Posts Tagged ‘miniature toy’

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

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

Open House Miniatures How toMake a McLoughlin Folding Doll House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The walls and floors are here


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


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

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

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

I am going to repeat here what I say there

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

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

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

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Open House Miniatures - 3 Houses from McLoughlin's Pretty Village

revitalised photo courtesy of http://www.picmonkey.com

I am not going to have a computer next week so I have been trying to cram everything computer-related into this week.

Naturally, I haven’t managed to do half of what I wanted to do, but before I disappear off-line I thought it would be nice to post a Make and Do, so here (in a bit of a rush) it is – with a little bit of explanation first.

I seldom make a limited edition of anything.

The Pretty Village was an exception to this rule because, although I like it very much, I could not bear the thought of making thousands and thousands of tiny houses – endlessly.

The last of the limited edition sets will be in the post this coming Monday, and so I wanted to have a little bit of fun, both to celebrate and say farewell.

The result was a different sort of “limited edition” – there are only three houses in this set and what you do with them is limited to your imagination.

I have  re-sized the houses to fractionally over 1/2″ (1.25 cm) tall and, although they are not “easy”, they should not be impossible to put together.

Open House Miniatures - McLoughlin's Pretty Village - House Assembly

I did photograph the “how to make” process but, unfortunately, it has been snowing on and off for a couple of days, and there was either too much reflected light (or not enough light ! ) to get good photographs – and not all the wonders of computer science could improve the photos much – so the following slide show is very uneven in quality.

The pdf  3_Pretty_Village_Houses_OHM_20130119   is, I hope, vastly better !

To escape from the slide show press the Esc key – it is usually in the top left hand corner of your keyboard

I hope you enjoy making these.

***   ***   ***   ***

May 2013 Update –

I have had several requests for the full village.

I am sorry, the full village is one of the very few things that I made as a limited edition and it is not available for download.

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Miniature Wooden Farm Set

open house miniatures miniature farm set - selected figures only

There is a definite feeling of Spring about this farm set.

There are cows, sheep, geese ducks and chickens, as well as some larger pieces of scenery, that can be used to create your own farmyard in miniature.


All together there are twelve pieces of varying sizes. They are made from 0.5 ply wood, fixed to 2mm square pine baton, and they stand very well on a level surface.

The images are printed on high quality, acid free paper, which has been lightly varnished, for added durability.


The box is made to a traditional toy box design – the sides are constructed from 0.8mm ply and the top and bottom of the box are made from 2mm card.

It is hinged with silk and is covered in paper. As well a picture on the top, there are also two scenes of the countryside inside. All the pictures have been lightly varnished.


The box is designed so that it will stay shut when it is closed. With use, the wood on the catch will wear smooth – a tiny amount of water carefully applied to the wood will bring back the grain.



The box is 1 and 5/16th inches long x 15/16th of an inch x 9/16th of an inch deep.
(Approximately 3.4cm x 2.4cm x 1.4cm)

The pieces vary in size – the largest are just over 1 inch (2.5cm) long – and they all fit in the box. (I find it easiest to stack the large pieces together and then put the smaller pieces on top).



I used part of a cardboard farm set as the basis of this miniature wooden version. The original was printed in the late 1890s and was probably produced by Raphael Tuck and Sons.

The box is entirely my own creation, but it is based on the boxes used by toy manufacturers in the late 1800s.



This miniature farm set contains very small pieces.

It is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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Circus Roundabout

Mniature Epinal Toy Circus Roundabout

This miniature toy circus roundabout is a  working model.

It is made from acid free paper and card and is under 1 inch (2.5cm) in width and just over  1 inch (2.5cm) in height.

The original version was published at the beginning of the 20th Century by a French company called Imagerie d’Epinalis.

It was printed on paper sheets and was designed to be to be cut out and assembled at home.

I am particularly fond of my miniature version because it actually works – when the gold knob is gently pulled upwards and turned, the stage revolves and the figures go round and round.

