Last year, I bought the Polar Bear Calico Critter family. I had an idea to build them an igloo house, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I’ve only built one other dollhouse from scratch–the Otter Shack–and I love that house, but it’s not anything like an igloo.
I ended up cutting foam board into strips to make it rounded. I also decided to have the house be two stories tall. Floor-to-ceiling height is 6 inches for each floor, so I guess about 1:24th scale.
You can kind of see in the picture above how I place the strips. I used tiny nails and glue to hold them in place. I really wanted a rounded dome roof, like an igloo would have, but I couldn’t make it work. I tried foil shaped around wire, and I considered just using a lot of air dry clay, but both were too heavy, so my igloo house has a flat top. If anyone has any tips, I will probably make a new igloo someday, and I would love to learn how to make a domed roof.
I used my sculpting tools to add lines to give the appearance of bricks. I textured a little bit with a toothbrush and also using my fingers (I wore gloves to avoid fingerprints). I painted it all white, and then I went back over the lines with pale blue paint to make it look icy. I also used white glitter to make the igloo shiny like snow.
I ended up with some annoying bubbles in the airdry clay, but it was my first time ever working with it, and I learned a lot. For example, when I spread it too thin, it cracks!
For the interior of the house, I actually took months to decide what to do. Initially, I had been planning on wood paneling the walls to give it kind of a rustic theme, but every time I tried, it just looked wrong. I talked to some of my friends on Instagram to get ideas, and basically we decided that it would look best if I lined the inside with white felt to make the inside look as snowy as the outside.
I took so long to finish the inside that the Polar Bears had another baby!
The bottom floor only has that pink sofa that doesn’t really fit. It’s too big. I can’t decide what else to put down there. My husband thinks it needs a kitchen of some kind, so maybe I’ll add some kitchen pieces. In the upstairs, I made the bed and the tiny dresser myself, but the crib is from Smallsminnimall on Etsy. I love their shop! Everything in it is just so pretty. The little fireplace is from Michaels. The bookcase is from a miniature library kit.
I hope you like this house! If you have any tips on domed roofs for miniatures, please share!
I made my Instagram account for miniatures in 2019, and it was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. Everyone is so, so nice, and I have made so many friends. Many of us mail each other cards and little gifts regularly, and it’s such a nice way to feel connected to each other. It also forced me to start using the postal system more, which, because I am very much so an adult now, is something I needed.
The support and positivity of the miniature community is wonderful. I love the virtual activities that some accounts have come up with during the pandemic. This past summer, I participated in a virtual princess party and a really fun August event that set a daily theme for our posts. I have a pancake party coming up, and I am still debating whether I will host a Halloween or autumn-themed party. Even if I don’t, I’m sure someone will be hosting a Halloween party that I can participate in.
Everyone’s miniatures have backstories as well. I also love the accounts that are from the point of view of their miniatures and tell stories about the happenings of their miniature cities. I love reading the different stories behind each dollhouse and its inhabitants. Everyone is so creative, and it inspires me to be more creative. I also think it’s really fun when someone takes their miniatures with them on vacation. It’s so cute to see a Calico Critter or a doll visiting the beach or a castle in Europe!
An ongoing story from my Mushroom Meadow is that the Otter family adopted a baby mermaid last year, and they named her Cordelia. She’s the only non-Calico Critter in Mushroom Meadow. You can see her being held by Mrs. Otter in front of their Christmas stockings in the photo below. She’s a sweet little mermaid doll that I purchased from an Etsy shop called Monteserena Arts. I was just scrolling through Etsy one day when I stumbled upon her, and I just had to have her. I love mermaids, and she’s so precious.
Instagram has also been great for finding inspiration and getting tips from people who have been making miniatures for longer than me. Many people share videos of their process and include lists of the materials they used so that others can try it for themselves. I, personally, love when someone feels inspired by something I made. It makes me so happy!
I didn’t even know about working with clay or needle-felting or embroidery art before I made my Instagram account, and now I have trouble imagining my life without those things. I also learned to use air-dry clay from watching a video made by one account who was making a stone wall for their dollhouse. I made the igloo pictured below using the techniques that I saw them using.
It’s just amazing to be a part of such a wonderful and kind community. It’s restored my faith in humanity a little.
I mentioned in my first post that the first Calico Critter of Mushroom Meadow was Mrs. Bear. She was purchased by my husband to live in the first dollhouse I built as an adult. The house pictured below. The first floor is a bakery, and Mrs. Bear is a baker. She bakes all the sweet treats for Mushroom Meadow, and each morning, she delivers some of them, mostly cookies and muffins, to Mushroom Café to be sold before returning to open her bakery for the day. She loves baking, but she also loves babies, and she frequently babysits the babies of Mushroom Meadow to give their parents a break.
Back to Mrs. Bear. Michael also bought me Calico Critter blind bags from Walmart back then, so I ended up with a couple of baby bears who became Mrs. Bear’s children and moved in with her soon after. She was a single mom of two and running a bakery, and it was a lot of work for her. Around this time, I also learned to work with polymer clay and started making more baked goods to fill out her bakery more. It was pretty bare for a while, as I only owned one cake that I had purchased from a craft store.
Mrs. Bear loves holidays, so she is always hosting brunches at her bakery to celebrate each event. For her Christmas brunch last year, she made donuts, cookies, waffles, and red and green macarons.
Eventually, some more figures, Mrs. Collie and her son, were purchased because I wanted their bike and I thought they were a cute pair. There is a Collie dad that I think is part of a beach set, but I don’t really like that set enough to buy it. And regardless, Mrs. Collie is a lesbian.
