An Herbs and Potions Rack

The kitchen in Miss Wanda’s House for Hapless Haunts was a bit bare. I knew it needed more storage, so I followed a plan given on the excellent blog written by longtime miniaturist Joann Swanson. Except…the rack turned out to be too big.

So I started over and concocted this tiny rack.

The shelves are made from drink coasters, a substance I really like to use. It’s an easy to cut cardstock. The struts are from matchsticks. You have to search for ones that aren’t misshapen.

The tiny sign was cut from a drink coaster. I painted the flower image and used a .005 Micron pen to write the words. I wanted it to look old and shabby.

On one side is a bouquet of dried babies’ breath culled from a RL (real life) bouquet. The labels are from the Internet. You can put “Halloween labels” into Google and find them. I sized and printed them. Most of the tiny glass bottles are from the dollar store, where they held glitter and micro beads to be used to decorate fingernails. The lids are a dab of Elmer’s Wood Putty covered with silver nail polish.

“Reposing Rat” was the item that gave me the most trouble!

I had to find a gray substance that would look gunky. Finally I used a gummy product, a putty. The container is the plastic bubble from a pill pack. It’s seated on a piece of card stock.

The yellow bottle is different. It’s a cut-off piece from a plastic squirt vial given to me by a chef. Fancy restaurants use these vials for lemon juice and such. I sliced it short, glued a bottom on to it, added the label, and painted the bottle yellow. The squat container to the right is a piece of sawed off plastic with a button and two stacked circles of cardstock on top.

I made the green-handled basket from a hollowed out acorn. The top of the nut was filled with air-drying clay. The handle is made from the same clay. I coated it with green nail polish and added plastic plant pieces and a label. The labels really make the scene, I think.

The dried flower arrangement is in a tiny black basket made from cardstock. Although bittersweet is actually too big to be in scale, it still looks cool. I picked it from weeds growing in a lot beside our apartment up in DC. Some of the pod pieces fell off, so I glued them back on.

In situ, the rack is the perfect size. The white color shows up nicely against the orange wall. I’m pretty pleased with it! Now I need to make a small table to go to the right of the sink. I also need to finish up the china set. More to come!

Crafts to Do When the Weather Outside Is Frightful

By Joanna Campbell
Slan

Snow, snow, snow. The weather report sounds like a broken
record. As I write this, the Boston area is bracing for yet another blizzard-like blast,
adding more flakes to the growing mountains of white fluff.
Even though I now live in Florida, I remember those winter days “up yonder” when we could get out
the front door because the snow was piled up high.  I can still hear the sound of a snow shovel scraping the concrete of our walk. My nose prickles to the smell of the diesel fumes that wafted
over the neighborhood as husbands vroom-vroomed from behind their snow blowers.
And I’ll never forget how my son would send up a cheer at the words, “Snow day!” Meanwhile, I would groan,
wondering, “How am I going to keep him busy?”
So I used these memories in my newest book

Dollhouse Lamp Base Tutorial

In the BONUS gift for pre-ordering Handmade, Holiday, Homicide, I showed readers how to make this adorable “Dollhouse in a 3-Ring Binder” room. Here’s how to make the matching base for the lamp.

NOTE: The BONUS gift will be available to those who pre-order Handmade, Holiday, Homicide on or before December 15, 2014. Hurry! You don’t want to miss out!

Here’s the link to get your copy:

http://www.amazon.com/Handmade-Holiday-Homicide-Lowenstein-Scrap-N-Craft-ebook/dp/B00PA26YL2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417791560&sr=8-1&keywords=Handmade+Holiday+Homicide


Supplies:
 
 
Polymer Clay (in the colors you want)
Aluminum Foil
Coffee stirrer straw (very small hole in these)
One piece of floral wire
An old pencil with an eraser
Needle-nosed pliers
Craft knife or steak knife
Acrylic paint and brush

Method:

1. Dig out all the eraser from the pencil, using the blade of the knife. Do this carefully, as you don’t want to bend the metal eraser cup. When you have all the pieces out, use the needle-nosed pliers and remove the eraser cup from the pencil. Gently shape the eraser cup into a flower with four petals by using the pliers. The finished die cut should look like this:

2. Roll the foil into a donut shape with a hole in the center. This should be the size that you want for your final lamp base. Cover the donut with polymer clay. Smooth it into a ball by rolling it in between the palms of your hands.

 

3. Roll out the clay for your flowers, making it as thin as possible. Press the flower die cut into the clay. Pull the excess clay away. Pop out the flower with the tip of your paint brush or with the pencil tip. Make five flowers. Press the flowers against the side of the clay.