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Other People’s Eyes

One of the (many things) that I like about Etsy is that they give customers the opportunity to send an Appreciation Photograph to a seller.

The young lady below is named Kim and she was made by Patricia of Papillon Bleu UK

Aprreciation photograph from Papillon Bleu on Etsy

Copyright Papillon Bleu UK

Kim is holding one of my Circus Roundabouts, and when I first saw the photograph I could not work out what was ‘wrong’.

Then I realised that Kim is doll sized, rather than dolls’ house sized, and so my small roundabout looks extra tiny in her hands – and then I was pleased and charmed that someone had seen / imagined things differently to me and had used one of my things so creatively. (NOTE TO SELF – try not to be so obsessed with scale).

If you would like to read more about Kim – I do particularly admire her elegantly shod feet ! – and her sisters please visit Papillon Bleu’s Blog

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Open House Miniatures - miniature, 12th scale, McLoughlin Folding Doll House

I have admired the (full size) McLoughlin Folding Dolls’ Houses for a very time.

They were first produced  in the late 1890s and are now highly collectable – and way beyond my pocket. (There is one for $1,500 on the Aleph-Bet Books website).

However, nothing daunted, I have been collecting (usually damaged) bits of the book/dolls’ house – only to realise that, although I probably had all right the bits, I had absolutely no idea how the various pieces should be put together.

Then, by a stroke of good luck one came up for sale on eBay in March this year (2011) and, although it was in only moderate condition, the seller had gone to a great deal of trouble to show the order in which it unfolded.

– A big thank you is due here to tnc-antiques2 for being so thorough –

So here is my miniature version, 12th scale, 1 inch (2.5cm) square when shut and 2 inches (5cm) square when unfolded and open.

The colours are as vibrant as they were on the originals but, because it is constructed from copies of old materials, it has the feeling of something that has been played with and loved.

I chose to leave the small defects that were on the original pieces, and not digitally ‘repair’ them, because I felt that they added to the charm and individuality of the dolls’ house. However, during the resizing process 99.9% of the scratches and bumps  disappeared – and the most noticable remaining  is on the final page where there is a very tiny amount of faint pink staining  where the colour had run from the original binding.

My miniature version is made from acid free card and paper (with excellent archival qualities) and is paper bound – and, due to to the assembly process, the moving parts have been covered in waterbased glue (at least twice) and are robust as well as flexible.

Due to the ‘memory’ of the glue I find that, when it is  fresh out of its box, it is a good idea to put a small coin on each piece of floor (for a short while) so that it ‘remembers’ to stay flat and open.

It comes in its own custom made box and, although this features a picture that was used on the original dolls’ house box, this is all my own invention – as I do not yet have a good box lid…

One day maybe…

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The pdf files and a walkthrough for how to make this folding dolls’ house are here

and there are more things to Do and Make on the Projects Page

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25 Soldiers on Parade

I have always wanted to make a set of toy soldiers and have been collecting ideas over a number of years.

Open House Miniatures - box of dolls' house toy soldiers

25 Soldiers on Parade

This boxed set of ’25 Soldiers on Parade’ contains 25 guardsmen, marching 5 abreast in 5 rows.

Each of the rows of soldiers measures very nearly 1 inch (2.5cm) in width and is attached to a wooden batten – traditionally they would have been nailed to the batten, but these have been glued.

They are made from 200gsm, acid free paper (the thickness of thin card) which has been strengthened by applications (on the reverse) of waterbased glue and coloured varnish.

(I did try making a set from the thinnest plywood possible, but this was brittle and snapped easily – so in this case treated paper proved to be a great deal more robust than wood!)

The set also contains 2 scenes of Horse Guards Parade (in London) and both of these can be removed from the box and will stand very well independently – due to the two ingenious folds on the the bottom edge.

Both the the box and the scenes are made from lightly textured, acid and lignin cellulose free, card.

This set was inspired by one made by McCloughlin Brothers at the end of the 19th Century and the box lid is a reproduction from the original.

The set in its entirity is,  however,  an invention of my own – and I hope it has a timeless appeal.

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