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dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

Dollhouse Detail — Magic in Miniature by Erica Watts

dollhouse porch house playhouse toy detail intricate erica watts

It’s all in the details. A tiny dollhouse sports all the trimmings of the real things, on a 1:12 scale. By Erica Watts of Spokane, WA.

It’s hard to resist the heartfelt request of a five-year-old.

And when that child is your daughter, and you’re an artist, and her request piques your creative interest, well, then, you’re on what Erica Watts calls a mini-adventure into unknown, but delightful, territory.

“My youngest daughter was the inspiration that started me on the path I’m on,” the Spokane, WA, artist, who creates miniature dollhouses and furniture, says.

closet miniature scaled dollhouse erica watts

No closet ever feels big enough, does it? But even in miniature, this closet manages to hold many fascinating items. Dollhouse art by Erica Watts.

“We were at a birthday party, and her friend got a custom dollhouse for a gift. My daughter asked if I could make her one and with that request, my love of minis began. I converted a shelving unit into a custom dollhouse for Mia, using found objects and making custom furniture and textiles along the way.”

Well, she couldn’t stop there. A lifelong artist who has completed art courses at Michigan Tech University and the Art Institute of Chicago, Watts found miniature work to be the perfect way to create across a broad spectrum of mediums. She works with textiles, wood, plastic, metal, paint, paper, and more, and beyond that, she integrates sustainability into the mix.

Sustainability

“I noticed that this happened organically,” Watts says. “From the beginning, I started out trying to use everyday things in a different way, then realized I can upcycle and recycle so much more.

“I try to live my everyday life that way, too, so it was only natural it would flow into my creative spaces.”

bathroom miniature sink mirror home decor erica watts

A double sink vanity is a luxury item for the bathroom, in a regular-sized home or dollhouse.

Caught capturing a cap or two from the garbage can, she has discovered ways to repurpose old toys, parts of plastic packaging, a hair curler, doll parts, egg cartons, and miscellaneous nuts and bolts.

“You really start to look at everyday items differently when you realize a little glass jar can be a plant pot, or an oversized bead can be a lamp base.”

Of course, you also have a tendency to keep just about everything, because you never know when you’ll need it. That’s not a problem when your studio is inside a warehouse, but when it is tucked into an 8 x 9 foot room in the basement of the house, you have to get creative with your organizational skills as well. Watts fits everything into three walls of pegboard and a fourth of shelving.

“When I build, I am messy.

“I don’t like to put anything away until I’m completely done with what I am building. For some reason, it just throws my creative groove when I have to pull things out every time I’m ready to work. Instead, I like it all to be out and visible. With having such a small space, that means I have to do regular deep cleans and organization days.”

One Inch Equals One Foot

dresser furniture drawers miniature dollhouse art erica watts

No matter the size of house, you just can’t have too many dressers. Dollhouse art by Erica Watts of Spokane, WA.

Working on a 1:12 scale (one inch equals one foot), Watts creates entire furnished dollhouses, as well as individual mini-pieces — pillows, tables, beds, lamps with those confiscated caps, even surfboards — on a custom and retail basis. It’s become a family affair, with her youngest daughter — the one who inspired her to start on the mini-adventure — suggesting new items and “test playing” with each piece before shipment. Watts’ teenage son, who “kind of laughs” at his mom for playing with doll stuff, nevertheless is drawn to the mechanics and technical skill required to recreate items in miniature. And her oldest daughter offers suggestions on coordinating paint colors and fabrics.

“She loves looking at the end result because EVERYTHING is cuter in miniature form.”

Not only cuter, but also detailed, intricate, and challenging. Watts has learned, and continues to learn, that miniature creation is a craft demanding copious amounts of patience, a virtue she progresses upon finessing.

“There is so much planning and waiting in miniature work. The glue has to dry; the paint has to dry; there’s multiple sandings, painting, sewing, ironing, gluing, sanding again, painting again, only to wait again.”

Reminders of Childhood

But oh, how it’s worth it, especially when she gets feedback from happy clients. Her most poignant sale involved a complete dollhouse shipped clear across the country to a woman who purchased it for her daughter’s birthday. Both girls are named Mia; they share eerily similar middle names, are the same age and have birthdays around the same time.

It was meant to be.

“My goal is to bring joy and wonder in each piece that I make,” Watts says.

“I want people to be reminded of their childhood or think of their grandchildren.

“And I want people to be amazed at how real something looks.”

That’s big. That’s big indeed.

Wenaha GalleryErica Watts is the featured Art Event artists from May 18 to June 14.

Contact Wenaha Gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

 

mission gate vineyard courtyard home house june carey

Stay Home, Thinking: Mission Gate by June Carey

mission gate vineyard courtyard home house june carey

Walk among the flowers, hear the gentle sound of birds, feel the sunshine. Mission Gate by June Carey.

Home is a place of refuge, of freedom, of privacy. Within our homes, we are — or should be — free to speak our thoughts, voice our doubts, set forth our questions.

