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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Christmas Tree

A while back over on my Facebook group I asked for some ideas for future tutorials. One of the ideas that a lot of people were really passionate about was that they wanted me to show how to make a Christmas tree and then how to decorate it. So we are beginning that set of tutorial now. I know it isn't even Halloween yet but I wanted to give everyone plenty of time to get their trees completed before the holiday season.

I am showing you how to use simple easy to find materials to create a tree, all you need are some green chenille stems, a wooden wheel, a short piece of ¼” dowel, some glue and some green paint. Oh, and something to measure with.

The most time consuming part of this project really is the cutting of the pieces of chenille stem. You need a lot of them.

Here is the cutting list:

1 piece of ¼” dowel cut 5 ½” long

Chenille stems

for the branches:

15 cut 6”
20 cut 5”
10 cut 4”
5 cut 3”

Then for the tips:

90 cut 2 ½”
10 cut 1 ½”

I had planned to show the entire process of getting the tree base assembled but there was an issue with my bottle of paint. Well, it was more like an explosion of paint. By the time I had that cleaned up I had managed to cut my finger a bleed all over everything in addition to having paint all over. So I felt it was best to just skip that portion of the process and bring you on in at a point when things were more under control.

You could probably get by without painting the tree base but I find it is just so much easier to hide it if it is painted green. The shade of green doesn't matter just any green that is handy.

There is really no trick to doing this project other than to keep the branches going in in a random fashion. You don't want them lined up that makes for holes in the look of the tree.

So what if you want a different shape of tree? This project is really adaptable, you make it taller, you could make it shorter. You will just need to play around with the lengths of the branch pieces.

I have seen this same type of tree done in metallic chenille stems and they are gorgeous.

So put your thinking cap on and play around with the project. If you make one of these trees be sure to show me a picture I would love to see how yours turns out. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Stone Fireplace

This week has been interesting for sure. I am still getting used to a new schedule (youngest son needs a ride into town and back twice a week) and I seem to be running late on everything.

Then to top it off the weather guessers predicted a huge windstorm for the weekend. We got a storm but not nearly as bad as they predicted. Since this is early for big storms here I had to do a lot of prep work to make sure we were ready for the storm. So that took some of my time too.

We did get a lot of wind and a lot of rain but thankfully no damage to anything and the lights stayed on. They did flicker a lot on Saturday so I didn't get much done that day. When the wind did kick up I turned off my computer, shut off my lights in my craft room and curled up under an afghan with a warm drink, a stack of magazines and a cat. That was the perfect way to spend a really stormy afternoon.

The high moisture and the low temperatures did a toll on my project in that I couldn't finish as quickly as I would normally have. If you have crafted for very long you know how fast the thin coats of acrylic craft paint we use in minis dries on a normal day. My paint took about 3 hours to actually dry the last several days. And that coat of Mod Podge you saw me apply to the fireplace in the video, it was 6 hours before it totally dried. My glue was just as bad so it is no wonder that the project took a lot of extra time.

So lets talk about the project.

I used some foam insulation, commonly referred to by miniaturists as “builder's foam” here is a link to the Home Depot site so you will know what to look for/ ask for if you aren't familiar with the product.
I purchased a 4' by 8' sheet of this stuff years ago and I am just now getting to end of it. I was happy to see that Home Depot has smaller “project panels” available now. I plan to get a fresh sheet soon.

So measuring was not my strong suit this week, I had really planned to make my fireplace 3” tall by 4” wide. I somehow cut it 5” wide. I think in the end it was a better size for this fireplace style but feel free to make yours any size that fits in your dollhouse. For the opening for the firebox, cut out an area leaving about 1” on the three sides, or the size that works best for your project.

The next step was to map out and carve your “stones” this gets really messy but is fun and didn't take as long as I thought it would. In the end I did find it was easier to draw out my stones with a sharpie marker before cutting but it is optional.

I like to paint the entire piece with one of the gray paints I will be using at this point. I find it easier to see what needs to be adjusted and cut away once the pink is gone.

For the paint colors just use an assortment of colors that make you think “stone or rock” grays, browns, a few greens, what ever the stones where you live look like. If you need inspiration look online for pictures of real fireplaces.

After you are happy with the look of the stones you have carved add a piece of paperboard to the back. It is important to paint this before you add the “bricks” to it because you don't want the color of the cardboard to sneak through your paint. After this paint is dry I glued on some “bricks” made of paper egg carton. I cut strips that ¼ “ wide then cut them into ¾” lengths for my bricks. Glue them into the back of your fireplaces and allow the glue to dry.

Paint the area black again to cover the bricks.

Take some amounts of your chosen paints and start painting your individual stones. I like to use cotton swabs for this for several reasons. First and possibly my favorite- no clean up- just toss them when you are done. I also like the texture they give the paint, it looks more like stone.

While all this is drying get your hearth and mantle ready (if you haven't already)

For the hearth I used foam core cut the same width as my fireplaces (5”) by 1 ½” deep. This makes it ½” deeper than the fireplaces. I covered this with more egg carton on the top and the edges then painted with some of the same gray paints.

For the mantle I like to use balsa wood. Since this is a rustic fireplace style it is easy to rough up the surface of the balsa. I like ¼” balsa for this and it is cut 5” by 1 ¼” When you have it the way you want it wipe on a coat of dark brown paint.

Now you get to glue everything together, just line up the back side and the ends and all should be good.

Let the glue dry, hopefully you will have better luck with that whole drying thing than I did. LOL

Once the glue is dry give your fireplace a coat of matte mod podge to seal it and allow to dry.

Now we need to make the inside of our fireplace look like it has been used. Take some more of the black craft paint and paint the area that would be inside the firebox to give it a nice “sooty” look.

Once that is dry you are done, unless you want to add a flickering bulb set. I don't have one so I can't walk you through that part on this one. Maybe in a future fireplace.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Wreath

So this last week ended up being way more busy than normal and I was running behind on even figuring out what the tutorial for today was going to be. Then on one of my many trips to town I found myself at the local Joann's to pick up something for another project. I had a couple of minutes so I decided to walk around looking for inspiration.

All I knew going into the store was that I wanted to make something Halloween related since this is going up on October 2nd. I wandered the aisles of Halloween goodies. I wasn't sure if I was looking for something to use to make the tutorial or if I was looking for inspiration, something to replicate in 1/12th scale.

As I wandered I wasn't really coming up with any good ideas. Then I came around a corner and saw a display of Halloween themed wreathes on an end cap. One of them caught my eye. It was made of black feathers and was covered with ornaments in various shades of orange, gold and copper. It was beautiful!

So I stopped and took a good look at it, I even snapped a photo with my phone to remind me what it looked like.

When I got home I went through my supplies and dug out some things I wanted to try to use.

In the end I love the wreath I came up with.

Like I do for a lot of mini wreathes I started with a base of a key ring wrapped in a chenille stem. I of course used black this time. Then since I wanted to give the wreath a more airy and almost fluffy look (after all my inspiration was made of feathers) I added a fluffy chenille stem over the base. I didn't want to use just the fluffy kind because I didn't want the wreath to be too full and also sometimes you can see the key ring through those fluffy ones.

So I found the perfect mix was a solid base of two regular stems and one of the fluffy ones over that.

Now onto the beads. If you have beads that are the right color by all means use those. I didn't have any in the colors I wanted to use and I certainly didn't want to buy more beads. So I picked out some plain beads and used nail polish to color them. I love using nail polish for this job and I seem to collect that too.

This time I used all nail polishes from Avon but I am certain you can find similar colors in almost any brand. That is the brand I have the most of since is am an Avon representative.

