WANT TO know how to knock out a Lloyd Loom-style chair in just two hours?
Linda Eastwood from Outlane could show you how.
But don’t expect to be able to sit on the finished product because it would be far too small – at the very most 1/12th the size of an original.
And that’s because Linda, a founder member of Huddersfield’s Dolls House and Miniatures Club, is an expert in fashioning anything from tiny furniture and scaled-down shop fittings to mini aspidistras and microscopic Fimo vegetables.
Life in miniature has long fascinated Linda, a former florist and now an IT bank worker. Back in 1995 she and a handful of other enthusiasts formed the Huddersfield club to host monthly meetings and learn from each other.
“It’s a very absorbing hobby,” she says, “I like the detail and the creative side of it. It makes you look at things differently. I’ve just done a florists’ shop and for the vases I took all the ends off the cords for the blinds in our house and turned them upside down. They were just the right shape.”
For part-time infant teacher and mum-of-two Helen Knutton-Allcroft, from Honley, an interest in dolls houses began a decade ago when, after being made redundant, she found herself with time on her hands.
But it wasn’t until earlier this year that she heard about the club and decided to join, along with her mum, Mavis Knutton.
It’s become something of a family activity as Helen’s daughter, Lydia, 6, is also showing signs of acquiring a taste for miniatures.
“She has her own house in her bedroom and plays with the figures in mine,” says Helen, who is part-way through constructing and furnishing a large house for herself. Her son Nathaniel, 5, is similarly interested.
Members of the miniatures club attend workshops every month to learn new skills or create items. “Recently we have made a plant out of wire and florist’s tape; we did a weaving session to make a Lloyd Loom chair and the cushion to go with it; we’ve made a sewing basket and the contents,” said Linda. “It’s always something we can do in two hours.”
The club also has regular in-house competitions, setting members a challenge, and once a year they tackle a large project to exhibit at the Kirklees Summer Flower, Vegetable and Handicraft Show in Ravensknowle Park. This year’s theme was a table-top sale, last year they created an allotment.
Not all members want to create a dolls house; many enjoy making room boxes or miniature scenes.
Some specialise in one or two skills. Mavis, for example, who also lives in Honley, is a keen knitter and has learned how to make tiny garments on size 19 or 20 needles using cotton threads and specialist patterns. The club’s secretary Kathryn Johnson is another micro-knitter.
And not everyone works to the same scale. “A lot of the things we do are 1/12th scale,” said Linda. “But some people are into 1/48th or even 1/144th scale, which is really tiny.”
The vast majority of the club’s members are female but over the years a number of men have joined in, often accompanying their wives. Children and grandchildren have also become miniaturists. It’s open to all ages.
“But not everyone knows we are here,” says Linda. “They’re often surprised when they find out the club exists.”
For Helen, membership of the club has added an extra dimension to her teaching.
“Last Christmas I built a big display box of a scene with Christmas trees and put perspex on the front,” she said.
“The children at school absolutely loved peering into it. I’d move the characters around when they weren’t looking at dinner time and night time and they were fascinated.”
She also created four room boxes in Victorian style when the children were studying the period in history lessons. “They found them quite inspirational,” she added.
For Helen, the appeal of miniaturisation lies in the way it can absorb her attention. “I can disappear into the miniature world and learn new skills. I try to make things look as realistic as I can.”
And she doesn’t have any problems explaining her hobby to husband Ian. He’s a member of a model railway association in Huddersfield and a collector of 00 gauge trains.
The evolution of the internet has aided the work of miniaturists of all kinds, who can now print out tiny wallpaper prints, labels for food packet and jars, and all sorts of aids that just weren’t available when the Huddersfield dolls house club was formed.
The club’s members say that anyone fascinated by life in miniature who wants to make their own room boxes or scenes needs patience, a steady hand and a creative mind.
But they don’t need to spend a fortune. “We do occasionally buy things ready made,” said Linda, “but there’s a lot you can make for yourself and the materials are quite cheap.”
Huddersfield Dolls House and Miniatures Club meets on the second Tuesday in the month at the United Reformed Church in Moldgreen. Each session costs £1.50. For details of membership call Kathryn Johnson on 01924 512037 or contact kathryn_rowling @yahoo.co.uk