Never stop playing

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows one of her artisanal dollhouses. STAFF PHOTO BY Ben Conant

  • Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough shows some of her artisanal dollhouses on Friday, May 20, 2016. (Ben Conant / Ledger-Transcript) Ben Conant—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/25/2016 6:43:48 PM

When Rachael Wheeler of Peterborough was younger, she was gifted a dollhouse. It was of those nice dollhouses, the kind that comes as a kit, some assembly required. But, Wheeler remembers, no one ever helped her put it together. However, that was no deterrent for the budding artist.

“The box itself was satisfying enough for me,” Wheeler said. “I would just sit there over it and stare, like ‘Yeah, that’s the place.’”

Wheeler studied the floor plans and began to draw her own, recreating the ones she saw and then designing her own. That training became the figurative foundation of her dollhouse building career.

The next step was acquiring some tools.

“One day, I got a hold of a glue gun — didn’t even know they existed,” Wheeler said — “and they started three-dimensionalizing.”

Her first creation was a little crude, by her standards; she converted a Budweiser 12-pack box into a little bungalow, intending to have her younger relatives and children of family friends play with it, but it soon became clear who it was really for.

“I wouldn’t even let the kids near it once I got going,” Wheeler joked.

Her ability grew and grew; when she found herself up against a wall, so to speak, trying to figure out how to build a certain feature, she’d ask a builder how they would do it on a full-size house and then apply that knowledge on the micro level.

Wheeler’s dollhouses are a detailed, whimsical sort, something a Wes Anderson character might live in. Often, you’ll see a tiny wooden ladder or fire escape on the top floor or running along the roof.

“You’ve always have to be able to escape,” Wheeler said.

Once the houses are built, she’ll populate them with little friends, setting up scenes depicting parties and get-togethers or just everyday life. Some houses, she’s even wired with electricity, so the residents can feel at home long into the night, lights blazing.

She’s sold a few of her creations, and hopes to put together a show to display them, or maybe an outdoor installation for all to see. And, she’d love to design and build a house for herself someday, doing it up just how she’d like, with years of practice under her belt.

Wheeler left her own home at a young age and moved around a lot; she figures that might have a little to do with her love of building small houses. But, ultimately, she just builds them out for simple, pure, childlike fun.

“I just never want to stop playing,” she said.

For more information about Wheeler’s miniature houses, contact rachaelellenwheeler@gmail.com.

Arts Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226, or bconant@ledgertranscript.com.




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