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Library’s doll house receives an ‘Extreme Makeover’ by island artist

By Staff | Sep 16, 2009

Almost every Saturday morning, Joelene Black and her two daughters, Sophia, 5, and Stella, 3, spend some “quality time” together at the Sanibel Public Library.

“It’s our mommy/daughter time. We read and play games and rent videos,” said Black. “It’s always been a special place for us.”

During one recent outing to the library, her girls were playing with the doll house they frequently use in the children’s play area when Black – a fine artist by trade – noticed how worn and unkempt the toy appeared to be.

“The doll house was looking a little dirty, so I thought giving it an update would be a good idea,” she explained.

After approaching Miss Barb – the library’s children’s program coordinator – with her idea to refurbish the scaled-down structure and detailing her credentials as an artist with a background in interior design, Black was given permission to bring the doll house home on Aug. 25.

Since then, Black has worked on the project approximately three hours per day.

“I removed all the old dirty carpet, cleaned up the glue from the floors,” said the artist, who noted that latter activity has taken the most time of the refurbishment. “I came up with a color pallette of Sanibel cool greens, golden yellows and sky blues with the outside warm sunset colors of pinks and oranges. My inspiration for the color and themes comes from the areas natural beauty of the Island of Sanibel.”

Looking inside the nearly-completed art project, Black has incorporated a crackle finish on the walls and has added Oriental-style area rugs on each of the three floors. However, the personal touch of adding individual “framed” artwork on some of the walls was an idea suggested by Sophia.

“She told me that I had to paint a Sanibel beach scene, with a person lying on a blanket,” said Black, who plans on adding a beach blanket along the bottom of the first floor “playroom.”

On Friday, Black – who also helps run Il Tesoro Ristorante along with her husband, executive chef/owner A.J. Black – will be returning the doll house to the Sanibel Public Library. She said that she hopes lots of island youngsters – including her own children – will be able to enjoy the toy for many years to come.

“I was inspired by the thought of where it was going to be and who was going to use it,” she added. “It had to be whimsical, it had to be artsy and it had to have a touch of nature to it… because that’s what Sanibel is.”