Miniaturist of the Month: Jo Dixon

Real Good Toys Miniaturist of the Month is Jo Dixon from Fairborn, OH. Jo describes herself as a “closet miniaturist”. She explains that she loves miniatures, but doesn’t get many opportunities to share her work with other like-minded miniaturists. Well, let’s get to know Jo and her love of all things mini.

Jo’s love of miniatures began when she was just a child. During the holidays, she remembers annual visits to Washington, D.C. to stroll among the downtown department stores with their store windows all decked out for the Christmas season.  It was a magical experience for a child, and Jo says that eventually building a dollhouse allowed her to recreate vignettes based upon her experiences.

The front of Jo's Federal Victorian

The front of Jo’s Federal Victorian

The interior of Jo's Federal Victorian

The interior of Jo’s Federal Victorian

The rear view of Jo's Federal Victorian

The rear view of Jo’s Federal Victorian

 

Jo began building her Federal Victorian by Hofco in October 1983. Hofco manufactured dollhouses from 1977 to 1992 in Woodsboro, MD. Real Good Toys created the Front Opening Federal Manor to fill the void this grand dollhouse kit left behind. At that time Jo was working full time and she said it took her three years just to finish the basic structure of her dollhouse. As with all miniature enthusiasts, she started furnishing her dollhouse before all the detail work had been completed. During that time, Jo went through a divorce. The dollhouse and all the uninstalled parts had to be packed. Over the years, Jo moved several times, each time bringing along her packed up dollhouse. Finally when she retired in 2011, she decided to unpack the house and do some renovating. She gutted the entire house, cleaned it and decided to enclose it. The original kit instructions were for a front opening house, but she didn’t build it that way, and in hindsight she said that was a huge mistake.  Jo said, “I had to create my own enclosures, which were as difficult as building a house from scratch”. She is pleased with the results and is happy the house is closed up to reduce dust build-up. Jo still has some work to do on the house, but like all miniaturists we talk with, your projects are never really done. Jo has done an amazing job on this dollhouse and the decorating is exquisite.

 

Cliff and Jo Dixon

Cliff and Jo Dixon

Living in Ohio, winters tend to be harsh and they last forever. Miniatures are Jo’s winter project. When she is not working on her miniatures, she is outside working on her landscaping, her other love. Jo also enjoys traveling and cooking. She says, “I am married to my best friend, Cliff.  We are both recently retired and are loving life”. Jo and Cliff are preparing to sell their home and enjoy the milder climate in South Carolina.  Jo is looking forward to packing up her beloved dollhouse for the last time.If you want to see more of Jo’s work, check her Facebook page, Jo’s Dollhouse and Miniatures. Check out her latest project. She is converting a CD cabinet into a Miniature Boutique. It looks very interesting. I just love re-purposing things.

Thanks for sharing with us Jo. It is so much fun to get to know these amazing miniaturists and their work.

So who’s next? Email your information with a few pictures attached to jodi@realgoodtoys.com.

I’m looking forward to letting YOUR talents shine!!

 

 

Real Good Toys What’s In Your Attic? Contest

Real Good Toys is excited to announce our new contest, What’s In Your Attic?, featuring the completely finished, 1 inch scale Attic Tower Top.  So come one, come all and pull out those extra minis you have sitting around…in your craft room, closet or tote, and wipe the dust off (or not!).  Put those minis to good use in the Real Good Toys’ What’s In Your Attic? contest.

The rules are simple – buy at least (1) Attic Tower Top, which is completely finished inside and out, and furnish this small room with things you may find in your attic.  It could be neat as a pin or dirty as a pig sty, it’s an attic after all.  Use your imagination because there is no right or wrong.  Simply show us what’s in your mini attic for a chance to win a $100, $75 or $50 gift certificate from Real Good Toys. 

Contest entries are due by November 9th, 2014.  You have up to nine weeks to create a spectacular miniature attic.  Send three (3) photos of your project to info@realgoodtoys.com.  We will post the photos on our Facebook page, Real Good Toys Dollhouses, and ask our favorite fans to vote on your project.  Our Facebook friends will determine the top five finalists and the J-TEAM will pick the top three winners.

