Dollhouse Decorating

Miniature Decorating Ideas |Articles on decorating dollhouses and the history of this artform


I have had a life-long love affair with dollhouse miniatures, and careers in art education and interior design. I hope to combine these life experiences to help other miniature enthusiasts get more out of this wonderful hobby we enjoy, a hobby that often reaches the level of an art form. Susan Downing

Posted on 12 April, 2016


William Robertson’s Drafting Classroom – 1:12 Scale

William R. Robertson’s World in 1/12 Scale

In the world of miniatures, William Robertson’s work is some of the most highly sought after in the world. He has been making a living working full time at this since 1977. He works in both wood and metal and creates not only individual pieces but also complete rooms. His work has been displayed by institutions like the Smithsonian and the National Geographic Society. A large body of his work can be seen in the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in his home town of Kansas City, Missouri. The display is one which he also helped design. In fact, he has been consulted on the proper display of miniatures at a number of museums and contributed significantly to the design of the Kentucky Gateway Museum in Maysville, Kentucky, which houses the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection

Getting An Early Start


William Robertson’s18th Century Hewitt gentleman’s tool chest.

As a young boy growing up in Washington DC, his parents would often drop him off at the Smithsonian where he would spend the day. His interest was not only in the models but also how they were displayed and presented. At the age of 15, William was working in a hardware store and building models of his own, working on everything from race cars to electronics.

Miniature Tool Chest

Some years ago, William completed a miniature 18th Century Hewitt gentleman’s tool chest. It is complete with all the planes, chisels and saws a craftsman of that era would have used, reproduced in miniature down to the finest detail. Even the key lock on the chest is functional. Over 1000 hours were invested in the construction of the tools and toolbox, but it illustrates the lengths to which William will go to get every detail right―down to the 5-leave hinge on the tiny folding rule. Even the label on the underside of the lid is printed (in perfect scale) on actual 18th-century paper.

The Creative Process


Twin Manors, one of a pair of 1:12 scale dollhouses

Robertson describes the creative process this way. “For me the process starts with the study and research of the original object.  It is important to understand the ways, tools and methods used by the original craftsman. When I reduce an object to a smaller scale I must be careful to maintain proper proportions while at the same time adding an artistic interpretation. Even after 30 years, I enjoy working in my studio which can at times be either peaceful or very challenging as I strive to make each new piece better in some way than anything I have done before.”

A Workshop Dominated By Hand Tools


William R. Robertson, miniature artisan

At 1/12 scale, the advantages of power tools are minimized and the precision of hand tools is often called for. Power tools are good at removing large amounts of material rapidly, but the delicate control provided by fine hand tools or small precision power tools is usually what is called for with extremely small and detailed parts. He makes small metal parts on a lathe and grinds his own tiny router bits in order to make upscale moldings, but as he notes while working with one of his small hand planes, “A scale plane takes a scale shaving.”

William R. Robertson won the Joe Martin Foundation 2015 award for Metalworking Craftsman of the Year.

The above is a reduction of a post on Internet Craftsmanship Museum.


Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens


I invite you to visit my Etsy Shop where I offer many accessories and pieces of furniture in 1:12 scale. Subscribers to this blog receive a discount on all Featured Products. Click here for details.

Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: artisans

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