Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Dollhouse bench 1:12

I am working on a 1930s Cracker style farm house and wanted to have an old fashioned bench on the porch. This bench is quick and easy to make and will add lots of character to your scene. You can distress it as I have or give it some stain and varnish and place inside the house.

Cut out 2 legs from the pattern using 1/8” thick wood (I glued 2 pieces of 1/16” together). Use the thickness of your front and back brace pieces to determine the size of the notches you will need to cut at the top of the legs.

Cut the front and back braces, 4” x 3/8” from 1/16” thick wood.

Glue the braces into the notches you cut to fit to the legs. Brace them. Let dry.

Cut out the top piece 
4 1/2” x 1 1/4” (I glued 2 pieces of 1/16” together). Glue on top of the legs and braces.

Glue on the side braces as well 1 1/4” x 1/4” from 1/16” thick wood.

Use your knife and sandpaper to distress the wood. I used pretreated wood from another project that is why it is gray. You could stain your wood whatever background color you wish before starting the crackling process.

I made my own sandpaper block by stapling a piece to a block of wood.

Read the product instructions and paint on the crackling medium anywhere you think the paint would be chipped. I added it to the bottom of the legs.

Then paint your bench in the color of your choosing. I dry brushed the paint in the areas where the paint would be worn. Don’t be afraid to scratch up the bench to give it some age.

You can add some mat or satin varnish to the areas that would be in better condition, but be sure to sand those areas a bit. For more inspiration, look for me on Instagram @auraleakrieger!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Miniature flowers with flower foam

I am always excited to work with a new medium/product. Some of you may be familiar but my guess is many haven’t used this so I thought it would be useful to share.
These are a similar look to pink Delphiniums or Loosestrife. You can make shorter ones to resemble other plants or change the colors. I have a variety of plants in my mini garden some more realistic and others more abstract. You could add little green buds to the tips to trick the eye a little more but these are nice for filler to add some color to the garden.

First pour some of the flower foam into a plate.
I used a wood container lid I saved from some Brie cheese. Work it with your fingers by rubbing it on the surface to break any the clumps.

Cut a wire to about 2”. I had some wire difficulties so you may see different types in the photos. I had cloth-covered wire on a spool, but when cut, the thread unraveled. So I ended up using my regular cloth covered wire that comes long in a pack. You can also wrap wire with florist tape.

Punch some tiny holes in a piece of scrap foam board or other foam with a knife. Set to the side.

Coat your glue on the 2” stem covering about an inch. Not too thin and not too thick. Be sure it is covered all around.

Make a little pile of the flower foam and roll your wire in it. Play around and see what works best.

Use your tweezers and push the stem in the hole and let dry.

Once the stems are completely dry you can snip away anything you don’t like.

I recently invested in some flower and leaf punches. I would highly recommend this if you want to make flowers yourself. It’s a great investment!

I used one of those popular glass containers with a cork for a vase. Just cut the wire to the length you desire and slip them in. If you want you can add a touch of glue to the ends of the cloth covered stems to keep the material from unraveling. After you read the Solid Water tutorial in this issue maybe you would want to add some water to the vase?

I used a stem with leaves punch to make two branches. Then folded them gently so they had a curve and glued them in.

If you want to make this a plant, find a punch for leaves or cut them out from green paper as shown above. Bend the stem part and glue it on with semi dried Tacky Glue so they won’t keep sliding off as they are drying.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Dollhouse 1:12 Beef stew

Beef stew is the perfect meal for a chilly day. You can use these directions to fill a cooking pot or serve up a meal in bowls.  Let’s get started. Keep in mind I am very new to making polymer food so if I can do it I know other first-timers can too!

 Roll out some grayish brown clay for the beef. Use your needle tool to score it all along the sides. Then cut it into cubes.

 I work on wax paper to keep my cutting board clean. Just tape a piece down with blue tape so it doesn’t move around.

 Squeeze a blob of liquid polymer in the amount you will need. Do this first because if you squeeze it next to the shaved pastels there may be air in your bottle and it will blow the pastel shavings everywhere. I learned the hard way! You will need a little left over gravy after baking.

Gather pastels and shave three of them into a small pile as shown.

 Mix with a ball stylus or another metal tool. 
I used some thick scrap wire I had handy.

 Scoop up the liquid and slowly fill your bowl, careful not to make a mess. A clean workspace makes for clean work!

 Place your “beef” into the bowl. You can gently touch each piece with your needle tool to pick it up and then push it off.

 Mix a small amount of flesh toned transparent and some yellow polymer clay. Add a small amount of yellow at time to be sure its not too yellow. This will be your potatoes. Shape the pieces to look like a potato and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. This will help to slice them without squashing.

