Archive for March, 2013

Open House Miniatures - Papier mache easter eggs with mould

These papier-mache Easter eggs are an “iceberg” thing to make – there is a great deal hidden below the surface of the metaphorical water.

I knew that the process that went into making these was not going to be easy to explain, so I made a short list to begin with.

It looked like this –


  1. Look at a full-size cardboard egg
  2. Make a miniature egg that is the “right shape” (Milliput)
  3. I need more than one egg!
  4. Cast more eggs from this shape (mould making and casting – Polycraft and Alumilite)
  5. Make bases for the cast eggs to sit on (mould making – Polycraft Hiflex)
  6. Make the papier-mache eggs on these moulds (papier-mache)

Then I began to think about all the things that I had not said, for example –

Please note –

  • All of the products that I used for mould making and casting can be substituted by others
  • The mould making processes and casting materials that I used for these eggs will not be suitable for everything
  • There are different sorts of mould making materials, which cure to different sorts of hardness and flexibility (shore)
  • If you are considering casting you must take into account what you want to cast and choose the mould / material to suit it
  • I approach CASTING as though it is a SCIENTIFIC PROCESS and I DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE INSTRUCTIONS on the packet / bottle / tub

Then I started to consider all the things that I could not show easily in a photograph, for example,

  • I can’t make a poured silicone mould, or cast resin, and hold a camera at the same time.
  • I use the lowest odour casting materials that I can find, but I still think they stink and so I only use them out-of-doors – and at the moment we are knee-deep in (unseasonable) snow.
  • I was hoping that the weather would clear up, so that I could, at the very least, make some proper poured silicone bases for the eggs, but it hasn’t and I had to cheat.

Due to this, what follows is very far from perfect.

Background Information 

Casting –

If you are interested in casting things for yourself, you might find it helpful to look at the following videos from YouTube for background information.

The first video shows exactly what I do when I make a mould – I don’t skimp, I am utterly painstaking, it is a hypnotically dull process. It works.

The second video is in two parts, and is not so dull. This person knows what he’s doing but he does not mention fumes once!

I enjoyed his website http://www.stormthecastle.com 

What I could not find on YouTube was a good example of casting a sphere.

Essentially, what you do is place the object in the centre of the mould and create feed lines – one for the casting material to enter the mould and another for air to escape from the mould.

Like this –


I made this half egg mould with Hiflex – not a good idea in my opinion, but the best I can do at the moment.


In order to get resin into the egg shape,
I need to cut two channels.
1). to get the resin in and 2) to let the air out.
At this size it was easier for me to cut the channels, rather than embedding them when I was making the mould.

Printing on tissue paper –

I stick my tissue paper to a piece of photocopy paper with glue – a very little bit of glue all round the edge. It has to dry completely before it goes through my printer. I don’t use it all at once and it stores better this way.

A “professional” print from my print shop –

Open House Miniatures - Easter scrap prints

I have an arrangement with my local printers. I supply them with 600 ppi, colour-separated, tiff files and they print my images onto a paper of my choice, using their exceedingly expensive, ink-jet printer. I pay them money to do this and they don’t laugh at my small pages crammed full of odd things. In fact, we enjoy surprising each other.

They had a roll of their own 80 gsm HP plotter paper and they printed a strip of Easter scraps on to it for me. I was very pleased with the results and held my breath when I made the paper wet with glue – the ink did not run.

Papier-mache ?!?!?!

I had a quick look for an on-line definition of “papier-mache” and the recipes vary widely.

I think all that I can say is that I use the method and materials that work for me.

Finally –

The eggs that I make in the slideshow are slightly smaller than the ones that I photographed before.

I have longed to make smaller ones, but have been thwarted by a lack of the “right sort of” paper. (It is astonishing how thick and unwieldy “thin” paper gets at this size.)

The plotter paper has allowed me experiment and has, I think, has produced a superb result.

Many, many, many thanks again to Sharon for mentioning it.


Press the Esc key on your keyboard to escape from the slideshow at any time.

Finally, finally…

I am fairly certain that commercially made cardboard eggs were never made by this layered paper process !

