The tiniest of minis
When you get into the world of miniature crafts, you’ll learn that mini is a matter of perspective. Something may be small in its own right, but could look gigantic next to something much tinier still. Venture far enough down the scale of miniaturization, and things will get so tiny that they start to go beyond the mini and into micro proportions. For example, imagine a miniature dollhouse. One with a pretty facade and stately French windows. Grand looking, yet teensy in size. So small in fact, that the whole house fits in the palm of your hand. With this, we’ve gotten all the way down to the 1/144 dollhouse scale. Read on as we explore the micro minis, how they are made, and – for the brave – how to make your own.
How big is a 1/144 scale dollhouse?
If you’re not familiar with miniature scales, you might be wondering: how big is 1/144? If your arithmetics have gotten a bit rusty, it may seem like a bit of an arbitrary number at first. But actually, it is quite a logical step down the ladder of miniaturization. The standard dollhouse size, for starters, is 1/12 scale. This means that it is scaled down to be 12 times as small as a life-sized house. A three story dollhouse in standard scale would therefore reach about halfway up your legs. So, about as big as a Chow Chow.
When dollhouse meets dog house
Then there’s the 1/48 scale, a scale that is common for miniature houses in Christmas villages. Being four times smaller than the standard scale, a three story dollhouse would be roughly the size of a Chihuahua – as small as dogs get. Now, jumping to the 1/144 scale dollhouse, we need to shrink it down another 3 times. Well beyond our dog-size references. Also known as micro scale, 1/144 is one of the smallest scales in the world of miniatures. Being 144 times smaller than life-sized, it’s typically about 5 cm (2 inches) across. As such, it often serves as a mini accessory inside of a bigger build: a dollhouse for a dollhouse. Sticking with our pet references, these dollhouses are about as small as a hamster. And just about as cute, too.
While the dollhouse itself may be hamster-sized, you’d have to be as small as a ladybug to fit inside!
How are 1/144 dollhouses made?
When you see something as teeny tiny as a 1/144 dollhouse, you might wonder just how one manages to work at such a scale. Well, one way would be to put their gnome assistants to work, of course. Alternatively, they would need to have a very steady hand, the most delicate of touches, an eye for the smallest of details, and quite a bit of patience. After all, just like any other giant trying to handle tiny things… they might accidentally crush a few things along the way. Making a 1/144 dollhouse is therefore not a recommended project for a starting miniaturist. But it sure is a fun challenge for the more experienced dollhouse maker. Here are some of the materials that lend themselves well for 1/144 scale dollhouse making:
One of the most ideal materials to work with at 1/144 scale, is balsa wood. Although balsa is a type of hardwood, it is very soft, making it possible to cut with a craft knife. Available in sheets as thin as 1mm and 2mm (about 1/32″ and 1/16″ respectively), balsa wood works great as a basis for making walls at the tiniest scale.
While it is very easy to use, balsa wood has a very light and bland color that will typically require a stain or covering materials. If you’re looking to work with wood that has a warmer tone and a more distinct wood grain, consider using wood veneer. With sheets as thin as 0.6mm (or about 1/42″), wood veneer can be used to create flooring and furniture for a 1/144 scale dollhouse.
When making the tiniest of things, such as a chair or a wood-burning stove at 1/144 scale, one of the go-to materials is card stock. Thick enough to provide rigidity, yet easily cut into the most intricate shapes, card stock can help you achieve very detailed creations. Moreover, you can use an embossing pen to carve even more detail into the paper.
If sheets of wood and paper are a bit too flat in nature, and you’re looking for something more solid to create the tiny elements of your 1/144 dollhouse, clay is the way. There’s virtually no limit to the shapes you can sculpt and the intricate details that you can carve into a little blob. With the right carving tools, that is. As for the type of clay, there are a few options to choose from. For example, you can use air dry clay or paper clay, which harden over time but may shrink a little in the process. Alternatively, you can use polymer clay, which needs to be baked in the oven or heated with a heat gun in order to harden. Polymer clay comes with the advantage of not shrinking while hardening and being more long-lasting.
1/144 dollhouse kits
As we’ve mentioned, crafting a 1/144 dollhouse from scratch is quite the challenge. Fortunately, there’s a way to get into making micro minis with less steep of a learning curve: with 1/144 dollhouse kits. In a dollhouse kit, you get all of the teeny tiny parts of the dollhouse pre-cut and ready to assemble. Your job is to put it all together… which can be more tricky than you might think when you’re working with bits that are a fraction of the size of your fingernail. What you’ll end up with however, is so enchantingly small that it will be well worth your patience. Let’s have a look at some of the 1/144 dollhouse kits out there.
It’s hard to imagine, but this beaut of a mansion in all of its intricate detail fits on the palm of your hand! This 1/144 dollhouse kit comes with all the materials you’ll need to build your tiny dream house, including wallpaper and landscaping. All you need to add yourself is the glue and the paint, and that’s where you add your own touch: what colors would you pick for the exterior? Find the kit here on Etsy.
Parisian town house
If you’re a sucker for the architecture that lines the pretty allées in Paris – we know we are – then this little dollhouse kit might be just the one for you. The facade of this micro dollhouse can be detached, which reveals the interior. With four tiny floors at your disposal, you can furnish a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and the Parisian loft of your dreams. Ooh-la-la.
Not all micro dollhouses ooze the grandeur of olden times. If you’re more of an A-frame kind of person, there’s a perfect kit for you too. Being in the flow of building this micro cabin would be the perfect way of letting your thoughts drift off to living in a life-sized version of it, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Who knows, it might be good practice run for building the real thing, one day.
1/144 scale dollhouse furniture
Decided on what 1/144 dollhouse miniature you’ll build? Great! However, building the micro dollhouse is just the first step. Upon completion, you’ll have a barebones living space, much like that apartment on the day you got the key. The next step is bringing in the moving boxes – or in this case, the miniature furniture. We recommend getting a 1/144 scale miniature furniture kit from The Little Dollhouse Company, or checking out the micro furniture on Etsy. And once you’ve familiarized yourself with the micro mini scale, you’ll probably be designing your very own!
But, as we’ve mentioned above, making your own micro minis is a goalpost you’ll typically find quite far along the journey of miniature making. If you’re still getting the ropes of it, but feeling excited about building a tiny dream house of your own, we heartily recommend picking up a miniature kit of a larger scale. While bigger, these happen involve plenty of teeny tiny details of their own! We’ve written an article all about it, so head on over for plenty more DIY miniature houses, shops, and more.