GIANT DOLLS' HOUSE PROJECT
Quarantine has taken the toll on many of us. On the other hand, this extra time indoors has also improved our motivation to create and improve our lives for a better future. Over the past few days, I have been motivated to offer some of my favourite ideas and DIYs during quarantine, which you might have seen either her in the Blog or in my Instagram, and which many of you have thoroughly enjoyed!
To continue this nice and comfortable creative flow that we have going, in this Blog I am proposing a fantastic craft offered by one of my good friends Catja de Haas, who has created a wonderful and entertaining project with a beautiful goal. Below I talk about her inspirational story and her creative project.
Catja de Haas is a wonderfully innovative architect with a passion for all things “miniature”. A few years ago, we met and bonded in a string quartet group over our mutual love of creativity and design, after which we spilled our secrets and gushed over each others kids, schools and other parental pleasures, as well as our aspiring project initiatives. A few days ago my dear friend Catja reached out to me again, asking my family and I to join in her most recent charity project “The Virtual Giant Dolls’ House” project.
Now before I start going on a tangent, what is the Giant Dolls’ House Project? and who is Catja?
After receiving her PhD in architecture, her fascination for the miniature and the home began. Catja de Hass believed that “through miniaturizing (making things small) you can see the world differently. If you shrink, everything around you becomes bigger: chairs turn into buildings and a rat can become as big as a monster. But if you shrink the world around you, you become a giant and the houses around you become dolls’ houses.” And thus, the project was born. Pursuing an inspirational goal with an inspirational message, Catja set forth to create an international collaborative arts project that would not only connect and engage those who braved the challenge but would also raise awareness for homelessness and refugees.
“The aim of the project is to make people aware of the importance of a home and community for all and to celebrate a united diversity”
Growing immensely fast in popularity, the Giant Dolls’ house Project has travelled halfway around the world in places like Dubai, North Carolina and Jordan, and has held a pristine position at the London Festival of Architecture for five consecutive years. It is incredibly inspiring that only six years ago Catja was still working towards her goal, and her hard work has clearly paid off. Since October 2014, Catja de Haas has become a true leader in her non-profit dolls’ house project and has helped an array of refugees and people in need alongside other non-profit organizations such as OXFAM, who have been working with others for over three years in asking the UK government to provide the help that refugees urgently need - to keep their families together, to protect themselves from poverty and to rebuild in safety the lives shattered by horrific events beyond their control.
“The Giant Dolls’ House is a patchwork of the identities, ideas and feelings expressed by all its makers. The individual dolls’ houses are pieces of art, joined to one another with ropes and ladders becoming a collective installation”
Both the metaphorical and physical connection that is successfully achieved after each and every event of the Dolls’ House project is able to create a more sensitive and realistic approach and awareness to the similarities shared between the majority of us. Through bonding in conversation about the house: which ones are the neater ones, the more fun ones, the messier ones… Connections are formed that explore the ideas of identity, both shared as well as personal.
When Catja de Haas asked me to help in her project and use my social media platform and influence to gain more participants, I was honoured. As I mentioned before, her following project is the “Virtual Giant Dolls’ House” Project, in which Catja has taken the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic and created a project that aims to help as many refugees as possible, stating that “the 70 million refugees around the world have also lost their freedom of movement and access to their communities.”
Today every family and every household has at least one new struggle brought to the table by COVID-19, and refugees are, of course, no exception. The lockdown has presented us with the opportunities of learning new things and a window of time that would otherwise remain shut with our daily routines and office hours, it has also presented us with the opportunity of spending more time with the family. Unfortunately, many refugees are not able to make the most of this lockdown, most won’t have a family to return to, or a home that will keep them healthy and safe during this Pandemic. With this project, Catja aims to show that, “as people we are all the same… We all need a home or place to operate from in order to be heard and in order to be part of a community.”
The Virtual Dolls’ House Project aims to gain as many participants as possible who will creatively share their experience of staying in one space because of self-isolation and social distancing.
Staying true to my love for parties and Fiesta4U, I drew inspiration from my first themed collection; The Origami Collection, I made a mini Japanese tea-house dolls’ house! Using designs from Japanese art and culture, I created a minimalist lilac shoe box that incorporates my love of origami and an homage to the importance and delicacy of Japanese Tea. By coordinating the colours of the tea-house, the tea house had a more clean and visibly aesthetic look; using translucent tracing paper and painted wooden skewers for the dividers, and printing off my Chinese paper lantern craft in a minimized size to create the mini Chinese lanterns. I also used my Kokeshi dolls idea, printing them off in miniature and choosing from two different styles, which added a very kawaii look to it! The Kokeshi dolls are also incredibly dainty, which perfectly adds to the overall aesthetic of the house. Finally, at the very centre of the house had to be the clay china, that I moulded, baked and painted with delicate, intricate designs for that “cherry-on-top”.
All in all, the shoe box represents my new stage in life, which has been living in Asia, as well as bringing out my inner-neat freak, lover of minimalism and pastel colours. This shoe box dolls’ house depicts how a Japanese tea-house would look like if I were the owner.
The Games Room
Ah… the family games room. Surprisingly, coming up with how to decorate the house was incredibly easy. My husband, children and I were all in agreement when we decided that the Games Room was what represented our personalities the most. As one proposed we added a juke box, the other insisted that we would also need to have a bar, and of course, we couldn’t forget to add the billiard table with a classy lamp set on the ceiling of our shoe box, and what about the dart board! One couldn’t not add a dartboard!… The ideas came pouring out, as we all found a way to collaborate in making our perfect dolls’ house. Using wooden pegs to represent each family member, and pieces of scrap material that we found around the house, we ended up creating our very own version of the Cluedo Billiard Room (or at least tried to).
My personal experience, as well as the one of my family in taking part in this project has not only been extremely therapeutic and humbling, but it has also brought us together through crafting it. The infuriating process of building tiny furniture, as well as the calming and hilarious process of painting faces and gluing things in the wrong place, then in the wrong place again, and finally in the right place, has brought us closer together for a good cause. This is a project that we recommend for all of those who have a little bit of time to dedicate to this incredibly entertaining and innovative project. If you are interested in taking part in this amazing project, have your glue guns at the ready! The deadline is the 20th of June, ready for World Refugee Day.
For more information on the ‘Virtual Giant Dolls’ House’ Project and more ideas on how to make it, go to their official webpage https://giantdollshouse.org/making and find out how you can start your making your own dolls’ house! So, what do you say? Will you join me and many more in braving this creative challenge?
“Making a dolls’ house in a shoebox engages participants in critical thinking and craft skills. It visually demonstrates the importance of community and mutual support for all people.”
Continue staying safe, staying creative and staying happy,
Lucrecia Rodríguez de Acuña
Founder & Creative Director