Miniaturist of the Month – Donald Jenny

Monday, February 16th, 2015
Donald Jenny of Bothell, Washington

Donald Jenny of Bothell, Washington

Real Good Toys is happy to welcome our February Miniaturist of the Month – Donald Jenny. Donald hails from Bothell, Washington, where he is an accomplished freelance artist, designing book covers and illustrating children’s books. When he is not doing that, he builds custom dollhouses. Donald grew up in a family of artists. His father worked for an architectural firm, building scale models as a side job. Donald’s father also built model ships as his hobby. Donald’s mother was once an opera singer. She dabbled in painting while raising her family. His older brother loved to draw race cars. That love ultimately led to building race cars as an occupation. Donald’s younger brother, who once fancied himself a folk singer, is now the proprietor of a business that builds and sells custom electric guitars internationally. It is quite obvious Donald acquired his love of the arts from his family, being creative in drawing, painting and sculpture.  He holds degrees in fine art and computer animation.  Although Donald holds down a daytime office job, he continues his freelance business and custom dollhouse building.

One of Donald's gift houses

One of Donald’s gift houses

In the 1970’s, Donald began building gift houses out of cardboard and other materials.  His intention was to use these houses as a substitute for gift wrapping.  These whimsical creations were quite popular with their recipients.  He didn’t begin building wooden dollhouses until 2000. Donald attended a miniature trade show and was hooked! Beginning with kits, he quickly started customizing dollhouses adding his own special touches. He created, from photos and memory, a miniature version of a Painted Lady dollhouse. He donated his masterpiece to a little girl in foster care.  He tells us the only thing she wanted for Christmas was a dollhouse and it was perfect for her.  If time permits, Donald builds 2-3 dollhouses a year, donating them to various local charities.

Alice before Wonderland Dollhouse

Alice before Wonderland Dollhouse

Donald’s most expensive build so far is his Alice before Wonderland dollhouse, filled with custom made figures and miniatures from the Alice in Wonderland fairy tale. This dollhouse originally was the Real Good Toys #2007 Woodland, with the addition of the 602 Montclair porch.  He tells us, “I have spent nearly 6 years on this project and it still isn’t complete and I doubt it will ever be. This is my baby”!!

Donald's 2014 RGT Facebook Build Along

Donald’s 2014 RGT Facebook Build Along

Donald is one of Real Good Toys most active Facebook fans, always jumping right into our annual Real Good Toys Dollhouses Facebook Build-Along.  He never ceases to amaze us with his creativity and vision. He can take a basic kit and transform it, making it into something truly astonishing. Our Facebook Build-Along projects allow participants to individualize and design their own dream project while sharing creativity and enthusiasm with a whole group of like-minded people.  And that’s just what Donald loves about it.  His Build-Along last year started out to be library and ended up as a brothel. He has already ordered our 2015 Build-Along project, The Crafter’s Cottage, and is anxiously awaiting delivery. Donald says, “I have bought many kits from Real Good Toys because the quality out shines other competitors”.

Donald is looking forward to retirement in a couple of years.  Then he will devote his time to building dollhouses and working on his other love, gardening. Thanks to Donald for sharing his love of dollhouses and miniatures with us.  His enjoyment of the hobby and his creativity inspires all of us.  You can see more of Donald’s work, and much more, at www.donaldworld.com.

Would you like to be my 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 – Stacy Thibeault

Monday, January 5th, 2015
Stacy with her dollhouse

Stacy with her dollhouse

Real Good Toys is pleased to welcome our January Miniaturist of the Month, Stacy Thibeault of Topsham, Maine.  Stacy has been a stay at home mom for the past 14 years, enjoying Maine life with her husband, son and their three cats.  When she is not working on miniatures, she loves to read and be outside enjoying the woods.

Stacy’s love of miniatures began when she was around 8 years old. She tells us she was thrilled when her Dad used to ask her to help paint ceramic figures that he created in a class he was taking.  That’s all it took for Stacy to become hooked.  She says, “To this day I have ornaments we did together and an entire miniature Christmas village”. Stacy also remembers summers on Sebago Lake in Maine and visiting Crickets Corner Shoppe in Raymond, ME.  Although Stacy proudly states that she was a tomboy as a child, she absolutely loved visiting the dollhouse store.  She remembers her Dad would bring home miniatures for her and she says, “…being the packrat that I am, I still have some of those things. Who knew they would be in my very own miniature houses”. Stacy has been seriously involved in crafting since she was 18.  As it is for many people, a life changing event can often launch you in a different direction, and that is just what happened to Stacy.  With her Dad passing away suddenly in 2010, Stacy found herself overcome with the feeling that she just had to build a dollhouse.  So off she went to the nearest dollhouse store with one thing on her mind.  She came home with a Real Good Toys Victorian Cottage Jr. dollhouse kit.  She tells us, “Got home, dumped it out, read the instructions, and an addiction was born”! Since then, Stacy has built many dollhouses and has started making her own miniatures.  She says it makes her feel close to her Dad.  Her words of wisdom for new miniaturists…Home Depot!  She has great luck finding mini lumber and sample size paint containers that are just right for your dollhouse.

Real Good Toys Victorian Cottage Jr. dollhouse kit.

Real Good Toys Victorian Cottage Jr. dollhouse kit.

Stacy has been an avid fan of the annual Real Good Toys Facebook Build Along, and her favorite dollhouse build so far has been our 2012 Puzzle Dollhouse Kit.  She took the Puzzle Dollhouse kit and recreated her real life house inside and out!  The finished product has a prominent home in her living room, so everyone gets to see it every day.  As Stacy bounces back from a year of physical restrictions, she is looking forward to building the Real Good Toys Newbury Dollhouse kit that she has stashed away.  And after that, maybe the Beachside Bungalow…or the Victoria’s Farmhouse…or who knows which dollhouse build lies ahead for her.

