The Healing Power of Dollhouses

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Do you ever wonder how people defy the odds when it comes to their health? How do they overcome and bounce back? Building dollhouses can be therapy, and often we hear that dollhouses can erase real life problems by creating a make believe, or fantasy life. People tend to lose themselves in their miniatures. And using your imagination, being creative and having a purpose can be powerful drugs.

Alison Jr.

Thomas Kneeshaw and his most recent dollhouse, The Alison Jr.

Real Good Toys

The Real Good Toys Alison Jr.

Shareen Kneeshaw and her father Thomas recently built the Real Good Toys Alison Jr. dollhouse kit for a fundraiser for the Mental Health Association of Westchester(NY). They took advantage of the Real Good Toys Dollhouses for a Cause program. Nearing 96 years old, Thomas has built several dollhouses. He has made two dollhouses from scratch, using Real Good Toys components.  He has built (7) 1 inch scale and (3) 1/2 inch scale dollhouses from kits. All of these dollhouses were for his granddaughters, great granddaughters, friends, and fundraisers.

In 2014, Thomas became very ill, with the result being an above the knee amputation of one of his legs. He recovered quickly, but then fell ill again in the spring of this year. At this point, his doctors felt he would not recover and sent him home with hospice care.  According to Shareen, as time passed and her father held on, he realized he better get busy and do something with his time. Shareen came across a Real Good Toys catalog and they both decided it might be a good idea to try some smaller dollhouse kits, more manageable and in line with his limitations. Shareen and her sister thought for sure it would take him at least a month to finish the first dollhouse, but he had it done in 8 days!

 

dollhouse painting

Interior of the Alison Jr.

Alison Jr.

Beautiful painting on the Alison Jr.

“It was an amazing thing to watch. When he started building the dollhouses, he was still pretty weak, but the more he did the better he got. He said he feels like he has a purpose and is being productive, and this is doing wonders for his health. After he finished the first one and we didn’t have a second one ready yet, he seemed to start to feel poorly again, feeling pain, etc… The afternoon the second one arrived, he said he was feeling poorly, but once he saw it he perked right up and got started on it right away.  He works on them every day as soon as he finishes breakfast and works on them until he goes to bed.  He has a live-in aid who gives him a hand when he needs things maneuvered.  We sometimes work on them together, either my sister or I, as a way to spend time with him. He is teaching us a lot. He can’t get to his workshop anymore, so we have set up a work area in the kitchen with various levels of work surfaces, so he can reach what he needs to from his wheelchair. We may run out of friends or family who could use dollhouses, so we are looking to find places to donate them. Needless to say we are thankful for your kits and hope you stay in business for a long, long time.”

With no real medical theory, Thomas’ doctors don’t know quite what to make of his rebound. Shareen says her father is a cat with 9 lives. Thomas thinks it’s a miracle.

We hope that Real Good Toys dollhouses continue to offer Thomas enjoyment and that his health continues to remain stable. No matter the reason, or explanation, we are in awe of the level of determination, and the fortitude that Thomas displays. Thanks to Shareen and Thomas for sharing this heartwarming story. 

Do you have a favorite charity or a worthwhile non-profit organization that needs a contribution for a fundraiser? Since 2009 we have been offering our Dollhouses for a Cause program which allows a 30% discount towards the purchase of any dollhouse kit for the purpose of fundraising. Just fill out the application and send it in…and get building!!

Miniaturist of the Month – Renee Orvis

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
Renee and her Collectibles Cabinet and Mulberry Lane

Renee and her Collectibles Cabinet and Mulberry Lane

Renee's Display Case

Renee’s Display Case

Real Good Toys welcomes Renee Orvis, our very first home town Miniaturist of the Month! Renee grew up right here in Barre. She is married with two children, an 18 year old daughter in college and an 8 year old son.  She attended Johnson State College for one year and eventually finished her degree in fine art at the Community College of Vermont.  Renee also worked for Joann Fabrics for a few years where she developed an interest in sewing, crafts and needlework. She has worked for 26 years at Vermont Mutual Insurance Group in the Finance Department.

