Book Review | Mixed Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau & Julie Molina

MixedMediaDollhousesbyTallyOliveauandJulieMolinabook1 There are so many good selections of craft books this year; one of the newest books that I have picked up is a cool book published by Quarry Books called Mixed-Media Dollhouses: Techniques and Ideas for Doll-size Assemblages.  The book is written by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina.  You may be familiar with both of these designers from their articles and/or projects that have been published in Somerset Studio magazine, 1000 Artist Journal Pages, Etsy, and more. Below in a close up photo of one of the rooms featured in the book, you can see that the authors combined paper, fabric, photos and other ephemera into this room box.


In the next close up of another one of the rooms featured in this book, the room box has a fun french Marie Antoinette theme.  If you look closely at the photo you can pick out some fun elements that they have put into this room (like the frog prince on the chair).

One of the reasons this book caught my eye is that it is making miniature rooms out of non-traditional materials.  My daughter loves miniatures and I thought that she would benefit from some of the techniques taught in this book.
Here is a list of some of the topics covered in this book:
  • materials for room bases (including non-traditional shapes)
  • choosing a theme
  • finding inspiration
  • organizing supplies
  • tools for special effects (like cut outs)
  • how to work in layers
  • decorating boxes using paint, paper, etc
  • collage techniques
  • adhesives
  • cold joins
  • special effects (like movable parts)
  • embellishments
  • found objects and more.
Additionally, the authors provide some great templates and images to use in creating your own project.
There are so many cute details in this book, that my daughter was very excited to try her hand at making a room.   Her first project was to use a unique shape.  So she decided to make an aquarium for her “Pet Shop” plastic toy using an old jar.
She used the following supplies:
  • a clean empty jar
  • sand
  • shells
  • plastic toys
Then she just put it together.  Here it is without the lid:
and with the lid on.  The lid keeps the sand in and dust out, while still allowing her access to change out the toys.
Her second project was to challenge herself to use something from the recycling pile.  She choose a “Tarte” holiday eyeshadow gift box because it was already trimmed in fun holiday paper, so she would only have to focus on the interior of the box.  She decided that she would turn the box into a Christmas decoration.


 For this project she used:
  • an old Christmas cards
  • glue
  • rhinestones
  • Martha Stewart Glitter
  • scissors
  • die cut stars
  • and double stick tape
She put one Christmas card behind the plastic ridged area.  Then she glued the cut out parts from the other Christmas cards and the die cuts, onto the front of the plastic ridged area (that had previously held the eye shadow sticks).  She then added glue, glitter and rhinestones to the project.

TarteHolidayShadowStickBoxrecyledintoachristmasdecoration1If you look closely, you can see that she layered the card pieces in front of the plastic and behind it.  This gave it more dimension.  It came out very cute and she was very happy with it.

The last project inspired by this book has a Spring theme.  She wanted to use her fun little chicks and a bunny toy that she had purchased at the dollar store.  She collected various supplies to create this fun fantasy miniature garden that she can enjoy outside in the patio.
For this project she used:
  • old planter container
  • assorted glass stones and marbles
  • white toy bunny
  • tiny toy baby chicks
  • dirt
  • assorted seeds and moss
  • water
She started with an empty plant container.  She added dirt, moss, seed, and water.  The next day she added the little glass stones to the areas of the planter that she did not want the moss to grow.  The project took about a month (to allow for the seed to sprout and the moss to grow).  Finally she was able to add her toys and came up with this cute miniature garden that she can play with whenever she is outside.


Here is a closer view of the toys she used in the finished garden project.  It will look even cuter when the clover starts to grow.


The book is very versatile as an inspiration source and is not limited for use to create room boxes (although it is fabulous for that).  I think it is just a starting point.  Think how cute it would be to use one of those giant eggs to make a room box scene inside.  There are so many possibilities from this starting point.
As you can see, the book is not just for adults.  It can be used to inspire kids to create their own dream rooms.  I loved that my daughter could use it for her crafting needs.  The project also inspired her to write a story to go with the miniature spring garden.  That alone was worth the price of the book (which is listed at $24.99).   This is one of those fun inspiration books that is filled with so many good pictures that you just want to make something.  After she finished this project, we started looking around the house to find different types of containers to house more fun ideas.
  • A great starting point for working with miniatures without the expense (just using things around the house).
  • Very easy to follow directions.
  • Great ideas for inspiration.
  • Most miniatures are done to scale which can get complicated.  This book offers ideas of making rooms that are not done to exact scale which allows for some great use of different types of ephemera and other objects.
  • This book is addicting.  You may find yourself turning the most unusual objects into room boxes.
  • The price is a little high, however, I found great deals on the Internet for it.
  • The projects in the book itself vary from easy to difficult.  However, don’t let that keep you from your creative experience.  Just use the harder ones for inspiration to create your own miniature master piece.
Are you looking for a a fun project? Are you interested in miniatures? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Maria Del Pinto

Maria Del Pinto

I have been crafting since I was a child and I love seeing what others create. I live near the beach so everything around me inspires me. I also enjoy activities where I re-purpose something old & discarded & make it into something cool. My favorite mantra is "Re-use, recycle, and re-make".


5 Responses to Book Review | Mixed Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau & Julie Molina

  1. Avatar
    Karen LePage March 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    I think I need to buy this book! What a fabulous rainy day project to do with my kids!

  2. Avatar
    Anonymous March 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I own and love this book. It is not only entertaining to browse, but I found information I had been looking for (about how to hang dangling items within a shadow box or enclosure) the very first time I read through it. (The answer, btw, is eye pins!)

  3. Avatar
    Anonymous March 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    What fun projects!! I’ll be looking at tiny things with new eyes!
    I’ll have to get the book!!

  4. Avatar
    Alex May 20, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    oh wow! I think I NEED this book now. Never have heard of it, but wow!!!

  5. Avatar
    Shower Tracks November 16, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Wow sounds like a great book full of creative ideas. I really like the mini fish bowl, so cute!