Thursday, December 20, 2007

Miniature Worlds


There’s something magical about miniature worlds. Doll houses, toy trains, Christmas villages—just looking at them fills adults with a childlike wonder and delight. Both of my grandmothers had villages under their Christmas trees. My father’s mother had several largish houses of cardboard and ducks on a pond, while my mother’s mother had a large village of wooden houses made by one of her sons and peopled with little lead figurines.

My villages aren’t large. One sits on the buffet in the dining room; the other is creeping across the bottom of the tree (the electric train was a Christmas present from Steve last year). Last night, the four of us spent about an hour just staring at the glowing tree and village and watching the train go around and around.



What is it about these miniature worlds that is so fascinating? Is it the nostalgia for a lost world of peaceful snow-covered villages and a less-hurried way of life? Do villages somehow help us recapture the magic of toyland? Why? How?

23 comments:

Lana Gramlich said...

When I was a kid I used to pretend I was about the size of a grasshopper. Then I'd crawl around on the lawn, looking up close at what my environment would be like & inventing adventures in my head.

Shauna Roberts said...

There are not many situations in life in which one can see both the big picture and all the minute details with ease. When watching miniature trains, little Nativity scenes, etc., I enjoy alternating between taking in the whole scene and seeing how all the pieces fit together to make a whole, and looking closely at one particular piece of the set.

As a kid, I got a kick out of figuring out how to construct and furnish my doll house out of cardboard boxes and other stuff around the house. It was a creative challenge to come up with flooring, art, and furniture to scale.

Steve Malley said...

Awwww, cool! I *love* those wee things. My parents always did the village thing, and maybe I will too one year soon.

Thatnks for that. Beautiful!

Farrah Rochon said...

Beautiful, Candy.

My family has been collecting Department 56 village pieces for years. The collection numbers in the hundreds (including both houses and accessories), and when all pieces are up, it spans at least 50 square feet. We were even featured in the newspaper. :)

For me, the appeal is being able to create this magical little world in the comfort of my living room. When the village is all lit up at night, I sit back with a cup of cocoa and imagine how things used to be during those Normal Rockwell days of great, small town Christmas fun.

Unfortunately, we were not able to put up the Christmas village this year, and I sorely miss it.

cs harris said...

Fifty square feet! That must be incredible, Farrah. And Lana, Shauna, and Steve, it's reassuring to know others are as fascinated as I am by these things.

Julie said...

This is beautiful, and brings back memories of childhood - especially the train; plus I had a miniature Christmas tree in a Jacobean dolls house with all the trimmings - world within worlds!

The old part of Kent I live in looks a lot like this after a fall of snow. I have collected a few pottery houses that take tea lights and had not thought of using them in this way...!

Charles Gramlich said...

Good question. I feel the same way, though. That's part of the reason I so loved the NIMH book, the idea of a miniature civilization. I've been daydreaming about writing a book with miniature folks in it but haven't put anything down. I think, for me, I sort of like to imagine myself in that miniature scene and seeing it come to life.

cs harris said...

Julie, thanks for stopping by. Charles, I think writing a book about miniature people would be fun! Although your miniature people would probably be scary...

liz fenwick said...

I think its a perfect excuse to let your imagination go plus the magic fairy dust that seems to live in the air around them :-)

Happy Christmas

Anonymous said...

Just had to stop by and tell you that I absolutely LOVE your Sebastian mysteries to death!!! Awesome stuff. Can't wait for the next one! ^__^

Mailyn
mailyns.livejournal.com

Steve Malley said...

Merry Christmas!

Kate S said...

So pretty. I've always loved the mini worlds, too, though I'm not sure I could say why.

Hope you and your family had a good holiday.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I think it's the perfect simplicity of them. No one behind those windows is worried about burnt cookies or shopping--they're just enjoying the season. Wish I could manage that. ;)

Anonymous said...

this is pretty cool but you need to make it look real it is not reallistic at all so unreal

Anonymous said...

How is this unrealistic? Because there isn't graffiti and rubbish? Lol. Its perfect :-)

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