Within our homes, and for those who have them, in our yards, our gardens, the patio, we roam amidst material things that matter to us, because we have taken time to gather them together in one place. As the owners of our homes, we determine who enters them, whether actual people, or influences from outside: TV shows, streamed movies, online fare, social media, magazines. The junk mail we throw away; the spam calls we block. The phone, the computer, the screen — these need not be on.

We can look at our home as a visual representation of our minds: do we allow in things discordant, unpleasant, unsavory, undesirable, uninvited?

The artwork, Mission Gate by June Carey, shows a most delightful home, a beautiful home, set about by a garden of greenery and grace. How lovely to wander through the paths, experiencing the quiet, the freedom from distractions and discord, and thinking. The only sound is the trickle of the fountain, and it is a gentle sound, a peaceful sound, a sound that is not harsh or fearful, strident or insistent.

That silence, that gentle sound, is in our own homes, if we let it be so.

Add a Thinking Home to Your Day

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Mission Gate by June Carey. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation. Mission Gate is also available as a print already framed, as a canvas at this link, and as a limited edition paper print at this link.

More works by June Carey are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

1950s home in formica ad

How to Avoid the Outdated, Trendy Home

1950s home in formica ad trendy fashion of 1950s

A 1950s home represented in a period formica ad. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

Recently, I ran across an Internet article on how to update your outmoded, thoroughly unfashionable early 2000s kitchen. It seems that the trends of that era — which my mathematical skills date a mere 12-17 years ago, about the age of the average teenager — are embarrassingly passé. It’s time to take what was once heralded as fashionable and modern — but is no longer fashionable and modern — and update it into what is now . . . fashionable and modern.

Such is the nature of trends, and the one thing you can say about them is that they never end.

pride and prejudice interior living room bingley's house

A cozy interior from Pride and Prejudice Days, from the 2005 movie. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor. The Greek pillars add that finishing, aha! touch.

Remember gleaming, stainless steel industrial kitchens, the Must Have of the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Out.

Mason jars as a decorative element, everywhere, anywhere, here and there, and all over?

Out.

How about ugly, retro lamps that look like what secondhand stores offer for $5 but decor gurus sell as part of their designer collection for $80?

Back in the secondhand stores.

Oh, and let’s not forget, let’s never forget, the ubiquitous paneling from the 1970s.

The kitchen from the Brady Bunch. Some of us, who spent too much time watching TV, spent a lot of time here. Fashionable, trendy, and modern

Way out, but not as in groovy.

HOWEVER, shiplap, which kind of looks like horizontal paneling to people who remember watching original episodes of The Brady Bunch, is in. For now.

Fashionable, Trendy & Modern

For now. Those two words encapsulate the nature of trends, modes, crazes, styles, rages, and vogues — the last word, ironically, of fashion, and those who follow the words of the gurus, whether they’re on HGTV or Houzz, or writing a column in a decor-themed magazine, will wind up, 12-17 years from now, with not just a kitchen, but an entire home that needs to be modernized and brought up to date.

Victorian home interior 1885 trendy fashion

A home interior from the Victorian age, 1885 photo. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

(“Just add a pop of color with an accent pillow, within your highly neutral grey-, beige-, or white-themed interior. Oh, and get rid of the granite countertops and replace them with concrete. And knock out that wall. Chic. Trendy. Modern.” The Victorians of the mid and late 19th century called their homes Modern. If we wait long enough, Victorian Modern will be back in style.)

Now there’s nothing wrong with changing and updating, and a coat of paint on the walls renovates a room, but the crucial factor in decorating any home is not what is — for the next nine months –“in,” but what the people living in the home like. Generally, this last element is accorded the least importance by reality design/decor TV experts because, quite frankly, what people like doesn’t sell products. What people are convinced that they like does sell — season by season, trend by trend, new look by new look.

Trendy: Classifying Home Decor — and People — by Type

Are you traditional or contemporary? Industrial or country? Coastal or Southwest? Romantic or Mancave?

Cave drawings of lascaux france trendy for their time

Authentic decor from the original mancave — cave drawings of Lascaux, France. Fashionable, trendy, and modern home decor.

True to our nature of classifying everything, including people (Choleric or melancholic? Lion or lapdog? Fire or water? Extrovert or introvert?), the corporate decor world prods and nudges home residents into precise, definitive decorating categories. In order to fit those categories and get that day’s chic, modern, themed look, the homeowner needs to buy this, replace that, paint over this (faux paint, textured walls, accent wall, splatter paint, smooth finish, photo mural, shiplap) and refurbish the furniture to match the new rug which coordinates with the artwork.

It never ends, because by the time the home is totally coordinated to expert specifications, it’s out of date.

Home Decor That Isn’t Trendy, but Reflects Your Fashion

So what is the homeowner to do?

In solving any problem, commonsense reigns supreme, and indeed, if commonsense were the prevailing, enduring fashion trend, reality TV, and its many satellites in the print and Internet world, would not exist.

