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.