April 24 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Penny is a lady of property.
She’s got a cowboy’s log cabin, several houses, a couple of market stalls, a music instrument shop, a hardware store – the list goes on.
But Penny Parker’s shops and homes all fit into the front room of her home in Felixstowe’s Western Avenue.
Her fascination with dolls’ houses and the world in miniature began when her niece complained that her parents threw out her childhood dolls’ house.
Penny said: “For my niece’s birthday we bought her a dolls’ house, then my sister wanted one and then my daughter and then me.
“We started noticing that other people were also into dolls’ houses and we thought it would be a good idea to get together.”
It was about ten years ago that Penny started the Felixstowe Dolls’ House Club.
The 49-year-old, who is perhaps better known in the town for her work with guide dogs, said: “There are about eight of us that meet regularly. We meet at the Old Felixstowe Community Centre in Ferry Road on the first Monday of the month. Each session we make something which we take home.
“We also make extras which we sell later in the year to buy other materials. We also have an ongoing project that we each do at home.”
This year the club has made dolls’ house scenes out of small vanity suitcases.
Penny said: “I enjoy making things out of things that have previously been something else. I also like the miniature world – you can create anything you like.”
Penny said she enjoys finding different things that she can use for her hobby.
She said: “It is creative and you can spend hours making things. You get absorbed in what you are doing.”
Objects have included a handbag made from a bulldog clip, a paint pot made from the lid of a toothpaste tube, a ladies undergarment made from knicker elastic, an ice cream sundae made from push pins and wood adhesive, a Christmas wreath made from beads and dog leads made from old jewellery chains.
Penny, who has a total of 28 shops, houses and stalls, said: “It doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby though you can buy solid silver ornaments if you like, it depends on what you want in your house.
“We prefer to make things as it is more personal and part of the fun for us. We are quite quirky people.”
Judy English, 65, of Quintons Lane, Felixstowe, said she enjoyed her dolls’ house as a child.
The former primary school teacher said she has a dedicated room for her hobby at home. “It is a hobby that has grown gradually. My grand-daughters love the dolls’ houses.”
Judy said her husband is a model railway enthusiast.
She has been working on a seaside kiosk – complete with cakes, sandwiches, beach goods, and candy floss made from pink cotton wool, in her small vanity suitcase.
She added: “I enjoy making things but I also really enjoy the historical aspect of the hobby and doing the research needed to get a Georgian or Victorian room right.”
Most dolls’ houses are built to a scale of 1 to 12 - one inch is equal to one foot.
Rosemary Gitsham, 78, of Grimston Lane, Trimley St Martin said: “I had two dolls’ houses when I was a child and I loved them, there weren’t many toys around in the war. Then about 15 years ago I saw an old dolls’ house that was being thrown away in someone’s garden. It was bound for the skip so I saved it and I have been interested ever since.”
Rosemary has five dolls’ houses.
She said: “It is very social and I have met lots of people I didn’t know before and made new friends.”
As she puts the finishing touches to her gentleman’s library – complete with a bottle of wine and miniature chequebook – Rosemary said her Georgian art gallery room took some time to finish.
She said: “The painting frames are made from gold chocolate wrappers. They took a long time to do.
“It is fun hobby. We all enjoy it.”
For more information about the club call Penny on 01394 275073