Page 10 - Discover Fall 2020
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Tiny Renovation CONTINUED

      other dollhouses that our club has raffled at the      that the ceiling light fixtures were hanging by a
      annual fund-raiser.”                                   thread. Besides being repaired electrically, they
                                                             needed to be secured to the ceilings. The wire he
         Those dollhouses, however, and their
                                                             had to work with is an exact replica of the wiring
      furnishings had been brand new. Although she
                                                             that is used in lamps or chandeliers, only it is
      did have to paint all the furniture and wall-paper
                                                             much, much smaller. He compared it in size to
      the walls (she uses decorative scrap-booking
                                                             a human hair. It is 30 gauge wire, which is over
      paper as wall paper), she hadn’t had to do all of
                                                             2 ½ times smaller than the wiring in a typical
      the cleaning and mending that this older house
                                                             home. In fact, it is so small that in order to “strip”
      would require.
                                                             the insulation off and expose the wire inside,
             In August of 2019, Peter wrapped the            he had to buy a special tool. Soldering the wire
      dollhouse and its furnishings in protective plastic,   became a particularly exasperating challenge.
      put it all on a trailer (it was too large for his car),
                                                                    While Tim struggled with miniature
      and brought it from his home in Chesapeake, VA
                                                             wires, and light bulbs that were not much
      to his mother’s home at Smith Mountain Lake.
                                                             bigger than a good sized grain of salt, Randy
      From there, Frances, her son, and her husband
                                                             was busy carving and staining legs and other
      delivered the house to Lakewood Forest and
                                                             parts to repair broken pieces of furniture. Pins
      into the capable hands of Gerri Williams. Gerri
                                                             were missing from door hinges, so small that
      readily admits that she wouldn’t have gotten to
                                                             they are hard to see without a magnifying glass.
      first base on the restoration or assembly of any of
                                                             An armoire had a quarter inch piece of wood
      the dollhouses without the help of her husband,
                                                             broken off of its front, and shutters needed to
                                                             be replaced or repaired and painted. Randy
             Randy and Gerri began working on                even crafted ornamental black shutter hardware
      the house in January, and soon learned that it         (called “shutter dogs”), from cardboard to replace
      had been wired for electricity. This led them          some, made from tin, that were missing. Picture
      to call upon a friend, Tim Armstrong, whose            frames no bigger than postage stamps needed
      wife, Rosemary, happens to be a member of              to be re-glued, and the pictures remounted. Try
      Wednesday Women along with Gerri.                      doing that with fingers that cramp occasionally,
                                                             have a little arthritis, and make a fist nearly big
             “I thought of Tim for the electric wiring       enough to fill an entire room in a dollhouse.
      because he has a model train,” Gerri said.
                                                                    “You have to proceed the same as you
             By mid-July, Tim, working with Randy            would if you were building or renovating a full
      as a side-kick, had all the lights lit, including      sized house,” Randy said. “You start with the
      the hanging porch light and the table lamps            foundation and then go to the structure itself.”
      in various rooms. Even the tiny wall toggle
      switches work. The wiring in a dollhouse, Tim                 The entire roof of the house had to be
      learned, is composed of thin, flat strips of copper    rebuilt, after which fingernail-sized wooden
      on adhesive tape. This tape is placed under the        shingles were glued individually onto it.
      wall coverings during assembly. In the case of
                                                                    Gerri, in the mean time, was washing
      this house, the wall coverings are decorative
                                                             and polishing the wooden floors which are
      wallpaper. So, he could not access the main
                                                             featured throughout the house, except in the
      wiring system without damaging the walls.
                                                             bathroom where there is tile that also had to be
      However, he was able to replace the wire and
                                                             cleaned. She polished and arranged each piece
      bulbs for various fixtures in the house, as well as
                                                             of furniture and every accessory. The dollhouse
      all of the exposed wiring in the attic under the
                                                             boasts such detailed miniatures as bacon and
                                                             eggs frying in a skillet on the stove top, biscuits
             When Tim first saw the dollhouse, he saw        coming out of the oven, and a meat grinder half

      8      Discover Smith Mountain Lake  FALL 2020
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