For one thing, I have tried my layered paper method full-size and it works (with many, many more layers) but the drying time involved is ENDLESS…

If you are looking for full size eggs to decorate, they are still available from a few places – the quality and price varies.

I have found the following on-line suppliers, but I have not bought eggs from them in real-life.

Great Art UK

Crafty Bugs UK

Blumchen USA

32 Degrees North USA

Pr moebel GERMANY

Panduro Hobby GERMANY

32 Degrees North had some (full-size) decorated eggs too. I have not seen these in real-life for years and years and years.

I am very pleased that they are still made somewhere.

Happy Easter

OHM Happy Easter

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Petrina Case - than you card

Petrina won a set of The Prize Magazine.

She was then extraordinarily kind and sent me (by real life post !) a beautiful handmade card , and also some business cards for me.

They are all on lovely paper and I been trying, and failing, to do them justice in a photograph ever since.

The gold bands were on the inside of the envelope flap. It was a wonderful surprise to see a sudden golden gleam when I opened it.

I am going to save the envelope for making something special – I don’t know exactly what yet, but it will be something that needs beautiful gold paper.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Petrina is picked as a Graphic45 Design Team Member for 2013.

***   ***   ***   ***

I would also like to thank Paula for making such a wonderful job of the folding dolls’ house and taking the trouble to photograph it so nicely for her blog.

I was truly delighted to see it in a real-life room. The little girls look as though they are enjoying themselves, don’t they !

Thank you as well to Krin, who took this wonderful photograph of the Circus Procession book.

Krin has two blogs (I struggle with one !!!) and in the blog devoted to 24th scale she has made a beautifully neat version of the folding dolls’ house, in 1/2 scale.

This is Krin’s idea and I have not tried to make the house at this size – I am firmly stuck in 12th scale ( or larger).

Krin has very kindly given details of the paper she used…

…so, in case there is anyone who would like to make a very small folding dolls’ house, and who would struggle adapting / converting / printing out and then scanning the 12th scale pdf…

… here are a couple of pdfs for 24th scale –


the coloured patches for the back of the floors


The instructions for making the 12th scale folding house are in the slideshow at the bottom of the post here

I hope you have fun – and I would be pleased to hear how you get on.


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Open House Minaitures - How to make an accordian fold book - Mcloughlin Circus Procession

It’s a very long time since I made any of these books and I was rather surprised when someone asked if I would demonstrate how they are made.

First many thanks are due to Q, who lent me the original book and gave me permission to use it here.

Secondly, many, many, many thanks are due to Sharon who, several blog posts ago, mentioned that she thought that HP plotter paper gave her a better print.

To cut a long story short, thanks to Sharon, I bought a large roll of 80gsm (21lbs) HP plotter paper from Amazon.

When I tried it out on my printer at home I was astonished by the results.

It is very difficult to show the quality of the print in a photograph, but I am going to try.

The top strip is 80 gsm plotter paper and the bottom strip is 100 gsm best quality inkjet (un-coated) paper.

Open House Miniatures - HP plotter paper, home print and professional print

The top strip (which is 12th scale and smaller in size) was printed last week on my home computer. My printer has an unreliable paper feed and does not reproduce colours particularly well.

The folded strip below (which is slightly larger than 12th scale) is a professionally produced giclée print from about 10 years ago. (Giclée = fancy word for ink-jet print done by a very, very good, exceedingly expensive printer – in this case an Epson.)

Sharon, I can’t thank you enough.

I have tried and, so far, failed to photograph the difference this is going to make. I can only say that a 600 ppi, professional print on this paper looks as though it is on coated ink-jet paper. It is that good.

***   ***   ***   ***

The book in the slideshow below was made using HP plotter paper but it should be possible to get a reasonable print on ordinary photocopy paper.

NOTE – the glue makes a difference as well as the printer, ink and paper on this project.

I used Evo-stick white wood working glue – this has a thick consistency and dries quickly.

The text in my 12th scale version (even on plotter paper !) are only readable to dolls’ house residents so,  please visit Project Gutenberg, where the book is reproduced in full, if you would like to read it.

