The Godzilla Factor: The Greene & Greene, Part II

A handful of the many stained glass fixtures in the house

The Godzilla Factor developed as a further aspect of the miniature Greene & Greene/Gamble House interpretation saga—the monster/s (reincarnated as the architect/designers Charles & Henry Greene) that held us in their thrall, nibbling away at our sleep, our lives, our very souls.

First floor walls are up, exterior finish continues

We repeatedly cancelled social engagements. I blinded myself to the accumulating household beach sand, and dog and cat hair, and decided to take piano lessons. Noel disappeared into our captors’ brains, sitting up until the small hours, absorbing. We were also committed to design and teach workshops, for which we had to escape the monster and re-focus on smaller pieces. Our life morphed into a juggling act. In ways we looked forward to escaping the grip of the big house, in others we regretted losing the thread of concentration—it always took time to retrace the threads back into the main work and re-fire our passion. Plus, each incursion meant our finish date was pushed back one more time.

Building the inglenook surrounding living room using basswood to simulate
the original fine hardwoods

Completed living room with inglenook

Texturing vinyl floor tiles to match the terra cotta tiles surrounding the dining room fireplace

There were nights we’d worked so long we’d get slap-happy and take on the roles of Charles–Noel/Charles the dreamer/designer and crazier of the two, and Pat/Henry, the more business side of the duo.

More light!

We’d argue along in that vein, sometimes feeling as if we were, actually, them. We’d work and blather until we couldn’t see. Both our progress and frustrations are reflected in my work notes: “Dining room light fixture, even sitting on the floor, shows how the Greene’s textural designs all fit together; woodwork, metalwork, glass, tiles all complementing each other”…Can we finish by June/July for the NAME National Show?…”Were aging as rapidly as the house.”

 It wasn’t until July 4 that we admitted to ourselves we couldn’t make the show, 3 weeks away.

Dining room completed


Library and back of staircase

1988 marked the beginning of the “last” phase of construction on the 1909 Greene & Greene/Gamble House interpretation.  The deadline for completion was again extended into the unforeseeable future. It also marked the time when we admitted we were over our heads financially on the project—we needed our classes to support the balance of the work, which would prolong the project even more. As fate would have it, one more time, we got a break in the form of an invitation to join a miniatures group on a cruise as their guests of honor. The Arnells, the ever-flexible commissioners of the house, were among our shipmates. Their encouragement and excitement for the work-in-progress rekindled our fervor for the job ahead, as well as making it possible for us to continue at the snail’s pace we deemed necessary. Once we knew we wouldn’t go into debt on the project, we enjoyed the sun, the beaches, life-jacket drills, and the labors of all those who cooked and served us fine food, and made our beds. Our dreams again filled with “what next?” and returning (willingly) to Godzilla. We returned to seeing life through Charles & Henry’s eyes.

On to the second floor.

Note: A more detailed record of the project and how we did it is available in reprints of  January, February and March  issues of Nutshell News, where I wrote extensively about the project. If they aren’t available through the Dollhouse Miniatures archives, mini people on chat lines like The Camp, and Small Stuff may have copies they’d be willing to copy for you.

About smallhousepress

In 1974, my husband Noel and I began building aged miniature houses for collectors and museums. We were 70's dropouts. We quit our careers in advertising--art director and writer, respectively--and escaped Los Angeles in a VW camper and a Bug for a simpler life on the coast of Washington State. From a tiny studio in our home, we built 64 houses and buildings. Our specialty was aging--making a structure that reflected the scars and wrinkles of time, the elements, and human habitation. In the 80s we began teaching our techniques in workshops around the country, and I began to write our how-to's in Nutshell News and Miniature Collector. In 2000 we migrated across the Columbia to Astoria, OR, where , in 2011, we retired from miniatures. We are Fellows of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and taught at their annual school in Castine, ME. By avocation I am a writer and poet. The blog is my way of working back into a writing routine, as well as recording what we did, and what we learned along the way.
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10 Responses to The Godzilla Factor: The Greene & Greene, Part II

  1. Linda Master says:

    Each blog entry leaves me more speechless—I sound like a broken record every time I comment but WOW!

  2. Nice broken record–thank you, as always.

  3. Evelyne says:

    Wow! That’s such a ‘good’ monster! Its ‘tyranny’ helped you guys create something wonderful, after all… 🙂

  4. susan morris says:

    Those lighting fixtures are wonderful! I am so envious. I used to own an Arts and Crafts home and subscribed to Bungalow Magazine. There is a large following of the Bungalow movement! Congratulations for capturing it so beautifully! Susan Morris

  5. O. Massey says:

    I just saw this wonderful house of yours at the Tucson Mini Time Machine Museum! It is truly beautiful! Wonderful work as usual! Anyone who loves minis needs to visit that museum too, they have done a great job displaying many interesting and beautiful doll houses and minis.

  6. Anne says:

    I thought for sure my heart would stop when I saw the picture of the handful of lights. They are small jewels; breathtakingly beautiful. Every aspect of the house is that beautiful. I’m speechless (no one who knows me would believe that could happen to me). I’d like to go on and on about how I feel about what I’m seeing but each of the adjectives seems too banal. The house is a treasure.

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