Staff Photo: John Bohn Ken Simon attaches a hinge to the front opening of a 1/12th scale miniature dollhouse at Miniature Designs, a shop specializing in miniature dollhouses and properly scaled accessories to furnish the dollhouses. The Lawrenceville business is very popular to collectors of miniature dollhouses.
IF YOU GO
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays and Mondays by appointment only
• Address: 3555 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville
• Phone: 770-923-8500
• Website: miniaturedesigns.com
UPCOMING EVENTS, CLASSES
• Aug. 10: Silver Soldering a Brass Bed class with Jim Pounder
• Aug. 11: Basic Silver Soldering and Creating a Floor Lamp class with Jim Pounder
• Sept. 27: Bring in your “Make it Yours” completed project to Miniature Designs for the in-store contest.
• Sept. 27-28: Sculpting an Adult Female in Clay class with Elle Piccolo
• Sept. 30: Photos must be submitted for Dollhouse Miniatures Merchants Association’s “Make it Yours” Contest
• Oct. 19: NAME Day: A Cart for All Reasons
• Oct. 26: Halloween Party, “Make it Yours” in-store contest ends and winners announced
• Nov. 7-10: Merchant of Granada class with Ron Hubble
Register for classes through the website: miniaturedesigns.com
LAWRENCEVILLE -- J.P. Sligh has been building, designing and crafting scenes with miniature pieces since he was a teenager.
"I just saw them at a shop, liked them and got started," the Tucker resident said. "Right now I'm working on the exterior of a box to an Arabian tent."
Sligh usually works on period pieces -- scenes that need research. The last project he completed consisted of two state rooms sinking in the Titanic. He found the blueprints for second- and third-class cabins, then constructed them as they were filling with water.
"Half the fun is doing all of the research," he said. "The lights are even flickering like they're about to go out."
When he needs items for his projects, he travels on Lawrenceville Highway to Miniature Designs. It's his one-stop shop for all things small.
"I have bought things on the Internet before, but (owners) Bev and Ken (Simon) can find anything you want," Sligh said. "Here, you can touch it and make sure it's the right size, color and that sort of stuff."
If you can't find the tiny fixtures in the store, the Simons gladly search high and low for you.
"There is always the hunt to find something that's different and unique, and it brings so much happiness to people," Bev said.
And the 4,000-square-foot store has everything from bedroom furniture and kitchen appliances to hand crocheted baby shoes and blown glass lamp shades.
"You want a bottle of booze? We've got a bottle of booze," co-owner Annie Camp said. "We've got all the wines, baby's oatmeal -- kind of anything they do on a big girl scale, they'll do for a dollhouse."
That include cartons of cigarettes, Christmas cookies and litter boxes. Really, anything.
But Miniature Designs didn't start out this large or in this location when it opened 23 years ago.
"I have always loved dollhouses," Bev Simon said. "(My husband Ken) bought me my first dollhouse on our first anniversary. I started (the store) by doing shows, where I rented out a little room. Then I met a partner, and she showed me the way by opening a shop together in downtown Lawrenceville."
The Simons moved the store to its current location 11 years ago.
More than two decades later, the business is a destination spot for many miniature enthusiasts.
"Half the time when I come into the shop, I'll meet someone new who has come for the day from Alabama, South Carolina or Florida," Sligh said. "They come to just come to the shop. There's nothing else like it around."
Beside selling tiny things, the staff also designs and builds basic, replica and custom dollhouses from three scales of houses: 1/12, 4 and 8 scale. If needed, the crew can refurbish other pieces and add additions to the houses.
For the dollhouses, customers can choose everything they could for an actual house: the wallpaper, type of hardwood and tile floors, carpets, types of working lights to install and the crown modeling.
"The wood that we use is a cabinet grade Baltic Birch. Home Depot and Lowe's don't carry that good of quality wood," Camp said. "You need a speciality store like Suwanee Lumber. It's not something you can just buy anywhere."
Some of the other hardwood choices are pine, oak, maple and dark walnut.
"Whatever the customer can dream up, we can do," Camp said.
For those who are interested in working with miniatures or need a space to work on projects, Miniature Designs offers classes every other Saturday for $12 a session.
"We do encourage our customers to bring their projects with them so they can play," Camp said.
The store is located at 3555 Lawrenceville Highway in Lawrenceville. For more information, visit miniaturedesigns.com.