Mini Models

by Avery Share ’15

What started with an ad for mini-fiesta ware turned into a fully furnished eight-room, Victorian-era styled dollhouse that took Barbara Herr ’66 nearly 10 years to complete. With a love for decorating and arranging furniture, Herr started work on the dollhouse after she and her partner, the late Dwight Gardiner, professor of psychology at HWS for many decades, finished decorating the house they built in 1985.

“We made a home together and had an awful lot of fun planning that full-sized house and decorating it,” Herr says. “After several years, we were done furnishing it and I thought, ‘What am I going to do for fun?’ I saw an ad for mini-fiesta ware and started planning a dollhouse around it!” Complete with working electricity, hand-made quilts on beds, and a motorcycle in the driveway, Herr “tried to make the dollhouse as lifelike as possible.”

The house may be mini, but it’s not lacking in style. Built on a 1 inch to 1 foot scale (1:12), the dollhouse (below) stands on a base of six square feet and is furnished with hundreds of 1890s-1950s styled mini pieces that took Herr years to hunt down and collect. From the afghan on the couch to the mixer in the kitchen to the copy of Moby Dick on the bookshelf, each piece was hand-picked by Herr to mamake her dollhouse a “dollhome.”

Herr still enjoys working part-time at the University of Rochester Medical Center as an assistant professor of neurology where the research of her department has large-scale impacts. Since graduating from HWS, Herr has collaborated with a network of doctors from around the world to help find solutions for rare, debilitating neuromuscular diseases.

Though Herr was forced to take down the dollhouse due to a recent move to a one-level home, she’s looking forward to giving the dollhouse to her six-year-old niece in Pittsburgh and helping her rebuild it – passing a small piece of history to the next generation, while she starts decorating her newest project, a 1:144 mini dollhouse (above) for her new scaled-down home.


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