I grew up in what I considered to be an artistic home. As far back as my memory can take me, I can recall my mother armed with a paintbrush, glue gun, fabric, and any other preferred implement of the particular hobby she was engaging in at the time. She was always searching for a creative outlet. From ceramics in the 80’s, to the heart and bear cutouts of the 90’s, to the Victorian home decorating creations of the early 2000’s, my mother never ceased to amaze me with her many talents.
Admittedly, this left me feeling quite inadequate at times as I could barely manage to draw a stick figure. I never saw color combinations; I could never look at a plain, boring object and “see” it’s true potential. So I would only watch in awe as she took nothing-special and created something amazing. At times I would attempt a creation that never quite panned out. Of course, in my mother’s eyes, my creations were always beautiful and she encouraged me that I would find my “craft” one day.
Being a traditionalist of sorts, I had always believed in maintaining family rituals and traditions throughout the years. I believe in passing down family heirlooms and the retelling of stories of relatives long ago. As a child, I rarely asked for special gifts but when I did, they often revolved around my ideal of the things that a little girl is “supposed” to have. I believe a young woman should receive pearls on her Sweet Sixteen and all little girls need a wooden dollhouse.
One Christmas when my parents asked me what I wanted, I immediately informed them that I needed a dollhouse. And not just a plastic Barbie house with pink carpet and a hot tub for when Ken visited. I wanted a dollhouse that I could turn into an heirloom; a house that I could pass down to my future daughter. Grand ideas for a girl of only 13. My parents, shocked that I had given them an actual request instead of the usual “anything is fine with me” response, set out to make my wish come true. Christmas morning, I awoke to find my dream dollhouse under the tree.
I never got around to actually decorating my dollhouse. Priorities constantly changed, life happened. That, combined with my lack of creativity and know-how, I never seemed to be in the position or have the motivation to actually do anything with it.
In 2010, I had moved from Georgia to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to start a new chapter in my life. I settled quickly into my new routine, new home, and new career. The daughter I had dreamed of when I was 13, was now a teenager herself. She had developed her own interests which often times did not include Mom. I suppose boredom set in. I began looking at my dollhouse again and a plan formed and I immediately set to work.
In 2011, my parents eventually followed me to the mountains after their retirement. I once again sat down with my mother for craft time. Only this time, it was me crafting while she looked on asking questions. She watched on as I transformed my broken-down, tired dollhouse into that heirloom I had dreamed of so long ago. I realized all the countless hours spent watching her create had given me the basic skills that I needed to complete the dollhouse.
Soon it became obvious that my mother was getting hooked on miniatures as well. She purchased her first dollhouse kit in March 2012. Now she sits here as I do, watching for the UPS man, covered in paint. After all these years and five dollhouses later, we have a hobby we can share with each other.
And it’s all thanks to a small, unassuming dollhouse.