  • First Place:        $100 RGT Gift Certificate

  • Second Place:   $75 RGT Gift Certificate

  • Third Place:      $50 RGT Gift Certificate

So what are you waiting for, order your Attic Tower Top today, and get in on this simple yet fun contest.  What do you have to lose?  Shipping is free and there are a limited number of Finished Attic Tower Tops available…45 to be exact.  This makes your odds of winning even greater.  Show us What’s In Your Attic? TODAY!

Mini wishes – Jennifer

Miniaturist of the Month: The Real Good Toys J-Team!

Jennifer Fitzgerald, RGT J-Team

Jennifer Fitzgerald, RGT J-Team

The Classic Bungalow by the J-Team.

The Classic Bungalow by the J-Team.

I had never even built one of our dollhouses until 5 years ago when Jodi and I decided to tackle the 1 inch scale Classic Bungalow dollhouse.  We built this magnificent dollhouse, decorated the interior and exterior and donated to a great cause.  After that, I was hooked!

I’ve always loved working with wood crafts and our dollhouses are no exception. I was so happy with our build that my husband and I purchased a Ponderosa Log Cabin and started customizing right away.  It’s still sitting in my basement waiting for us to return to our “winter project”.  Each year we get a little further on it, but we haven’t even begun to decorate the inside yet.  I’m really looking forward to that phase of our build.  All in due time!

Over the last several years, Jodi and I have built several dollhouses and we also create our Build-Along project each year.  We have had the great privilege of being one with our community of online miniaturists.  I’ve learned a great deal from what others have done and I’m no longer afraid to try something new.  Even when I make a mistake, I’m always happy to learn how I can correct that mistake and move forward with my project.  It almost makes you feel fearless when customizing because you know there is a way out of it (thank you Gary!)  My tip to all of you would be to just go for it…if you can visualize it, dream it or imagine it, it’s probably possible.  Don’t let anything stand in your way of what you truly want to create in miniature.

I feel super lucky to work with Jodi.  Over the past 15 years, we have had lots of great ideas and some come to fruition and some do not.  However, having someone else who is like-minded really makes a difference when you’re bouncing ideas off each other.  We make a great team!  When I’m not dollhouse building or decorating, I have two teenage daughters who keep us on our toes.  I also love to quilt – it’s my first passion.  We’re big on the great outdoors and love to camp, fish and go boating.  I also love to read and yes, I still like the real book (no hi-tech reading gadget for this girl!!).

Jodi Towne, RGT J- Team.

Jodi Towne, RGT J- Team.

I have worked for Real Good Toys for 26 years as the Office Manager.  My job entails, in a nutshell, accounting and customer service.  Being one half of the RGT J-Team has made my job infinitely more creative and interesting.  Having the ability, and freedom, to switch gears in the middle of the day and work on a dollhouse build has been very refreshing for me.  I feel very fortunate to have this diversion in my job.

The Lilliput Kiwi Cottage Dollhouse kit by Real Good Toys

The Kiwi-The lights are on! The J-Team’s lighting project.

Being able to build, finish and furnish a dollhouse has also made me confident in tackling just about any technical question that may come my way throughout the day.  I’ve learned so much about dollhouse building and about myself, and I learn new things from our customers and Facebook fans, just about everyday.  Jennifer and I are able to do a fair amount of brainstorming and collaborating on promotional ideas.  We are always looking for ways to draw more folks into our hobby, which only enhances my job even further.  Some days just fly by when you’re in a mini frame of mind!

I have one daughter, who will be 30 this year. She is a Visual Merchandiser and Wardrobe Stylist in Los Angeles, CA.  When she was small, we did various projects together, and yes, she had a dollhouse.  We had a Simplicity dollhouse model that had fallen off a shelf here at RGT.  It was sort of banged up and needed refurbishing.  After a little TLC, it came home with me.  We had many years of fun making furnishings for her dollhouse from everyday items.  We made rugs, bedspreads and curtains from scraps of fabric.   Those little white plastic pieces from the middle of a delivered pizza made great tables for her dollhouse.