Renee 8

Beautiful Foyer

Renee 3

Custom painted fireplace

Renee 7

Great country kitchen

Renee is relatively new to miniatures, but has jumped in with both feet.  She became interested in dollhouses and miniatures when she was young.  Renee recalls receiving a large Colonial Style dollhouse for Christmas one year. The house was passed on, but she kept some of the furniture thinking she might eventually get into dollhouses. It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that she bought her first kit. Her first build was the Real Good Toys Build Along Collectibles Cabinet.  That was all it took.  Renee was hooked!  Her next kit was the Lilliput Mulberry Lane. Renee really loves art history, especially the Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods.  She wanted to make the interior of her Mulberry Lane as authentic to these periods as her budget would allow.  She said, “I finally decided that I can’t have an exact replica house with all the details exactly as they would have been… so I decided to look at it more as an impressionist painter would and focus on the subtleties, giving the suggestion of a Georgian kitchen or a Regency drawing room.  A little color here and a little detail there, and not worry so much about making it exactly correct.”

Renee 2

Look at those paintings!

What’s next for this miniaturist?  She would like to create miniatures on her own and not from kits.  Renee would like to try her hand at polymer clay food, and has already tried painting and framing her own pieces. She says, “As a new miniaturist, I am very excited about the many facets and options to explore!”

Renee, your enthusiasm to try new things is contagious, and we thank you for letting us have a look into your projects. We can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

Would you like to be our next Miniaturist of the Month?  It’s really easy!  Just email your information with a few pictures attached to [email protected]  I want to let your talents shine!sunshine

Miniaturist of the Month – Carole Risteen

Friday, November 28th, 2014
Carole Risteen- Miniaturist of the Month

Carole Risteen- Miniaturist of the Month

Carole just loves cats!

Carole just loves cats!

Real Good Toys‘ Miniaturist of the Month is Carole Risteen of Deltona, FL. Carole is someone every miniaturist wants to know.  For starters, she has been involved with dollhouses and miniatures for over 35 years. Over time, Carole has worked in three different miniature shops, and has built over 300 dollhouses. When Carole was working for Through the Keyhole in Texas, she taught classes and built dollhouses as a Santa’s helper.  She said, “Our double garage never had a car in it, but often had half a dozen or more houses under construction”. Carole has participated in four years of IGMA Guild School classes.  What is IGMA? IGMA stands for International Guild of Miniature Artisans and was founded to promote fine miniatures as an art form.  This organization holds a series of intensive training classes every year at their campus in Castine, Maine.  Carole said she has made many wonderful friends over the years. She considers this hobby her obsession.  She tells us, “There has always been some new technique or skill to learn and many old skills to share with others”. Carole confides, “It has never failed me – lifting me up in sad times and allowing me to help others along the way”.

Carole started in miniatures by making House of Miniature furniture kits. She was a buyer for a retail department store in Tucson, AZ and building the furniture kits was her way to relax.  Carole says she bought her first dollhouse in 1979 from The Doll House, Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ. Over the last 12 years, she has been able to share her love of dollhouses and miniatures with her special needs students through Morning Star School fundraisers. She hopes to continue building dollhouses for Morning Star School fundraisers, with the help of her students and her grandchildren.

Carole's Bossy Bungalow

Carole’s Bossy Bungalow

Carole and Susan with the house  they built!

Carole and Susan with the house they built!

 

Carol is an active fan of Real Good Toys Dollhouses on Facebook.  She has participated in our Build Along projects and was recently chosen as one of our finalists in our “What’s in Your Attic Contest”. She continually fascinates us with her ability to transform and customize our dollhouses in a way that makes them one of a kind.  One project she has shared with us throughout the building process is her Real Good Toys Classic Bungalow.  Carole nicknamed this dollhouse “Bossy”.  She was re-creating a dollhouse she grew up in and throughout the building process the dollhouse seemed to tell her which direction she should take with the customization. She customized the dollhouse with an extra floor and many other special touches.  Her abilities are remarkable and her work is exquisite. Now can you see why every miniaturist would love to know Carole? Not only does she love dollhouses and miniatures, she gets immense joy from sharing that love. Carole says, “…my addiction is complete and part of my retirement is minis, supplies and kits I have stock piled”.

 

Thank you, Carole, for letting us have a glimpse into your mini world and allowing us to get to know a little bit about you.

Would you like to be our next Miniaturist of the Month?  It’s really easy. Just email your information with a few pictures attached to [email protected] 

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

 

Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart – In the Spotlight

Monday, August 26th, 2013
Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart, Cheektowaga, NY

Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart, Cheektowaga, NY

Nestled in Western New York, just 10 minutes from Downtown Buffalo and 30 minutes from Niagara Falls, you’ll find Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart, the “Biggest Hobby Store in the U.S.A.!” With thousands of square feet of store to explore, Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart has a rich history filled with family traditions. While building traditions in their Cheektowaga, NY store, they celebrate families. They focus on products that you and your family can grow with…not out of.