I feel I ought to also mention that Paper Minis have a kit for this book (it is a long way down the page, so keep scrolling). This has a cover and readable text. There is also a tutorial on how to make it here .

I haven’t seen Paper Mini’s kits in real life and so I haven’t tried any out. They do have an enviable collection !

Finally, my version…

The McLoughlin Book that I copied was a simple accordion fold, or concertina fold, book.

In the slideshow I do not follow the usual instructions for making this type of book. (I was reproducing a book, not making one from scratch). There are some good videos on YouTube, if you want to see how one is usually made.

As the full strip of pages is 12 inches (30 cm) long, I have made two pdfs, so that there is a choice –

Print and join two strips – McLoughlin_Circus_Procession_A4_paper_20130322

Print one (very long) strip – McLoughlin_Circus_Procession_12_inch_strip_20130322

The pdf for the covers is here – McLoughlin_Circus_Procession_covers_20130322

NOTE – 23rd march 2013 –  from the comments there seems to be some confusion as to what “tissue paper” is.

In UK English, “tissue paper” is not a paper handkerchief (or “a tissue”), it is the sort of very fine paper that is sometimes used for wrapping small items before putting them in a gift box.

Have a look here on Amazon to see what I am talking about.

To escape from the slideshow at any time, press the Esc key on your keyboard.



The plotter paper is available from Amazon in A4 sheets too.

These would be much easier to store than the roll that I bought.


There is a page for those who like to Make and Do here and I am going to repeat here what I have said there –

  • If you want to save the pdf(s) to your computer / a CD / data stick etc. you may do that too.
  • You may use the contents of the pdf for yourself – and if you would like to make 10 of something and try selling them please go ahead, but do think first of all the other people who will be doing exactly the same thing.
  • You may share these projects with your friends and family, and miniature club.
  • You may link to them from your website / blog / satellite station, if you have one
  • You may customise them.
  • You may use them / the design ideas, in whole, or in part, as for inspiration for making your own things.

You may not copy the pdfs, or the contents of the pdfs, in whole, or in part, and re-sell them.

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Open House Miniatures Paula Rose Needlework Carpet

I do not make these for sale.
At the end of this post there is a link for
Jaques Andre Human,
who makes exquisite needlework items.
The chart for this design is here

I  wrote about the pattern for this rug in an earlier post.

After looking at my original pencil chart, I came to the conclusion that my charting is very like my handwriting – after I have forgotten what I have written, not even I can read it.

I am very fond of this design and one day – when I have the time ! – I would like to make a full-size version of the rug.

So, in the hopes that I could re-chart it from the finished piece, I have been searching (off and on) for my box of completed needlework.

With a great deal of help from an exceeding patient friend –

Quote – “Why do you keep all this stuff in the same sort of cardboard box ?!?!?!? ” 

– we  finally found the rug itself.

The design is a direct copy of a one on a small purse, which belonged to the mother of my Exceeding Patient Friend.

The purse was worked in silk, but I like the hairy, slightly uneven, effect of wool and so I worked my rug in wool – in half cross-stitch, on 22 count canvas. (This is a larger canvas size than the original.)

Open House Miniatures - Paula Rose needlework rug corner

When I made it I didn’t have any “proper” wool, so I used darning wool (of the sort you used to be able to get for mending socks) for the coloured parts of the design, and thin yarn (of the type that comes on a cone for machine knitting) for the white background.

These days I would probaly use 2 ply crewel wool.  I would find it difficuly to choose just one supplier of wool to recommend, but if I could only choose one then I think it would be Appleton Wool   as it is always (in my experience) excellent quality and comes in a good variety of colours.

Everyone who believes that the stitches need to be worked in the same direction, please look away now.

If you look at the back of the rug you can clearly see that I worked the blue motifs in a variety of directions.

Open House Miniatures - Needlework Rug Reverse

I did this so that the fabric would not drift out of shape and the rug edges would remain straight.

When I am working in half cross-stitch, both full-size and in miniature, I very often work the decorative motive from the bottom of the design to the top and fill in the background in a right to left (or left to right) direction.

Varying the stitch direction is not orthodox, but I think experimenting and bending “the rules” can be rewarding – sometimes.

