Images of Willowcrest c/o Greenleaf
A while back, I bought the Willowcrest Dollhouse kit from Greenleaf. OK, it was December of 2012, so it looks like I wanted to get it purchased before the world ended from that whole Mayan calendar fiasco, eh? When I first got into dollhouses, the Willowcrest was "out of print." Greenleaf had stopped making it, and it was hard to come by. I fell in love with the house the first time I saw it, so I searched fruitlessly on eBay for years. All of the used kits that came up went for prices far higher than I wanted to pay:
Then a HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY moment came, and Greenleaf brought back the house! Yay! And then I bought it! Yay! And then it sat under my bed for a few years. BOO!
For a long time, I was going to make my Willowcrest a "mythology house." I was going to decorate each room to go with one of my favorite myths. It was a fantastic idea on paper. But when I thought about actually trying to do the myths justice, my enthusiasm failed. It would have been a LOT of work to make the house like I was envisioning it in my mind. My skill set just isn't there yet. Period. Maybe someday!
Recently, I finally let myself off the mythology hook. I was thinking about the Willowcrest and how it really needs to come out from under the bed because I wanted it for SO LONG and then I got it and it just sat there collecting dust? Really?! It had to end.
And so Willowcrest Mortuary came to be. I mean really, could you come up with a better name for a mortuary than Willowcrest? I think not.
It's not going to be a mortuary like the kind you see in Six Feet Under (although I do own that on DVD and will be watching it again, yes I will) because there is no basement, and I'm not building one. Instead, the "embalming room" is going to have to be on the second floor. And the office/ storage area/ living quarters on the third floor. The entrance and funeral room will be ground level. And that staircase? That's gotta go. The staircase will be on the mysterious "4th wall" that you can't see. The "4th wall" is also housing the unseen body elevator. Naturally.
World: Hey, Blondie! Mortuaries aren't built like that!
In order to prep for my build, I went hunting for mortuary/funeral director catalogs from the past. At first, I wanted Willowcrest Mortuary to be set in the 1950s or 1960s, but trying to find imagery of funeral stuff from that era is quite difficult. And you don't want to google "embalming" too many times if you don't have the stomach for it, and I DON'T. The funeral industry is quite mysterious. I recently read Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty -- (extremely good book!!!), so I now know why it's SO HARD to find catalogs with mortuary tools/needs/history info in them. It's all a secret. So there. You can't know unless you're in the biz. The End.
But I refused to be deterred!! So I found the National Museum of Funeral History and looked in their museum store and found a book called The History of American Funeral Directing by Habenstein and Lamers and went and bought an old, cheap edition from amazon marketplace. SCORE!
The only problem? It's mostly text. Now, given, the text will be extremely useful to me -- and interesting because I like to learn mah brain about all kinds of things, including funeral directing history -- but I could use more visual research. It does show the mechanisms for that whole pesky "you buried an alive person" kind of thing though:
COME GET ME, YOU A$$HATS!!!
It also shows these embalming tools from 1880:
Alas, it does NOT show funeral homes from the 1950s.
I also found this Illustrated Catalogue of Coffins, Caskets, and Undertakers' Supplies by the Harrisburg Burial Case Company from roughly 1885ish:
Alas, it mostly shows the cool handles that used to be on caskets. Super cool handles. Very few caskets. Sigh.
What I could really use is a stack of magazines or pamphlets or catalogs from the trade. I need to look at pictures. And do some light funeral-ly reading. I've learned about one trade magazine that was called "The Professional Embalmer" and I've READ about one that was called "Casket and Sunnyside," (haven't seen any actual copies of that -- it's very elusive) but they're ridiculously expensive online or unavailable completely. Wah. So if any of my readers have an elderly mortician in the family who has a bunch of old catalogs and magazines in the basement, call me. I want to look at the ads.
No, there are not a bazillion mortuary supplies available out there in 1:12 scale. There are some from amazing and awesome artisans, but they are pricey (worth it!!). It remains to be seen if I'll be able to pull off the whole funeral home on my own or if I'll have to buy things for it. I see a mixture of both creating and shopping in my future. And I also think I'm going to move backwards from the mid-century to the late 1800s or early 1900s. Fine, Victorians! You win!
And you know what every good mini funeral home needs the most, right? An actual casket. I don't put dolls in my dollhouses (except for random owls or animals), so there will be no wee body. But there will be a CLOSED casket in the "viewing room" downstairs -- that big room on the right in the photo above. I kind of feel like I can't get started until I get the right casket. I've been searching and searching. I'm getting close. I can feel it.
At least I have my painting plan for the outside. It's going to be white with a green roof. I found the PERFECT inspiration photo, and it just happens to be from a Real Life funeral home. The Universe is clearly ready for Willowcrest Mortuary. It's ON!