The house and the dollhouse, my studio's story.
There’s a dollhouse inside my house and it looks just like the house. I know, it’s a bit confusing.
I came here 14 years ago, with just one suitcase and a work visa in my pocket, for a job in SFX. And I stayed. I worked on several movies, and several video games. I got married to a French American artist, we had the cutest boy ever. We installed a cosy home for ourselves. It’s messy and fun and modern, which is a big change for me.
Take your fun seriously. It’s nice to come back to a happy house, and we worked quietly on it. It took time. Now, some people don’t realize how much we worked on it. They’re a bit jealous. They express it in passive agressive ways : “It’s such a mess of pretty things” I hear. « Is it a toy store? » they laugh. Someone came back with their kids to show them, like a weird curio place. Nope. If your life is sad, if your house is beige, and you’re frustrated enough to take it on a children illustrator, please, by all means, get a life.
The studio was also my son's playroom for a few too short years. There was a little table, a little chair, boxes and baskets for toys. The lower levels of the library shelves became a garage. I found a warm carpet, and went for a multicolored decor so the toys would be less obvious. It was very cheerful. Friends coming to visit would ignore the neat, empty living room to invade the happy, messy studio. I added a comfy chair, then another.
My studio still happily welcomes my friends and their children. It's amazing how fast the younger ones learned what is fragile and what they can play with. I love you kiddos. I’m unbelievably grateful that I have a place to myself, a place so like myself, and that’s it’s fun enough to share. This is very fragile. This is precious.
I think that losing most of my stuff and furniture, and it wasn’t the first time, it really did the trick, it really pushed me to have a very personal space, and it became ours, of course. I had not much at the beginning (and I forgot my socks, too), so everything I bought I made sure to buy a pretty one, because I intended to hold on to it for the longest time possible. I remember my first pair of scissors here. It was packed in clamshell plastic, and I had no tool to open it. It was pretty surreal.
We bought a bed, later a new table, and I would come back home to a very empty apartment. It took a sick day to make some stuff : an origami mobile, a sequined drape hiding fairy lights, a pompom garland.
San Francisco at the beginning of this century was the best possible place for that “cute stuff for straving artist” vibe. I bought a few mid-century furniture before it was in fashion, and copies when it was fashionable. IKEA opened. And we had Jtown, with a super cool Japanese dollar store...and near the dollar store there was a grocery store that sometimes had Gachapon miniature toys in little boxes, and little furniture too, from brands like Re-Ment and Megahouse. There was also this nice Store called Giant Robot that had cool books and toys and posters. Urban Outfitters had some nice fabrics and tchotchkes. We went from extreme minimalism to giant doll house in a few years.
At some point, when living in a cute house in Sausalito, height years ago, I decided to make a doll house cube in my ikea shelves. I moved with it twice, but it was a bit dusty and forgotten these days. I saw it while reorganizing my library, it was a bit sad really. I cleaned it and put it back together. I added a poster. I added lights. I made a little mess to make it look more like the studio. And since it was still not messy enough, I made 50 or so mini books. There. Looks like home, right? Wouldn't you love to have coffee here?
It reminded me how nice it is to have a place of my own. How precious it is that I can arrange it my way, how respectful my family is of my imagination. How time passing by, sometimes, brings very good things.
I posted a few pictures on Instagram and your enthusiasm was really touching! A few friends wants to join the dollhouse bandwagon ...let’s create happy dollhouses that reflect our best moments. I will create a dollhouse category, and I will post ideas, DIY, and printables. How about starting with the miniature books?