Sassy Lady

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I rarely buy dolls, but when I had a chance to get this one by Marsha Backstrom, I couldn’t resist. I love her attitude, her confidence, her dress sense, and her indifference to age!

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Love that hat.

I wanted to display the doll somewhere (a) my cats wouldn’t get at her; and (b) in a setting that went with her. I decided she’s just gone shopping to supplement her wardrobe–or at least what’s underneath it.


Here’s all the stuff I gathered–shoes from Sylvia Rountree (Dolls’ Cobbler), and lingerie and more shoes I found at Mainly Minis (they carry terrific accessories).

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Here she is, surrounded by her just purchased accessories.

I built a quickie scene in a display box, and here is the final product. This sits in my foyer to greet guests.

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She’s gaw..geous!

Easy Quarter-inch scale lamps

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I’ve been enjoying learning to make 1″ scale lamps, and I’m finding the techniques easy to translate to other scales. It’s tough to find lamps in 1/4″ scale. By making my own I can design them to my specifications.

And they’re easy! Because quarter scale is so small, there aren’t a lot of parts involved. What you do need are good tweezers. I have two that I swear by:

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1) A set that you squeeze to open and holds things when you let go (I’m sure there’s a name for this tool)

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2) Fine-pointed tweezers that will pick up the tiniest beads.

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I bought each of these at our local annual miniature show, but small tool places like Micromark and JAR-JAF miniatures should have something similar.

The other thing you need is good glue. JAR-JAF recommends jewelers cement. I don’t have that and make do with crazy glue (the bottle with the brush in the lid) and the Ultimate glue.

Beads and Jewelry Findings:

JAR-JAF has a huge selection of findings and beads–you can download their catalog from their site and browse all the fun shapes they sell. Nothing has to be expensive; e.g., you can get a dozen of whatever for $1.25.

Jewelry-making aisles of hobby stores will have a ton of stuff, and if you’re lucky enough to have a bead store nearby, that’s great too!

I’ll show you how I did a couple of lamps, just by looking at beads and things and putting them together.

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Here’s supplies for lamp #1. The blue beads are from a hobby store. The finding for the lamp base is from JAR-JAF, # 677. The lamp shade is #1302. The pin is #688 (a blunt end pin). The tiny gold beads are #711 as you can see.

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Build the lamp from the base upward, using the pin to hold everything as it’s glued. Only small drops of glue (the Ultimate or crazy [super] glue or a mixture of both) are needed.

I wanted a small lamp for a bedside table, so I stacked beads until it was about 1/4″ high. I glued the shade on the top. I added the top greenish bead as a finial, but it’s really too big, so I did not put on anything after the shade in my other lamps.

Clip the pin that sticks out above the shade with nail clippers or wire clippers (cut into a wastepaper basket because the pins will fly).

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The resulting lamp. This one is not electrified, but with LEDs being so tiny now, you could carefully remove the pin and run wires down the shaft (once the glue is completely dried). Lighting Bug sells an LED kit with a transformer and battery box for smaller scales. They also sell the LED bulbs with wires separately, as does JAR-JAF.

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For now, I’m doing non-electrified lamps.

For this lamp, I used the clear little tubes, #1515, from JAR-JAF. These are mostly used to make lusters for 1″ scale chandeliers and sconces, but I thought “Hey, quarter-inch lamp body.”

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The finished lamp on display. This was nothing more than base, clear tube, crystal bead, lampshade (again #1302), built up on a pin. I found I needed to have the bead on top of the clear tube to give a more stable base for the lampshade.

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Another lamp with dark blue tubes I found at the beading/jewelry aisle of hobby stores. Again, I don’t think the top gold bead is needed. It’s too big in proportion to the rest.

Since doing these with findings I had on hand (leftover from 1″ projects I’d completed), I browsed through the JAR-JAF catalog for more 1/4″ scale-looking findings.

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I came across more possibilities for lamp shades: #1316 and #814, plus the gold tubes (#1399). They also have a kit for a 1/4″ torchere lamp with the light included for $7.

I highly recommend the book “Bangles, Baubles, and Beads,” from JAR-JAF, which has instructions for many lamps, some incredibly easy (some more involved). They have instructions for a couple of 1/4″ chandeliers, sconces, and accessories.

The trouble is, it’s addicting. Pretty soon I had to have a way to keep things organized. This is only one of my trays:

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These are quick and easy projects–what takes the most time is waiting for the glue to dry!

A Note from the Scale Cabinetmaker

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Received this comment, and I thought it would make a good post:

A couple of quick comments. First, thank you, Jenn, for your continuing support of The Scale Cabinetmaker. We are still reintroducing TSC to the miniatures world, since there was a nearly 20 year span where it was only available on places like ebay.

