100 Things: Dollhouse Chandeliers

For today’s goodie we need the Wayback Machine… set it to *coughalmostthirtyfiveyearsago* my teenage years. I dug these photos out of my “memory box” the other night.

The main way I earned spending money as a teen was by making dollhouse furniture. There was this cool little store near me called the M.A.D. House (Miniature Architectural Designs) that was all about dollhouses and furniture, and I was able to sell there on a 60/40 consignment basis. My “workshop” was in my bedroom, and my dad let me have the old sink cabinet when he and my mom remodeled the kitchen.

Yes, I get my handy-ness from them. 😀

I specialized in accessories like itty-bitty macrame wall hangings and plant hangers (made from embroidery floss), miniature oil paintings and tiny grand pianos that had hinged lids and metallic thread for the strings. And mini chandeliers.

Yes, it LIGHTS UP.

The whole thing was perhaps an inch and a half high (about 4cm) and I made them from glass beads and gold and silver plated filigree findings. The lightbulbs were teeny-tiny “grain-of-wheat” bulbs, and I strung the glass beads on the wires. The wires were then passed though larger crystal beads in the center, and then up through the gold jump rings when I connected them to the “plug” that went into the low-voltage lighting system.

(My older brother is a electrician, and I learned about wiring from watching him. To my parents’ dismay, I spent a large part of my childhood taking things apart and putting them back together, or re-wiring them into something new that sometimes blew a circuit.)

I sold these for $75 each, which was a nice sum in the mid-70s (Hell, it would be a nice sum today!) and sold quite a few. My grand pianos sold for $150. Better than working at the supermarket!

I had a good year or two of selling stuff, and then Chinese imports started flooding the market and places like the M.A.D. House went under because you could buy dollhouse stuff for cheap at a hobby or craft store.

I also used to get an occasional job to restore antique dollhouse pieces – my mom and I were friendly with a few antiques dealers and they would recommend me on occasion.


I “re-upholstered” the tiny sofa and chairs, cleaned the little marble tops and repainted all the wood, including the gold trim.

All of it was very satisfying work, creatively speaking. I especially loved doing the little oil paintings. And like I said, it sure beat being a cashier at the local market!


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