The Mouse House: another toy blog

When my niece was quite small, she wanted a dollhouse but was not old enough yet to inherit the elegant, and rather delicate, dollhouse that the grandfather I never knew built for my mother. I built the Mouse House as a sort of fill-in-the-gap toy, to play with until she was old enough for a real dollhouse.
      The premise for the mouse house was Miss. Mouse; a three inch tall stuffed mouse, who needed a place to live. The idea was that I could make the mouse house out of an actual tree stump and make it much more rugged than a conventional dollhouse. After finding, and cutting, and drying, a stump that was the right size, and approximate shape, I set about cutting the stump in half vertically. This is when I discovered that the maple stump I had harvested was actually a rock-maple stump. When I got the stump cut in half, I began to hollow out the insides of the two halves to make the rooms of Miss. Mouse’s new home. The idea was that one-half of the stump-house would be glued to a solid base; the other would swing out on a large hinge so that the house could be opened in order to get to the rooms inside. Hollowing out the stump took some time with big gouges and chisels, but the simple and sculptural interior was just what Miss. Mouse needed. I had chosen a tree stump that had some wonderful natural clefts in it. As I hollowed out the two halves of the stump, I cut through the back of these clefts in several places to make irregular openings. By cutting these openings, I was able to make two places for small, hinged, doors. I filled other irregular openings with pieces of plexi-glass cut to fit the individual openings and glued in with epoxy to make windows.
      The furnishings for the mouse house were made from matchboxes, thimbles, acorn tops, and empty thread spools. I cut small cedar shingles to glue onto the roof of the house, and painted the base.
      The tree trunk that makes up the mouse house has cusped slightly over the years, but is otherwise intact, and has survived a lot of play. My niece has now inherited the dollhouse that her great-grandfather made, yet the mouse house remains a popular, and well played with, toy. In fact (this is a sensitive subject, and is not a topic for discussion with my niece and her siblings,) we are on our second Miss. Mouse, as the first one wore out.

The mouse house:

The inside of the mouse house with Miss. Mouse on the second floor:


7 Responses to “The Mouse House: another toy blog”

  1. Toni Says:

    This is a very beautiful work of art and function! I have been contemplating building a doll house for my daughters (5 & 3). At their current age they need a fairly durable doll house that can stand up to their level of play, especially my three year old!

    How long did it take you to build the mouse house (number of hours)?

  2. misty Says:

    The mouse-house is so delightful! Oh, the fascination of a library display of a similar sort of mouse-house, when I was little. My friend Bennie and I spent hours working on a carboard box version after that, and I eventually found a mouse family to live in my “dollhouse,” a big, old pine cabinet with a glass front.

    In the summer often the dolls moved outside and we would build or excavate dollhouses. Lavender colored thistle heads and other flower heads were particular favorites for decorations, and mullein leaves made mattresses and pillows. Rocks and twigs and leaves and dried grass from the lawn supplied other furniture. Burdock leaves made wonderful roofs.

    One summer, my friend Tina and I built a two-story house of six or so old bricks for some twig and leaf people to live in. We played with it all season long and visited it in the winter, even briefly renovating it the next spring.

    The only lasting project that came from those outdoor activities were some hot-glued twig furniture for the “inside” dollhouse. But there were so many hours of bliss in those transient little worlds.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. judy jennings Says:

    hi: I have been looking for a mouse house since my sister’s mother-in-law gave her one. Its made of ceramics and on a smaller scale. It looks like the outside of yours but it shows the rooms and the little mice inside with a moss roof. I’m sure it was a craft made in the 70 in new york.
    I think I’m going to give yours a try. Unless you decide to sell them. Let me know.
    hope to hear from you

  4. Laura Temali Says:

    I too had a mouse house when I was a child, and I just cleaned it up and gave it to my daughter for her 5th birthday. My old mice were in terrible shape and had to be thrown out. They were upright with “real” gray fur, about 2 inches tall. Any idea where you can get these kind of mice these days?

  5. dovetails Says:

    I have not seen mice like this anywhere. For the mouse house that I made I had to make a mouse out of gray felt with small buttons for eyes and thin leather for the feet and tail. I actually ended up making two mice, because the first one went missing.
    Good luck,

  6. brenda Says:

    you can get those mice on ebay..german real fur mice.

  7. dovetails Says:

    Thanks Brenda!

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