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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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The 'E' House completed - and outsize house plan

I am going to count this house as one of my notable failures.

The most glaring fault is the room divider between the kitchen and the hall. It isn’t wide enough to hold the full length of the ground floor securely. It is all right if you don’t wiggle the ground floor, but someone is almost certainly going to be tempted to do this at some point.

Added to which, I don’t like dolls’ houses with walls that are covered in pictures of furniture. (This is very narrow-minded of me.)

All in all it is an idea that needs more work than I have time to give it (at the moment).

That said, I still think that it was a fun idea. So if you would like to try making The ‘E’ House for yourself, the plans are at the end of this blog entry. There are also a list of the materials that I used and basic written instructions (sorry, no slideshow this time).

If you would like to know how I struggled with an idea that did not turn out as I hoped, read on (and avoid the pitfalls that I fell in to):

The Idea was:

  • A bright, modern dolls’ house
  • Slender so that could hang on a wall
  • With something ‘different’ about it

I ended up with this design:

The 'E' House - basic structure

– which is not what I call exciting, innovative or even encouraging – even though I daringly off-set the wall dividers.

With a nod to the distinctive, exciting and innovative house designed by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright for Bozart

The Kaleidescope House - conceived and designed by Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright.

I had wondered about incorporating some plastic panels (the plastic came from the covers of a couple of ring binders)

The 'E' House - plastic panels

The second floor has an indent to accommodate the panel

– but looking at the panels, once they were in place, I wanted them to move – either to slide or to swing open and this would have meant framing the panels so that they could be hinged effectively.

So I abandoned the plastic panels – which I still think were a good idea – and decided to have an open plan house.

But what was I going to do with the inside?

I did try some tiny print wallpapers but, because you can see the whole house in a glance, they had to be very nearly identical or they clashed – horribly.

I must have been fairly desperate at this point because I considered a tried and trusted decorative style, which I truly dislike.

The 'E' House - interior papers (on card)

This is what I ended up with. Don’t ask how long it took. Just don’t.

I dislike ‘furniture wallpaper’ (as I call it) so much that I despaired and decided to try paint, and spray-painted the house with fast drying, spirit-based paint. It was supposed to be white paint, but it turned out to be cream, and it brought out the ‘grain’ of the cut edges. (This is avoidable; I had been lazy and hadn’t sealed the edges before painting).

The 'E' House - spray painted

I spray paint out of doors, in a box lined with removable paper. As a change from my usual problem with rain, it was so hot that the paint was almost dry as soon as it left the can.

Maybe more COLOUR was the answer ?!

The 'E' House - side view - painted roof

It was at this point, and feeling rather grim, that I decided to call this The ‘E’ House (‘E’ for Everlasting, not Elizabeth) and throw it away before I wasted any more time on it. Needless to say: I failed to throw it away.

The following day, the tricky manoeuvre of fitting the decorative papers into the house – which was already firmly glued together – was accomplished.

After which I really would have been happy to throw house away and never try to make anything like it ever again. Ever.

Luckily, shortly after this, a surprise visitor turned up and the house found a new home elsewhere – thank goodness !

The 'E' House - and new owner

Finished size:

Height: 1 and 3/4 inches (4.4 cm)

Width: just under 2 inches (5 cm)

Depth: just over 3/4 of an inch (2 cm)

Materials:

pdf of the house plans – OHM_201809_’E’_House-plans

pdf of the interior decoration – OHM_201809_’E’_House-interior

  • Basic home printer
  • Mountboard (I used A4 Daler Rowney from Amazon)
    I think it is called ‘Matboard’ or ‘Mounting Board’ in the United States
  • Laminated printer paper (like this)
  • Basic printer paper
  • A very sharp knife (I use a craft knife with a blade that snaps off – like this)
  • A metal ruler
  • A solid surface on which to cut the mountboard
  • White wood-working glue (I used Evostick)
  • A small paintbrush
  • Paint (of your choice – I would avoid watercolour paint because it fades relatively quickly)
  • Varnish (of your choice)
  • I do not recommend using a hairdryer or heat gun to speed up the drying process. In my experience, the intense heat from both of these tends to warp the mountboard

Please remember that the materials that you use will affect the look of the house. For example: laminated printer paper gives a much crisper look than even good quality card (see below) and the thickness of card / board used will affect the overall appearance considerably.

