Monday, 28 November 2011

Making a Miniature Memory Trunk: Part Two

A bridal memory trunk in 1:12 scale
Now that you have made the miniature memory trunk the fun part begins - making all the little bits and pieces to go in it. I like to put things on the inner tray, glue some up onto the lid, have other things overflowing down the side of the trunk and also arrange pieces on the base board.
   For the base board I cut a square of MDF a little larger than the trunk, painted it, glued felt on the bottom and edged the board with a flat braid in a colour that toned in with the trunk's contents.
   Here are some ideas for miniatures to go in themed trunks:
  • Memories of Childhood: a book, a knitted gollywog, felt clown, pipecleaner teddy, toy soldier skittles (see my blog posts on 'how to make...' for instructions for the clown and skittles), metal tricycle, tiny doll and skipping rope.
  • Wedding Dreams: a wedding dress, bouquet, perfume bottles on a tray, a veil on a stand, love letters, presents, necklace, wedding cards, bottle of champagne, wine glasses.
  • Memories of Travel: luggage labels stuck on the trunk, a map on the inside of the lid, journal, postcards,a duffle bag, travel rug, flag, atlas, a souvenir-type charm, a miniature Eiffel Tower, money.
  • Kiwiana Icons: a plastic tiki, a paua shell kiwi, a New Zealand flag, a buzzy bee sticker, a hokey pokey ice cream and a pavlova and a plate of pikelets with jam and cream , all made from Fimo, a book about New Zealand, an All Black jersey made from felt and a pair of jandals.
Have fun making a memory trunk. Use your imagination, think of a theme, and you'll find the ideas flow so you can create something that is unique and personal.

Friday, 25 November 2011

How to Make a Miniature Memory Trunk: Part One

Childhood miniatures in 1:12 scale
I love making miniature memory trunks. I like to work with a theme so have made trunks and filled them with bits and pieces to represent a wedding, or Christmas, or a special birthday, or for a baby, or about travel. Some have been commissioned by people as gifts: examples are for a 60th birthday, to welcome a friend home from overseas, for a university graduation, for a keen crafter and for a new baby.
  The first step is to make the trunk. You will need:
  • a pattern for a trunk in 1:12 scale ( my trunks are 3 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches deep)
  • matboard
  • fake leather or leather-look vinyl, very thin
  • thin leather for straps
  • gold jump rings or tiny buckles
  • patterned paper
  • flat braid 3mm wide
Gather your scissors, craft knife, ruler and craft glue together and you'll be ready to start.
  1. Cut out the trunk sides, back, bottom, lid and inner tray from matboard.
  2. Cut out the patterned paper from the same pattern and glue it to one side of the matboard pieces. This will be the inner side of the trunk. Paper the inner surface of the lid the same way.
  3. Glue the sides and bottom of the trunk together. Make sure they are straight . Let dry.
  4. Glue the lid together. Glue the inner tray parts together.
  5. Use the fine leather or vinyl to cover the outside of the trunk. Make sure the edges are butted up together rather than overlapped.
  6. Cover the lid in the same way. 
  7. Stick the lid to the back of the trunk so the lid is open and leaning back. You may need to support this with a block of wood while it dries.
  8. Stick on the flat braid around the top of the trunk edges and the edges of the lid to tidy them up and give a nice finish.
  9. Assembling the memory trunk
  10. Take a thin strap of leather. Thread a buckle or two jump rings onto it. Starting at the front of the trunk, glue the strap down, underneath and up the back of the trunk then across the lid. Leave a short length hanging over the front of the trunk. Cut the end into a point.
  11. Repeat with a second strap.
  12. Cut a strip of leather one inch long. Glue it horizontally to one side of the trunk to make a handle. Repeat for the other side.
  13. Glue the inner tray into the trunk so it sits about 1/4 inch from the top.
Put the trunk to one side now till you have made the things to fill it with. More on that next blog!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Retro Caravan: Building the Cabinets

Good progress on the 1:12 scale retro caravan
The caravan seems to have come along in leaps and bounds over the last week or so. Putting the wheels on  was a milestone as it made the caravan seem so real. They are off a toy car from a charity shop. A friend bought it for $2 and I swapped some foam rubber for two of the wheels.
  This week I also decided to partly fill in the back wall of the caravan. Then I can fit the 'kitchen' in properly while still leaving most of the large opening for viewing the interior.
   I already had a cabinet with a door and three drawers. It was just a matter of sanding it off and cutting a hole in the top to fit in a bowl as the sink. The shelving unit beside it was a 'dolls house for a dolls house' that I'd cannibalised by cutting the roof and part of the sides off. That is where the gas cooker will go.
  The black cabinet is literally a black box that I cut into to use as a wheel guard. It fits perfectly beside the tall cupboard.
   The cabinets are all in a very rough state at the moment. Now I know how they will all fit in, I'll take them out, give them a good sand and paint them. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Edwardian Dolls House: the Ground Floor

