Little white houses

I’m not sure how best to describe these: whitewashed Monopoly houses scattered on an oversized board game? Typewritten pages folded into paper houses? Stencilled with bits of poems from Emily Dickinson and tossed about the village of Deerfield, Massachusetts, the houses are the creation of Peter Krasznekewicz, who is currently a junior at Deerfield Academy. (You can see a slideshow of the project here.)

If you live near Boston, it’s worth the field trip to visit and wander around. But if you don’t catch the installation this fall, the Little White House Project will move to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass. in the spring, and maybe to the Boston Children’s Museum. After that, the houses will have a second life: the artist plans to “up-cycle” the structures as material to be used in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house.

The Glass House

This past weekend, we visited the glass house–as in Philip Johnson’s 1949 little gem, not Billy Joel’s album circa sixth grade. Johnson lived to be nearly 100 (he died in 2005) and the house and its grounds have just been opened to tours this year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Located in New Canaan, CT, it’s a great architectural field trip from New York, or if you happen to be heading that way.

Johnson’s other building experiments on the property aren’t as impressive–but he was a friend of Frank Stella, and so am I (figuratively, in my case).

Although the McMansions of the super rich have mostly devoured the town, there are still about 90 modern houses sprinkled about. Visit the Irwin Pool House (designed in 1960 by Landis Gores) in lovely Irwin Park for a complete survey of the modern homes in the area.

The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Midcentury Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and Others

Quilt show at the Dudley Farm

The Dudley Farm, a historic Florida homestead and working farm, hosted a quilt show this weekend. Ladies in period costume–prairie bonnets!–showed off some antique quilts. There were some quilts for sale and “quilted apparel”–questionable at best. Still, these quilts looked so pretty hanging on the line, and we had a good time visiting the animals, pumping water, and playing catch with horse chestnuts.

Josef Albers

Josef Albers seems to be having a moment. I am seeing his lovely squares all over the place, and I think they would make a great quilt pattern. So easy! So colorful! Before I left New York, I stocked up on some Kona cotton in primary hues with this quilt in mind. A quilt like this would be perfect for snuggling up in a hammock in the late fall when it gets chilly (it really does get chilly in north Florida!). I still need to get the hammock, but we do have the trees, so that’s a start. Or for picnics on the beach? Or a quilt for our guest room? And which colors? They are all so appealing, but I really like the orange and gray. What about you?

Dollhouse Love

Abe was indifferent. Zeke was a step up from that–fond? bemused?–whatever implies a distant affection. It was clear: neither of my kids toppled head over heels in love with the dollhouse I rescued from the curb, took home and painted, papered, and decorated with homemade furniture and–get this–a miniature Frank Stella.

I mean, I went through a lot of (happy) trouble working on that thing. To make the Lilliputian furniture, I drew up little elaborate blueprints. My husband then took the plans to his architecture firm and asked the model shop to cut the pieces to size. (Did the model shoppers ever figure out the identity of the “client”? Was it, in fact, completely obvious?)

I sewed tiny pillows & stitched mini felt blankets. I made side tables out of those plastic thing-a-ma-bobs that come in the middle of pizzas. Bunk beds. Books as big as postage stamps. A bath mat the size of a match box.

My family (and the model shoppers) humored my obsession with the small scale. They regarded me with polite–and always kind–detachment. But in the ten years since, I’ve learned something important:

Sometimes, it takes a village to love a dollhouse.

First it was Sophia Alvarez, my seven-year-old neighbor. When she wasn’t constructing a Playmobil megalopolis in her bedroom, she’d come over and rearrange the dollhouse furniture for me. Over the years came other caretakers–Addie, Lila K., Lila M., Sophie U., Sophie B., Mary, Danny, Norman, and every teenage babysitter I have ever hired. It ends up I’m not the only one who appreciates the little things of life.

So if you’re with me, make sure to check out these shrunken exemplars of pristine Modernism in a NYT slide show.

(Photo by Robert Presutti for the New York Times)

Or creep yourself out with this slideshow of shoebox crime scenes beautifully photographed by Corinne May Botz in The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Or admire this 23-room, 5-story house made by Faith Bradford, in this online tour. You can also see it in person at the National Museum of American History in D.C. (And yes, I was just in Washington for school vacation week. Guess what? No one in my family wanted to go see Faith’s dollhouse with me. Sigh.)

America's Doll House: The Miniature World of Faith Bradford