Over the years I have dabbled in several different crafts, mostly sewing and card making projects.  I also love gardening, camping, reading and cooking.  My husband and I enjoy snowshoeing in the winter. At the moment, I only have my Collectibles Cabinet at home.  Room is the issue.  I have several kits in mind that I would like to build, furnish and give as gifts.  I know I shouldn’t say someday…but someday I will build them.  Until then, I take great pride, and get tons of enjoyment, participating in the Real Good Toys Facebook Build-Along projects and being part of the RGT J-Team.

This post is the first in our new Miniaturist of the Month feature. Jen and I thought we would get the ball rolling.  See how easy that was?   We look forward to hearing from our customers, because we want to make you our next Miniaturist of the Month!  Email your information with attached pictures to jodi@realgoodtoys.com. We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

4th Annual Real Good Toys Build-Along Project Finished Photos

Jodi and I were so excited to see what everybody would come up with for our 4th Annual Build-Along Project featuring the Collectibles Cabinet shell kit.  Lots of people customized to create in mini what their minds only imagined.  Each Build-Along Project is so unique and we’re simply thrilled with the results.  I’m sure you’ll be amazed by the creativity of everybody involved.  Many of our build-alongers were very brave and customized many aspects of their build as well as tried some new techniques .  It’s truly inspiring to see what each and everyone of you do with this annual project.  We’re so privileged to work with you all and be part of such an amazing online community.

Many more people have not finished their kits yet so we hope to add more photos to this album as they roll in.  Take some time to check out the 4th Annual Build-Along Project Finished Photos.  Maybe it will spark an idea and get you in the mini-ing mood.

Jodi and I would like to thank everybody who participated in this year’s Build-Along project and look forward to our 5th Annual Project, which is yet to be determined.  More info will follow in January 2015.  We hope you’ll consider joining us.

For those of you who feel so inclined to create your own mini world with the Collectibles Cabinet shell kit, we still have a few available.  When they’re gone, they’ll be gone forever.

Many Mini Wishes – Jennifer

NEW – Real Good Toys Large Dollhouse Electrical Kit

Haven’t you always wanted to electrify your dollhouse kit and light it up?  Our NEW Large Dollhouse Electrical Wiring kit includes enough materials to adequately electrify a dollhouse up to 36 inches wide.  (You could electrify our Ultimate Queen Anne Dollhouse kit simply by purchasing an additional 30 Feet of Tapewire and another package of Small Hollow Eyelets.)  With features like our awesome and unique EL66 Electrification Piercing & Drilling Tool and our superior Power Jack & Plug Set, our Large Dollhouse Electrical kit makes electrifying your dollhouse soooo easy!  We include our detailed instructions and free wiring guide to help you along your way.  Of course, we also offer extended technical support via email or phone because we want you to succeed.  I’ve done it a couple of times now and I must say that it’s much easier to do than expected.  Plus the final results are simply amazing.  People make their dollhouses look so life-like and when they are electrified and all lit up, it’s so worth the effort.  You will not be disappointed.

We’d love to see pictures of your electrified dollhouses.  Please email them to us directly at info@realgoodtoys.com and we’ll feature your dollhouses on our Facebook page as well as the Photo Gallery on our website.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
Mini wishes – Jennifer

Dollhouses for a Cause Does it Again

Real Good Toys Victoria's Farmhouse

Real Good Toys Victoria’s Farmhouse

Since 2009, The Dollhouses for a Cause Program  at Real Good Toys has flourished and still continues to spark interest in crafty folks to use dollhouses to raise funds for their favorite charities. As I look back on 5 years of applications, I am amazed at the variety of charities and organizations that this program has benefited. As you would expect, we have sent kits to benefit hospitals, schools, libraries, churches, shelters and nursing homes. It is always nice to hear from those involved how their event turned out.