A year ago, Mrs. Bear and Mrs. Collie married, and Mrs. Collie and her son also moved into the bakery.
Mrs. Bear, of course, made the wedding cake, pictured below, for their wedding, and it was a big hit in Mushroom Meadow!
Mrs. Bear and Mrs. Collie were the first wedding in Mushroom Meadow, but they definitely will not be the last. I really love making cakes, and I hope to build a church soon, so there will be many, many more weddings in Mushroom Meadow!
The marriage of Mrs. Bear and Mrs. Collie was a bit of an adjustment for everyone because now the upstairs apartment of the bakery is not very big, but they love each other very much, and they are all a very happy family!
Mrs. Collie now works in the bakery with Mrs. Bear to help her out. Mrs. Collie is not a very good baker, but she is good at taking orders and making deliveries on her bike. She also helps watch the babies when Mrs. Bear is otherwise occupied. They enjoy reading and going on bike rides together in their free time.
My name is Cate, and I am also known as @mushroom_miniatures on Instagram. I am a graduate student in a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. I have two precious dogs named Isaac and Miria. They are both girls! They’re named after the characters from the anime Baccano. They’re both rescues, and I hope to rescue many more animals once we own a home and have more space. My husband, Michael, and I met in 2012, and we have been married a little over two years. He’s my bestest buddy, and I love him so much! He’s very supportive of my hobbies, and he even built the shelves that Mushroom Meadow is on.
Mushroom Meadow is the name of my dollhouse village. I built my first dollhouse when I was 11, and I fell absolutely in love with the hobby. My village is populated by Calico Critters/Sylvanian Families. To clear up any confusion, here in the United States, these toys are called Calico Critters, but everywhere else, they’re called Sylvanian Families. I’m a little obsessed with these cute toys–I have amassed quite a few at this point. They’re just so cute! I especially love the Red Panda family pictured below. Red pandas are one of my favorite animals!
Initially, when I began building dollhouses and making miniatures again in 2017, I didn’t plan to have figures in my houses. However, Michael found a Calico Critter Bear at Walmart, and he thought it was the cutest and most well-made toy he’d ever seen. The dollhouse I had recently completed at the time had a bakery on the first floor, and this bear Calico Critter came with a set of donuts and accessories. Michael insisted that it needed to live in this dollhouse and be a baker because it was perfect. I had never had any Calico Critters growing up, but my little sister and the kid I babysat both had multiple families and furniture sets, so I’d seen them before. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted Calico Critters in my village. I didn’t want to be one of those adults that still played with toys–I didn’t know how important play was to all stages of life back then! I adore Calico Critters now. They really are such detailed little toys. I love how, in the furniture sets, the sinks will have pipes and pretty little designs on the cabinets. I can’t imagine Mushroom Meadow without my Calico Critters. They’ve given me a space to come up with fun stories to share with my Instagram friends and to express myself. Speaking of Instagram, I really love the miniatures/dollhouse/Calico Critter accounts on Instagram. Last year, an Instagram follower created an event where everyone in the dollhouse community posted a picture of their dollhouse(s) all lit up for Christmas. It was so much fun to see everyone’s posts and get to know accounts I hadn’t interacted with before. Everyone is just so kind and accepting. I love it!
In general, I love arts and crafts, and in addition to miniature-making, I also embroider, work with clay, and needle-felt. On this blog, I will be sharing my miniatures and anything else I make. I will also provide tips and techniques that I’ve learned that may be helpful to others. With embroidery, especially, I am constantly having new ideas or seeing new stitches to try on YouTube or Instagram. Right now, I am feeling very inspired by the song The Willow Maid by Erutan, so I am wanting to embroider a fairy soon, like in the song. As for clay, because it’s September, I am working on Halloween-themed food and decorations for my dollhouses. Somehow, I still have not made any actual miniature Halloween candy, so that is one of my goals for this year. Also, I love looking back at some of the things I made when I first got started. I will probably share comparisons of old creations vs. new creations because I think it’s helpful for others to see the journey. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but for me, personally, it helps to know that everyone starts somewhere, and no one is perfect the first time they try something.
I will also use this blog to share some of the happenings of Mushroom Meadow. It’s a very busy place! Recently, a new family, the Maple Cats, moved in, and to make matters more complicated, they’re royalty! The Maple Cats live in a house I’ve named “The Fairytale House.” I included a picture below, but I will show more pictures and provide more information on this house in a future post. Every one of my dollhouses has a theme and a story. They’re all reflections of my personality and the things I love. And of course, autumn is here, which means Halloween is coming up! Everyone in Mushroom Meadow is unearthing their Halloween decorations and figuring out their costumes. Holidays are a very big deal in Mushroom Meadow. Every house gets decorated, and it’s a lot of fun.
Finally, because I am in my second year of my counseling program, my life is changing pretty considerably. I start working with real clients in the Spring. I am nervous and excited and happy and just feeling lots of mostly good feelings. I want to use this blog to share my journey and some of the things that I am learning along the way. All my classes so far have felt so valuable, and I have learned so much about people and how to connect with them. I have also learned a lot about how I can improve myself and my own functioning. It’s been a lot to process, but I love talking about school, and I hope you guys will be cool with hearing about it.
I don’t sell anything I make, but I would be happy to direct you to my very talented miniaturist friends if there is something you like or are interested in!
Anyway, I hope you’ll stick around for more. I can’t wait to hear your tips and feedback about my miniatures, art, and even my experiences in school!