When my sisters and I were children, our granddad (my dad's dad) made us doll houses. Dad also was a fantastic model-maker, and he made detailed sturdy models for his model railway club, and for the school where he taught. My favourite was a model of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, and I also remember a model of a Roman mile castle on Hadrian's wall, and some houses in the style of those in the Holy Land at the time of Christ.
When we girls grew out of our doll houses they were passed on to some other children, as our family has always done. Presumably they then passed to other children again, because eventually we lost track of them altogether. I'd like to think they're still treasured possessions of somebody somewhere. By the time my daughter, Eleanor, was old enough to enjoy a doll's house of her own, though, my dad's eyes were no longer as sharp nor his hands as steady as they once were, and he couldn't build her one, although I know he'd love to.
So instead he bought her a doll house, and a very fine one indeed. We went on a special trip to the shop and she was incredibly excited, peering into all the little houses and opening the doors, trying to choose which one she liked the best. Grandad also bought her all the little people and accessories she wanted. I am proud to say she was very restrained and chose an elegant sufficiency of furniture and dolls, even though she and I both knew grandad would have bought the entire shop had she asked for it.
I found my imagination gripped by all the tiny furniture and accessories. I could immediately see that it is possible to create unique items for your doll's house, and this could be a lot of fun as well as a way of saving money (you should see the prices they ask!) and of recycling. I vetoed an early attempt to buy bedclothes because I knew could make them very easily from fabric I already had, and as soon as we got home, I did. Back at home I also found a tiny plastic box which had housed a mobile phone SIM card, which I turned into a laptop computer with a couple of black and silver marker pens. The pens also came in handy when I made a set of kitchen pans and baking tins from the plastic bubble strips you press tablets out of. Fortunately, grandad is on an impressive range of prescription medication, which provided a wide selection of shapes and sizes of kitchen equipment!
I can't see doll houses becoming my consuming hobby, but it's fun to make a few things. And when I see Eleanor incorporate them into her games happily alongside the shop-bought items I know that I am passing on my family's values to another generation. Maybe one day she will make hand-made toys for her children, too.