I vividly remember that it took me a week – one rose, or one blue medallion, a day – to complete a row of pattern.

This is not exactly a speedy result, but if you would like to make one of these rugs for yourself  the pdf  for the full design is here –


The colours in the pdf chart are slightly different from the ones that I used in real life (I was using very odd yarn, in non-standard colours) and the design, although it looks simple, is rather intricate.

If you click on the image below, you will be able to see, and print, a larger version of part of the chart.

Open House Miniatures - Paula Rose rug - needlework chart

I like bold, strong colours, but I think this would work well in paler, subtler shades too, and I am sure that you will find it a rewarding project to complete.

***   ***   ***   ***

I hardly ever make small needlework items for sale, and I certainly never make large items like rugs.

So, if you are looking for fine miniature needlework (at what I think is an astonishingly reasonable price!) I would recommend considering the work of Jacques Andre Human .

It is unfair of me to single out just his work on the Petit Connoisseurs website, as there are a great many things there that I think are delightful – far too many to mention…

All right, maybe just one …

Bianca by Anna Braun from the Petit Connoisseurs website

Bianca by Anna Braun

Or two…

Flower Arrangement in Handmade Vase by Pam Jones

Flower arrangement in handmade vase
by Pam Jones

or three…

Large Pitcher by Hestelle Mare

Large pitcher by Hestelle Mare

***   ***   ***   ***

Finally a big very thank you to everyone who voted in last week’s poll.

The result was a tie – 31 votes for the McLoughlin Circus Procession book and 31 votes for a papier mache Easter egg.

I hope to have the slideshow for the book ready by next Friday and (hopefully) will have another one (for the papier mache egg) ready by Easter weekend.

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open_house_miniatures_ppi_matters_sample_raspberry_pink open_house_miniatures_ppi_matters_sample_pale_pink open_house_miniatures_ppi_matters_sample_blue

Here are some examples of a decorative design that I created from sample of old fabric.

They are 300 ppi and they print on my Canon Pixma home printer (via Paint Shop Pro 8) at exactly 1.5 inches (approx 3.75 cm) square each.

The little thumbnails above have been compressed by WordPress and will not print very well and, especially if you click on a thumbnail to see the full size version, they may well look much larger than 1.5 inches on-screen.

If you would like to print a sheet of paper, so that the pattern is the “right” size at 300 ppi, the pdfs are here –




(The A4 sheets are enormously ink thirsty, so please do not waste your ink – print a sample to get an idea of the colour first.)

The photo below shows why I used 300 ppi samples and not 72 ppi samples.


ppi matters !

I know I always say this but – whether or not the papers print well and are useful to you (or not) will depend on the paper, ink and printing method used.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

I had a chance to talk to someone who works as a commercial printer earlier this week and I asked him if there was any way to recreate, at home, the non-smudge result found in colour printed books.

SPOILER – Don’t get excited – according to him there isn’t…

After he had stopped laughing – he is a nice man, really he is – he suggested that I have a look at Shackell Edwards website, and then he calmed down and explained a bit…

The universal problem is, it seems, not only getting the ink onto the paper, and in the right place, but making it stay there.

The print finishes that we see in magazines, books, wrapping paper, etc are created by a combination of the paper, the ink and the finishing coating.

It is at this point that I am probably about to become temendously tedious to a great many readers so, dear readers, if you find the following dead boring please skip to the bottom of this post and vote for something more interesting.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

I was asked, a couple of posts back, if I recommended using spray-on fixative to protect the surface of an ink-jet print.

I have heard of this being done and, as it seems to be a widely recommended method, it must work for some people.

I have tried fixative sprays in the past but, as the ones available to me are for fixing looses surfaces like charcoal or pastel to paper, they were not particularly effective on ink-jet ink.

This does not mean that fixative sprays do not work on ink-jet prints, only that I have not yet found one that does.

Anyway, after my conversation with the printer, and imbued (yet again) with the (mad) idea that there must be a way to “fix” ink jet ink to ordinary paper, I tried a little experiment this week.