Edwardian kitchen and housekeepers room
The ground floor of my Edwardian dolls house is my favourite part of the whole project. Apart from china and glass accessories, the coal range and the rocking chair, I made almost everything else in the scullery, pantry, kitchen and housekeeper's room.
   For three months, this was on display in the Whangarei Museum. I gave the museum staff the dimensions of the four rooms and they built them. Then I packed everything out of these rooms of my dolls house into shoe boxes, drove to the museum, unpacked all the bits and recreated the rooms. That was when I realised just exactly how many items there were! It took quite a while to set them up again!
   I used museum wax to stick all the accessories into place in case they got bumped when people were viewing them. The whole structure was encased in perspex and lit by spotlights. In front of the cabinet there was a little stool so children could stand up to look into the rooms.
   It was fascinating to stand back one day and watch people's reactions. Almost everyone approached the display case with a smile on their faces! Older visitors were quite nostalgic about some of the products in the scullery and kitchen, such as the copper to do the washing. The children were more interested in the baking on the kitchen table and finding the mouse by the pantry!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dolls for a Dolls House - Yes or No?

Doll dressed in Edwardian clothes
Do you like dolls in your dolls house? I think the miniatures world is about evenly divided on this question. Some people think having dolls in a dolls house brings it to life. It makes the house look busy and lived in. Others think that having dolls detracts from the overall effect. They like to give evidence of life, such as a cup of tea on the dining table, shoes kicked off beside the bed, or knitting on the couch - as if the dolls have just left the room.  
   Because I look at my dolls houses as interior decorating projects, albeit in miniature, I don't put dolls in. I think that when you look in a dolls house that has dolls, your eyes are repeatedly drawn to the dolls' faces, to the point that you miss seeing details in the surrounding rooms. Also, often the dolls sold in 1:12 scale look quite bulky when they are dressed.
  Having said that, when I made my Victorian emporium, I did, for a short time, include dolls. They were finely detailed resin ones. But I positioned them so that they were facing away from the viewer - looking at the shop counter or turned to examine some handbags or hats. That made them less obtrusive in the setting.
   I did dress this boy doll in Edwardian clothes for a magazine photo shoot. But once that was over, I didn't put him in the Edwardian dolls house. He was relegated to the back of the cupboard! 
  If you would like to dress your dolls in Edwardian style, this article I have written will give you some ideas.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Edwardian Dolls House: the Start of it All

A sewing box in 1:12 scale
It's funny, isn't it, how inspiration strikes in unexpected ways. And how little projects grow into big projects. The inspiration for my 13-room Edwardian dolls house came about because of a kit swap with fellow miniaturists.
   The theme for the swap was 'ladies accessories'. I sent off kit sets for everything a well-dressed lady needed in the kitchen - a fancy apron, fetching rubber gloves, designer dish mop and brush and shovel.  
  In return, I received lots of beads to make perfume bottles, a hat, a lingerie set and the kit to make this sewing box. 
  I started with the sewing box. It was very fiddly to make. The cardboard shapes had to be cut out then covered in material. All these pieces had to be sewn together with tiny little stitches, making sure they all fitted evenly. It was quite a task. The fun part was finding or making all the little bits and bobs to go inside. 
   While I was doing all this glueing and sewing and making, I idly wondered who would have a sewing box like this in real life.  The answer came to me in a flash. An Edwardian governess!
  I've been fascinated with the Edwardian era for several years now, and, at the time I was making the sewing box, I was about ready to start another dolls house. The idea took hold! The inspiration that this tiny little kit set gave me grew into a mammoth project. My Edwardian dolls house has kept me busy learning and creating and crafting, for quite some considerable time! I love it!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tudor Dolls House: More on the Interior

The Interior of my Tudor Dolls House
Here is a view of the interior of my Tudor dolls house. Kitchen, screen passage and hall on the ground floor; parlour and bedroom on the middle storey; bedroom, storeroom and chapel on the top floor. 
   The flagstone floor is made of cut-out rectangles of a stone effect formica, tedious to do but it gives a very realistic result. (Look under the 'How to Make' section of my blog to get instructions on what to do to make your own flagstone floor.) The other floors are of wood strips cut wider than normal as Tudor floorboards were about 10 inches wide. Once stained, the strips were stuck onto a cardboard template for each room and slid into place, then pressed firmly down onto the double-sided cellotape I'd put onto the dolls house floors.
   Some of the walls are plastered and beamed. For the hall panelling I glued horizontal and vertical lengths of stained stripwood onto the plywood carcass of the dolls house. Other walls I covered with suitable scrapbooking papers to give a hand-painted effect. In the parlour I also stuck the paper along the sides of the ceiling beams after I had seen a photo of a real Tudor house with painted beams. In the top bedroom I cut strips of a scrapbooking paper to use as a frieze around the top of the walls.
   My husband made the 'cartwheel' light. He got a wooden wheel and glued on five candle holders, rigged up a chain to hang it with, sprayed painted everything black and hey presto! The candles I cut from longer, very thin, real birthday candles.
   The ceilings varied: whitewash and adzed, stained beams in the kitchen and middle floor bedroom; embossed wallpaper to look like decorative plasterwork in the hall; bamboo placemats under the lift-up roof to replicate the woven screens put up under tiled roofs in Tudor times.
   I hope you get some ideas for your own Tudor dolls house from this.