Recently we sold a dollhouse, Victoria’s Farmhouse, to the Dolphin Foundation of South Burlington, Vermont. The SB Dolphin Foundation is dedicated to the sport of youth football in South Burlington, and the Foundation decided to decorate, furnish and offer this dollhouse for auction. The event benefited the Mercy Connection of Burlington, Vermont. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to focus on educating, mentoring and empowering individuals that have fallen on hard times. Mercy Connection enables people to make significant life changes so they can re-enter society in a responsible way. The Victoria’s Farmhouse was lovingly finished and beautifully furnished with miniatures by René and Linda LaBerge. René is the President of the SB Dolphin Foundation and he tells us that they made a slide show of the finishing and furnishing process. They also distributed Real Good Toys brochures to everyone who bid on the dollhouse. This Real Good Toys dollhouse was considered the talk of the event ,which was attended by over 300 people. René and Linda said, ” We are proud to have participated in the fundraiser for such a worthy organization and really appreciate your help in making this all possible. Thank you very, very much.”

 

Victoria's Farmhouse 1Victoria's Farmhouse 2Victoria's Farmhouse 6If you have had a fundraiser or charity event using your Dollhouses for a Cause masterpiece, and would like to share the results, I would LOVE to hear from you. We want to know how Real Good Toys dollhouses made your event a success!!

Send your information to jodi@realgoodtoys.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Real Good Toys 4th Annual Fall Foliage Sale

Come one, come all and meet the entire RGT Team.  We’re ready to throw open the doors, once again, to our 4th Annual Fall Foliage Dollhouse Factory Warehouse Sale and offer amazing deals on old, unique and some one-of-a-kind dollhouse kits, dollhouse components and dollhouse miniatures.

This year, the 4th Annual Fall Foliage Sale is on Saturday, September 27th, 9AM – 4PM.  ONE DAY ONLY!!  Make plans to come early and stay all day.  Be prepared to rummage through years and years worth of accumulated goodies.  Who knows what you’ll find but we’re sure you’ll find something you cannot live without!

FREE DEMO – Join us at 11AM when Gary, our resident dollhouse guru, will be holding one of his wildly popular technique demonstrations.  This year’s demo features The Dollhouse Builders Tool Box, where Gary will highlight many of the most efficient tools for building dollhouses and how best to use them.  It will be a hands-on demonstration.  You know, practice makes perfect!  IT’S FREE and open to anyone interested in attending.

We’ll also be providing refreshments, door prizes and grab bag surprises!  For those of you have been surprised in the past, you know what that means!!  Lunch will also be available.

After you’ve spent time at the sale, getting the very best deals, you may want to explore the area and the beautiful Vermont foliage.  If you are planning to stay overnight, please remember to make your reservations early.  This is one of Vermont’s busiest and most beautiful seasons.  Some websites to check for further information regarding lodging, attractions and restaurants are: Vermont Vacation, Central VT and Vermont.com.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions – we are happy to help.  Everyone here at RGT is looking forward to another big event and seeing some familiar as well as new faces.  See you in September!

Mini wishes – Jennifer

Correcting A Dollhouse Boo-Boo With A Heat Gun

I was beginning my first attempt at using egg cartons for miniature stones and it was U-G-L-Y!  I decided I had to remove the egg carton stones in order to begin fresh, with a clean dollhouse wall.  After discussing my issue with Gary, we determined the perfect way to correct my dollhouse boo-boo was with a heat gun.  This was my first time seeing what a heat gun is capable of and it worked like a charm.  As Gary said to me, I can now feel confident customizing and working on my dollhouse without any worries of making a mistake.  Even if I make a mistake, I now feel confident that I can correct my dollhouse boo-boo’s easily.