Let’s number a few thoughts, albeit simple ones, but enough to hold in the back of our mind before we determine that our home is hopeless:

  1. Figure out what you like, and incorporate it into your home. In other words, buy what you like.  Even if you consider yourself an idiot when it comes to design, you have personal likes and dislikes that matter.
  2. Tune out the voices, and determine that the central voice you’re hearing is yours, in tandem with that of the other people who live in the house.
  3. If you must classify your style, make it Eclectic.
  4. Gravitate toward what makes you happy.
  5. If it requires a huge renovation and major cost, run through items 1, 2, 3, and 4 — over and over again.
  6. Never forget that this is your home, and you and your family live in it. Decorate for you, and not the guests you imagine will be critiquing your tastes. (Why are you inviting people like this into your life anyway?)
  7. If you hire an interior decorator, find one you like and who listens to you.

Commonsense doesn’t sell trendy products, and it doesn’t drive ratings — but it may make you happier with your home.

Wenaha Gallery

Wenaha Gallery features distinctive artwork and home decor, ranging from original paintings and sculpture by Pacific Northwest artists, to fine art prints from The Greenwich Workshop. The gallery also custom frames artwork, certificates, photos, treasures, and other mementos that add that unique touch to our clients’ homes.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

An article complementing this one is 5 Super Easy Tips for Choosing the Right Artwork for Your Home.

 

Not Just Your Standard Birdhouse: the Art of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns

Ladybug Cottage bird house by Papa Jon's Fly Inns

An amply sized, glorious ladybug sings of spring, all year round. Ladybug Cottage by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

For sculptors Jon and Marilu Bryan, art is for the birds, literally.

The Dayton couple, who operate under the name of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns, create hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind birdhouses that look like something one would keep on a special shelf in the living room, but are fully functional outdoor homes for wildlife, designed to handle wind, weather, and wet.

“They’re made to be outside and for birds to really use,” Jon Bryan says, “but I have people who  plug the holes in them so birds can’t get in. Some people put them all over their houses as decor — in the kitchen, in the living room. We have Realtors who put them in houses that they’re showing.

“Other people put them outside and let me know about the different birds that have nested in them.”

Designed for small birds, the house shells are built out of premium, long lasting cedar topped by a hand-hammered, galvanized metal roof, which is insulated to protect birds from the heat. The entrance holes are sized to invite in small nesting birds, like chickadees or finches, but keep out predators and “undesirables,”  like starlings.

“We don’t want anything to get in to hurt the eggs or the chicks,” Jon says. “I did a lot of research about making a birdhouse that is usable by birds. I wanted to make sure that the materials were friendly to the birds, as well as the design.”

That being said, his part is the easy one, Jon insists, crediting his wife and business partner, Marilu, with creating — by hand — the decorations that festoon the houses, adornments that are carefully chosen and arranged to portray a particular subject matter or motif: There are coastal-themed birdhouses, complete with shells from the sea, driftwood from the beach, and Marilu’s quirky interpretation of a pelican. A farm-themed house features real straw, artfully strewn around a cow and a chicken.  There are trains, frogs, cactus, and a moose. One piece, a particularly tall edifice entitled Flying High in the Vineyard, features a tiny table with miniature wineglasses and a dainty loaf of French bread.

Standing in front of an array of these avian domiciles, the viewer understands the quandary of whether to hang the work up outside, for the birds to enjoy, or keep it inside, where human decor preferences prevail. One hopes that a happy compromise be established, and as it is recommended that the houses be brought in during the winter months, peace between species should prevail.

Flying high with wineglasses birdhouse by wenaha gallery artists papa jon's fly inns

Look on your left, and see if you can spot the wineglasses, the little bottle of wine, and that bird-sized loaf of bread. Flying High in the Vineyard by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

Started nine years ago as a means of supplementing their retirement, Jon and Marilu’s part-time project quickly grew into one that can take all the time they’re willing to give to it. Initially, they exhibited in art fairs and garden shows throughout the Northwest, but since moving to Dayton from Olympia five years ago, they have scaled back, and keep busy enough fulfilling orders from people who find Papa Jon’s Fly Inns at their Etsy shop, or who discover them at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton.

Over the years, Jon and Marilu’s’ birdhouse sculptures have won numerous awards, including Best of Show at Allied Arts Art in the Park in Richland and the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee,  and Judge’s Choice at Issaqua Salmon Days and the Chelan Fine Arts Show.

Oddly, or maybe not, the couple does not keep their birdhouses on their own country property, adjoining the Touchet River a few miles out of  town.  One would think that the birds would be delighted with such a setting. Jon agrees, but explains, “I’ve kept a few birdhouses up at our place in the past, but I don’t tend to do that now because I end up selling them.”

So birds at his place, unfortunately, must scrabble together a home on their own, without a table, wineglasses, and a loaf of bread.

“Our art is created with a sense of humor and light heartedness,” Marilu says. “There’s a sense of adventure: life and art should be fun and colorful.”

Gallery artists at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, Jon and Marilu Bryan of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns are the featured Pacific Northwest artists for Art Event, a three-week showcasing of their works, beginning Monday, March 31, at the gallery. Bryans’ Art Event runs through Monday, April 21, 2014.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.