Monday, July 25, 2016

Miniature suitcase table 1:12 scale tutorial

After seeing a photo in a catalog of a fabulous coffee table that looked like an old suitcase I knew I had to transform it into a miniature. It was so nice to take a break from building my Kinfeld dollhouse and making something I could finish in a few hours. This is actually a quick build but there is some drying time involved.
I took some photos along the way so I could share it with others. 

Cut out two pieces of mat board that are 2 1/2” square.

Sand the corners so they are rounded.

Cut four pieces of foam board at 2 3/8” square. Cut all the corners away, either individually or after you glue them together.
Brace the pieces together between something square to be sure they stay even while drying.

Then glue the top and bottom mat board pieces onto the foam pieces so there is a lip hanging over all around.

Cut two 11” long  7/8" wide strips of card stock.
Pull them from between the edge of the table and under your palm to get them to curve.

Glue one of the card stock pieces on one side of the foam board and let it dry a little bit and then put more glue on the other side and push the pieces so the curve of the paper is the same shape as the top and bottom piece with a lip. 

When you get to the end, snip it so you have at least a 1/4” overlap and glue it down.

Now glue the other piece around that one. Put your glue on thin. This will smooth out any imperfections.

Cut two 11" x 1/16" pieces of card stock.

Pinch and run between your finger and thumbnail to give them a curve.

Put tiny dots of glue along one and then run your finger across it to smear it. Quickly wipe the glue off your finger.

Lay the strip of paper as shown keeping it even all the way around. Snip it so it butts against itself at the end.

Lay down your second strip of paper a fingernail thickness away from the other piece. Keep your eye on it as you wrap it around to be sure it stays even. You only want a very tiny gap because if you butt the papers together the paint will fill it in and you want to see a tiny gap.

Suitcase latches
Cut a strip of card stock 1/8” wide and about 6” long.

Then cuts six pieces that are 5/16” long.

Carefully cut the corners off so they are rounded.

Then cut two pieces from card stock that are just a tiny bit larger in all directions as those six little pieces. This will be the back of the latch. 

Determine the center of one side of the table and mark 3/8” from both sides. 
To make this quick and easy I just used a scrap of paper and held it up as shown, made a mark and used that to measure.

Put a little blob of glue onto where the latches will go and put those two pieces there. Be sure they are even.

Glue two of the smaller pieces on top of each other. Make two sets of these. You cut six, but only pick the best four.

Glue those onto the latch base pieces.

Use white polymer clay to make a handle. (I used pink because I had it handy and then I painted it.) Roll it with your finger to get the shape then fold up the sides and cut to length. Bake it and glue on when cool.

Find four beads to glue to the base for feet. You could also cut the tops of off wood banisters as well.

Mix a grey and brown paint and put on the table to make aged scuffed marks.

Use a very small brush for the straps and one just a little bigger for the top and base. Just add a tiny bit at a time. Don’t repeat the same marks over and over. Mix it up and think about where the table would take the most damage to leave marks.

Add a little to the feet as well.

You did it! Look how beautiful your piece is!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Three hedgehogs having tea...

I have written three story books and also created all of the illustrations about a character named Ophelia. A few years ago I decided to make a dollhouse that would depict Ophelia’s house from the book. I wanted it to be more of a mixed media art piece then one of my usual dollhouses so it is dark and mysterious. It also has a lot of heart as do my Ophelia stories.

In one of my books Ophelia continuously hears a mysterious tapping sound coming from the attic above her bedroom. So one night she has a wonderful dream on what the tapping might be. 

Here is a small section from my book…

On the night she had the dream, she had just closed her eyes to sleep and her mind decided to solve the mysterious noise for her. She dreamt that she heard the tapping sound again and was finally able to see what it was. 
   She opened the small attic door, crouched down to enter and tiptoed barefoot up the narrow steps that led to the attic. There she heard the tapping again. It was coming from the far end of the attic. 
She made her way past a stack of crates and some old dusty furniture. Peeking from behind a tall folding screen she saw a very small dining table that was no taller than her knee. Around it were three little chairs. In each chair sat a hedgehog. There, in front of her, were three hedgehogs having tea! 
   The one hedgehog, at the head of the table, had a pair of spectacles that sat on the very tip of his nose. He held his saucer and teacup with one hand and with the other stirred his tea using a tiny silver spoon. Then he tapped his tiny silver spoon on the edge of his cup. Tap, tap, tap. 
   The other two hedgehogs sat sipping their tea and nibbling on small cookies. Then once again, tap, tap, tap. It seemed so real. His little nose was black and shiny. His little brown eyes watched his spoon as he stirred and tapped. She didn’t want to startle them for fear they would spill hot tea all over themselves so she watched quietly. As they nibbled and sipped they made little purring sounds almost like a content cat would. Right about then, she woke up and rubbed her eyes. Ophelia stared up at the ceiling above her trying to wrap her mind around three small hedgehogs having tea and biscuits in her attic…

I was truly blessed to have found Miniature Artist Fanni Sandor to collaborate on setting this scene in the dollhouse. We traded for Ophelia’s book and limited edition prints to make it happen.
I had been dreaming about this scene and saving that tiny furniture since I started the house four years ago and never imagined I would be able to have such wonderful tiny hedgehogs with just the perfect details. She also made the cookies, tea cup, and the tiny silver spoon.

