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Archive for October, 2018

Open House Miniatures - dolls house Halloween pumpkin head, lanterns and bat garland

The lens on my camera – a Sony cybershot – bends pictures at the edges. I have to crop to the centre of the image in order to have an un-distorted picture : )

I very rarely make anything specifically, in miniature, for Hallowe’en, but this year I tried out an old recipe for papier mache and made a Jack o’ lantern that can be illuminated.

dollhouse light up jack o' lantern

In this photo, the head is sitting on a book light.

For this sort of papier mache you dissolve paper in a glue solution and use the resulting gloop as modelling medium. As the mixture is predominantly water, it tends to shrink dramatically as it dries and I ended up with a rather wrinkled looking head. Maybe it has been alight all night, or possibly it is a warty squash rather than a pumpkin.

The glue traditionally used for this type of papier mache was wallpaper paste. I read somewhere, at some point, that wallpaper paste was, at one time, made from flakes of potato starch. Whatever it is made from today, it usually also contains at least one fungicide and all the brands that I looked at carried warnings about not getting it on your skin. This being so, please read the instructions on your packet of wallpaper paste if you decide to try out the following mix :-

  • 1 part water (I used 1 desert spoon)
  • 1 part paste (I used 1 desert spoon)
  • sufficient moistened paper to beat into a thick paste (I used toilet paper; this is designed specifically to fall apart in water and using it reduces the amount of beating required.)

Because of the way it shrinks as it dries, I am not sure that the resulting mix is suitable for fine modelling but I think it would make an excellent, light-weight surface for a roughly finished wall.

If you would like to make a hollow pumpkin head of your own, air drying clay or fimo might be a better option.

I made mine around a ball of paper handkerchief, covered in cling film and supported on a stick. If I had thought to use a piece of dark coloured tissue paper, around the paper handkerchief ball, it would have made seeing what I was doing, while I was making the face, a great deal easier.

papier mache pumpkin head moulded around a ball of tissue, covered in cling film

When the head was dry, I removed the stick and pulled out the paper handkerchief and cling film.

I think that the papier mache recipe is from a book called ‘The Toymaker’. I did write down that the book was published in 1882 and that the mix was originally used for making a mask. But I don’t have a copy of this book and only wrote down some of the things that I wanted to try out.

While looking for a copy of ‘The Toymaker’ on-line (I am ever hopeful) I did come across a rather nice site called ‘The Toymaker’. On it there are a great many paper based projects to download for free. The owner of the site, Marilyn Scott Walters, is an author and has several books of paper toys on Amazon. I think her work is inventive and great fun – and so well designed that much of it could be reduced in size and made in miniature. Here is just one example :-

marylin scott thomas - the toymaker- fairy market - to make

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Making the supposed-to-be-a-pumpkin head reminded me of these.

miniature paper lanterns in various colours

I know these as ‘Chinese Lanterns’ and they have been made, in one form or another, for many years.  They are certainly not my own invention. I think they are fun to make full-size, in pretty papers, for birthday and Christmas decorations. Ideally I would have liked to make these miniature ones in brightly coloured origami paper. This is beautifully thin and holds its shape well but I didn’t have any, so instead I coloured some thin (75 gsm) printer paper coloured with indelible ink pens.

If you decide to make these and colour paper in this way too, please put something under the paper that you are using as spirit-based inks tend to go straight though thin paper and they will stain the surface underneath.

NB If you use an ordinary felt pen the ink will, in my experience, run when it comes into contact with glue – any sort of glue.

In this case I used ASDA own brand pens, but you can only buy these in-store. For nice colours, including a range of neon, Sharpie pens are possibly my favourite craft pen available on-line at the moment.

when using an indelible marker, put scrap cardboard under thin paper

This is how I made the lanterns:

First I cut an inner piece of paper to make the central cylinder. The example in the photograph is tissue paper. The gold flecks glint nicely in real life but do not show up at all in my photographs of the finished lanterns. I wrapped this paper around a 10 mm (plastic) knitting needle and glued it together with water based glue.

making a miniature lantern - tissue paper around a knitting needle

10 mm knitting needles are approximately old style 000 in the UK, or size 15 in the US.

