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Saturday, 6 February 2010


I mentioned some weeks ago that we had collected some items from the storage so that I could spend a weekend making miniatures.  One of the items we brought home that day was the roombox.  It seems appropriate to talk about it now, as we are almost upon the 6th anniversary of constructing this little scene.

I was about to give birth to our second daughter, and we had just bought the kit of the dollshouse that is now my elder daughter's dollshouse.  We were very conscious of the fact that she had been an only child for over 7 years, and that adjusting to a new sibling was going to be difficult.  So for Christmas we had bought her a doll's pushchair and her Godmother gave her the baby doll Thomas.  These had gone down well.  However at school that term her class was exploring WW2 from the perspective of children - what it felt like to be an evacuee, dig for victory and live during those times.  Her class were making and drawing things to illustrate their understanding of the topic.  I wanted to explore it further with her, so we bought a roombox kit  (dollshouse emporium), my husband put it together for us, and we collected items together, including buying two cheap dollshouse emporium dolls which I redressed, and sundry other items including a pet food can!

The internet was a great source of information for things like how to construct an Anderson shelter and learn about rationing, especially the BBC schools website.  She and I came up with the idea of two evacuees arriving in an English country village with their gas masks and their few belongings, to a world of fresh vegetables on your doorstep and sheep in the fields nearby.  I sketched out the background scenery and my daughter coloured it all in and drew the sheep.

My younger daughter arrived (nearly 2 weeks late), then a few days later it was February half term!  Any sensible mother would have postponed further work on the room box.  Not me (well now at least I've admitted I'm not sensible!).  My abiding memory of constructing the room box is sitting at the dining room table with the baby wrapped up in the Kari-me cloth sling, lumps of Fimo and tools, rolling miniature tomatoes, cauliflowers and carrots on a board on the table with my elder daughter.  I was doing it one handed until I had the sling! (I've still got the sling, I will not part with it - for my children's children, if I'm lucky).  I was very tired from disturbed nights and trying to keep everyone happy and this was my way of spending time with my elder daughter so she wouldn't feel left out.

The path is sand on glue, the vegetable plot is tea leaves and sand on glue! We were very proud of  the Anderson shelter - my daughter had a ripple cardboard kit used for giving ordinary paper or card a ripple effect.  The main body of the shelter is the pet food can, cut open and trimmed to size, the front and back of the shelter is rippled card coloured with a pencil to make it look like corrogated iron.

The tomato plants are made from coloured wire and green card (my first attempt at making miniature plants).  The carrots were the best fun for my daughter to make, and we trimmed the tops with bits from my miniature Christmas tree.

Arriving in the country
Showing the background scenery
Approaching the front door
Close up of the garden
Anderson Shelter
Gas mask and child label on her coat
I made their coats from a pattern from Sue Atkinson's 'Making and dressing dolls house dolls'


Rebecca said...

What a terrific scene! I love the sheep in the background, and all the vegetables - and tealeaves and sand for the soil! Brilliant. And, like so many of your dolls, the story of its construction makes it very special.

Lize said...

Lovely, and made very special by the story.
My daughter was 10 when my second came along, it is hard on them even if they are excited about the baby.

PS Being sensible is way overrated!

Victoria said...

When I read about school projects I'm always a bit envious - we didn't have them at all! If we were exploring some topics we were just to make a report or something like this. It was boring, I can imagine what we could do at school if our teachers would be more interested in their profession. Anyway, it's very cute roombox, your kids are lucky to have such a creative Mum:)

Tallulah Belle said...

A great scene but what a wonderful thing to do with your daughter.

I remember doing similar school projects with my Nan and the memories are priceless.

DollMum said...

Thanks everyone
I think I got the tealeaves idea from a dollshouse magazine at some point, anyway it seemed to make sense, and worked!
She was excited but also very apprehensive about having a sibling, fortunately that year she had her best ever class teacher (Australian) who helped her a lot and was happy to display the roombox at the school (it wasn't an official school project just us using the topic to create something miniature).

Pan said...

How wonderful. My mother was evacuated and your story is really interesting. Love the little clothes too.

DollMum said...

What I forgot to add was that my Dad was an evacuee during the first months of the war (sent to the Isle of Wight to relatives) but came back to London in time for the Blitz where he and his mates got up to all sorts of boyish high jinks with bits of shrapnel etc. So to accompany the room box (which we left unpainted on the outside to make it look more like a gas mask box) I wrote out my Dad's experiences as he had related them to me.

Mercedes Spencer @ Liberty Biberty said...

How gorgeous! So wonderful to have worked on it together with your daughter, what great memories!
Love the background!

You asked if it was a thimble holding the papers in my room box. I think it is, or was meant to has no top on it. Very strange, I bought it at a shop that sells all sorts of surplus stock, it was even going rusty already.

Pubdoll said...

What a lovely and meaningful scene! So nice to do a project like that with your daughter, I'm sure she will remember it always!