Building Lily’s world

Lily is the first of the dolls to have two permanent diorama spaces – one outdoor diorama space (in her secret garden) and one indoor diorama space (in her room).

The indoor space was simple to put together – it only has a few elements.

Lily's indoor diorama

  • Three walls (two taken from Daisy’s room, and one new). I used real wallpaper on one of the walls, and a roll of decorative paper on the other two.
  • One window (also used to be Daisy’s) covered in a clear acrylic sheet to mimic glass
  • Two 12×12 wood laminate tiles (as from Daisy’s room)
  • A printout of a rug. I just happened to find one that almost perfectly fit an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.
  • One Barbie bed, covered in contact paper (because the original bed is a pink monstrosity)
  • Two scarves – one as her bed cover, and the other as curtains
  • A beautiful dresser (probably a jewelry box) that I picked up at Goodwill

A note on putting acrylic in doll house windows: I put a sheet of acrylic on the window, thinking it would make it more realistic. In fact, it ended up doing the opposite – reflecting me and my dining room in the background of Lily’s room.

Here I am – looming in Lily’s room

Lesson learned – in the future I’ll leave my windows empty (as I did in Rosie’s room). The only time the reflection might be nice would be when the doll is sitting right by the window and you can see the reflection. But, that seems like the unusual case. The usual case is where you can see my camera’s reflection in the doll’s room.

Her outside space is more elaborate, and still a work in progress. It’s made up of:


  • A few great hauls from Goodwill, including the moss like ground cover, the picture frame door, the folding wall, and the amazing wooden creche (or whatever it is) that really makes the space.
  • It’s surrounded by a corner of “real” wall (made with individual bricks) and a corner of fake wall (drawn on foamboard). I feel like the wall is too short for the space, so I’ll probably be casting bricks over the holidays 🙂
  • Twigs and sticks with fake flowers (from the Dollar Store) hot glued onto them.

It’s missing its normal enclosure picture – that’s just the wall covering in my garage workspace behind the diorama. In Lily’s earlier episode previous shot, I hung a print behind the space. In this most recent episode, I hung a flowered scarf behind it. What I really want is to be able to see part of a town around it, but I’ll need to make more space in my garage for that to work.

A note on Lily’s paintings. Someone asked me about the paintings in Lily’s episode of the lost doll. They’re not really paintings – they’re just a Photoshop Elements trick. I take a picture, then I go into Elements and paste the picture over Lily’s canvas in the photo. I turn it from a picture into a painting by using the “oil painting” effect on a brush and brushing across the panel, giving an effect like this:



Please see the Credits page for a list of credits of the dolls and other items in these posts.

Episode 12 – Lily and the case of the lost doll, part 2

Lily continues her search for the lost doll

Scene 1: In the garden

Lily holds picture of lost doll
Lily paints
and sees the lost doll
Lily finds the lost doll
Lily returns the lost doll

Scene 2: At home

Lily sits up in bed
Lily sits up in bed
revealing old photos and letters
Lily opens a drawer of old photos and letters
Lily looks through old photos
Lily looks through old photos
Lily holds an old photo
. . . and paints the sea

So, the opposite of Rosie (who has dreams and brings back objects).  Lily can hold an object and paint a dream. And Lily is dreaming (painting) of the sea.

That’s my mom again in the old photos, along with (I believe) my sister Claudia.


The letters scattered in the old chest are correspondence between my mother and father when my dad was in the Merchant Marines.

Here’s a snippet from one of the letters, Mom to Dad, January 6, 1945.

“And I’ll tell you about us [that’s she and my oldest sibling, Kim] and what a wonderful, luxurious sterile life I’m leading here and what a gull [seems to mean stupid] I was trying to manage alone there at 43 [I think this is a reference to their apartment in the city – she’s moved in with her mom and dad in New Jersey while my father is away]. This place may kill whatever is creative in you, but at least it doesn’t kill you and if my writing seems a little different, chalk it up to the fact that I’m a little hesitant about typing since I pulled a faint the last time and I keep waiting to pass out now [not sure what the issue was – maybe she was already pregnant with my sister Claudia?], but I feel much better and I’ve gone to see another doctor in the McGraw Hill building, that beautiful green shiny building on 42nd street [New York]. Brother [her older brother, Vincent] recommended him, and he’s most intelligent, has a full time professorship at Columbia Med and all sorts of things . . . I like him muchly cause he’s got all the latest issues of the New Yorker and his patients are an intelligent bunch .  .  met some reporters from the Herald-Tribune the first visit . .  long lanky black horn-rimmed glasses . . . and I put my urine in a jar labelled DEMAND THIS BRAND  CHILLING IMPROVES so he’s pretty fond of me too.  I think we bought some pickled herring in it. ”

I’m always struck by how thoroughly modern my mother’s writing always sounds. If I didn’t know the time frame, I’d never be able to place when she was writing.

My mom died in 2012, at the age of 93. But, when I saw Lily’s garden, I knew she’s want to be there. I’ve left her on the bench, for now, as an older woman reading a book. But I suspect the warm sea air in Lily’s town will work its magic on her.


Please see the Credits page for a list of credits of the dolls and other items in these posts.