs a place to live. Our settings are always modern-day (ca. 2001 when we started this hobby). We try to create things that will make people smile and feel good.

We think that if we had to build the same house twice, we literally could not do it! Fortunately, we have very unique little people who have definite opinions and so far, no one has wanted a house “like so-and-so” has.

We work as a family unit: my wonderful husband, my beautiful sister, and I. We don't always agree as to the direction of the build, but I think that we end up with a better dollhouse because of all our grumblings -- and we do have a lot of fun!

The Purpose of this Blog

We needed a place for all we wanted to say about the background of the build and the nuts and bolts of the design and build process. Thus this blog.

All our dolls' homes have families living in them and a story is built around their personalities and lifestyles. This story is an integral part of our building process. We would like to share these stories -- actually, the little people insist upon it!

Many of our houses are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia because that is my sister's favorite place.

Also, we have started a Rouges' Gallery with photos of our little people and information about the dolls.

If you would like to start with the dollhouse that "started it all", it is the Original Rowbottom Manse; if you would like to see the scratch-built Georgian that our first build gave us the confidence (or fool-hardiness) to do, it is Sunnybrook Farm.

Let the stories begin!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Montclaire House - Party on dude!

The Game Room
I have been working on the attic rooms in the main house (when I have been working on minis). The attic has two rooms: a game room and a music room.
The main house attic rooms
The stairs to the attic are boxed in and the doors to the rooms are off the “attic hallway” (unseen and non-existent).

The Game Room
I wasn’t sure how this room was going to develop until I thought of the Bespaq Bar and two chairs. After I saw the price, I still wasn’t sure how this room was going to develop. Then fortune smiled. I found one on eBay with a starting price of $99.00! I bid $101 and I won it! For some reason, it wasn’t popular that day. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Bespaq bar
It was also a good thing that I had decided to bash the attic into a large area with 9 inch ceilings since the bar is 6 x 6 x 8 ½ inches tall! Actually, I always expand the attic on kits as they are always too small and unrealistic if you want to place any furniture.
The expanded attic.
I wasn’t sure what to do for the walls until I remembered a real house exotic wallpaper border remnant that I had. The remnant wasn’t very long thus it was a good thing that I didn’t need to put any behind the bar. The “solid” real house wallpaper at the front ends of the room is just a soft beige-white swirl texture. The rest of the room just fell into place with the other furnishings that came with the house.

The Game Room--just need to install the lights and stock the bar.
The HBS Palladian double door will have stained glass windows as will the upper “windows” on the bar.

The floor is Random Plank from HBS and the “baseboard” is basswood stripwood.

The floor and the wood trim are stained MinWax Puritan Pine and varnished.
I just have to install the lights and stock the bar and then the parties can begin!

The Music Room
Music Room, some day
I have lots of furnishings and musical instruments, but need inspiration for placement.

I am thinking of a soft, muted pinkish multi-color wallpaper (don’t know the brand or name). The muted pattern reminds me of music by Debussy—if that makes any sense!
Wallpaper "something" like this
I think I’ll use a soft rose or white carpet on the floor, or maybe just wood flooring … still thinking.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Montclaire House -- Meet the Owners

Who lives at Montclaire House?
It took quite a while before I had an inkling of the family who lived in this house. Usually, we build knowing all sorts of details about the “little people”. This was building in the dark.
Finally, a thought came by way of a friend—“a retired, elder-statesman couple whose children are grown and off somewhere”.  As I was going through Ellen Scofield’ s (Ellensworld) catalog for an elder statesman couple, I fell in love with her N.A.Chief and New Miss Pitty Pat porcelain doll kits which I then purchased, put together, and dressed. I knew immediately that they were my couple, but how did they fit in?
But how do they fit into Montclaire House?
Then I remembered how much I loved the late Tony Hillerman’s mystery novels concerning the Navajo in and around the Four Corners area. Thus the husband became Joe Leaphorn (Navajo Tribal Policeman in the book)—except that this Joe Leaphorn is the Director of the Museum of the American Indian 
Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian
t the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and resides in Georgetown with his wife Louisa Montclaire Leaphorn, director of the Ethnographic Collections.

