The Coastal Star

Along the Coast: Miniatures hobbyists make a little of this, a little of that

  Pam O’Brien with some of her miniature creations. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star


By Jane Smith

Most women would toss out the top of an empty lipstick tube.

Not Pam O’Brien. She can imagine it as an umbrella stand or other item for her dollhouse miniatures.

As president of Les Petits Collecteurs of South Florida, she talks passionately about building miniature scenes, even electrifying and landscaping them. Her work and that of other members will be on display March 9, at the Boca Raton Community Center. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children 12 and younger. 

The show will include a dealer room where miniature scenes, dollhouse kits and anything miniature will be sold. In addition, there will be make-and-take-it tables where show-goers will be able to learn a miniature technique for free and be able to take that item home with them. 

Raffle tickets will be sold for a Petit Bistro or a Baby Girl’s Nursery scenes, with all proceeds going to Kids in Distress or The Haven charities.

The Friday before the show opens will have two- and four-hour workshops, including how to make a cold cut platter, for $35, or build a wrought iron planter with geraniums, for $15.

“Foods are very popular right now,” O’Brien says. She thinks the deli sandwich one will be well-attended. For cakes, she explains, “You can make them out of clay. But a new technique uses a (small) sponge that has the texture of cake.”

Les Petits belongs to the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts, which has a weeklong convention. This year’s location is Tucson, Ariz.

Miniature enthusiasts use regular-size tools, including X-ACTO knives, tweezers and Q-tips. Magnifying glasses in various sizes can be helpful, O’Brien says.

She always wanted a dollhouse as young girl, but the family budget didn’t have room for such purchases because she wasn’t the only daughter.

Her mom fulfilled that desire on O’Brien’s 32nd birthday with a trip to the now-closed Dollhouse Corner in Delray Beach. She picked out a kit for a Queen Anne farmhouse, a nine-room, two-story farmhouse with a wraparound porch.

That was 16 years ago, and she now has website ( that features her miniature collection. The Italian piazza scene, featuring running water made out of resin, is her favorite. 

She uses the popular 1-inch scale, which means 1 inch in the miniature world equals 1 foot in reality.

But fellow member Anne Strank, who lives in a mobile home in Briny Breezes, uses a smaller scale: the quarter-inch. Plus, she says, she doesn’t use magnifying glasses because she found them too cumbersome.

“It’s a hobby that turned into a disease,” Strank says. She got hooked at age 6 when she received dollhouse furniture as a gift. She used an egg crate as her display case. Now 75, still a crafter at heart, she loves the miniature world.                     

If You Go

What: Dollhouse Miniature Show and Sale

When: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., March 9. 

Workshops scheduled on March 8.

Where: Boca Raton Community Center, 150 NW Crawford Blvd., Boca Raton

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children under 12

Info: Les Petits club website, Or email

Benefit:ss Kids in Distress in Delray Beach or The Haven in Boca Raton  

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