I took many photos during this process, posted the entire Photo Album on Facebook for everybody to see, and hopefully learn that mistakes can be corrected easily.  I wanted to share this photo tutorial with you, so you can also feel confident that all mistakes can be corrected, one way or another.  Hopefully, this will give you a new perspective when it comes to customizing.  Creating a one-of-a-kind dollhouse miniature could be all the incentive you need, but knowing you can correct your dollhouse boo-boo if it doesn’t work out like you planned, will give you the confidence to let your imagination go wild.

If you have a different way to correct this type of issue, I’d love to hear what you’ve done.  Please let us know the process and tools you have used.  Remember, the more knowledge we have, the more power we yield.  When you have the right tools, anything is possible.

Mini wishes – Jennifer

How I Created Dollhouse Miniature Stained Glass

I have been busy working on my Collectibles Cabinet Build-Along project and wanted to try something a little different this year.  I’ve always loved the way stained glass looks and some of these creations are just so beautiful.  My hats off to people who make stained glass in real life!

The first step was to find some pictures of stained glass (or just pictures!) and save them to your computer as a JPG.  I used Pinterest for this purpose as I found many more pictures than doing a simple search on the internet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ms. Peggies Place – In the Spotlight

 

Ms. Peggie's Place, San Diego, CA

Ms. Peggie’s Place, San Diego, CA

A group of dedicated miniaturists at Ms. Peggies Place.

A group of dedicated miniaturists at Ms. Peggies Place.

How can a 700 square foot dollhouse and miniature shop have anything and everything your miniaturist heart desires? It’s true. Ms. Peggies Place in San Diego, CA is filled to the brim with delightful dollhouses, miniatures and accessories.  Michael Sue Nanos, the Proprietress of this gem, brings a lifelong love of miniatures and a career of working for Lee Ward’s, the craft industry giant that merged with Michael’s in 1994.  While working for Lee Ward’s, Michael Sue became acquainted with then frequent customer and miniature artisan, Peg Devine, the original owner of Ms. Peggies Place. Ms Devine must have seen the love of miniatures in Michael Sue. Not only did she ask Michael Sue to create custom items for the store, but in 2003 when Ms. Devine retired, she sold the store to Michael Sue.

Michael Sue Nanos, Owner of Ms. Peggie's Place

Michael Sue Nanos, Owner of Ms. Peggie’s Place

 This compact shop is well organized and amply stocked with rows and rows of miniature displays showcasing just about every type of miniature imaginable. Miniature food to miniature garage tools. Electrical supplies, trims, floor coverings, wallpaper, doors, windows, and of course, dollhouses! Michael Sue says she only carries Real Good Toys dollhouses.  She says the selection is good and there is no better quality on the market. And she adds that our customer service is amazing! Michael Sue also stocks handmade, one-of-a-kind miniature treasures, and if she doesn’t have it, she will find it for you. She carries everything needed to make a miniature house a home. Michael Sue says, “I want this to be a feel good shop.” To that end, all displays in the shop are open and touchable. She has created an inviting and friendly atmosphere in her shop.

Displays full of miniature treasures

Displays full of miniature treasures

 The people that walk through the door are Michael Sue’s favorite part of owning a miniature shop. She says, “There is a constant exchange of ideas and I’m always learning.” Ms. Peggies Place offers onsite classes for children on designing and building dollhouses and miniatures. Just call the shop at 858-483-2621 for details. The shop is located at 5063 Cass Street, San Diego, CA 92109-1810. The shop hours are Monday & Tuesday – Closed, Wednesday & Thursday – 5pm to 8pm, Friday – 12 pm to 5 pm, Saturday – 10am to 5 pm, and Sunday – 11am to 5pm. Find them on Facebook at Ms. Peggies Place and online at www.mspeggiesplace.com. You will also find a delightful and informative blog on her website. Take a few minutes and look at all of her dollhouse building projects too. They are exquisite! Planning a visit to Southern California in the near future? Put a visit to Ms. Peggies Place at the top of your list!

 Here is what customers have to say about the only miniature shop in San Diego,

…So happy I finally found a great miniature store in the San Diego area.

…This is the best kept secret in town.

…One on one service, as well as unhurried advice.