I printed two samples onto 90 gsm photocopy paper and very carefully applied glaze of  –

  • Ronseal varnish (this would not smudge on coated paper inkjet paper)


  • white, water based, washable,”craft” glue for children (this would sit on top of coated inkjet paper and dry unevenly – it is good for crackle glaze and not much else).

With the following results –

open house miniatures

Glue v Varnish on photocopy paper

Admittedly I had chosen to work with a raspberry pink colour that I know, from past experience, runs and smudges far more easily than most other colours.

So nothing daunted I printed another sample and got out my favourite white, water based glue –


This is excellent glue.
If it has one fault it is that it dries very rapidly.

– and tried with that –


I wasn’t nice and careful, I simply wiped the thick glue over the print with my finger. This darkened the ink and smudged it a little bit.

Then I got creative with water proofing for clothing (if you lived in the middle of England, you would probably have a bottle of this under your kitchen sink too !)


The Nikwax effect was… interesting


although I have to say my favourite part was the crumbling, aged effect on the  back of the paper –


After the Evo-stick and the Nikwax had dried overnight, I tried the water test…


and came to the conclusion that –

open_house_miniatures_ppi_matters_still_ looking

I still hadn’t found the solution…

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

A very big thank you to everyone who voted and left comments. I appreciate your help very much indeed.

Here are the results of the poll – equal first are the Circus Procession book and the papier mache Easter egg.

I will not, unfortunately, have time to make two slideshows next week, so I think it will have to be the Circus Procession next week and (if everything goes to plan) the papier mache egg for the Easter weekend.

open house miniatures poll results

Please bear in mind that, although I can run through how I make the papier mache eggs, I cannot do a digital download for the mold !

In case you are wondering, I did vote.

To test that the poll was working properly, I voted for the basket for an Easter egg!


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I have not had a computer this week and, shortly after I have uploaded this, I will not have a computer / internet connection until Wednesday, 6th March. Everyone who has been leaving me comments and messages –

Thank You ! I will try to reply as soon as possible.

Open House Miniatures How toMake a McLoughlin Folding Doll House

I usually use a professional print service.
This example was printed on my home printer.

Some time ago, I blogged about my version of the McLoughlin Folding Doll House, and I feel I should repeat here some of what I said then –

  • I do not have, and have never had, a complete example of the Folding Doll House, and I have only ever handled rather worn and battered examples. For this reason, my miniature version also looks slightly faded and worn.
  • I was born and live, and work, in the UK.
  • McLoughlin toys are comparatively unknown here and so, rather than seeing them as iconic cultural items, my interest in them veers towards the technical expertise involved in their manufacture.

This being so, a large part of me wants to write at length about lithographic printing processes and modular manufacturing as applied by mid to late 19th Century toy makers, particularly large companies like The McLoughlin Brothers.

However, I suspect that no-one, except me, is even remotely interested in this and so I will keep this short –

The McLoughlin Folding Doll House is one of the things that makes me wish that time travel was possible.

At school, we were taught that Henry Ford invented the production line – my guess is that The McLoughlin Brothers beat him to it by a number of years.

Finally, just a few more things before I leave you to grab the pdfs and start having fun –

  • If you make up this house, please be aware that the weight and type of paper that you use will make a huge difference to the result.
  • The printer and the ink will make a big difference too.

The walls and floors are here


Papers for finishing the backs of the floors (one spare) are here


A walkthrough for making the house is in the slideshow below.

To escape from the slideshow at any time, press the Esc button on your computer keyboard.

This is a page for those who like to Make and Do.

I am going to repeat here what I say there

  • If you want to save the pdfs to your computer / a CD / data stick etc. you may do that.
  • You may use the contents of the pdf for yourself – and if you would like to make 10 of something and try selling them please go ahead, but do think first of all the other people who will be doing exactly the same thing.
  • You may share these projects with your friends and family, and miniature club.
  • You may link to them from your website / blog / satellite station, if you have one
  • You may customise them.
  • You may use them / the design ideas, in whole, or in part, as for inspiration for making your own things.

You may not copy the pdf, or the contents of the pdf, in whole, or in part, and resell them.

A 24th scale version of this house (I have not yet tried this out !) is at the bottom of this post

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