What started out as a class assignment for Maddie Chambers became a nearly yearlong obsession. Now that the 30-year-old British woman's project is mostly finished, her work has drawn admirers from Brazil to the Netherlands to Spain and has even prompted a few to propose marriage.
Chambers has painstakingly created a miniature version of Bag End, Bilbo Baggins' house from "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings"--from the round front door and porthole windows, right down to the Middle-earth maps and the barrel of pipe-weed inside.
It's clear Chambers is a J.R.R. Tolkien fan. What isn't clear is when she sleeps. Chambers, the mother of young twin boys, started the project in March 2009 when she was taking a college course on child care. The unit was on "the importance of play." The assignment? Create a toy by term's end. Chambers, who lives in Chesterfield, England, set to work on the Hobbit hole in the evenings after her boys went to bed. Other times, she would turn to it while the toddlers napped.
Chambers based the dollhouse, roughly 3-foot-square, partly on Tolkien's stories and Peter Jackson's big-screen adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings." Her imagination filled in the rest.
"The Hobbit" first hooked her when she was about 10. About a year later, she tackled "The Lord of the Rings." Tolkien created a world that she wanted to live in, populating it with elves, dwarves, and dragons, Chambers said in a recent e-mail. (She has read "Lord of the Rings" about 20 times over the years.)
"I longed to go on the adventures with the Hobbits and I literally imagined every single step they took and pictured myself there too," Chambers said. … Read more