15 February 2023
Dolls House & Miniature Scene reader, Sean Valentine, shares how he took inspiration from the world of Harry Potter, with his magical miniature recreation of Dumbledore’s office.
I’ve always tried turning my hands to most things, but when it comes to miniatures, I’m a relative newcomer. Back in 2010, and after a request, I made a simple dolls house for my niece. From there I was hooked and with so many scales to work with I found that 1/12th was best suited for me.
My next project was a house, which I kept for myself. It took me over three years to complete and during that time I picked up lots of new skills, along with help and advice from other miniaturists from various groups on Facebook. I started to experiment with different materials including detailed plaster work, stone and slate. The house took me three years to complete and once finished I was so overwhelmed with the amount of attention and publicity that it gained, I decided to do something more compact and settled on musical cabinet miniatures which was something completely different and a new challenge. My first cabinet was a grand royal bedroom suite decorated in ornate plaster ceilings and walls with 24ct gold leaf detail.
Creating Harry Potter miniatures
From there, I challenged myself to create something a bit different to the ‘norm’ and made a Cinderella inspired musical cabinet, with hand-made moving dolls. Up next, and inspired by my favourite Harry Potter movies I decided to recreate the Gryffindor common room! I spent hours re-watching the movies and took lots of notes. The project was a little outside of my comfort zone to my usual cabinets, but I soon found it to be enjoyable using a range of miniature stone from Richard Stacey’s miniature masonry, and using contacts I had made through the miniature community, I was able to get miniature tapestries printed on canvas, and so many miniature items to put in the cabinet, it was sold instantly.
The cabinet came with lots of media coverage from local papers and magazines and after some advice from a work colleague, I set up a Twitter account and tweeted about my Harry Potter creation and the response was astounding. Sadly, though and due to health reasons, I had to take some time away from miniature making but after a few months away, I started to receive phone calls and messages about making commissioned cabinets to which I was delighted to do, so I went about planning out my next piece which was going to be one of my most favourite of all, Dumbledore’s office.
Dumbledore’s office – in miniature!
Armed with a mountain of photographs from friends who have been on the London Studio Tour, and screenshots from the movies, I set about drawing up plans for the room.
Whilst I was out shopping, I spotted an antique oval cabinet which was perfect for my miniature to be made inside so after a few weeks of drawing up plans I was ready to start.
Want an endless source of miniature inspiration, guides and more? Try our DigitalPlus subscription where you can gain instant access to thousands of irresistible projects and ideas, with over 10 years' worth of digital issues of Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine - plus every new issue before it goes on-sale!
The cabinet itself was transformed with new mouldings made the same as Dumbledore’s memory cabinet, which was a previous project covered in 24ct gold leaf and had display windows around the sides with potion bottles in. The inside was made with a wooden framework using MDF for the walls with a real stone overlay and the columns made from wood and plaster with a textured stone paint. The curved bookcases are made up of two lots of four bookcases glued together and extra mouldings added to give more of a gothic look. Dumbledore’s desk was made using a shop bought desk with the doors removed and custom-made panels were made by Gary White of Dolls House Direct using his laser cutting machine.
There are lots of hand-made items from other artisans in the room which ignites its magical feel and brings the entire cabinet to life. Like my other cabinets, this one took a good few months to complete and its proud new owner is actress, and one of the largest Harry Potter collectors in the UK, Victoria Maclean.
Looking for more magical miniature inspiration? Sign up to receive our emails to enjoy our top picks of miniature projects, advice, inspiration and more. Plus, you'll receive a FREE 20-page downloadable miniatures guide when you sign up!