So What's the Difference Anyway?
By Deb Roberts
I count myself among the ranks of those who were reluctant to move out of the 1:12 safety zone and try a new scale…..and then I fell in love all over again. Admittedly, I’ve worked in 1:48 scale with happy results. In fact, I love every minute of working with those teeny houses so it wasn’t the smaller size trepidation that made me hesitate. But my flirtation with half scale was limited to fantasizing about someday building my epic haunted Fairfield and wishing that there were more half scale houses to choose from that could be built with more instant gratification.
Then along came the laser cut half scale houses and I jumped into 1:24 obsession with both feet. It was more of a cannonball than a swan dive because I simply couldn’t wait to build them all. In fact, this is what my work table looks like right now:
I consider it to be a joyous explosion of laser cut dollhouses! There are a total of 5 houses in progress here. The lighthouse is completely assembled and just waiting for paint and landscaping. It’s a patient sort of house and I have the feeling that it’s waiting for me to build a house that it can adopt for its lightkeeper. It keeps whispering that it would like to consider the Jefferson or the Chantilly (or maybe the new Willow) and I happily agree. After all, I’m going to build as many of these half scale beauties as I can!
The other four houses are an exercise in simultaneous building. When the laser cut half scale houses were released, I decided that it would be fun to build the same house in different scales at the same time. To the right are the 1:12 scale and the 1:24 scale Tennysons. Both are laser cut kits and both are currently in dry fit. I admit to being so excited about the Tennyson that I’ve already filled it with furniture even though it’s a long way from being ready to move in. The houses to the left are the 1:12 scale and the 1:24 scale Rosedales. These are the two houses that I’m currently building, but we’ll take a close look at everything on the table.
Before we do that, let’s back up and start with the basics about scale. Scale is communicated in number ratio—the number on the left of the colon is the number of inches in miniature and the number to the right of the colon is the number of inches in real life; the colon translates as “is equal to”. Therefore, 1:12 means, “one inch in miniature is equal to 12 inches in real life”. Scale can be very confusing but in the dollhouse world we can simplify it by considering that we’re just cutting 1:12 scale in half to get 1:24, then cutting it in half again to get 1:48. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re confused because they hear different terminology used so we’ll clarify:
1:12 is the same as “full scale”
1:24 is the same as “half scale”
1:48 is the same as “quarter scale”
1:144 is the same as “micro mini”
In 1:12 scale, one inch in miniature is the same as one foot in real life. So a 6 inch doll would be the same as a 6 foot human and a half inch tall plant would be the same as a 6 inch tall real life plant.
In 1:24 scale, we’re cutting the size in half so a half inch equals one foot. A 3 inch tall doll would be the same as a 6 foot tall human and a quarter inch tall plant would be the same as a 6 inch tall plant in real life.
The same is true for 1:48 scale when we’re cutting the size in half again. A 1 ½ inch doll would be the same as a 6 foot tall human and a 1/8 inch tall plant would be the same as a 6 inch tall plant in real life.
Keep in mind that proportion is not the same as scale. Some items may be correct in scale, but their proportion may be out of balance which makes them look large and bulky in your miniature setting. We see this in 1:12 scale (most of us have at least one sideboard, canopy bed, or china cabinet sitting in a box somewhere because it simply looks oversized in any setting), but it’s more noticeable in smaller scales. When you’re selecting your miniatures, consider that larger pieces of furniture do tend to be slightly out of proportion and try to err on the smaller side if possible.
Now that we have the size and terminology down, let’s take a look at the actual difference between 1:12 and 1:24 dollhouses. I hear a lot of requests for visualizations of the new half scale houses and the best way to put them into perspective is to place them side by side with their larger counterparts. All of these houses are under construction so please forgive the tape and primer.
This is the Rosedale in both 1:12 and 1:24.
And here’s the 1:24 Rosedale inside the 1:12 Rosedale living room. Yes, it really fits into one room of the larger house!
I haven’t started furnishing my half scale houses yet, but I was curious about the difference between 1:12 scale furniture and a half scale house. So I put a four poster bed in the 1:12 scale Rosedale bedroom:
And then put the same bed beside the half scale Rosedale.
All I could say was, “Wow!!”
It’s the compact size that has really captured my attention with the half scale houses. Not only is the price tag smaller, but the half scale houses are perfectly sized to fit on a wall shelf, bookcase, or entertainment center even when they’re on a landscaped base. These houses are the perfect solution for miniaturists who want to continue building but are running out of space to display their creations!
There’s also the perk of being very compact and neat to build. If you’re looking for a house that you can construct in a small space without a lot of mess, the laser cut half scale houses are the perfect solution.
Every single bit of the Rosedale kit and most of my supplies are shown in this picture. Since the kit is laser cut, there’s little to no sanding required so you can work on this house in your mother-in-law’s living room without fear of leaving sawdust or splinters behind! It’s compact enough to build on a TV tray while you’re enjoying time with your family or relaxing on the couch. You could even take a half scale kit along when you’re traveling and never be far from your miniature fix.
For a builder, it helps to see individual pieces of each scale to put it all into perspective. When you place pieces of window trim and door frames side by side, you can really see the difference between the two scales!
Or consider the size of the staircase in comparison with its smaller counterpart:
I was amazed when I saw the difference in size of the speed shingles for both houses. I’m planning to use a traditional Victorian shingle design on the mansard roof of the 1:12 Rosedale and after seeing the 1:24 scale shingles I’m confident that I’ll be able to do the same with my smaller house as well.
I think the most startling effect is the difference when I placed the 1:12 door frames over the 1:24 doors! They cover the entire wall!
But the most dramatic evidence of the difference between the scales is the ability to store the entire baby Rosedale inside the big Rosedale living room after I cut and matched the wallpaper pieces. No stray breeze will blow away my hard work in here!
I’ve kept both the Tennysons in dry fit while I build the Rosedales because it’s interesting to me to see the difference in proportion based on the house style. The Tennyson is a much larger house than the Rosedale in either scale, yet it still maintains the perfect proportion.
You can see from these pieces of porch railing that the 1:24 is perfectly proportioned to be half the size of the 1:12 scale. The top of the second floor of the half scale house is precisely the height of the first floor of the full scale. What’s really amazing is that the smaller scale loses none of its delicate detailing, something that we all love about Greenleaf’s 1:12 houses. These smaller houses are every bit as detailed and every bit as welcome to alteration as the big ones we’ve been bashing and trimming for decades.
The most important thing that I’ve discovered about half scale building is the busting of the myth that smaller scales are harder to build. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, I think that these half scale houses are easier to build than some of the full scale houses I’ve done. If my gnarled and arthritic hands can easily build a half scale house, then you can take it as gospel that they’re not the least bit difficult for anyone. I’d recommend a pair of tweezers just because there may be some small places to reach into (like gluing widow frames into a bay), but overall there’s nothing to be done in half scale that you aren’t already doing in 1:12, so don’t be afraid of the smaller scale!
Yes, a new love affair has begun for me and I’m just as passionate about half scale as I am about 1:12 and 1:48! There are new challenges and new potentials in every kit but now my joy in miniatures has been multiplied by three scales. Who knows, I might even try 1:144 next!
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