4. Check to see that the coffee stirrer stick can fit in the center hole. If not, adjust the size. (You could use a skewer to do this or a toothpick.)

6. Bake the lamp base in the oven at the temperature suggested by the polymer clay manufacturer.

7. When cool, embellish with acrylic paint.

 

So, how do you like it? Any questions?

 

Ten Things I've Learned about Glue and Making Miniatures

  1. The glue gun is not my friend. When it comes to miniatures, the glue is too thick and too lumpy. It can make a real mess.
  2. A glue stick is perfect for gluing down fabric. I would have never guessed this!
  3. You can use superglue on wood. Who knew? I always thought it was for gluing plastic and metal. Okay, it can soak in quickly, so you might have to put on more than you’d expect, but it works pretty well.
  4. By adding a little water to superglue, it will “grab” right away. I use a small syringe, fill it with water, and squirt a drop on one of the two surfaces. The superglue goes on the other surface.
  5. But water turns superglue white. So you need to be careful about how and where you use it.
  6. Tacky glue doesn’t dry rigid. White glue or wood glue does. 
  7. You can mix tacky glue and white glue for a hold that’s fast and more secure.
  8. Wood glue is actually stronger than wood when it dries.
  9. You can’t stain over glue, so you should stain your pieces first, and then glue them together.
  10. If you superglue your fingers together, don’t panic and rip them apart. You’ll tear off a patch of skin. 
Yup, that’s my list. As every crafter knows, you have to own a lot of different glues to get the job done. I hope this list will help you make the right decision, one you can stick with!

Kit Bashing — A Dollhouse Furniture Bargain

“Kit bashing” is a term miniaturists use, and one that every crafter should get to know. You “bash a kit” when you take creative liberties with a project, putting your own spin on it.

I love kit bashing.

Curiously, I’ve noticed a big difference between miniaturists and scrapbookers. When I took scrapbook classes, a lot of the participants wanted their finished products to look EXACTLY like the teacher’s sample. But miniaturists want to do their own “thang.” In fact, in the Fred Cobbs’ class I recently took, not one single person copied Fred’s model! We all made minor adjustments.

For me, the best part of kit bashing is that you have most of the raw materials at hand. So often when you start a project, you discover you don’t have enough wood or paper or some item that’s absolutely necessary. When you kit bash, you have the basics–and that’s your point of departure.

You can “bash” as little or as much as you like.

Recently I bought the Greenleaf Dollhouse Furniture kit.

 http://www.hayneedle.com/product/6roomfurniturekitset1inchscale.cfm

A lot of dollhouse furniture for the price!

It’s advertised as being 47 pieces of furniture, all in one-inch to a foot scale. Although if you read the reviews, the scale is a bit…iffy. I did read the reviews, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into, although the people at Greenleaf could be more helpful by providing clearer photos and measurements for each piece.

Many of the pieces have no back, just a front. None have hinges and as far as I can tell, none of the doors open. Some of the design is pretty weird. A big much-ish. But that was fine by me. I didn’t want to have to build everything from scratch. I could start with their project and make it mine!

The space between the front and back legs on the side is totally empty on their version. Notice there are no hinges for the door.

What did I bash?

1. I sawed the top off of the curio cabinet. I also added side panels to the open spaces along the bottom legs to make it more realistic. Then I added a paper clay gargoyle head. I also left off the front doors (for now at least) and some of the trim.

Here’s my version (although it needs a coat of polyester shine! Right now the paint is too flat.):

2. The sink in the bathroom was far too big for my bathroom. But the hamper was about the right size–except it had no back and the doors didn’t open. So I turned it around 360 degrees. The front is now the back. I added a shelf inside and a door on the front. (Again, I need hinges! My kingdom for hinges!)

And here’s my version:

The door isn’t really crooked, but when I left it open so you could glimpse the shelf inside, it skews the photo. To make the kick-plate I traced the back onto a second piece of wood and cut it out. The door was trial, error, and sanding. This size works perfectly in my bathroom. I’m now waiting on the sink (white air dry clay molded over a measuring spoon) to dry so I can add the wash basin on the top. I wanted it to be one of those trendy sinks that sits on TOP of the cabinet rather than being sunk into the wood.

These might actually be the only two pieces I use, although I am definitely using the mirrors and frames. Given the cost of dollhouse furniture, I think the kit is a bargain. I paid about $44 with shipping for 47 pieces. That’s less than a buck a piece. If I just use the curio, two mirrors, and the sink, that’s only $11 per piece. See? I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!

