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About Us  The Dollhouse

By Millie Birkemeier

Many, many years ago when I was a very small girl, I had a playhouse in our back yard. It was made of wood and it had a front door and windows and was filled with furniture just my size. It was fun to play in.

I also had a dollhouse. It was tall and with legs and as it had an open front I could sit in front of it to play. There were six rooms and a bathroom. The living room, dining room, kitchen and a hall were on the first floor. A stairway in the hall led up to three bedrooms and bath on the second. The rooms were tall so that I could easily move my tiny dollies from chair to chair and room to room. This house had been my mothers. It was made by a carpenter and given to her as a birthday present when she was small. The furniture was hand made, in the Victorian fashion. In the summer this house sat outside, under a big tree, and was played in almost every day. In the winter it was stored in the basement.

One day, I grew up and no longer played with the dollhouse, it sat in the basement for a very long time. Then I was married, moved away and had a little girl of my own. One day the dollhouse was sent to her by her grandma. By then most of the furniture had broken or was worn out but there was still a tiny painted metal highchair and bathroom pieces of painted metal. So, as her daddy was very good at making things out of wood he began to make new pieces for her in 1" to the foot scale. First there was a large comfortable chair, just like one in her living room. New kitchen cabinets, a stove and sink were placed in the kitchen. One by one new pieces appeard at birthdays and Christmases. She loved the dollhouse as much as her mama and grandma had.

Then one day, a dollhouse was given to her younger sister. It was very different. It was very large and stately with many, many windows. It had a removable front and back and the sides were made to open up on hinges. On the roof were two chimneys and a widow's walk. The house was in need of some tender loving care. Her family talked and talked about what to do with the house and it was decided to turn it into a fine tavern like some they had seen in Williamsburg and in New England where the family now lived.

Daddy began to make beautiful moulding and wainscoting for the tavern. Little by little, furniture was made, settles, beds, tables and Windsor chairs. Her mother also began to work on the furniture by putting on the finish. It was decided to make some for sale and then came a big adventure. In those days there was a wonderful craft show on the green in Guilford, CT and the family took the tavern to exhibit and some of the furniture they had made to see if anyone would like to buy it. The girls had a brother who also enjoyed making things. He and his wife made lovely tin lanterns and wall sconces to go with the furniture. They dipped tiny candles in wax. Almost everything taken to the fair was sold. By this time the two girls were grown up and the family had moved to Norwell, MA. Their mother took the unsold pieces to a very wonderful shop in the next town to see if it would be interested in the pieces. This shop, in Higham, MA had exquisite miniatures for sale. Many of the finest miniaturists of the time sold their furniture through this shop. The store manager, Mary Sheldon, took the pieces to sell and encouraged her to continue making and improving the pieces. Miniatures were sold at the shop and orders taken at some shows.

This was the beginning of what became Studio B Miniatures.

The Dollhouse
Making Tinware the Studio B Way
Production Scrapbook
Birkemeier Bios

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