The colors I used this time were:
Orange- Coral Beat
Copper- Lucky Penny
Gold - Metallic Fringe Topcoat in Fringed and Frayed (I think, but I also think this one is not currently available)

I wanted more small beads but I didn't want to try to color enough of them to cover the wreath so I dug out some of my tubes of Beads in a Bottle that is made by Tulip. I love this product because you can get the look of beads with a paint. It comes in several colors in sets of 3 tubes and is fairly inexpensive. Also the tubes last a long time. You just have to let it dry thoroughly before you touch whatever project you use it on. I let mine dry overnight.

Once you have your wreath finished you are going to want to hang it. How you hang will depend on several factors.

First is this going to be a temporary display or are you making a permanent Halloween display.

Second what is the surface you are hanging it on? How delicate is the surface?

If I was going to leave mine in place permanently I would use a good glue to attach it to the spot I wanted it to be. That is by far the easiest.

If I was going to just put my wreath up for the season and then want to change it I need to look closely at where I am hanging it.

If I was going to add this to a door I would probably use one of the temporary adhesives that are sold in the craft store.

My first choice and the one I usually try first is the stuff that is sold for putting up posters. I did try it for the my wreath for the photo and I couldn't get it to stick to the wreath.

My next choice and what I used was some of the foam dots sold with the card making supplies. Just be sure you are using the one that is is re-positionable and not the permanent one.

I am thinking that I want to figure out a way to add a small hook/ nail/ brad to the door of my dollhouse in the future for hanging wreathes. Then it would be easy to hang them and change them out. I have something similar on the front door of my real house and it makes decorating the door so much easier. I need to think about how I want to do this. Don't worry, if I do add something to the door I will film a tutorial as I do it.

So how did you like the wreath? Are you going to make one? If you do I would love to see what you come up with. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Candles

This week's project just kind of happened. I was cleaning up a bit in my office/craftroom and while picking up some bits of leftover clay I noticed something. Now I have looked at the ends of clay canes probably a million times over the last 20 plus years I have been playing with polymer clay. But for whatever reason I saw something this week that I hadn't noticed in the past. I noticed that the shape that pretty much ever clay cane takes on at the end looks a bit like a partially melted candle.

So instead of finishing up with cleaning my workspace I started playing with clay. Trying to get the look of the top of a used candle and I think for the most part I got what I was looking for.

This is a great project to use up tiny bits of colored clay, and also a great place to use some of those beautiful colors of clay that we buy and then don't have a use for. For instance, you all know I mostly make doll food with my clay. But, I can't pass up the beautiful purple, blue and metallic colors of clay when they go on sale. There really aren't a lot of foods that use any of those colors. I have made some really pretty dishes out of them but they really can't go into the foods I primarily make.

So pull out those beautiful colors and make some candles.

In my experiments I found that the softer the clay the better this works. Also not all of the candles will remain standing straight when they get baked. Some of them just decided to bend. So make extras knowing some are just not going to work.

The only prep work you need to do is make a long very thin snake of black clay for the burnt wick in your candles. Mine was probably too fat but it still got the idea across.

I did use some simple clay tools to help coax the clay to do what I wanted but for the most part it really does form itself to look like a candle.

So make a bunch of candles for your dollhouse and send me a picture. What color candles does your dollhouse need this winter??

After I had this blog post all written and scheduled and I thought I was all done with this project I decided to play with a couple of the candles I had made. I made some more leaves the same way I did in last week's tutorial and I cut a round shape from some metallic cardstock. I glued 3 of my candles in the center(ish) then glued some leaves around the candles. I think it turned out rather cute.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Fall Leaves

This week I got into a fall mood and decided it would be fun to make some fall leaves. I know you can sometimes find fall leaves small enough for the dollhouse in the craftstore but this is just a fun project and those aren't always available when we want to use them.

You will need a paper punch that is small enough to be in scale. I got mine at my local Joann's. It was on a 40% off sale the day I got mine so it only cost me $2.99. This one is made by Fiskars and is the .62” size. The name seems to just be “Leaf” so hopefully you can find something similar at you store or in your stash of paper punches.

I know I have seen similar projects both online and in the mini magazines but the ones I found all used water based markers. That is fine but I am hesitant to use those on things I might scatter around the dollhouse. You see most of the water based marker's ink will re-activate if it gets damp. This means you could end up with ink leaching onto whatever surface the leaves were laying on.