The 'E' House - difference in printing results

What I suggest doing:

Print the decorative papers on the laminated printer paper and set them aside to dry

The 'E' House - wall panels

Print the house plan on basic printer paper

Stick the basic paper to the mountboard
Let this dry completely (under a book or other heavy weight to keep it flat, if necessary)

Cut out the house pieces carefully – it is up to you whether you would like an indented second floor or not

Check that the floors and back wall match in length exactly

Measure the width of the dividing walls and cut strips of mountboard of the required width

Seal all the cut edges of the mountboard with a thin layer of glue (this should give you a better finish that my spray painted effort)
Let the glue dry completely

Paint the mountboard with paint of your choice – top tip: don’t use very watery paint. If you do it will un-stick the glue and make the mount-board swell up
Let the paint dry completely

Glue the Ground Floor to the bottom edge of the Back Wall.

The 'E' House - back view

The roof sits on top of the back wall and the ground floor is in front of the back wall.
Always let the glue dry completely

Glue the decorative paper for the back of the rooms to the back of the house – you will probably need to trim the kitchen and hall floor, so that it looks ‘right’

Alternatively, you can glue each room down individually.
Let this dry completely

While it is drying, glue the decorative panels to the strips of mountboard that you have cut. The panels do not have to be cut to an exact height at this point, but they do have to have the ‘correct’ panels in place e.g. nursery/ bedroom, bedroom / bathroom, kitchen / hall.
Let these dry completely

Then cut the kitchen / hall room divider so that it fits the space between the Ground Floor and the Second Floor and glue it in place
Let it dry completely

Glue the second floor into place
Let it dry completely

Cut the remaining room dividers so that they reach ceiling height – cut the top at the angle of the roof if you wish – and glue them in place
Let them dry completely

Glue the roof in place. I didn’t cut angles for the apex of the roof. Angled joints seem to be out of fashion of at the moment, so I simply left a small gully.
NB Working with the back of the house on a flat surface will make it easier to get a neat join at the back
Let the glue dry completely

Repaint the roof and the back of the house. Re-touch any other paint work that needs it.

(optional) When the paint is dry, seal the surfaces with a varnish of your choice – the varnish used for finishing does depend on what paint you have used. I used a mixture of acrylic paints for the red. The off-white colour was fast-drying spray paint. The spray paint was a bad choice because it raised the grain on the cut edges of the board, but it does have a nice shiny finish on the surface of the mountboard

*  *   *

Finally:

As with all the projects that are freely available on this blog: Please don’t sell the plans for this house, or the interior decoration.

If you would like to sell the house that you make, please think about the ground floor and find a way to make it more stable : )

If you decide to make a replica / tribute to the Bozart Kaleidoscope House in miniature, a credit to the designers would be appreciated:

http://www.lauriesimmons.net/projects/kaleidoscope-house

*  *   *

About the adverts:

WordPress sometimes places advertisments on the blogs that they host: they need the money to keep WordPress on-line.

By paying a small amount of money I could have these advertisements removed. I choose not to do this – I need every penny for paint, and glue, and card, and paper, and wood, and all sorts of other things too.

 

 

 

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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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2017 !  How did it get to be 2017 ?
I didn’t think it had been that long since I wrote something for this blog.

There should be a nice photograph here. But I don’t have a camera at the moment and the results that I got from the Android Tablet that I borrowed were a bit… odd…

So you are going to have to take my word for it that the images below are of a really a rather nice little model farmhouse sitting in its own garden, and propped up at a peculiar angle either on the cap of a tube of toothpaste or a cork.
open_house_miniatures_Card_farm_house_put_together  open_house_miniatures_card_farm_house_put_together-size

The farmhouse is something that I was trying out today and, while I was struggling with a knife blade that wanted to break and paper that wanted to tear, not to mention disbelieving the way the card I was using absorbed water-based glue like a sponge and went soggy, I thought that, as well as being relatively simple to make (just don’t use the card I tried using first of all), the finished farmhouse would look good in a miniature nursery, school-room or shop.

And so here, if you would like to try making this for yourself, is a pdf of the parts for you to play with too:
OHM_Farm_and_Garden_20170524
UPDATE: 3rd June 2017 – black and white versions of an 8 card set are now in this post

The usual request remains the same: make the model, share it and, if you want to, sell the finished article (but think of all the other people who will do this too), but please don’t re-sell the pdf or the artwork itself.

Instructions for putting the model together:
The paper or card that you use and your printer ink will affect the finish and the colours you get. 
If you have never made anything this small before and would like to see detailed, step by step pictures for a similar project, please take a look here at another small house on a base – the walkthrough is towards the end of the post (which is much shorter than this one!)

Materials:
I used 200gsm paper and water-based glue, which I applied with a brush.
This was mainly for speed, as this was a trial run for me.
Printing on a thin paper and gluing this to thin card would work equally as well.
The main thing is that you need something that will hold its shape when folded and will not fall apart when glued.
Note: If you glue 2 sheets of paper, or paper and card together, make sure they are completely dry before cutting them out.

First (for reference only) look at the picture below:
The fold lines are marked in red and the slots that need to be cut out are marked in blue.
These lines are fine and black on the pdf and, if you don’t know what you are looking for, they are easy to miss.

Reference picture for A M Davis farmhouse and Garden Kit

What I did:
Scored along the fold lines first. 
Then cut the slots out, cutting away from the corners.
Then cut around the outlines.
Then made the creases in the various parts – centre roof, house walls, etc.

I found that it was best to fit the front of the house into the roof first and then fit the back to these two pieces once they were assembled. A little bit of glue inside the house, applied with a paintbrush, will hold all the parts together.

The hedges fit around the outside of the garden base.
A small amount of glue, applied with a paintbrush, and left to dry on the thin edge of the garden base is helpful. Once this is dry, another thin layer of glue can be applied and the hedges should adhere to this without giving too much trouble.

I assembled the garden so that the coloured part of the hedge was on the inside and, when it was all in I place, I discovered that there was a significant gap between the front hedge and the garden base.

So, after I had glued the house to the back and the base and was certain that everything was dry and fairly stable, I made a second base out of two layers of card.
I measured and cut this to be a little bit wider than the original base. The new, slightly larger, base makes a tiny ledge around the sides and also strengthens and neatens the appearance of the whole thing.

The white, unprinted card and the cut edges now looked a bit stark to me, so I washed some thin water-based paint over them – green for the base and the outside of the hedges and light orange for the chimneys.

I am sorry that I do not have the means of taking better photos at the moment – this is a nice little model and deserves a better picture than I can achieve right now.

A Minor Point :
The original cards are about A5 in size. This would be very small if reduced to 12th scale, so this model is not 12th scale, just a useful sort of size for a dolls’ house.

About the Cards :
There are 12 cards in the set that I have. They were published by A M Davis, Quality Cards & Co (London).

.A M Davis - Quality Cards Logo

The original cards are uncoloured line drawings. I made copies and coloured some of those. (This was a lengthy process as they were probably lithographed and the interference dot-matrix pattern, or whatever it is, is appalling. It would have been quicker to draw my own design out.)
The set is undated and I have no information about the original publisher.
A quick look on the internet did not  make me much better informed about them, but I did find two enjoyable sites, which are worth a look if you are interested in vintage cards:

http://www.postcardy.com/article04.html

http://vintagerecycling.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/am-davis-quality-cards.html

If you are interested in making paper based projects like this one there are a few more available on this page

Finally:
I have always said my photographs are awful, but this has to be a new low point.

open_house_miniatures_dollshouse_farm_and_garden_a_m_davis_original

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A Savonnerie Style Rug

open house miniatures needlework carpet lucinda pink - computer generated

Computer generated image to give idea of colours. 

Once upon a time… and it does seem a long time ago now – I wrote a blog post called To Sew or Not to Sew about a needlework carpet design that I had created from one of my printed carpet patterns.

Well, I did finish the carpet… eventually… and I thought that it looked very, very good and much nicer than the picture at the top of this blog post, but it is not a symmetrical pattern and it does take ages and ages and ages and ages and then some to embroider, so I filed it away in my (ahem) not very good filing system as something that needed thinking about and simplifying (a lot).

However, there seem to be a few brave souls out there who would actually like to try working one of these and have asked if I will share the pattern.

Now the problem that I have at the moment is that, due to circumstances beyond my control, my computer is in storage (if I start to tell you why it is in storage I will not stop and I suspect that you will become terribly bored because this is not a blog about leaky showers and electrical wiring, although I suspect I could be quite entertaining about wallpaper paste…)

Anyway, the end result is that I have a list of things of things that I promised I would do and now can’t do because of heaps of other things that I must now do first.

Having said that, this morning I conducted a dawn raid on my computer, grabbed some files and am now sitting in front of the computer of a kind and generous friend and about to type a brief list which I hope will be helpful.

  • This is not an easy carpet to work – for one thing the design is not symmetrical
  • A frame is, in my opinion, essential
  • I had to put in the central guidelines in coloured cotton (I removed these after completing the carpet although some people work over them)
  • I had to be very careful not to get huge lumps of thread at the back (there are a lot of colours in a small space)
  • It helped to think of the project as “painting with thread” and not just working a charted design – that way I didn’t get too worried if I put a stitch in not exactly the right place…
  • I think, in order to get a good result, it is essential to start from the middle and work outwards
  • I would recommend picking a bit that looks easy to you and try a small test patch first – see how your thread and canvas work together
  • Be kind to yourself, if you are new to needlework, try working the outside brown border and see how you get on.

Here are my colour charts – if you want to work a symmetrical carpet, work the central motif and then pick the corner that you like best and work that round the outside (I’m sorry, I can’t do reverse patterns at the moment).

And here are the black and white ones that I made. They drove me distracted – but you may prefer working with this sort of chart and it would make working the carpet in a different colour-way easier if you use these (I’m sorry, I can’t do a set of charts in different colours at the moment).

You will need to find your own colours. I used embroidery thread on 22 point canvas and I used a thinner thread than I usually do. Threads vary and you will need to experiment to find what suits you.

Here is a screen grab of the colours that the computer programme suggested, as you can see there is quite a subtle mix, but

OMH_Lucinda-carpet_colours

The colour blocks that look as though they are the same colour, are the same colour – this is where I combined all the very close shades into one colour that I liked.

Making up the carpet – (this sort of carpet was not usually fringed)

I can thoroughly recommend Janet Granger’s online tutorial on how to hem a miniature carpet.

I use a slightly different method and ideally I would like to make a slideshow how I finish mine, but I’m sorry to say that it is another one of those things that I will have to put of my To Do List.

Speaking of which, next on the list is –

  • Full Bilderbuch for Maria in Argentina

Well, I grabbed the file for that this morning, so all I need now is paper and glue and a printer and some time and space…

***   ***   ***

Afterword

I don’t host any advertising on this weblog.

If you see adverts then they were put there by WordPress, who have to make money in order to maintain this blog site.

By paying WordPress a small yearly fee I could arrange for there to be no advertisements on this weblog. I am too mean / poor to do this.

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