Thank you Stacy, for letting us get to know you. Your energy and love of miniatures is inspiring.  

Would you like to be our next Miniaturist of the Month?  Do you know someone who would be a good candidate?  It’s really easy. Just email your information, with a picture or two attached, to [email protected]

I’m looking forward to letting 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 

 

Miniaturist of the Month – Mary Gavila

Friday, October 31st, 2014
Mary's Real Good Toys Newport Dollhouse

Mary’s Real Good Toys Newport Dollhouse

 

The Living Room in Mary's Newport

The Living Room in Mary’s Newport

The interior of Mary's Newport

The interior of Mary’s Newport

Real Good Toys is pleased to announce that Mary Gavila is our November Miniaturist of the Month! Mary and her husband live in Ocala,FL. She has two children and two grandchildren. Back in 1981, Mary built her first dollhouse for her daughter, Amy. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the dollhouse was given to someone else, so Amy never got to play with it.  Amy now has a daughter, Avery, age 9, and Mary decided to build the Real Good Toys Newport dollhouse for Avery. It took Mary a year and 8 months to complete the Newport, but she did some customizing. Of course she did…that’s what miniaturists do! Mary added more bathrooms and an attic ladder so the top floor can be accessed from the main house. She also made all the bedding in the dollhouse. Mary says, “I love the way it came out and am very proud of the finished product”. She also miniaturized family photographs for the dollhouse and put one of them on the miniature TV screen. Mary wanted it to look like the dollhouse people were watching a family video.  You can tell creativity and imagination just took over! Avery is one lucky little girl!

The Kitchen in Mary's Newport

The Kitchen in Mary’s Newport

Mary Gavila & Family

Mary Gavila & Family

When Mary is not working on her miniatures, she enjoys crocheting, making paper flowers and basket weaving.  She says, “I love a challenge, so the more difficult and time consuming the project, the better I like it”. Mary also loves genealogy and has created a family tree with over 18,000 members. This project took her 5 years. The culmination of this lengthy project was Mary applying for dual citizenship and becoming an Italian citizen.  She tells us all four of her grandparents were born in Italy. Her children were also able to become Italian citizens, which Mary says, “…opens a whole new realm of opportunities for their futures”.

Mary and her husband are now empty nesters with her son getting married and leaving home. She says she is a bit embarrassed to say that she replaced her son with a Havanese puppy named Ricky Ricardo, which she absolutely loves.  Ricky was recently certified as a Good  Canine Citizen, which makes him eligible to visit hospitals and nursing homes. Mary hopes to do more advanced training with him in the future.

I’m sure you all will agree that Mary is one busy lady.  I love that she has so many varied interests, in addition to her exquisite dollhouse work. No wonder she is so proud. If you would like to see more pictures of Mary’s Newport, check our Facebook page, Real Good Toys Dollhouses. Isn’t it about time for another dollhouse project Mary?

Mary, thank you for sharing and letting us get to know you and your work!

Who would 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

The Doll House Shop in Richmond, VA – Under new ownership

Monday, October 27th, 2014
Julie Silvester, new owner of The Doll House Shop

Julie Silvester, new owner of The Doll House Shop

Real Good Toys welcomes Julie Silvester as the proud new owner of the The Doll House Shop in Richmond, VA. For many years, Julie was a regular customer of The Doll House Shop and she once told Tom O’Dea, then the owner of the shop, that her dream had always been to own her own doll house shop. Tom encouraged Julie and when he retired, he offered the shop to her.

Julie’s background is in finance and information technology.  In early 2013, she started an online dollhouse and miniature retail store to help with tuition costs for her daughter to attend a school for dyslexic children. Now that Julie has her own brick and mortar retail shop, she’s looking to expand to include space for classes and room for customers to come and work on their projects. She said many customers have been interested in this concept because they don’t have room at home to build a dollhouse. Julie envisions the store to be geared more toward children and plans to expand the store’s inventory accordingly.  Julie says, “When parents with children enter the store, the first thing the parent always says is , “Don’t touch anything!” I’d like to change that to, “Please touch all of these!”.

Julie believes that most people think miniatures is an expensive hobby or that they don’t have enough room at home to build a dollhouse.  She would like to change that perception and show people that miniatures and dollhouses come in every size and in every price range.  Julie says there is something in the miniature and dollhouse world for everyone.

We welcome Julie and wish her success! If you’re traveling through Richmond, VA, stop by and say hello.

The Doll House Shop is located at 8534 Patterson Ave., Richmond, VA 23229.

You can reach the shop by calling 804-285-8484 or by email at [email protected]

                                                                                      

Real Good Toys What’s In Your Attic? Contest

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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 [email protected]  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

Bistro Kit Challenge is perfect for any dollhouse miniaturist!

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

A new contest has just been announced!  Miniature Collector magazine, in collaboration with New York miniaturist Susan Santilli, presents The Bistro Kit Challenge.  You simply order your kit from Real Good Toys and create your own unique design.

Bistro Challenge Shell Kit

Bistro Challenge Shell Kit

This contest will be presented in three parts in Miniature Collector magazine starting with the May 2013 issue, which features Susan’s inspiration for her project, resources she used, contest and kit information.  Part 2, which will be featured in the June 2013 issue, features tips and techniques from Susan, the Bistro Kit Challenge entry form and kit information.  Part 3, featured in the July 2013 issue, features the faux finish sidewalk instructions by Rik Pierce and kit information.

The contest  is a year-long event and submissions will need to be submitted by February 15, 2014.

Good luck and mini wishes – Jennifer