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MM18: Electrify Your Dollhouse

w/ Barbara Jones


video sleeve image

$29.95 + S&H

Table of Contents:

Tools and Materials
Lights, Sockets and Plugs
Parallel and Series Wiring
Hiding Wires
Tape Wiring
Making Fixtures

Approx. Running Time: 71 minutes

Light Up Your Miniature World...
And Enjoy It!

Barbara Jones has been making miniatures and wiring dollhouses for over 20 years. During that time she's also taught others how to wire their own miniature houses, and turn something that many miniaturists might consider difficult and intimidating, into fun and challenging projects.

In "Electrify Your Dollhouse" Volume 18 of the multi-part Master Miniaturists Video Instructional Series, Barbara shares with you much of what she's learned about wiring and lighting so that you can wire your very own dollhouse.

The good news is the tools and materials you'll need are not extensive. In fact, many of them you may already have. Things like wire strippers, wire cutters, matches, soldering iron, masking tape, and a power drill.

But before you can begin wiring your dollhouse, you must first learn how to solder wire joints. "Soldering joints is very important," says Barbara. "If you twist your wires together, and don't solder them, over the long run those joints will fail and you'll have no lights in your dollhouse."

Barbara begins by first discussing a variety of soldering irons so you can choose the one that's best for your needs. She also tells you how to choose solder and explains why resin core solder is better than either silver core solder or plumber's solder. She then proceeds to show you a step-by-step method of soldering from stripping wires, all the way through to covering your joints with shrink tubing.

"Soldering can be a lot of fun," Barbara says. "Be sure you practice. The more you practice, the easier it gets."

And now that you know how to solder, it's time to begin applying what you've learned. "One of the creative parts of wiring and making a dollhouse light," says Barbara, "is making your own fixtures." In the video's next section she outlines the various bulbs, sockets, and plugs from which you can make lighting fixtures for your dollhouse.

Then it's time to learn about transformers and fuses... what types are available, and the manufacturers that make them. According to Barbara, "Dollhouse wiring normally is done with a 12 volt system as opposed to the 110 volt system found in real houses." The 12 volt system isn't lethal, it burns cooler, and the bulbs are much smaller.

Barbara also explains why it's important to add a circuit breaker to your dollhouse even though chances are the location where you'll display your dollhouse is probably equipped with its own circuit breaker. "You can have a flaming fire in your dollhouse," she says, "without ever tripping the circuit breakers in your real house!"

Next you'll learn about fuses... what they are, what they do, and what fuse ratings to use depending on the number of bulbs you'll be using. From there Barbara will teach you the differences between parallel and series wiring using both a diagram drawn on paper and a demo box to demonstrate what each looks like.

"We don't need to know very many technical things about wiring to wire a dollhouse," she says. "But we do need to have a little bit of an understanding of parallel and series wiring." Her detailed explanations will help you understand the differences between the two so that you can determine which wiring system is best for your dollhouse.

Now your miniature house is completely wired. But what will you do with all those exposed wires? Don't worry... by following Barbara's tips, no one will even know that there are wires running behind the walls of your miniature house.

Since several of the major manufacturers of dollhouse wiring components recommend tape wiring over hard wiring, Barbara spends some time discussing tape wiring and its benefits. She also does a comparison of hard wiring vs. tape wiring based on cost, availability, flexibility, planning, and installation. "Ultimately," she says, "it's up to you to make your own choice based on your experiences." Her guidance will certainly help make your choice a lot easier.

As mentioned earlier, one of the most creative aspects of dollhouse wiring is making your own fixtures. In this video's final section Barbara will show you how to make lamps and fixtures from an array of jewelry findings which you'll find at most bead and craft stores. The techniques she shares with you can be applied to fixtures of any scale.

Most of all, when making fixtures, she reminds you to "be creative and have lots of fun!"

While most of the materials mentioned on this video can be found in your local stores, "Electrify Your Dollhouse" ends with a listing of mail order sources where you can order these materials just in case you have trouble finding them locally.