Welcome to part two of our new Handmade’s Tale feature which celebrates crafty and creative women. This week Natasha meets mid-century dream maker Maryann Roy.
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled across the Mad Men set. Joan Holloway’s apartment is rendered in exquisite mid-century detail– right down to the cigarette embers in the ashtray, the martini cocktail on the table and the barkcloth curtains in the background. But look closer and you’ll see it’s all a mirage. These are miniature dream worlds which have been created in painstaking 1:6 scale by the talented Maryann Roy.
The American-born doll doyenne creates neo-retro intricate furnishings and dioramas for discerning doll collectors looking for the perfect mid-century set to complement their miniature muses.
A regular contributor to Fashion Doll Quarterly, Mary Ann has been featured in publications including Dolls in Print, Barbie Bazaar, Haute Doll and Miller’s Magazine as well as designing shopfront windows for Gems & Jewels jewellery store in Australia.
Whether she’s crafting tiny Sexton cats, glorious room dividers or iconic modular furniture, Roy is truly in her element when crafting miniatures.
Despite her penchant for mid century interiors, she says her own home is quite traditional. She says many of her customers have a nostalgic connection with the style
“Either their homes were this way as they grew up, or a relative’s home.”
“If any are like me, they might not be able to have THEIR homes look MCM, but, at least their dolls can live that way – for now,” she laughs.
Read on to discover why it’s a small world after all!
What is it about mid-century modern that appeals to your particular aesthetic?
MCM (or mid-century modern) is a term we use that encompasses product development from the 1930s through the 1960s. This includes not only furniture, but architecture, advertising, art, home accessories, right down to the style cars we drove.
When I think about anything mid-century, I tend to see beauty, glamour and even luxury. This is the look I like to portray in my work. In a way, it’s how I “feel”.
How did you first get interested in mid-century modernism?
I’ve always been interested in interior design, but there came a time when I was contributing to a doll publication, and I needed props for an article I was writing. The feel of the article was very 1960s and so I did some research to help me decide what furniture pieces would best suite my needs. I guess you could say that exploring all the possibilities is what led me to mid-century modern.
How did you come to be making 1:6 doll’s furniture? I understand you started out by restoring vintage Barbie dolls isn’t that right?
Yes, correct! For a time, I did business restoring vintage dolls. However, I am an artist at heart and have had my fingers in many mediums over the years.
I also collect vintage fashion dolls and as mentioned, was contributing to a few doll publications. I wanted my articles to POP and needed an aspect other than writing to do that, so I built and designed my own furniture and props in 1:6 scale to accompany dolls in my articles.
What is it about miniatures that fascinates you so much?
Gosh, I think almost everyone loves miniatures in some respect. Whether it’s a miniature scene or miniature couture or a miniature painting. . . For me, I think it’s a mesmerizing aspect. Miniatures can be so engaging as well as entertaining! Think of animatronic or mechanical toys from as early as the 19th century. Some were miniature interpretations of peoples’ actions, meant to capture hearts and entertain the old as well as the young! You really can get lost, at least for a time, in anything miniature.
How has your technique evolved over time?
I’ve grown so much since I started crafting with wood (“furniture making” some call it) 🙂 I prefer to think of it as an art, or inspirational furniture design.
Like any craft, practice and trial and error certainly help perfect technique. Any failures are my own learning curve and a chance to try again. I don’t necessarily think of that as a bad thing. It’s a learning experience. Challenging myself to go further and try different avenues helps my talent evolve and grow.. Even if certain things don’t work out, I like to say: I wanted to do it and so I did.
Have you always been a doll lover/ collector?
Yes, I’ve loved dolls since I was a little girl, but did not become a collector until adulthood. And, dolls are a miniatures, are they not? So, in a way, my designing furniture in miniature is not surprising at all. It’s all connected in a way.
Were you always crafty/ creative as a youngster?
Yes, I’ve always had a creative streak..
I’ve tried just about everything from working with clay, oil and watercolor painting, illustration, cartoon art, and even miniature millinery, to name a few. I still have a few hidden talents that not many know about. I’m musically inclined, can sing and play a little guitar as well. I’ve been very blessed in the creative department.
What are your creative inspirations?
I’m asked this quite often. It really is a whole world of things that inspire me. Sometimes it’s researching a project or reading about an interior designer. Sometimes it’s a just a piece of fabric or the colors on a package. For me, it’s seeing the beauty or possibility in almost anything.
Are all your orders custom made/ one offs?
I’ve found that people really like what I offer at any given time, so I am hoping it’s my style and individuality that attracts people . So, I usually offer sets, or pieces of a collection that I’ve designed and sell through My blog.. Occasionally, I offer OOAK (One Of A Kind) sets for sale. This may be a complete room including walls along with furniture and accessories.
I don’t often have time for custom made orders, but will consider requests on and one by one basis. If the opportunity arises and the project interests me, I will take on commissions.
In the past, I’ve had the honor of working with several well-known businesses and fellow artists, as well as a popular furniture company. I hope to do more projects along these lines in the near future.
Tell me about the process involved in making Welcome Home pieces. What materials do you use? And how long does each piece take to make?
Once I’ve decided on a piece or pieces as the case may be, I will make a sketch (strictly for myself). If I’ve never made the piece before, I need to draft a pattern. Usually out of cardboard.. This process takes the most time because I need to calculate measurements and size and what angles, width, etc would work best.
The pattern is then transferred to wood and cut out using one of several wood working tools. Then, the piece is assembled.
The finishes are either painted , stained (or both) and then upholstered with fabrics.
The length of time depends on the piece. A collection, for example, may take a couple of weeks to complete, but a single piece may only take a day or two.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I think what I like the most, is taking a pile of wood, that may look like nothing – just flat boards, and creating something special with it! When I am nearing the completion of a piece and seeing with my eyes what I envisioned in my head, it gives me great joy!
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?
That’s a tough one. Any piece might be a favorite at any given time, because I may be loving the way it came out, or loving the way it fits in a space, or loving its’ finishes.
I do favor making Living Rooms though. I think that’s because when I am envisioning how to create a realistic looking space, that’s where I imagine most people are. I like making sofas and credenzas, so I guess you could say I have favorite “types” of furniture rather than a favorite piece.
Who are your customers? Are they collectors too?
I have a worldwide customer base. People from all walks of life. Some are doll collectors, some are furniture aficionados, some are companies that utilize miniatures in their line of business and some are collectors of art.
Where can people learn more about your work and purchase their own pieces?
You can follow along on :
I also have a “First To Know List” which provides updates, sales and happenings with Welcome Home. If you would like to be placed on the list, please send your email address and I will add it to the list.
For inquiries, email: email@example.com
So, what do you think of Maryann’s handiwork? Which is your favourite diamara or piece of furniture? Are you an MCM fan? What would you commission her to make a miniature version of?