How about you? Have you ever kit-bashed? Were you pleased with the results? Would you do it again?

How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder — Miniature Tutorial (1:12 scale)

I love using things that would normally hit the trash can. This project reminds me to look at familiar objects with fresh insight. For years I’ve tossed away the lids to the McDonald’s beverages. I was amazed when I looked carefully and noticed the raised icons. I can’t wait to see what I can do next with the other emblems!

SUPPLIES:

Red nail polish or acrylic paint
Yellow nail polish or acrylic paint
Red paper
Length of green floral wire (six inches)
Scissors
A needle or something to poke a small hole with
Circle punch (preferably the same diameter as the straw
Tacky Quick Drying glue
Clear drinking straw
The plastic lid from McDonald’s cold beverage
Either–cardstock or air-dry clay

METHOD:

1. Locate the icon on the beverage that looks like a flower. Press air-dry class (such as DAS) into the icon and let dry. (Alternative: Cut out the flower. Glue it to cardstock. Cut out around it again.)

In the eleven o’clock position on the lid, you can see the flower icon.

 

2. When the icon is dry, paint it bright red. Add yellow dots to the flowers. (Tip: Use the end of a toothpick to make the dots perfect.)

3. Cut a length of the straw, about 1 inch long or so.

4. Cut a thin strip of red paper, about 3/8″ wide and an inch long. Glue it around the top of your length of plastic straw. Let dry.

5. Put out a circle from the red paper with your circle punch. (Alternative: Trace the end of a straw on red paper. Cut out the traced circle.)

6. Put a tiny hole in the middle of the red circle. Enlarge it until the green floral wire will fit inside. Bend the floral wire into an upside down letter “L”. Poke the shortest end into the hole in the red circle. Glue it to the red circle. You now have the cap of the lid and the wire stand.

7. Attach the red circle (cap of the lid and wire stand) to the top of the straw so that it meets the red strip of paper. Glue together. Coat with red nail polish.

8. Glue the flower to the bottom.

How to Make a Miniature Rustic Bench

My sister has this wonderful rustic chair outside her house. It was made with twigs (okay…BIG twigs), and I love it. Right now, rustic/twig furniture is all the small rage. This pattern will work for a real miniature setting (1:12 scale) or for a fairy garden.

This was also inspired by the wonderful tutorial by Lesley Shepherd. I urge you to check it out before you start this project. http://miniatures.about.com/od/miniatureprojects/ss/arustictble.htm

SUPPLIES:

Bendable twigs (I got mine from an Australian pine tree) in a variety of sizes (six, eight, and ten inches?)
Twigs of all sizes
Pine needles, dried (ditto that Australian pine) (or craft grasses or floral wire)
Cardstock (old cereal boxes are great)
Clothespins or clips
Wood glue or Elmers glue
Tacky glue (quick drying)
Waxed paper
Pencil
Black marker (a Sharpie)
Craft knife
Glass jar (2″ across the lid. I used a 3 oz. jar of capers. Probably a glass Coke bottle would work, too.)
A pot to boil water in (I keep an old pot for crafting. Don’t use it to eat out of later!)
Balsa wood, cut to 3″ by 1 1/2″ by 3/8″ (This will be the seat of your bench)
Floral wires (Three or four. The plain uncolored type is best.T
Brown and black paint or markers
Hedge clippers or sturdy scissors
Tongs

METHOD:

1. Choose four small twigs to be legs for your bench. These should be roughly the same size. Set these aside. Tip: If they aren’t the same length, use the hedge clippers or scissors on them. You can also sand them down to the right length. Mine are about 1 3/4″ long.

2. Bend your longer twigs so that one end touches the left and one touches the right of your piece of balsa wood. The twigs should NOT break but it might not want to bend to this shape easily. That’s okay. We’re going to help it along.

3. “Drill’ holes on the left and right to hold the ends of the twig. I used the tip of my X-acto knife and turn it around and around to “drill” the holes.

2. Fill your pot with water and start it boiling. Take it off the stove and put your twigs in the water. After about a five minute soak, use your tongs to retrieve them. Bend them around the jar. Clip the two ends of each twig together with clothespins and let them sit for an hour or so.

3. Use your piece of balsa as a pattern and trace it onto the cereal box. Cut out the rectangle. Draw an X in the middle of the rectangle, to delineate four triangles. Number the triangles 1, 2, 3, and 4. Cut them out. Using the balsa as a pattern, mark the holes with your Sharpie. Punch out holes in the cardstock to match where you have the holes in the balsa.

