The best thing about writing novels is also the best thing about doing miniatures: you get to manipulate the world any way you please. In fact, dollhouses are a kind of fiction, and fiction writing is definitely a craft.
Here are a couple of handy dollhouse realities: it’s a fictitious roof, so if there’s a little flaw in your gluing job where you laid down the tiles, the roof still won’t leak when it rains; no one will know whether the sheet corners on the bed are perfect (or even there at all!) under the comforter in the master bedroom; and you’ll never have a plumbing problem in the bathroom.
As you craft the novel, you have the same power to put things in order, or not. You can construct a satisfying Whodunit with justice for all at the end; or weave twisty plots toward a cliffhanger ending; or send the bad guy happily off into the sunset. As a miniaturist, you can construct a lovely half-inch-scale cottage with a kitchen full of food that never spoils; but if you’d rather, you can mess things up by turning a miniature room into a crime scene, such as I did with the living room in the house below.
Both in writing and crafting miniatures, you can defy age. With only a little maintenance, your dollhouse will never get old or lose its resale value; similarly, your heroine can stay young, even through a dozen books, released a year apart. In my Miniature Mysteries, my protagonist’s granddaughter entered the world at 10 years old (2008). In the eighth book (due 2015 from PP), she’s 11. She’ll never become a testy teen. How handy is that?
One of my favorite miniature projects was creating a museum. I love real-life museums and have been known to spend entire days in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. But my miniature museum has one feature that’s impossible in real life: it has only paintings I like.
I’ve hung several paintings by Edward Hopper, Picasso, and Van Gogh, for example, but none by contemporary artists whose work looks a little like a day care project to my untrained eye. There are sculptures by Rodin, but no ancient stone figures (apologies to the Egyptologists out there).
I used the power of crafting to make a museum that’s perfect for me, just as I use the power of a novel to make characters and stories that satisfy me.
When I donate a dollhouse to a charity—a great move, since it also means I get to buy another one!—I supply some furniture, but not all. I include instead supplies for making other pieces, sometimes with instructions, sometimes not. I want the new owner to have that same powerful feeling of being in charge of her environment.
Similarly, when I teach writing, I give my students guidelines, prompts, questions to help them shape their own stories.
Writing and crafting—both powerful tools for life.
Filed under: Camille Minichino |