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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.

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A M Davis (London) Cut Out and Colour Farm Set

(Apologies for the poor quality photo. Mission: BUY A CAMERA THAT WORKS is in progress.)

There is something about the original set of cards for this farm set that baffles my scanner. The full-size prints looked all right, but all sorts of odd things happened when I tried to scan them back into the computer, or to resize the scanned images on screen.

Luckily, in our local newsagents, there is a photocopier that appears to be ancient and decrepit. It wheezes and rattles and hesitates and then produces photocopies on white-hot paper. More importantly, in this particular instance, it is so low-tech that it just copies things and does not do whatever it is that my scanner does.

I can’t honestly say that the photocopies it produced for me earlier this week are the cleanest I have ever seen, but they have made this blog post possible and I came home with a sheaf of paper and the feeling that things were now going to go well.

My scanner, however, being defeated in its attempts to thwart me, had evidently communicated with my printer, which promptly decided that it was about to run out of ink. (No, I don’t keep spare cartridges to hand. I am convinced that the minute I stock-pile some the printer will stop working altogether.) And this is why the test run that I printed, instead of being black and white, has a blue-violet tinge to it. Even taking the ink cartridges out and shaking them and re-inserting them did not help this time.

A M Davis (London) Farm Set to Cut Out and Colour

While I was coaxing the last sheet out of my printer My Nearest and Dearest (one of My Nearest and Dearest) conceived the idea that it would be rash to release a whole farm set into the unsuspecting universe as they might be copied and used to produce fakes.

I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would wish to do this, or that it could possibly be worth anyone’s while to do it. But, as the matter had been raised, I promised that I would make it as clear as I could that this is NOT a complete set and that there are only 8 cards reproduced in the pdf below (and there should be, as far as I know) 12 cards in total.

Anyway, to shorten what is turning into a long story, I used thin, cheap card for my example and was pleased at how well everything fitted together.

Ideally, if I make the full size set again, I think I will use 200gsm card. Then it would be possible to cut around the legs of the horse and in between the wheel spokes, without fear of them becoming too flimsy.

So now, without further ado, here is a pdf of the large size farm set: Paper_Model_Farm_AM_Davis_OHM20170601

And here is ‘dolls’ house size’ farm set (it isn’t 12th scale):
Miniature_Farm_AM_Davis_OHM20170601m
The positions of the folds and cuts can be seen in the pdf for the bigger version.

NB: These are for your personal use and enjoyment, please do not re-print them and sell them as modern, vintage or antique cards or card sets.

A M DAVIS farm and garden - colour

Photograph – but not taken by me

There is a pdf for the colour version (just the house and garden, as shown above):
OHM_Farm_and_Garden_20170524 and the basic instructions for putting it together are in a previous post here

Finally:

My Nearest and Dearest, having triumphed in the ‘What About Fakes?’ debate, and asked to be a Severe Critic and read this before I pressed the Publish Button, suggested that it might be a good idea to explain why I going to the bother of getting a decent print of this cut-out paper model, not to mention why am I making part of it available here.

The short answer is that I need a decent print for a project that I am working on.
And, having tried the full-size model out, I think it would be a pity for it to vanish back into my ‘Why Have You Got This and Can You Get Rid of It?’ box.
And I hope that if you enjoy paper models you will have fun with it too.

 

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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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Nativity 2013

open house miniature christmas nativity 2013

I made these nativity sets last March and have been trying to get a “nice” photo of a finished one ever since.

So far the best I have come up with has been rather blurred…

open house miniature nativity set christmas 2013

The best that I can hope for, therefore, is that the combination of the above two photos will give some idea of the finished article…

The nativity started life as an old Christmas scrap

I have no idea who this will print - I suspect that although it is relatively large it is also poor quality

I have no idea how this will print –
I suspect that although it is relatively large
it is also poor quality

If you would like to make this miniature nativity for yourself, the pdf is here –

nativity_scene_christmas_OHM2013

If you decide to print and make the nativity, please bear in mind that your computer / printer settings and the paper that you use will make difference to the results that you get.

A walk-through of how I made mine is here –

There are more things to make and do on the projects page and I am going to repeat here what I say there –

  • 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 re-sell them.

This is my 101st post !

Happy New Year,!
I hope that 2014 will be a good year for you all.

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Open House Miniatures - Theater Bilderbuch - one scene

I haven’t seen many copies of the Theater Bilderbuch, and the (very few) antique ones that I have seen usually resemble the one on the V & A website.

[ Lucia Contreras Flores has an edition on her website that I have never seen before – you may need to scroll down the web-page to find it. ]

There are two modern editions that I know of –

  • a German edition (ISBN 978-3480131631)
  • an English language edition (ISBN 978-0722655368)

and these have been  re-engineered to work on a smaller scale, and using much thinner materials, than the original publications.

In order to make my miniature version work (to my satisfaction) I had to re-work the original construction too.

Open House Miniatures - Theater BilderBuch - construction of one scene

My version was designed for 100 gsm paper (I use the smoothest, best quality that I can find.)

90 gsm paper (in my experience) tends to be a little bit too thin and “soft” and, with repeated opening and shutting of the book, quickly loses its crispness.

I am mentioning this here because I have been experimenting with some paper that was recommended by the printers who do most of my printing.

It is 90 gsm, comes on a large roll and is designed to go through a printer “under tension” – in other words it is thin, smooth and relatively tough. It also gives a superb print finish, with excellent colour reproduction.

The printers call it “proofing paper”.

I still don’t know much about it, but I am quietly excited by the possibilities it seems to offer.

In the following slideshow I am using that “proofing paper”.

I would still say that most 90 gsm papers are probably unsuitable for this project, but you may know of a paper, or discover one, that will work better for you than the 100 gsm that I recommend.

It is definitely worthwhile experimenting !

***   ***

The pdf for this is here –

Theater_Bilderbuch_Christmas_Eve_OHM20130419

– and there is a page for those who like to Make and Do here.

I am going to repeat here what I have written there –

  • Simply click on the link to open the pdf on-line. You can then print it without downloading it.
  • If you want to save the pdf to your computer / a CD / data stick etc. you may do that too.
  • You may use the contents of the pdf for yourself – and if you would like to make 10 of something and try selling them please go ahead, but do think first of all the other people who will be doing exactly the same thing.
  • You may share these projects with your friends and family, and miniature club.
  • You may link to them from your website / blog / satellite station, if you have one
  • You may customise them.
  • You may use them / the design ideas, in whole, or in part, as for inspiration for making your own things.

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

***   ***   ***

I found the method used to construct the modern German edition of the Theater Bilderbuch very interesting.

The background scene, the text for one play and the front of the next theatre in the series are printed on one sheet and the various sheets are then folded round each other and glued together.

reproduction theater bilderbuch structure

Technicalities aside, the way that the front of the theatre frames the scenes, so that the edges are hidden – even when viewed from an angle – and the way that the overall scene changes depending on the viewer’s position make this (for me) not only an extremely good example of paper engineering, but it is also a wonderful piece of “theatre” – in every sense of the word.

reproduction theater bilderbuch side view

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

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

Open House Miniatures How toMake a McLoughlin Folding Doll House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The walls and floors are here

McLoughlin_Folding_Doll_House_OHM_130301

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

McLoughlin_Folding_Doll_House_OHM_130301-a

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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