Well, they are not a “retired” elder-statesman couple but otherwise a good fit for the house. From experience, I know that keeping a museum running smoothly (and surviving the process) certainly requires the same elder-statesman-like abilities that running governments require. Some of Louisa’s family were statesmen, and they did live in this house, and the furnishings in the “public” rooms have “always” been there (and have scars to show). Joe’s family have been elder statesmen also—helping to maintain the well-being of the Navajo “res” internally and versus US bureaucracy when necessary, and keeping the Navajo culture alive.
One thing nice about houses that are passed down through generations is that one can furnish “with impunity”. Things don’t all have to match; they just have to have been loved. I did keep the foyer and the living and dining rooms  “as they always have been” as befitting this couple who do a lot of entertaining in the interests of getting resources for the museum and smoothing ruffled feathers.
Louisa and Joe’s children are grown and have left the nest (thank heavens).

Louisa Patricia Montclaire and Joseph Henry Leaphorn: Biographical Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Montclaire House has been in the Montclaire family since it was built by Benjamin Montclaire
when he became Woodrow Wilson’s (1912-1920) Under Secretary of State. It eventually passed on to Louisa’s father Gilbert.  Gilbert, his wife Evangeline,
and their daughter Louisa are prominent Wyoming natives who became Washington-based when Gilbert was elected US Senator and then later when he became Secretary of the Interior. They have always considered Wyoming “home” though.
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, state of many awesome landscapes.
Louisa preferred the “west” and went to the University of Wyoming and majored in Geology with a minor in Anthropology. She loved studying dinosaurs but at some point she realized that studying indigenous cultures was more interesting—you could talk to the present-day practitioners! Ever try talking to a dinosaur? She stayed at Wyoming for her doctorate, but changed direction and concentrated on anthropology and archaeology. After graduation, she talked to people at the Smithsonian (her favorite museums) to see what help she could be and was delighted when they offered her a grant for ethnographic studies of southwestern cultures!
Joe’s parents are Anna
and Henry
He was raised on the reservation where his parents still live. His early education was “modern”, taught in English by Navajo and non-Navajo. Since his parents speak both Navajo and English, he does too. He thinks of himself as a realist like his father the “legendary lieutenant” of the Navajo Tribal Police (his father rolls his eyes when he hears that phrase, but the family just laughs). He has learned the culture (mostly from his mother), respects it, and works to preserve it, but he also lives in, what he says is the “real world”: a combination of Navajo and non-Navajo ideologies.
The Navajo Nation
From early on he was fascinated by the Anasazi culture and its disappearance. He dreamed of going to college to become an archaeologist specializing in Southwestern cultures. He did very well in school and received a scholarship from the University of Arizona. There he received a BA in anthropology and then a PhD.  He was living his dream! His parents were thrilled for him, but his mother worried a little that he might somehow drift away.  But this wasn’t so—he still came back to help out anybody at anytime. Of course, that blue-eyed, non-Indian ethnographer from the Smithsonian (Louisa somebody?) who was so enthusiastic about the Navajo, helped seal his fate.
They meet

With her grant from the Smithsonian, Louisa went to the University of Arizona looking for native people who would like to be part of her ethnographic studies to be exhibited at the Smithsonian. This led to a meeting with archaeologist Joe Leaphorn whose mother Anna was a modern “traditionalist” heavily involved in Navajo culture and whose father was Henry Leaphorn, the “legendary lieutenant” of the Navajo Tribal Police. Henry considered himself a realist who while not as culturally knowledgeable as his wife, realized that Navajo tradition permeated everything and had to be considered.

Joe’s extended family, capably “directed” by his grandmother Emma Chee

had access to oral and written histories; and his parents could offer insights into the “past vs. present “ conundrum. This was quite a find for Louisa who then decided to concentrate on the Navajo. And as these things sometimes go, before long Joe and Louisa found time to concentrate on each other. He fell into her big, blue eyes and was knocked over by her enthusiasm for her project; she thought he had the most wonderful smile and easy laughter and was knocked over by his enthusiasm for his project!

When Louisa’s parents retired, they gave Montclaire House to her. This thrilled Louisa since by then she and Joe were married, and both were working for the Smithsonian--dividing their time between Washington and the Four Corners area. Louisa’s parents moved back to their Wyoming ranch.

Joe’s parents are retired also and still live on the reservation,

and although they visit Washington, they really do enjoy visiting Wyoming!

Before long, all of Joe’s and Louisa’s dedication was rewarded and they became well-respected members of the Smithsonian and earning them elder-statesman status!
Somewhere in their hectic lifestyle, they raised two children: Henry
and Bernadette (sorry, camera-shy).