Tiny Dogs in Tiny Spaces


My goal for one month was to make the dogs safe in their drawers.  Of course since I can’t sew, I don’t mean clothing drawers but what I mean is print drawers.  For a time whenever you went shopping at antiques stores, flea markets and 2nd-hand stores you would see print drawers of every shape and size.  There is probably not a single print drawer container left in the world.  I suppose they used the outsides for firewood.

There is something fascinating to me about these drawers.  They have all these little compartments for stashing things and all the little compartments are of different sizes but are yet arranged very symmetrically.  I think I’m again showing my OCD.  But anyway, they all have different kinds of handles (especially the metal bin handles which I adore) and they are all just, well, interesting.  However, most are stained with ink (of course – they had newspaper type in them) and some have the veneer splitting and some have compartments that are so tiny that you can only put a toothpick standing up in them.

So I thought and thought about what I should do with all these type drawers….


This is my Aunt Paula who taught me how to think.  I’m not sure when this picture was taken.  Probably in the 1930’s.  I think she advocated sitting on the front porch in freezing weather with one frozen leg stuck out.  Since she passed only last year it must have worked so I wait until winter and think that way.

What I decided was to arrange all my miniature dogs that were in my dog collection.  But first I had to paint the drawers the color of my walls so that the drawers would not be the things that you are looking at.  The dogs would then be more noticeable. A lot of the handles I didn’t paint because I really liked them and didn’t want to cover the labels or the metal.

Perhaps you have never painted print drawers.  I hadn’t either but I learned and learned and learned.  I learned that each of the compartments in the drawer has 5 sides that you have to paint and it takes at least two coats to complete one drawer.  So, therefore, I learned to think while standing over a paint table with a paint brush.  I thought ant thought and thought.

Next up was sorting and cleaning the miniature dogs.  Usually it is easier to clean them when you are doing dishes.  You check each one (making sure they are not made of salt; and believe me, I’ve washed salt dogs before and they disappear) by licking it if it is white and looks like chalk.  If it has red you also don’t wash it because for some reason red was cold painted on ceramics which means that it is painted after the ceramic is fired and will wash off.  Then you rinse them and dump them carefully on a towel and wait until the next day to sort them.  Just remember to lick your saltdogs!  As you can see in the picture below of a salt dog, some of the little compartments of the print drawer are holding dog beads that I found at a craft store.


If you wash a chalk dog too hard it also disappears.  Chalk dogs seem to get dirtier than other dogs for some reason (when they are white) so people have a tendency to scrub.  The following is what happens when you scrub a chalk dog.  The following also shows what happens when you take one of the print drawers from the wall to photograph and have not put the clay on their feet to attach them to their compartment:


The next thing I did was to have my husband (he’s the same with me holding a drill as with me holding a hammer – meaning he runs over and offers to do it) drill two holes in the upper half and/or the lower half it they are warped and screw the print drawers into the walls.

I then arranged them according to contrasting colors and having their faces pointed to me in a coördinated way. I knew that whenever we slammed a door or an earthquake occurred (in Maine?) all the dogs would fall out of their compartments and break (I’m justified in this because I used to live in Los Angeles).  OR, even worse, I would have to dust all those little buggers and I HATE dusting, as I’ve mentioned before.  So not only did I attach most of them with clay but I went to a glass shop (actually, an automobile window glass replacement shop) and after measuring all the drawers, ordered the thinnest plexiglass in those measurements.  The reason for the thinness is that you have to drill holes in the corners to hold the plexiglass onto the drawer and thinner equals less cracking.  My husband did the drilling and I screwed teeny tiny brass screws in the holes and wallah!  Again, as you can see, I should have used clay EVEN on the sturdy ones because now I have to remove the plexiglass and make those lazy dogs stand or sit.

And now I have a place to hold my cracker jack dogs and my soda pop cap dogs and all the rest of my little critters (even dog buttons!) and I can see them and they never get dusty.  I also have a place to put my teeny-weeny ones where I won’t lose them.  This one is a doll house dog.  I didn’t know it was a dalmatian until I looked at it through a magnifying glass.  I found it years and years ago in an antiques shop that was closing and I have never seen another so tiny although I’ve looked everywhere.  I’ve shown the other “miniature dogs” along with it to show how small it is.    I love it!


Until my next project, collection or selling/buying of antiques opportunity…