Book-Vignette–Vintage display

Leave a comment

IMG_2245 (600x800)

Unusual containers are a fun way for a quick display.

IMG_2246 (600x800)

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

IMG_2247 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2249 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2253 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2252 (600x800)

IMG_2250 (600x800)

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).

IMG_2254 (600x800)

IMG_2255 (600x800)

IMG_2256 (600x800)

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

IMG_2251 (600x800)

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

Easy Quarter-Inch scale accessories–Sparrow Cottage

1 Comment

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.

IMG_2239 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2238 (600x800)

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

IMG_2232 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2230 (600x800)

IMG_2231 (600x800)

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

IMG_2210 (800x600)

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

IMG_2237 (600x800)

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

Furniture and Accessories

IMG_1658 (960x1280)

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

IMG_2194 (600x800)

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!

IMG_2208 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2229 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2215 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2204 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2206 (600x800)

The toilet paper in place.

IMG_2207 (600x800)

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.

IMG_2209 (600x800)

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).

IMG_2210 (800x600)

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.

IMG_2233 (600x800)

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

IMG_2235 (600x800)

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).

IMG_2237 (600x800)

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

Leave a comment

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

Moving more minis

Leave a comment

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!

Adding all my minis

Leave a comment

I’m in process of moving my big website to a new one, and it means losing the pages that had pics of all my minis. I am moving all of them to this blog / site. It’s not as hard as I feared porting them over, but it takes time. For now I have up the Black and White Room, and about four vignettes. You can see them via menu items at the top of this blog, or in the list of pages down the side. A work in progress!

Or check them out here:

Black and White Room

This Mess is a Place

Moroccan Fantasy


New Orleans Courtyard

Architect’s Scales–A Brief Intro and How-To


If you collect issues of The Scale Cabinetmaker, you’ll find that many of the projects’ dimensions are given in full scale measurements, and it’s up to us to translate that into the scale we want to work in.

You can either do math (divide everything by 12, or 24, or 48, for 1″, 1/2″, 1/4″ scale), or you can save yourself the trouble and purchase an architect’s scale.

An architect’s scale is a triangular ruler with six different scales listed in inches. (Note it is different from an engineering scale, which is metric–get the one with inches, or you’ll be doing a heck of a lot more math).

Photo of my scale from the top (Click pics for larger versions):

IMG_2115 (800x600)

Here it is, looking at the 1″ scale side (sorry it’s a little blurry):

IMG_2116 (800x600)


IMG_2117 (800x600)

How does it work? See the 1 there to the right of the 20? (ignore the 20 for now). That’s the one inch mark–there’s exactly one inch, or one scale foot, between the zero and the 1. To the left of the zero is an inch (a scale foot) broken down into 12 scale inches. (3 inches, 6, 9, 12).

So, if I’m looking at plans for the deck chair, and it shows that one piece is 50″ long, I think, “How many feet is that?” (OK, so you have to do a tiny bit of math).

50 inches = 4 feet, 2 inches (right? I’m an English major).

IMG_2116 (800x600)

I place my scale ruler on my piece of wood, count over from zero to 4 (it’s four real inches, or four scale feet). Then I move the ruler to measure from the left of the zero mark the last two “inches” (scale inches), and there I have my measurement. I have no idea what the actual measurement is (4 1/6 inches I guess it would be), but I don’t need to know that. I know it’s 4 feet 2 scale inches.

It took some time before the lightbulb went off for me. Get a scale, find some projects with real-size dimensions, and practice figuring out how to translate the measurements into one-inch scale.

The great thing about learning how to do dimensions using the architect’s scale is that any project in the Scale Cabinetmaker can be resized for 1/2″ or 1/4″ scale as well! (If you want to do some of those things that small!)

IMG_2118 (800x600)

This is the half-inch side of the architect’s scale. The one scale foot mark is the 10 (because the ruler has six scales, some of the marks are from the scale going the other direction, which drove me nuts at first, until I learned to ignore it). The 2 is the 2 scale feet mark, the next mark is 3 scale feet, and so on.

IMG_2119 (800x600)

Here is the 1/4″ scale side. Ignore the 92, etc, and just use the 2, 4, etc.

Thus, if something is four inches on a side in real life, instead of trying to figure out how big is 1/3 of an inch, you can use the marks on the architect scale to count 3 scale inches and not worry about it.

Clear as mud? It’s clearer when you practice with it. One motivation in making the deck chair and the chest was to see if I could figure out how to mark the dimensions.

Last–The Scale Cabinetmaker does have some fairly easy projects. I look for ones that don’t need a lot of power tools, or have straight lines or rectangular carcasses. The projects contributed by Bill Miller can be done with hand tools and intermediate or even beginning woodworking skills (he also lists his dimensions in inches, so no need for the architect’s scale). I made a backgammon table and 1/2″ scale pool table he designed, and both turned out well!

IMG_6593 (768x1024)

Fun projects #2 and #3


More fun. This time two simple projects:

IMG_2008 (960x1280)

IMG_2009 (960x1280)

Again I found these plans in The Scale Cabinetmaker. This lounge chair is made of straight cuts of wood with a little drilling and pinning. It really folds and unfolds, and the back can be adjusted (note the grooves in the bottom back where the rung fits.)

I did not make the grill–it’s there for effect!

IMG_2004 (1280x960)

These pieces are from the Realife Miniatures Victorian parlor kit from ages and ages ago. I’d made it as a teenager and the set went in the first version of The Big House. When I was able to afford better furniture, they of course got put in a box.

I decided to see if I could salvage them. I took off the kit’s original fabric, refinished the outsides, and reupholstered in some nice jacquard-like fabric. The rocking chair’s fabric is a little different (a cotton paisley), but the pieces look nice together.

IMG_2006 (960x1280)

For the table, I had to bend a new piece of 1/32 basswood, and refinish everything. But now the table stands square (it rocked before), and everything looks lovely!

Now I have a nice furniture set, and no house to put it in. Hmm….

Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: