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Archive for the ‘Printables’ Category

webb's characters and scenes in aladdin or the wonderful lamp - coloured in

My scanner does dreadful things to colours.

Not everyone likes toy theatres, either full-size, or in miniature, so this is a bit of an unfair blog post for those who find them unbearable twiddly and annoying and are  hoping for something entirely Dolls’ House.

So, before I launch into Toy Theatre Land, I am going to inset a link here to a programme about dolls’ houses that I found fascinating and enjoyed enormously.

***   ***   ***

Now, about Toy Theatres –

They were not what I had planned for a Christmas blog post.

In fact I was wondering if I was going to write anything at all, or simply find some Christmas themed scraps to fill this space, when someone asked me if I would consider selling a pdf for the miniature Mathews Theatre set that I make.

I am going to leave out most of the story surrounding this – which is not at all interesting – and get to the point where I did some maths and worked out the cost of the original artwork,  my time spent water-colouring the theatre, scenery and figures (on nice paper), etc, etc, etc and came up with a fabulous sounding sum for producing a pdf.

Need I say that, naturally enough, I have not heard anything about a pdf since then. (I did warn the person who asked that making a toy theatre was a labour of love).

However, the person concerned did give me an idea and I hope that they read this and will be able to use some of the things here.

First I have to say that I am not an expert on toy theatres. I like them, but that is not the same as being an expert.

Most of the things that I know about them, I have learned from one book – Toy Theatres of the World, by Peter Baldwin.

photograph detail of a french theatre from peter baldwin's book - toy theatres of the world

Theatre Francais and a Jacobsen theatre from Toy Theatres of the World

photograph detail of a pollock's theatre from peter baldwin's book - toy theatres of the world

Pollock’s Theatre and Skelt’s new improved stage front from Toy Theatres of the World

The book is currently out of print, but if you can get a copy it will repay the effort of finding it. (They do turn up on eBay from time to time and there are a few on Amazon at the time of typing this.)

The book is slightly smaller than A4 in size and it is beautifully produced on glossy paper. There are 175 pages and and at least one illustration or photograph on almost every single page. It is informative without being hard to read or overladen with technical terms. I would dearly like to upload it here so that you can read it for yourselves: Peter Baldwin clearly loved toy theatres and it shows.

Having said that I don’t know much about them, I proceeded to draw a plan for a simple theatre, mainly so that I could demonstrate how a flat surface can give the illusion of depth by the way the lines lead inwards towards a central point.

I think that it shows that, if you would like to make your own unique theatre, it would not be too difficult to come up with something rather attractive and interesting.

drawing of a simple toy theatre front and curtain

My design (above) is very simple, but it is the basic type that was used for a great many of the original British toy theatres – a couple of which are shown below.

toy theatre - redington's new improved stage front - coloured in

This was later reissued as ‘Pollock’s New Improved Stage Front’

h c clarke - part sheet - toy theatre - not to scale

The trick for making the front of a toy theatre 3D, rather than flat, is a surprisingly simple one. Basically, looking at the picture below, you cut along the green lines, fold along the pink lines and then re-attach the uppermost part that has been cut away. The result is remarkably stable and durable when stuck to reasonably solid cardboard.

detail of how to cut and fold a toy theatre

The following are French and were produced by Pellerain, who made a great many high quality paper toys. I like this set of theatres particularly because they are so small and neat.

petits theatres - pellerain - french paper toy

Once you have found, or made, your own theatre you do, of course, need scenery, characters and a play.

The following are scans of a set of Webb’s Aladdin – the picture at the top of this blog post is from this set.

pdf for full-size webb’s_characters_in_aladdin_black_and_white

pdf for full-size  webb’s_scenes_in_aladdin_black_and_white

pdf for full-size webb’s_juvenile_drama_aladdin_play_booklet

They are the original size and in the original black and white. You will need to colour them in (and resize them, if you would like a miniature set).

[Before anyone asks, I am not going to upload the characters and scenery in colour. The reason is that my scanner is not capable of doing a good quality colour scan, and no amount of trying to fix things on my part ever results in a good quality colour print from something I have scanned at home.]

For those of you wondering: Who was Webb ? and What about Pollock? I thought it was Pollock’s Toy Theatres ?!? … there used to be more than one seller of paper toy theatres.

pollock's business card from peter baldwin's book - toy theatres of the world

As I said before, I would like to upload Peter Baldwin’s book here, so that you can read about the history of these remarkable toys for yourselves, but I can’t. I have however, found a blog called Spitalfield’s Life  which has a long blog post where the various makers and sellers of toy theatres are explained in fairly clear detail. There are also some excellent illustrations and photographs, which are worth while seeing, at the bottom of the post.

If you would like to buy reprints of the plays,  I can thoroughly recommend the Toy Theatre Gallery. They have a wonderful, and growing collection of plays, some of them in colour, plus a few theatres.

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, in Covent Garden, sells modern versions of some of the old toy theatres.

Pollock’s Toy Museum, in Scala Street, has an amazing collection of all sorts of toys, but no on-line sales outlet. You will need to visit to see what they have in their shop and I urge you to go. It is a magical place.

[By the way, the two ‘Pollock’s’ are entirely separate businesses. The Scala Street Pollock’s came first.]

I have found that the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection of toy theatres is either aggravatingly scanty and / or difficult to locate on-line, but they do have a  download for a version of Pollock’s Cinderella

If you make your own characters, colour them in and so forth, you might like to try something that used to be called ‘tinselling’, where metallic shapes were stuck to black and white prints that had been hand coloured.

tinsel picture - mr elton as sir kenneth of scotland

In the picture below (which is a great deal smaller than a print used for tinselling would have been) I have used gold and silver paint and various sorts of glitter.

detail - miniature tinsel picture

Finally…

I was enormously pleased to find the following short films available on line (and free to watch):

Firstly, The British Film Institute has a short (3 minute) film  which shows Benjamin Pollock demonstrating printing and painting scenery and then assembling a toy theatre in his shop.

benjamin pollock assembling a toy theatre in his shop - 1928

The film was made in 1928 and so it is silent, but the picture are remarkably clear and crisp.

benjamin pollock and his daughter operating a toy theatre - 1928 - gaumont mirror film

[Note: toy theatres came in various sizes and this is a large one.]

Then, British Pathe News have two films:

There is an old very short film, without sound, about Pollock’s theatres here

british pathe news - pollock's theatre

And there is an old very short film, without sound, about Tinsel Pictures here

british pathe news - mr webb - tinsel pictures

Now I am going to sit here and think about the Christmassy scraps that I have been meaning to share.

There really are never enough hours in the day.

 

 

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Miniature Calendars for 2019

open house miniatures dolls house calendar 2019

This type of calendar is old-fashioned but I like them a great deal.

Generally speaking, the examples that have survived seem to be the ones that were produced for advertising purposes.

great eastern fertilizer co calender 1890

If you would like to make a miniature calendar, of this type, there are a variety of pictures backs to choose from at the end of this blog post. There is also a set of calendar pages for 2019. The calendar pages do not have 2019 written anywhere on them, but the days and dates are correct for next year.

Keep scrolling down if you just want to make one.

I am going to add a few tips here because, although these are ‘easy’ to make that doesn’t mean they aren’t a bit tricky in places.

I used coated ink-jet printer paper to print the picture, varnished this with water based varnish. I let this dry thoroughly.

I then glued the picture to some thickish card-stock and then I had to wait while it dried flat. I put it under a heavy book and this slowed down the drying process. (Waiting for things to dry is something that I find difficult, but it is important.)

Then I made a (largish) hole with a small hole punch, so that the finished calendar could be hung up on a pin. (Huge pin in the photo. I wanted to do this, you don’t have to.)

Then I cut round the calendar, using a sharp craft knife. (It is important to use a ruler and a sharp knife if you want straight, un-torn edges.)

I printed the calendar pages on the thinnest paper that I could find (75 gsm) and, when they were dry, I cut them out.

The pages are small and there is a trick to cutting them out so that they look reasonably square and straight-edged: cut the short sides first.

(Cut inside the blue lines, if you don’t want the lines to show. I like the blue lines – you may not.)

open house miniature calendar pages 2019 - cutting short sides

Then cut the long edges all in one go.

open house miniature calendar pages 2019 - cutting long sides

and hopefully, you should end up with neat calendar pages…

open house miniature calendar pages 2019 - finished pages

…which can then be glued together, along the top edge.

open house miniature calendar pages 2019 - clipped for gluing

I gathered the calendar pages together and held the bottom edge in a clip. Then I applied a tiny amount of white wood-working glue to the top edge with a paintbrush and pressed the edges together with my fingers.

This then had to dry, which seemed to take ages.

The calendar back has a single calendar page printed on it. This should (hopefully) make sticking the pages to the back relatively simple.

NOTE: because I had varnished the picture, I needed to score a few lines into the surface of the calendar back in order to get the block of calendar pages to stick to it.

If you have trouble getting the pages to look level – and in real life they are very often not level – line a ruler up with a side edge and slide the calendar pages about, until you have them where you want them. Like this:

open-house-miniatures-assembling-miniature-calendar

 

The paper that you use and your printer will make a huge difference to the finished look of the calendar. So experiment and use the things that you like.

***   ***   ***

The only way to make (reasonably) certain that a download will print to the correct size is to make a pdf.

For this blog post, I also made thumbnail size images. These are so that you can have an idea of what the various calendars look like.

Please click on a picture to open the matching pdf and then print from that: the thumbnails will be poor quality and will probably not be the right size for the calendar pages.

Miniature Calendar Back - January  January

Miniature Calendar Back - February February

Dolls House Calendar Back - March March

Dollshouse Calendar Back - April April

12th scale Calendar Back - May May

Miniature Calendar Back - June June

Dollhouse Calendar Back - July July

Miniature Calendar Back - August August

Miniature Calendar Back - August #2 August #2

Miniature Calendar Back - September September

Miniature Calendar Back - October October

Miniature Calendar Back - November November

Miniature Calendar Back - December December

Miniature Calendar Back - December #2 December #2

There are two calendar backs for August and December because I made these over several days and lost count of what I had done.

All the individual calendar pages are in the pdf below.

OHM_2019_calendar_pages

Finally, on an historical note – the pictures are from various sources and none of them is a reproduction of an antique calendar. I made the calendar pages using Microsoft Word.

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If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know what I am about to say about adverts which you may see here: WordPress puts them there from time to time, they aren’t mine. 😀

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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

*   *   *

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

*   *   *

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

*   *   *

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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Kits? (continued)

triang banner, showing various toys

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the poll at the end of the previous post.

I was a slightly surprised that it was the Triang box which gained the most votes: I thought it would be the wrong era for most people.

There is an interesting and informative article about The Lines Brothers (Triang Toy) Company on Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood’s site and the Brighton Toy and Model Museum have a selection of catalogue pictures of Triang dolls’ houses in the index pages of their website  but, if you would like to see some actual Triang dolls’ houses and get a real feel for what they were like, I recommend visiting Shed on the Pond’s blog, which is full of fascinating details and also documents some remarkably patient restoration work.lines's brother's dolls' house - Brighton Museum

 

***   ***   ***

Now for the boxes: I have split them up into the types of card / paper that I used. Directions for making them up are in the previous post.

doll house cardboard boxes - 7 different ones

I have made a note of the materials that I used as they affect the end result. I am not suggesting that you need to use the same materials – and you could well know of better alternatives.

Just click on a link to open the pdf. You shouldn’t need to save the pdf to your computer, you should be able to print from the screen.

Measurements for the boxes are length x width x height

Triang Toy box
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm approx

Triang occupies an important place in the history of British toy making and when I invented this box I took liberties with their logo: the slightly smudgy label comes from a picture that I found on the side of one of their toy lorries.

Eastman’s Perfume
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm approx

I used a ‘craft’ paper sold in my local craft shop for both of these boxes. The paper cracks when scored and creased; it goes soggy when dampened. (When I painted the Triang Box with cold tea, in order to age it and show up the cracks and wrinkles, the box nearly fell apart – but the printing did not run !) I have only had the paper for about a year and it is already yellowing at the edges. For most practical purposes it useless BUT it does make a very good bashed box. I would tell you what it is, but I threw the label away, vowing never to buy any more, and now my local craft shop has closed down so I can’t ask them.

When the boxes were assembled, I added white paper ‘tape’ (this was a thin strip of paper glued in place) to seal the boxes and then cut through this at the top end to add a touch more realism.

***

Bunting’s Babywear
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm approx

I used 140 gsm card for this – it too came from my recently closed down local craft shop.  I can’t find another supplier either locally, or on-line, who has it, which is a nuisance as this is exceeding useful, reliable, smooth card. (Great Expressions, Birmingham address – are either the manufacturers or the packager / suppliers.)

***

Worth et Cie (British) corsets
Size: 1.5″ x 1″ x 1/2″  – 3.25 x 2.5 x 1.25 cm approx

Peppermint liqueur (French)
Size -this was made to fit the label, it is an odd size

I used 200 gsm Daler Rowney Heavyweight ‘paper’ for these (see previous post for details)

***

Blank Box – for postage or decorating
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 1.25 cm approx

I use 280 gsm Kraft card from Amazon, where it is available in A4 and A5 sheets, when I make these (see previous post for details)

***

Lamp box – large (German)
Size: 1.5″ x 1″ x 1.5″  –  3.75 x 2.5 x 3.75 cm approx

miniature boxes for a german lamp

Lamp box – one lamp size (German)
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1.5″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 3.75 cm approx
(I found this file after I published the previous post and I think it is a useful size)

I used handkerchief box card for these lamp boxes. Most card (in the UK) that is used to package food or things like paper handkerchiefs is high quality. Usually it cuts cleanly and does not break up when scored and creased. If you are patient and peel the glossy printed surface off the cardboard backing, you can then print on the smooth side of the card and have a box with an interestingly textured interior.

'peeling' a handkerchief box toget cardboard

When the box was assembled, I added brown paper ‘tape’ (this was a thin strip of paper glued in place) to seal the box and then cut through this at the top end to add a touch more realism.

***

Red Dog – headphones
Size: 1″ x 1″ x 1″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm approx

I used Bristol board for the Red Dog box – more specifically, Goldline 220 gsm Bristol Board. This is relatively expensive, but it does have a very white, very smooth surface. It takes ink-jet printer ink beautifully and it did not crack or break up when I scored and folded it. It has a very dense structure and I find it rather difficult to work with, but if you need a smooth, clean, slightly shiny modern look this could be a good choice.

NB There are different makes and types of  Bristol Board, with different finishes.

***   ***   ***

While I was hunting around on the computer, I found the files for these boxes:

dolls' house christmas boxes -open house miniatures 2017

I suppose I should save them for Christmas, but they might come in useful before then and so…

Christmas Boxes:
Size (all): 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″  –  2.5 x 2.5 x 1.25 cm approx

 Greetings – snow scene

 Santa and Sleigh – Bright colours and very modern looking

 Father Christmas and reindeer – faces

 Season’s Greetings – red bells

 Christmas decorations – fir branches and glass balls

When I use these for small gifts I sometimes close them with a small Christmas sticker or use a ribbon tie and a large label, but they can be fun (with a mini label) under a miniature Christmas tree too.

The examples above were made from Hahnemuhle Nostalgie 190 gsm (A4) sketch block paper. This came from an art shop and I can’t see anything identical on-line. Jackson’s Art  have A3 to A1 blocks that looks similar.

This paper / card is ‘natural’ white and not pure white. It is smooth and easy to work with, but the ink tends to ‘bleed’ a little bit and truly crisp detail disappears.

(It doesn’t help the image quality that I turned this photo into a jpeg in order to save WordPress file space.)

miniature box detail - open house miniatures 2017

One of these days I am going to stop doing six things at once 🙂 In the meantime, I will see if I can find the small sheets of Christmas paper that I made with these designs. If I do find them, I will put them on the Printables page – which I think is looking forlorn and neglected at the moment.

[Disclaimer: I don’t host advertisements on this blog. If you see any, they have been put here by WordPress who need to fund their blog hosting. I could pay WordPress to have the advertisements removed, but I am either too mean to do this, or I need to buy paper, card, paint, new brushes, scissors, varnish, glue or something else instead.]

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Kits? (Why not?)

dolls' house cardboard boxes - open house miniatures 2017

“Oooohhh,” said my neighbour, who had come round to see if I was having a power-cut too (I was, but I hadn’t noticed because I wasn’t using anything electrical.) “Oooohhhh, I like that one.”

And she picked out a pretty, but highly improbable box. (Sorry to be a realist-wet-blanket. Cardboard boxes that are designed for transporting packets of soap are not intended for display and they don’t have multi-coloured printing.)

dolls' house cardboard boxes - savon au parfum

And that is when this blog post stopped being about my new camera and the search for a new supplier of card and started being about miniature cardboard boxes.

dolls' house cardboard boxes lofthaus, suchard and worth et cie

“Are you going to make kits?” my neighbour went on. She was being hopeful (again). She likes kits. She is good at putting them together and she gets very good results because she adds a touch of glamour to whatever she makes and it looks quite impossibly romantic by the time she has finished. I have asked her to let me photograph her dolls’ house, but she is shy about showing it to people and would rather it wasn’t on display here.

Anyway,  I explained about die-cutting to my neighbour and how expensive it would be to get a basic miniature box made into the sort of kit that she was thinking about and then I saw that she was looking baffled and realised that I was saying earnestly : “Basically, it’s like making a cake: if you don’t use chocolate in a chocolate cake recipe, you won’t get a chocolate cake.”

And so I stopped trying to explain and asked my neighbour if she would like to have the box and she said yes, and she told me that she is going to fold the upper flaps down inside and make it into a container for two potted geraniums.

I would never have thought of doing this and it saved the pretty, but improbable, box from going in the recycling bin, which was its original destiny.

***   ***  ***

Thinking about it later I realised that, instead of talking about cake, I should have said that the thing about real-life cardboard boxes is that they are designed by professional box makers and made by machines.

And

  • The market for miniature boxes is relatively small
  • The cost of setting up production of a miniature die-cut box is relatively high
  • The type of materials used would have to be very carefully chosen
  • None of the above makes for a cheap, or even reasonably priced, end product

Result: No 12th scale die-cut box kits as far as I know. (It would be nice if I was wrong about this).

Oh do get on with it! I imagine you are shrieking by now. Are we going to get something to download and make, or aren’t we?

Yes, there are three boxes : two sensible ones and the pretty (but improbable) one.  None of the boxes has ever existed in full-size in the ‘real’ world and Lofthaus Storage is completely my own invention.

dolls' house cardboard boxes -vintage suchard and lofthaus storage

PDFS

Lofthaus Storage
size 1.5″ x 1″ x 1.5″  –  3.75 x 2.5 x  3.75 cm (approx)

Savon au Parfum (pretty, but improbable)
size 1″ x 1/2 ” x 1/2″  –  2.5 x 1.25 x 1.25 cm (approx)

Vintage Suchard Chocolate
size 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″  –  2.5 x 2 5 x 1.25 cm (approx)

I have to say at this point that, before printing these out, I would like you continue reading about the card that I used and how I put the boxes together and why I have no plans to sell downloads of boxes.

There is also a poll at the bottom of this blog in case there is a box in the photos that you would like to make that isn’t in one of the pdfs, but before everything else I am going to make a promise: No Jargon.

There is a short article about cardboard boxes on Wikipedia. If you read it you will probably understand why I am only going to use the words ‘card’ and ‘paper’ here.

THE CARD

The brown boxes are made from 280 gsm Kraft card. I bought mine from Amazon where it is available in A4 and A5 sheets.

The two sides are slightly different in colour and texture. It is tough, nicely made, folds well and is useful for all sorts of things. It even smells of cardboard box.

With this weight of card I would struggle to make a tiny box, but it does work very well down to about ½ inch square size box (of this type).  (1.25 cm square).
Other weights are available.

NB you do need to score this firmly in order to get the card to fold.

The white boxes are made from 200 gsm Daler Rowney Heavyweight ‘paper’. This is available on Amazon, as an A4 pad.

I liked using this. It has a slightly textured, but smooth surface, cuts easily, folds nicely and takes printing ink very well. I think there must be quite a fair amount of size in it as the water based glue tends to sit on the surface.

If it has one flaw it is that it does pick up dirty marks easily.

The surface of both of these cards / papers remained unbroken when I scored and folded it once or twice. If you continue to manipulate the fold in the card / paper, without treating it with something like a plastic based glue,  it will break down.

WHAT I DID:

I used:

  • My ancient inkjet printer
  • 2 different sorts of card (as above)
  • a blunt kitchen knife for scoring the fold lines
  • a very sharp knife
  • a ruler
  • water-based glue
  • A flat surface and a non-slip cutting mat – some things I have to use a cutting mat for and this is one of them
  • ceramic baking bead – optional

What I did (For the brown Kraft card, I printed the box on the slightly darker, slightly shinier side of the card)

I let the print dry for about 10 minutes. This is because most card absorbs moisture and retains it far more than paper does. Cutting damp paper or card usually results in tearing.

Then I scored all the fold lines. The thin black lines that stop at the outline / edge of the box are the guide-lines to the fold lines.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - pattern with score and cut lines

Then I cut around all the black outlines, so that there was no black outline showing on the box itself.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - vintage suchard ready to fold

 

There is now a choice to be made:

If you would like a flat-pack cardboard box: fold the sides of the box towards the centre, so that the tab is in the middle, and glue the tab to the side of the box (see second photo below). The tab remains unfolded and flat. It is also in the middle of the folded box.

If you would like a fully assembled box, there is a trick that helps to ensure ‘square’ corners.

First make all the creases (fairly lightly)
NOTE: I forgot to do this. It isn’t essential, just helpful

Then, keeping the edges of the flaps lined up, fold the box so that the flap is in the middle

making a miniature cardboard box - fold the side flap in first

Fold the other side in and glue the flap to the edge of the box.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 2

I have made creases in the fold lines in this photo

Then squash the box open and re-fold it, with the glued edge at the side.

If you have scored the lines exactly and cut exactly, the box should fold flat both ways, and it should look ‘square’ when opened out.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 3

If the glue is damp and you need to adjust the box, now is the time to do it.

I think it is easier to fold the square boxes as you can line up all the cut edges more easily.

making miniature cardboard boxes - folding straight lines

With oblong boxes, I make the first fold in the centre of the box. This seems to make it easier to fold the rest of the box more accurately.  I don’t know why it does, but it does.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 4

If you have made the creases in the fold lines first, folding over the bottom flaps of the box should not be difficult.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 5

I used a small amount of glue to hold the flaps down.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 6

I wanted the boxes to dry with flat bottoms, so I filled them with ceramic baking beads, but anything small and heavy will do.

dolls' house cardboard boxes - making 7

I had a look and you can even get Ceramic Baking Beans from Amazon !

***   ***   ***

WHY I DON’T MAKE DOWNLOADS FOR SALE

I don’t think making things from downloads is easy. (I don’t think making the downloads themselves is ‘easy’ either).

This type of box, in particular, is a good example of what I would call ‘harder than it looks’.

In addition, in this particular case, experience has taught me that there is a limited market for boxes – mainly because most people seem to need a box that I haven’t made yet.

Added to which, I am convinced that if I did make this sort of box into a sale-able download (no matter what guidance notes I wrote for the download) I would then have to spend half my time explaining about different sorts of card – not to mention asking people what sort of printer they had and how it was set up.

That is why these are freely available for you to use and customise and share.

But please always bear in mind that the printer, ink and the card that you use will make a big difference to the result that you get.

***  ***  ***

“What are you going to do with them?” asked my neighbour, as she was leaving and I had to tell her that they were going to get thrown away as they were my equivalent of a sketch pad and that I had been trying various things out when I made them.

So she asked if she could have another box too, because it had given her an idea:

wills's cigarette card -making a simple doll's house - not to scale

THE POLL

Some of these boxes were made from card / paper that isn’t available on Amazon (!!!): the German lamp box, for example, is made from a piece of real-size paper handkerchief box. (It is possible to peel the glossy, coated image off some packaging and use the smooth side of the card to print on.)

If you would like to try any of these out, please vote for which one(s) you would like in the poll below.

doll house cardboard boxes - 7 different ones

It may be a month before I am able to blog again, but I won’t forget about the boxes.

The other boxes – and some Christmas gift boxes – are now here

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The 1970s Revisited

Betsey Clark - Doll House Card, with figures, full size

Betsey Clark Doll House Card – Hallmark copyright 1975

I have a new camera. It is a Sony Cybershot DSC-W830 and so far it has been amazing. All the photos in this post were taken with it on an overcast, rainy day in June. No artificial lights were used and I haven’t ‘tweaked’ the photos in any way . I have simply cut out the bits that I wanted and, on my computer screen at least, the soft, pearly-grey light in the pictures exactly captures the daylight as it was on the day I took the photos .

If anyone is interested in the electronic wizardry that made this possible, the technical specifications are available (like the camera itself) on Amazon.

***   ***   ***

I am now going to do something mildly naughty. The following cards were produced by companies that are still in business and, as they are copyright to those companies, I suspect that I should not have uploaded any sort of copy of them here.

Betsey Clark Doll House Card – Hallmark – folded size, when detached from the header and with figures removed for use, 8 1/2  x 6 1/2 inches (21 x 16.6 cm)

I have had this card for a long time, but I knew nothing about Betsey Clark until very recently when I did some research on the internet and came across this site: The Betsey Zone

This is the only information that I have been able to find about her on-line, which surprised me as she was evidently well known enough to have her name prominently featured on a card that she had designed.

My particular card was bought in Britain and it seems to vary slightly from the American version in that it is a ‘Doll House Card’ and not a ‘Party Favor Card’.

I only know about this difference because, at the time of typing this there, are a several of these cards for sale on eBay in the US. Apart from the description on the header card they all look identical to mine. (The price of $1.50 is printed on the US header cards.)

Betsey Clark Doll House - Card Header UK Version

I remember this style of illustration so clearly that, when I recently came across this card again, I was staggered that it is now over 40 years old.

As old as the card is, Hallmark is still in business and the copyright is still in place. This brings me to the mildly naughty part and so, before I go any further, I had better make the following clear:

I do not make, and have never made, a miniature version of this card for profit.

If you would like to make my version of this design, please remember that it is intended for your personal enjoyment only and that is not intended for re-sale, in any way shape or form.

That said, please read on –

I have not attempted to reproduce the complete card here. There are only three characters, plus the table. And, at 1 1/4 inches (3.2 cm) tall, it is slightly larger than 12th scale. The image in the pdf is a high resolution one and so, if you would like to make a smaller version, it might be possible to re-size the image without too much loss of detail. Trying to make it much bigger will be a waste of time.

If you do make one of these for yourself, please be aware that the card, paper, ink and printer used will affect the result you get.

I have an elderly Canon Pixmar inkjet printer and I used:

  • Thin, white card (140gsm) – card with a smooth surface is best
  • Water based glue (and a paintbrush)
  • A sharp knife
  • A sharp pair of scissors
  • A ruler
  • A blunt kitchen knife for scoring the fold line

You do need card that takes printer ink nicely, without blurring or bleeding.

 

To make the card:

You will need the pdf
(You don’t need to download the pdf to your computer, you should be able to print it from the screen.)

On the pdf:
The blue lines show where a line should be scored
The red lines show where straight cuts should be made – (there are no red lines around the figures, or under the table)

I allowed the print to dry for at least 10 minutes, as scoring or cutting even slightly damp card can result in a damaged surface or a ragged edge.

I then scored the fold lines across the room setting, as indicated by the blue lines.

Then I cut out the card, as indicated by the red lines – Initially, when I tried to do this without the red lines, I struggled to see where the pale edge disappeared into white background.

The original card folds up in a zig-zag fashion, but if you would like to do something different, there is no reason why you shouldn’t (see photos below).

I folded the table, so that it stood out from the wall, and then stuck it in place over the figure standing on the stool – there are guidelines printed on the wall and these need to be just hidden by the table.

the table goes in front of the girl standing in the stool

If you would like to be true to the original design, the table slots into the wall with tabs. It will, inevitably, not stand up straight without a great deal of coaxing. I have never found a folded paper table that stood straight the first time round.

The figures are small. I didn’t score the fold points in the support strip that is supposed to make them stand upright because I didn’t want to weaken, or damage it.

I cut the lines around the strip using a ruler and knife; then I used scissors to cut out the characters, and only then did I ‘Z Fold’ the strip .

z-fold

As, I have said before, the thing that annoys me about full-size paper dolls is that they fall over very easily.

Putting a ‘Z Fold’ in the support does make them more stable. But I wanted these to be really VERY stable and so I used a tiny amount of glue and attached them to the walls of the room.

I applied the glue only along the surface indicated by the green line, in the photo above.

betsey clark doll house card dolls house size

If you fix the figures to the walls by their support strips, and are careful about where you place them, it is possible to make a card that folds up with the figures inside.

 

Betsey Clark Card House in miniature - figures fixed in place

The way the card is folded and where the figures are positioned can make a big difference to the overall appearance.

Betsey Clark Card House in miniature - walls in Open C position

Betsey Clark Card House in miniature - walls in Z Fold position

***   ***   ***

Just in case I have given everyone the idea that everything in the 1970s was all in the Betsey Clark style, there is another card below which dates from the same era. This one was produced by the Medici Press, in the UK. As well as having the figures to cut out and room setting, it has a very brief story inside.

Inside the card, the pictures and story are both credited to Nicola Pindar. She is not listed on the Medici website of current artists and I have not contacted the various Nicola Pindars who I have found on-line, to ask if this is their early work.

Medici card - designed by NicolaPindar

Size, when folded, 9 1/2  x 7 inches (24 x 17.67 cm)

Nicola Pindar - paper doll card

Back of card

The Medici Press still produce a vast number of high quality cards, including vintage designs by Molly Brett, Racey Helps and Margaret Tarrant. This type of card is rather out of their usual range today, but it is a classic example of the colours and design style that were widely used (in the UK at least) in the early to mid 1970’s.

Finally, many thanks to everyone who voted in last week’s poll. Your answers are very helpful. I am told that the polls (and certain other things) do not work in the Firefox browser. I am sorry about this; unfortunately it is not something that I can do anything about.

***   ***   ***

I must stop now and go and do some work. But before I go, one last picture:

ark from Nicola Pindar, Victorian room setting card - Medici Press

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The trouble is that, although are a great many things that I would like to do, I don’t have a great deal of spare time at the moment. In addition to this, as soon as I make a plan, it seems to me that Fate decides that there are other things that I need to do, elsewhere, immediately, right now and urgently.

So, just in case Fate is reading this, I am absolutely not planning to do anything here. I just happened to have some things scanned and this is as good a place to store them as anywhere else…

The Cards:

Fiddler’s Green (postcards) – all 6 1/8 x 4 3/8 inches

pdf – full size images

The backs of the cards differ:

Antique Shop – Fiddler’s Green Construction Cards (printed by PERCY GILKES Printers, Banbury 4928)

Witches Hovel / Working Narrow BOTH – Boat Fiddler’s Green, 2 Parsons Street, Banbury, Oxon – Fun Construction Cards (printed by PERCY GILKES Printers, Banbury, BOTH 4928)

I always thought of these cards were about as British as could be, but a quick look at the internet produced an on-line Fiddler’s Green paper model making site

The site looks intensely American to me and I admire their Awesome New England Model Village a great deal.

*** *** ***

Shaberay (birthday card) – The Cards with a Difference – Bedford, England. No 0028 – folded size, just over 8 x 5 inches

Shaberay Birthday Crad from the 1970s - House and green house to cut out and make up

I don’t know anything about Shaberay, beyond what is printed on the card, and I have been unable to find out anything about the company on-line. There are a few more examples of their cards on Eric’s Vintage Card site.

pdf – full size card (house only)

pdf – dolls’ house size card (interior and exterior of card)

To make a dolls’ house sized card please use the pdf above:
First, score along line A, then cut out the card.
Fold the paper in two, along the score line, and glue it together.
Let it dry and then score and fold it along the original crease line;  then trim as you feel is necessary.

saberay_happy_birthday_card_house_resized_not_to_scale

A (short) explanation:

Very briefly, I am rather busy at the moment and it takes a fair amount of time to produce a blog post that includes photos, scans, pdfs, text etc.

One of the reasons for writing this post was to estimate how much time it takes me to do certain things.

(Yes, it would shorten the blog writing process considerably if I did not digress and comment and try to explain everything  🙂 )

Bearing in mind that I do not spend much time in front of a computer, I would like to use that time wisely and try to upload things here which are useful and of interest to you – which brings me to:

The Poll:

The poll below is anonymous to use. It will end, automatically, in one week.

It is there because I am trying to get a feel for what sort of printable items you, the reader, would like to make (either with or without explanations and instructions).

One reason for doing this is because I am planning to delete the contents of the printables page at the end of this week, in order to make way for some things that I have tried out and I know work well.

This just a plan and as such it may never happen.  🙂

 

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