Techniques and materials

My dolls houses are made out a wide range of materials, some traditional, some less so.

Walls and hidden structure

Generally I use 'marine' plywood. The marine part means the plywood sheets are bonded with waterproof glue. As a material, this is much stronger and lighter than mdf for example - and greatly more resistant to warping with changes in humidity. It also produces stronger joints and is less prone to split. The downside is that its surfaces invariably need much careful preparation.

Visible structure - joists, rafters etc.

I mainly use ash wood which grows locally on the hillsides behind where I live. Once seasoned for three years or so it is strong and attractively grained and carves well.

Floor boards

To my eye at any rate, the wood that comes closest to pine or deal floorboards found in older homes is the popular modelling wood called obeche. It sands and stains well and has the natural, warm, honey colour of the original.

Doors and windows

I use finely grained fruitwoods such as cherry for windows as few other types scale down well enough. Doors can be made of the same species, or obeche, stained and varnished as required.

Brick work and masonry

So far, I have mainly created brick and stone work from coloured molding plaster that I prepare and cast myself. Plaster is strong and light and reasonably knock resistant. To create the effect of mortar joints I tend to use waterproof tile grout, coloured to suit. This sets quickly and is very tough indeed.

Interior and roof tiles

The most adaptable material for making these finishes is hardboard, planed down to the relevant thickness. It cuts precisely, sands easily and takes paint very well. It is also grealty more impact resilient than the cast versions availbale to buy. Since no dollshouse is likely to stay put its entire life, this is something to think about. With care, and a bit of imagination, this material can be made to look like just about anything.

Ironmongery

All such items are either made as specially prepared 'one-offs' in brass, or as photo-etched brass to my own design, either hand painted or chemically stained as appropriate.