The 1949 red Cabbose at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

The 1949 Red Cabbose at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

John Kavulich, Sr., the founder of Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart, began in the hobby business in 1945. After becoming more and more successful, expansion was the natural next step. In 1954, Mr. Kavulich started the wholesale distribution of hobbies and crafts with Niagara Hobby Distributors. From there, came the present day Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart. The store boasts four interactive working train layouts and carries HO, N-Gauge, Lionel, MTH and LGB trains. For the train history buffs, Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart has a fully restored 1949 Red Caboose in their parking lot. Just perfect for pictures! For the younger train lovers, they can have their picture taken in front of a 10 foot “Thomas the Train” engine. Speaking of interactive, families love their 150 foot six lane slot car track. They even have a 32 foot aluminum Pinewood Derby Test Track!

The Dollhouse Department at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

The Dollhouse Department at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart is a full line hobby and craft store filled with everything you’d ever need for your hobby. They carry RC cars, planes and boats, artists paints and supplies, Breyer horses, slot cars, kites, Estes Rockets, military die cast and of course, dollhouses and miniatures. They have the largest dollhouse and accessory selection in Western New York, with an impressive inventory of Real Good Toys dollhouses. Miniaturists have many choices when it comes to dollhouse furnishings, paints, adhesives, electrical components and trims. The store has a dazzling display of over 10 dollhouse models, with some of them being fully furnished and electrified. Their staff is knowledgeable and dedicated to helping you find exactly what you need. If they don’t carry it, they will special order it for you.

Miniatures at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

Miniatures at Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart

The Real Good Toys Bostonian fully furnished and electrified.

The Real Good Toys Bostonian fully furnished and electrified.

Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart truly has something for everyone and every age. They host free Children’s Craft Workshops for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter. Santa, his elves and reindeer visit every weekend during the Holiday Season. The store offers free gifts for every child and free photographs with Santa. No worries if you forgot your camera. They will take the picture and it can be retrieved from their website Photo Gallery.

If all of this doesn’t convince you that you just have to visit, take a look at their Virtual Tour of the store on their website, www.niagarahobby.com. It’s just like walking through the door yourself. If you find yourself traveling through Western New York, be sure you take some time to visit this amazing store.

The store is located at 3366 Union Road (At Walden Avenue, Exit 52E off of I-90), Buffalo, NY 14225. Store hours are Monday-Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 5 pm. You can reach them by phone at 716-681-1666. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

“Begin something today that you, your family and friends can enjoy for a lifetime at the store that combines quality, value, service, brands from around the globe, lots of fun and so much more. Bringing moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and family and friends together for generations.”

 

 

Welcome Schaefer Hobby Shop to the world of dollhouses

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Throughout the year Real Good Toys is happy to welcome new customers to our family of store front retailers.  It is important that we take a moment to introduce everyone to these great stores and recognize what they have to offer.

Schaefer Hobby Shop in St. Louis, MO

A big Real Good Toys welcome goes out to Schaefer Hobby Shop located in St. Louis, MO at 11659 Gravois Road.  Schaefer’s is a well established Hobby & Craft store specializing in art supplies, kids crafts, trains, RC cars, boats and planes and now Schaefer’s is carrying Real Good Toys dollhouses.

Schaefer Hobby Shop has been serving the St. Louis area for over 60 years with the largest selection of hobbies in the area.  The shop is family owned and operated by Art Jr. & Sherri Schaefer, 3rd generation Schaefers. The gang at Schaefer’s prides themselves on being able to assist their customers with making the perfect selection, no matter what the interest.  How do they do that?  They are involved in many of the hobbies personally and love to share that knowledge and interest with their customers.

Schaefer Hobby Shop is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 8 pm, Saturday, 9am – 6pm and Sunday, 11am – 5pm.  You can reach them at 413-729-7077.  Check their website for upcoming classes and great product videos. www.schaeferhobby.com.

If you find yourself traveling through St. Louis, be sure to stop by and say hi.  Ask to see their Real Good Toys dollhouses.♥

Real Good Toys Dollhouses 2nd Annual Fall Foliage Warehouse Clearance Sale

Monday, September 10th, 2012
Real Good Toys is gearing up for the 2nd Annual Fall Foliage Warehouse Clearance Sale, Saturday, October 6th 9AM-4PM and Sunday, October 7th 9AM-Noon.

Live Demos by Gary (our resident dollhouse guru!).  These demonstrations and workshops are FREE and open to anybody interested in attending.

Saturday:
10:30AM“Tape Wiring Goes Robust” featuring a brand new RGT Wiring Kit (available soon).  You’ll also learn how to rotate your electrified dollhouse using our Electrified & Assembled Turntable Base.