The paper will shrink as it dries, so it is important not to wrap the paper too tightly around the knitting needle. If you do, you may have trouble getting the completed lantern off the needle.

Next I cut a piece of paper a little bit bigger than the inner paper, folded it in half lengthwise and made a series of cuts, along the entire length, at right angles to the folded edge.making a dolls' house miniature lantern - cutting slits in the paper

When this is unfolded the shape of the lantern began to emerge.

making a miniature lantern - unfolding the paper

Next, I glued one long, outer edge to the top edge of the inner cylinder.

making a miniature lantern - gluing the top edge in place

Then, when this was dry, I pushed up the other edge, applied glue to the edge of the inner cylinder and then lowered the outer casing into place.

making a miniature paper lantern - easing up the outer paper

While this is drying, I cut a strip of paper for the handle.

making a miniature paper lantern - fixing the handle in place

Then I glued this in place, slid the lantern off the knitting needle, and fixed the other end of the handle in place with another dab of glue.

The smaller lanterns are made by exactly the same method, but around a pencil instead of a knitting needle.

The width of the paper, and the size of the cuts made in it, affect the overall appearance of the lantern a great deal. The two sizes that I made are in the following pdf –

OHM_181005_chinese lantern

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Having found my ink pens and having them to hand, I thought I would experiment with an idea that I had for a garland of bats.

The idea was to make a 3D bat. It was an interesting idea, but I don’t think that I succeeded in making a particularly good bat shape and, in an effort to make the bats look more 3D, I ended up adding some flat pumpkin heads to the garland.

First I printed the bat shape on the thin printer paper that I had used for the lanterns.

They are rather small, so I cut them out roughly and scored the fold lines. Then, to make the folding easier, I cut away some of the paper and folded the bat shape.

I then flattened them out again, finished cutting round the outline and coloured them black – with an indelible marker pen.

miniature bat shape

I used black cotton for the string of the garland. The cotton wanted to curl and twist when it came off the spool, so I dampened it and lay it on a formica counter top to dry straight and flat.

doll house miniature bat garland on a cotton thread

I glued the bat shapes to the cotton with a dab of white wood working glue. This will peel off the formica, leaving the bat shape stuck to the cotton thread.

While the glue was drying I cut out some small pumpkin heads and then…

miniature pumpkin heads for a dollshouse garland

…used these to fill in the gaps between the bats.

bat and pumpkin head dolls' house garland

The pdf for the small pumpkin heads that I used in the garland is here: – OHM151102_halloween_pumpkin_heads

The pdf for the small bats is here: – OHM181004 _mini_bats

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Now for some things that are just printable 😀

Creative Beacon have some useful looking bat shapes (for free). I would have used these, if I had found them before embarking on my own bat design  : –
creative beacon - bat shapes for hallowe'en

My own collection of Hallowe’en related images is paltry, but here they are: –

Halloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin headHalloween jack o lantern pumpkin head

Halloween witch head profile

halloween house - microsoft clipartHalloween - witch on broomstickHalloween witch and cauldronHalloween witch and cauldronHalloween - old lady and catHalloween - old lady and cat

Halloween - black catHalloween - black cats

Halloween - crescent moon catHalloween - crescent moon owlHalloween - crescent moon witch

Halloween - card - pumpkin and couple with appleHalloween card - old lady and cat

Halloween - young girl and pumpkin head

How you spell Halloween seems to depend on how old you are and where you were born. I think that Halloween should be spelt (and not spelled) Hallowe’en, which apparently makes me very old and British. (Any pun making is usually unintentional: this time it was irresistible.)

Part of a card - Dolly Dingle doll with witch's costume for Halloween

Finally, time is running out on the Giveaway in the previous post so, if you would like the chance to win a miniature nativity set, please don’t delay entering.

The giveaway ends 22nd October 2018, at midnight, UK time.

[Regular readers probably know by now what I am going to say about any adverts at the bottom of this post – they aren’t put there by me: WordPress needs to fund its blogging service. I could pay a small fee to have them removed, but have chosen not to do this.]

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