In reference to the comment about figuring out the dimensions in TSC. We always used the “full dimensions” so that models could be built in any scale, or as the case with the rolltop desk, in full size. The trick is understanding the architects rule. Standard rulers are divided by eighths; engineering rulers by tenths, and architect’s rulers by twelfths. Pick up a architect’s ruler and take a look at the different scales. For most miniaturists, you will only be using one side. Find the scale that has a “1” at one end of the scale and “1/2″ at the other end. The “1” inch scale is used for 1/12th and the “1/2″ is use for 1/24th (or half inch) scale. If you look at the “1” side of the scale, you will see something that looks approximately like this (yep, writing this without using graphics is a whole lot harder–my apologies for keyboard drafting):

1 I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I…
(inches) 0 1 (feet) 2 3 …

The marks (numbers) to the left of the “0” equal inches; the marks/numbers to the right of the 0 equal feet. So, a practical example. Say you have a table that is 32″ tall. 32″ = 2 feet, 8 inches.
1 I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I…
(inches) 0 1 (feet) 2 3 …

This is sort of a quick explanation of how to read the ruler and the dimensions. We are in the process of adding some new sample articles to our main website (, and I’ve made a note to add the article on scale measurement and the architect’s rule to the list of free samples. Give me a week to get it up online.

We finally managed to trudge our way into the 21st Century, at least in terms of publishing, and have released all 20 years of TSC, by issue, as downloadable pdfs. We added the first two Cabinetmaker’s Guides to the list of pdf based books this past week (in time for the first volume’s 50th birthday). The download documents can be found on also finally set up a Facebook page and a Pinterest site for Dorsett Publications where we give out free tips and updates on new books and so on.

Jann says:
I love TSC. Just scrolling through, thinking, hmm, what can I try to make, is great therapy! :-)

Book-Vignette–Vintage display

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Unusual containers are a fun way for a quick display.

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I found this fake book box at Warwicks, a stationary and bookstore.

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I bought the book box when I saw it and put it in my stash. I recently fixed it up to display a few other pieces I’ve collected. The scene just fits into the book.

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The French toile-like wallpaper is a piece of scrapbook paper. It’s not exactly to 1″ scale, but it fits this scene. I always browse the scrapbook aisles of hobby stories and grab paper that looks like something I can adapt to minis. I’ve used scrapbook paper for flooring or to put on the outsides of room boxes.

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The gorgeous shabby chic desk and vintage postcards I found on Etsy from It’s a beautiful little desk and came with all the vintage letters and postcards. The chair I bought at a mini online auction. I acquired the picture somewhere and thought it went with the scene.

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My handmade contribution to this scene is the inkwell and quill pen set and the letter holder (top left-hand side of desk holding letter).

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The little box to hold old letters and postcards came with the desk.

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A nice little scene to put on the shelf in my living room.

Easy Quarter-Inch scale accessories–Sparrow Cottage

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I went back to the Sparrow Cottage I put together earlier this year, ready to furnish and decorate. First a tour, then I’ll talk about how I made some things.

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My story for this house is that it belongs to a widow, who uses it as a summer retreat. I picture it on a rugged piece of coast in northern California, Oregon, or Washington. It’s a cool spot by the ocean, where she can enjoy solitude or the horde of children and grandchildren who come to visit.

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She collects novelty china, and enjoys baking in the kitchen.

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With space at a premium, my lady decided that it was more important to have a dining area to feed her friends and family than a sitting room. Meals take precedence.

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There is a nook for reading and relaxing near the stairs.

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A big bathroom with a large tub and plenty of towels.

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A warm comfy bed in the attic bedroom, plus another area for reading.

Furniture and Accessories

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I started out with the bathroom set I’d bought at a show about five years ago.

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Dug into the box of quarter inch kits I’ve stashed, and figured out what furniture would best fit this house. I acquired all these kits from The Quarter Source, Karen Carey, Suzanne and Andrew’s minis, Robin Betterley, BySharon, and bits and pieces found at shows and elsewhere.

Quarter-inch furniture is usually inexpensive and easy to build–few pieces, though they are tiny!

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I made the table here from scratch (accessories from various places). The top is 1/32″ thick wood (I had mahogany), covered with a piece of scrapbook paper decopaged on. (Glue paper to top, finish with a gloss varnish like Delta Ceramcoat). The bottom is a block of 1/16″ thick wood, legs are 1/16″ square. I used hardwood (walnut), instead of basswood, because I wanted the table to be sturdy. A good hobby store has hardwood strips, as does MicroMark online.

For these accessories: The pie making setup is from Desert Mini Makers (a fabulous source for 1/4″ food), mixing bowl was $1 or so from Pierce miniatures, toaster from Debbie Young (Young at Heart), canister from Debbie Young with decals found at Miniature Luxuries.