I like to use my alcohol markers because they shouldn't run if they get damp. In theory you would have to drip rubbing alcohol (or something similar) on them to make the ink run. I still wouldn't leave them scattered on precious surfaces long term but I am more comfortable with this ink.

You can use any brand of alcohol based markers (Sharpies, Bic Mark-Its, Copic, Spectrum Noir, etc) for this project. And you can mix the brands, they all play nicely together. Just scribble the colors on the leaves and then dip into a bowl of 99% isopropyl alcohol. I do recommend letting them dry on a non-stick surface like a sheet of parchment paper and remember the ink will stain the surface when it is wet.

If you are making a lot of leaves you might want to scribble the color onto the paper before you punch the leaves but for just a few I like to be able to place the colors where I want them.

After the leaves dry simply give them a little shape with a large ball stylus (use a pad of craft foam) and you are ready to use your leaves in and around your dollhouse.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature More Folded Clothing

I asked on the Facebook group a while back if people had a favorite video and several people responded that they really had enjoyed the folded clothing. I was browsing through some mini books the other day and was reminded of this folded ladies shirt. I love the look of this one and it is definitely fit for a lady.

So if the lady of your dollhouse is looking for something new to wear we have her covered.

Just like the other folded clothing this would look good in a drawer, on the bed, in a store or in an open suitcase, just to name a few places you could display these.

This one is really simple if you follow the steps in the video and there really aren't any tricks. Like most of my projects just be patient and take your time.

The fabric does need to be fairly lightweight to work well and I found I got the best results from a plain pattern on this one.

Cut the fabric 3” by 3' and seal the edges then proceed a I show in the video. It really is easy to do.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dollhouse Miniatures- Jars of Jam

This is not the project I was planning to do this week but life got in the way and I ran out of time (again) Since I had just got done filming a similar project for my 18” doll channel I took advantage of the supplies I already had out and used them with some other stuff to make jar of jam for the dollhouse.

I know you can buy pony beads in all kinds of colors but I can never seem to find the clear colored ones in the colors I want when I want them. I came up with this simple way to make them any color I want at the moment. I am using colors that mimic fruit jam but you could use any color you desire and just label them for whatever you want.

I am using nail polish today to color the clear beads for several reasons. The first being it was already on my table from another project. (got to be real here) But also I love how the translucency of the bead combined with the translucency of the nail polish allows light to pass through just like a real jar of jam. You just don't get that effect with paint. Another advantage with the nail polish is that it bonds to the plastic beads much better than paint does so the finish is more durable.

For the Orange color I did find I needed to use 2 colors of polish. First I put on a layer of a yellow followed by a layer of orange. (both of these were from L.A. Colors but they don't have any kind of name or number on the bottles- I get these at Dollar Tree)

For the Strawberry color I used a really old bottle of Avon Speed Dry in the color Red Red. I don't think this one is available any more but any bright red will do.

For the Raspberry Jam I used Avon Nailware Pro in Berry Smooth. It is a nice purplish pink, berry color.

For the Grape Jelly I used Avon Nailware Pro in Decadence. This one is a “shimmer” color but it still works for this project.

You can use any polish that you want to just stay away from ones that have glitter or a lot of pearl essence to them. I happen to have a lot of Avon polish because I sell Avon but use any brand you have on hand.

You do need to allow the polish to dry well then we can add the labels. The finished size of the label is ¼” wide by 1/8” tall. This is really tiny I know but with a very fine tip pen you can write that small. The pen I like for writing tiny is the Pilot Precise V5 RT, just be really careful and don't press too hard (the tip is really fragile and will bend if you do)

I tried several ideas for the lids of my jars today and I was most happy with the fun foam. It gave me a lid that looked the most like a lid because it was the proper height for my jar. The fact that it will punch with a standard hole punch is a definite plus too.

So that is the project for this week. I hope you enjoyed it.