How to Build a Haunted Dollhouse

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How to Build a Haunted Dollhouse. Dollhouses don't have to be wholesome stages on which girls play out fantasies of being wives and mothers. Instead, they can be places for you to explore and share your darkest visions. A haunted dollhouse can be a toy for girls and boys of any age, or it can be a work of art.

Obtain a dollhouse that's already constructed, or assemble a dollhouse kit. You can buy haunted dollhouse kits, but it's much more fun to use your own creativity as you build a haunted dollhouse.

Come up with a story for your haunted house to guide its overall look. The story might be about a spooky current occupant of the house, or it might be the story of why the house is abandoned. You can draw inspiration from your favorite ghost stories and horror movies. The book "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" by Corinne May Botz, a collection of dollhouses illustrating real murder scenes, is a good source of inspiration.

Find ways to alter the dollhouse to match it to your story. For example, you can add secret passageways or trap doors, or you can create a cellar in which the bodies are buried.

Decorate the interior of your dollhouse. Paint or paper the walls and finish the floors to match the era of your haunted house. Hang curtains or board up windows, depending upon your haunted dollhouse's story.

Finish the exterior. Black or streaky gray paint conveys the idea of a haunted house well, but if your haunted dollhouse is Victorian, using a traditional dark Victorian palette can be just as haunting. Vines and broken fences make the house uninviting. Use wisps of cotton to make miniature spider webs. You can also make the exterior oddly normal to disguise the dollhouse's haunted nature.

To mimic rotting silk curtains, use torn muslin. For something more substantial, dark and heavy velvet drapes can be the perfect touch for your Victorian haunted dollhouse.

Age the house, or show evidence of some of the spookier things that have happened there. Sand the wallpaper or tear strips from it. Create blood stains and other evidence of murder with paint. Make gouges in the floor or create bullet holes. Singe parts of the house with a candle flame if it caught on fire. Create water damage if the roof leaks.

Buy dollhouse furniture that matches your story. If appropriate, age the furniture or damage it to bring the story to life. Some miniature artists, like Patricia Paul (see Resources below), sell miniatures that are pre-aged and already spooky.

Stage scenes that illustrate the story of your haunted dollhouse. These scenes are specific to your story, so let your creativity flow. You may want to use dolls to illustrate the scenes, or you may want to create ghosts out of muslin.

Tips & Warnings

  • Age the house by painting it all over with an even layer of thin gray paint. For a more extreme effect, use both black and gray paint, creating streaks.
  • If you use a flame to burn parts of your haunted dollhouse, have a fire extinguisher handy. Dampening the dollhouse with a spray bottle can help ensure that it doesn't actually catch fire, but just blackens.
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