Learn From My Mistake or LFMM (because I make a lot of mistakes!): You’ll notice that I marked the triangles on the plain, unprinted side of the cereal box–and then I covered those markings with pine needles. DUH! Mark the printed side of the box, not the plain side. (In other words, do the opposite of what I’m showing you above.) You’ll use the plain, brown, unprinted side to glue your pine needles on!)


LFMM Draw an arrow showing you which way to point your pine needles. They should all point in, towards the center of your seat. This arrow will go on the plain side of the box, as I’ve shown you below. If you don’t do this, you can get confused. Your pattern won’t come out right.

4. Using the wood glue, start gluing pine needles onto the triangles. Keep the needles straight and next to each other as you go. They will hang over the edge of your pattern. No biggie!


LFMM (Remember that acronym! I’ll use it a lot!) Don’t spread the glue all over the triangle. Instead, make a stripe of glue about a quarter of an inch wide. Work one stripe at a time. This will give you more control.


LFMM Cut the pine needles into shorter pieces, about two inches long. They naturally have a curve. By cutting them, you don’t have to deal with the curve.

LFMM To corral these little suckers, and to get them to line up neatly, use the tip of your X-acto knife or a plastic credit card.

5. Wrap the triangles in a piece of waxed paper. make a sandwich of them. Put something flat on them to help them dry properly. Alternatively, you could use two pieces of heavy plastic (like from a take out container) and pinch it together with clothes pins to help the triangles to dry flat. You might also want to add a little more glue to the top of the triangles. But not too much or the glue will show a lot.

6. Neatly trim the excess pine needles. Use your scissors.

7. If the bent wood is dry enough, you can unclip it. (You’ll be amazed at the wonderful bend you’ll get!) Size one piece to be the primary bent back for your bench. Test it and put it in the holes. Trim it with the hedge clippers or scissors if necessary. Insert into the holes, add glue, and use a bit of masking tape to hold them in place until they dry.

8. Using paint or markers, color your floral wire brown-black. Let it dry.

9. Reassemble the four triangles that make up the seat for your bench. (You’re going to be so happy about those numbers on the back. They’ll really help!) Adjust holes for the bent twig back of the bench. If you are happy with how it looks, glue the triangles onto the bench seat, the balsa wood. Trim around the seat with longer pieces of pine needles. See the photo below? I used a bit of masking tape to keep the longer pine needles down as they dried on the trim.

LFMM Lesley Shepherd used longer “pine needles” (she bought craft grasses) and first set down an X in the middle of her seat. Then she added the triangles. This made the whole thing look more finished.

10. Add another bent twig back. This one will be larger than the first. Glue the ends of it next to the ends of the first bent twig back.

LFMM You might want to make a tiny notch in the bench seat for the new twig back. It’ll help keep the twig stable.

11. Wrap wire between the two bent twig backs.

12. Add spindles made of more twigs to the back.

13. At this point, you’re basically done. You can add “arms” by trimming another bent twig and gluing to to one of the backs and to the seat. You can also add spindles between the legs, wrapping them with wire, if so desired.

Don’t forget to admire your work. What a clever, clever crafter you are!

If you have any questions, just put them in the comments section below or email me at JCSlan@JoannaSlan.com

Miniature Basket Tutorial

This is a fun project that keeps another bit of plastic out of the landfill. Here are two finished versions of this project.

SUPPLIES:

Empty and clean plastic coffee creamer container
Quilling strip (or strip of paper cut 3/8 inch wide)
Duct tape (optional)
Masking tape (cut into half inch pieces)
Scissors
Punch (optional)
Paper to match or contrast with your quilling strip
Beads (optional)

METHOD:

1. Cut the rim off the creamer container.

2. Carefully cut the container into spokes. (Tip: Follow the indentations.) (Note: You could use a permanent marker and color the base of your basket–the creamer container–at this point.)

3. Tape down the quilling strip.

4. Begin to weave it over and under. (Tip: If you have an even number of spokes, skip two at the start of each round. That gives you a nice alternating woven pattern.)

5. Use bits of masking tape to hold down each new quilling strip row. Otherwise the qulling strip will side up, up and away!

6. When you are as high as you want to go, tape down the end of the quilling strip.

7. Stick a piece of duct tape to a cutting mat or a glass surface. Cut it into a thinner strip. (Tip: Use a craft knife and a cork-backed ruler for this.)

8. Peel off the duct tape and wrap it around your basket. Alternatively, glue a quilling strip around the top of the  basket.

9. Decorate your basket with punched shapes and beads.

Ta-dah! Aren’t you smart? (I know YOU are!)