 Slice your potatoes like you would a real potato and carefully add them into the bowl.

 Roll out a tube of green to the width of a 1:12 scale pea and slice it in even sections. Roll each one into a ball.

 Roll an orange piece of clay to look like a carrot and cut it into slices. You can cool this in the fridge as well if you like. It makes the cuts more accurate if the clay is harder. Then add your peas and place the carrot slices in as well.

 Bake according to the manufacture’s instructions. No plastic bowls! Use ceramic or glass so your vessel won’t melt.

 Remove from oven it and let cool. Add more sauce over the vegetables. Just a tiny bit here and there. Then bake again.
I did it this way so the food wouldn’t move around as I tried to add more sauce. Otherwise the vegetable may stick to the tool that is applying the sauce.

Now mix some dark yellow pastel shavings with a clear gloss glaze or a gloss varnish that is water soluble.

 Use a brush to gently brush it over the stew. Then let it dry clear.

Now you have a hardy meal for your mini family. Place in your scene and admire your work!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Dollhouse garden dirt

If you are planting a garden for your miniature scene then you will need lots of rich soil. While I was making my Ophelia dollhouse garden I was asked to do a product review for the Deluxe Materials product, Ballast Magic.
This product is popular with miniature train hobbyists because it is a great way to adhere scatter ballast (gravel or coarse stone used to form the bed of a railroad track or road).
Ballast Magic is an innovative powder adhesive that when mixed with other dry materials and then misted with water and left to dry it is solid to the touch.

The directions for working with Ballast Magic for miniature railways may be different than how I have used it for this tutorial. But that is what our art form is all about–using materials and products in new ways. This is PERFECT if you want dry dusty looking dirt too.

I experimented with the amount needed for tea leaves to dry hard. The photo shown gives you an idea of the mixture I used. Do a few tests to see what works best for your project. I will go ahead and share what I did for mine.

We usually use tea leaves and white glue in our 1:12 world but I would recommend this product if you don’t have to fill a deep large area with ‘dirt’. I will show how I used a white glue mixture as well...

 First I cut the shape of my garden bed using thin cardboard. I already had some plants I made from years ago that were glued in floral foam. I glued those to the cardboard with white glue and let them dry.

 You should already have been saving used tea bags after making hot tea or iced tea. Because my foam was thick I had to fill in with lots of tea leaves to build it up. For this I mixed the tea leaves with white glue and spackled it on top of more white glue leaving the tops of the foam exposed. Then left it to dry over night.
Showing white glue mixture.

Showing white glue mixture.

 Ballast Magic Mixture
You have to use A LOT of white glue with tea leaves for it to dry hard so this is where the Ballast Magic comes in handy. My ‘dirt’ base is now a little spongy to the touch and the tea leaves will flake off when touched. So I want to add a top layer that is hard and won’t flake away.   

Add the tea leaves and Ballast Magic in a plastic container as shown in the photo. Mix them together and then add a little water at a time. You don’t want the mixture to be sloppy wet, only wet enough that you can spackle it onto your garden bed. If you add too much water, no worries, just add more tea leaves and more Ballast Magic. I added this on top of my dried white glue mixture to save on product use. You could use the Ballast Magic for all of the garden dirt. Do what is best for your project.

I like this product because I don’t have to rush before it dries when applying the ‘dirt’. If you have a collection of flower stems already made, you can use the mixture to fill a garden bed by packing in the ‘dirt’ tight and then insert your flower stems into the ‘dirt’ with a touch of glue on the stem. You could also apply the ‘dirt’ on a thin sheet of foam shaped like a garden bed so the stems have something more substantial to sink into. All of this will depend on the flowers you are adding.

I put some flower stems in a thin piece of floral foam and pressed the Ballast Magic tea leaves mixture all around it and it dried nice and hard. Now it is a mound that I can add or take away from a tiny bed in front of another dollhouse.

   When working with railroad dirt/dust the idea is to mix the Ballast Magic with dirt/dust, lay on the surface and then spray with a light misting of water and let it dry. I couldn’t do this because my flowers are made from paper.

After your mixture dries, you won’t see any of the Ballast Magic white powder, just the illusion of rich dark top soil. Give it up to 3 hours to dry. It will depend on how thick you made it and how much water you added in the mixture.

I am very happy with the results. Bits of moss can be moved around the garden without the tea leaves moving everywhere. I also used the ‘dirt’ to fill some planters and pushed in some flowers with a spot of white glue on the wire and left to dry. When turned upside down (or when knocked over) the tea leaves stay put!


Deluxe Materials products are available in USA miniature stores and distributed by Aztec Imports. Or they can be purchased direct from: You can also find it on Amazon or eBay!