2PM – Join Chris Abrams (co-owner of RGT and miniature enthusiast), as she will be “Sharing 40 Years of Miniatures”.  Why attend?    Because minis are truly timeless and we have several mini project handouts to share as well as the materials to make these fabulous mini pies.
Miniature Pies created by Chris Abrams, Co-Owner of Real Good Toys Dollhouses

Sunday:
10:30AM“Dollhouse Customizing” featuring how to cut custom door holes and windows successfully in your finished dollhouse, using tools you most likely have available in your real home.

Lots of finished dollhouses, dollhouse kits, miniature accessories, components, people, furniture and new seasonal minis will be on sale.  Everything in our store and clearance area will qualify for an additional 15% off the lowest marked price!  Plan to come early for the best selection.  Be prepared to rummage through years and years worth of accumulated goodies.

We are also discontinuing our Melissa & Doug line of wooden puzzles, blocks, miniatures and much, much more.  Great deals for all and a perfect time to think ahead to the holidays.

There will be refreshments, door prizes and grab bag surprises!  Lunch will be available on Saturday.  Come one, come all and meet the RGT Team – we’d love to meet you!

If you would like to make arrangements for accommodations, please check out www.vermont.com, www.vermontvacation.com or www.central-vt.com.

We all hope to see you soon!  Travel safe and enjoy the scenery!!

Real Good Toys 2nd Annual Build-Along Project Finished Dollhouse Photos

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Jodi & Jen hosted the Real Good Toys 2nd Annual Build-Along Project on Facebook again this year and it was a huge success.  The project featured the Puzzle Dollhouse kit, which consisted of 70+ pieces of various size rectangles and triangles.  Each participant ordered their Puzzle Dollhouse kit and then had to “think outside the blocks” to create their own, one-of-a-kind miniature dollhouse or building.  At first, I think many people were puzzled by the concept and believe it or not, it’s harder than you think to create the walls, roofs and room dividers yourself.  Especially when you are used to opening a Real Good Toys dollhouse kit and everything is pre-cut for you!  Once you started playing with your puzzle pieces, it really sparked our imaginations and that of everybody who shared the fun with us.  We had such creativity in our midst – we are proud to call all our Build-Along participants our friends.  It’s such a wonderful experience to be able to share our ideas and problems with everybody and get instant feedback on what may work, or not.  Each year, I know I learn something new, that inevitably helps me with my next project.  A heartfelt THANK YOU to everybody who participated in the 2012 Real Good Toys 2nd Annual Build-Along Project featuring the Puzzle Dollhouse kit.  Be sure to check out all the Build-Along Photos!

We’re already thinking about next year’s project!  We think it might simply be a dollhouse shell – with pre-cut parts.  Put your thinking caps on and stay tuned for more information!

Mini wishes – The J-TEAM

Real Good Toys Dollhouses Sizzlin Summer Warehouse Clearance Sale June 30th, 2012

Friday, April 27th, 2012

SAVE THE DATE and join us for our first ever Sizzlin’ Summer Warehouse Clearance SaleONE DAY ONLY – lots of new-old items recently uncovered in one of our warehouses and we still have more to go through!!

You’ll find spectacular deals on everything in our clearance section as well as the Real Good Toys Factory Outlet Store.  We’ve been stocking up on summer minis just for you!

In addition to the sizzlin’ sale – our resident dollhouse guru Gary is planning to WOW you with some technique demonstrations.  These demos will include Flooring (score, stain, faux-wood), Wiring (tapewire, eyelet connections, LED’s) and Shingling (dying, applying and valleys).

Plan a road trip with your mini friends, drive up or down, and meet us Saturday, June 30, 2012.  Sale hours are 9AM – 5PM.  Demonstrations are planned for 10AM, Noon & 2PM.  Sale location is at Real Good Toys Factory Outlet Store & Clearance Area, 10 Quarry Street, Barre, VT 05641.   Have questions?  Feel free to call Jen or Jodi at 1-866-524-0222.  We hope to see you all!

Mini wishes – Jennifer

The Good Stuff is never out of date

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Anne's Victorian Manor Dollhouse

 

The Victorian Manor dollhouse kit was produced around 1978, the build has just been finished

Yesterday was a clear, sunshiny day; a good day to open the windows and sweep out the closets.  Spring cleaning time at the Real Good Toys help desk always gets me to dive into the box of old files for anything that can help a builder who has found a treasure from the dim recesses of Dollhouse History (more…)