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The great thing about 1/4″ accessories is they’re fairly cheap. $20 will give you enough accessories for a room or two.
I do also like making my own. I made the lamp, vase of flowers, and row of books. I’ll do a lamp tutorial in the next post.

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Plant is from kit, lamp by me, pillow a kit from The Quarter Source. The rocking chair is cast iron, made by Pierre Luigi. He does beautiful work (beds, chairs, tables, baking racks, fireplace accessories, plates, and other things), and it’s very affordable! Suzanne and Andrew’s minis carries these pieces.

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The all-important toilet paper. Easy to make. Take a strip of 1/8″ white quilling paper (found at hobby stores or online), use either a quilling tool or a darning needle with the top of the head clipped off, and roll the paper in to a tight roll. Use a tiny jump ring as the toilet paper holder. I made three for this bathroom–one for the holder and two spares to sit on a shelf.

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The toilet paper in place.

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Towels. Method one makes folded towels for shelves or counters. Using a tiny amount of glue in the folds, fold a strip of thin fabric (very thin cotton or silk works well) lengthwise into thirds. The resulting long strip should be about 1/8″ wide. Crease and press with fingers to get the strip tight and creased.

Fold the top of the strip over on itself crosswise (gluing and creasing with fingers), creating a square about 1/8 x 3/16 or 1/4 or thereabouts. Snip off. Make several, then stack on top of each other, holding them in place with drops of glue.

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Here’s my stack of towels plus the toilet paper in its shelf. The bottles are from a plastic kit from Suzanne and Andrew’s minis; the gold jar is a bead with a tiny crystal bead on top (glued with superglue).

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Towels 2: You can see I’ve done another towel in a ring by the sink. That towel is a strip of fabric folded into thirds lengthwise (glued and pressed), then cut to length. I eyeballed it, but it’s about 3/4″. Thread through a jump ring and glue to wall.

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An iron bed by Pierre Luigi. I bought a single bed and a double–this house had just enough room for the single.

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I kept the bed dressing simple so I didn’t hide the nice bedframe. The mattress is a thin cotton over a 1/4″ thick piece of foam rubber. I bought the quilt for $5 from The Quarter Source (huge selection–any kind of quilt you could want). I finished it with pillows from The Quarter Source–pillow kits match the quilts. (Kits in progress at the bottom of the picture).

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Finished bed in the bedroom.

Other easy finishing touches:
Things that make a house look lived-in: Plants / flower arrangements, pillows, throws, and pictures.

Vases of flowers: Use a bead or jewelry finding for the vase. Glue in clumpy greenery from railroad modeling landscape material (hobby stores or MicroMark). For flowers, either dry brush tiny dabs of bright blue, red, yellow, pink, on the greenery or punch out tiny paper flowers with a paper punch (or use what comes in mini flower kits where the flowers have been pre-punched). Use a ball stylus or round-headed pin to cup the flowers (put flowers on a folded pillowcase or mouse pad and roll stylus once or twice around the petals). Glue cupped petals to the greenery. Keep in mind that for 1/4″ the flowers must be tiny!

Row of books: Glue a photo of row of books (reduced to 1/8″ on computer) across a 1/8″ square strip of wood cut to length. Score the top and back of the wood with a knife to simulate gaps between the books, shade the scoring with a very fine lead pencil.

Pictures: Computers make it easy for us to have all the pictures we want in our dollhouses. I search for classic paintings or take my own photos and reduce them on my computer. I print right on cardstock with a color printer. Frame with very thin molding or stripwood cut to size (Hobby Builder Supply and any dollhouse shop are good sources for picture frame) moldings.

Throws: Chairs look extra cozy with a throw. Use a thin fabric such as very thin cotton or silk–if it has a pattern, make sure it’s tiny. Cut a strip longer than it is wide. Play with folding and scrunching it over a chair, then glue in place when you have something you like.

Accessories made by others are very affordable. The best for accessories are Suzanne and Andrew’s minis, Robin Betterley, Debbie Young, and Desert Mini Makers. All are listed in my sidebar of links. Browse The Quarter Source and Karen Carey as well (I purchase a lot of furniture kits and building supplies from them). Miniature Luxuries is a good source for tiny decals, ribbon, and fabric.

I discovered how to make easy quarter-inch scale lamps, and was going to do a tutorial here, but this is getting long, so I’ll save I for another post.

I have much more to do I this house (rugs and pictures mostly), but this is a good resting point.

Added Fairfield pics and Blue House

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I started adding pictures of the finished Blue House B&B and the Fairfield.

Moving more minis

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I’ve added more pages of pics of my minis to this blog:

Antique Shop

Card Room

Arch de Provence in Quarter-inch scale

Colonial tavern

And a couple new ones:

3D Diner

Yummy Desserts

I’ve had to do a little rearranging of the menus to make everything fit! More to come!

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