Here are some photos for everyone to enjoy. All my love to you Fanni!

Ophelia Under the Day Moon Ebooks are available on amazon. 

For more about Ophelia visit

For more of Fanni Sandor's work click here!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Miniature fall leaves for a dollhouse

Yellow card stock smooth
Water color paints
Medium and large soft watercolor brushes
Medium bristle brush
3-4small water containers
Punches both are maple half inch wide oak 5/8" long from stem to top
Old Washcloth or paper towel

I have always wanted to purchase some mini paper punches but was always concerned that ordering them online would invite a world of confusion trying to get the right scale.
Now that I am selling on Ebay regularly I have been searching for some things to purchase with the money I am making from selling things I needed to clear out.
I found these punches for a fair price and am very happy with the scale. I still need to fins an elm leaf punch though.

I thought of using real fall leaves for this but they will eventually dry up over time so this is a way to be a bit more efficient with my time. Never enough hours in the day for me so I try not to waste my creative time!

I have been romanticizing about a colorful mini pile of leaves with a rake in a garden for some time and now I can make that dream come true! Ugh, after i make a rake anyway ha! 
I am using a regular piece of scrapbook paper that is yellow all the way through. I bought a small pack of colored papers so if you have a large sheet just cut it down so it will be more manageable.

Start by putting water on the corner of the yellow piece of paper with your watercolor brush.

Dip your brush in the water and put it in your orange watercolor paint and put that paint in the middle of the wet area.

Then put your brush in the red paint and put that paint in the center of the orange area.

If needed go back and put some clean water on your brush and work around the edges so that there's a nice fade.

If you wait a minute you can go back and put more red right on top and it will get brighter.

And then you can get your brush clean again and work a little water around the edges to soften it if needed. You want soft blends for the most part.

Use the same technique for a green area.

Note that if your brush has green and orange on it it will get muddy and turn brown. So you want to keep a few containers of water nearby to keep the brush clean. It is best if you keep one or two containers for the red/orange and one for the green. The red and orange water can mix, but you need to keep that green water separate so it doesn't get muddy and brown. 

I keep an old washcloth nearby and dab my brush on it if I feel it has too much water. I prefer to have a washcloth in my studio to paper towels because I can just wash them and keep reusing them. Not only better for the environment but also saves some money!

Again in simple steps:
Wet the corner.

Add a good amount of red paint in the center.

Clean your brush and get more water on it.
Work the edges with cleanish water so it fades.
Get orange on your brush and blended in around the red.

Clean your brush and work the edges so they fade.
Do this all over the paper and then flip it over and match the same areas on the back the best you can. Doesn’t need to be perfect though.

If you start noticing that your paper is coming apart a little bit in places just ignore it because you'll be able to brush off those little pieces once it's dry.

Don't be afraid to put some bright red right up against the green.

Once you are happy with your painting, lean it against something so it can completely dry on both sides.

Once it is completely dry brush over it with a bigger brush to wipe off any small pieces of paper that came up.

Use a bristle brush and wet it, rub it in your brown paint and dab it straight up and down on a scarp piece of paper until it looks like stipples.

This effect will be with a leaf has gone brown.

Dab straight up and down with your brown painted brush in certain areas. Then let it dry for 30 seconds or so and then dab again to get it nice and dark.

Once you have finished let it completely dry so you can get clean edges from your punch.
Cut your paper into strips so you can punch from both sides and use all the paper.

Punch upside down so you can see what your leaf will look like and make a variety of them. Press down on the punch and the button will press on the table.

I also painted red and shades of brown onto a brown sheet of paper. After I cut them out I crinkled them by squeezing a handful in my palm so they look aged.

If you want to be a true mini maniac then go ahead and use a fine marker to make veins and stems. Otherwise throw them in a lovely pile, scatter a few on your dollhouse porch and roof, or use them in mini arrangements for decorating.

As always, each tutorial is a starting place. It is up to you to take it to the next level and make improvements and please be sure to share your inventive methods with others. By sharing our techniques we help propel each other to amazing new heights as artists!