Tutorial

Miniature Cookbook Tutorial and Printie

Cookbooks Multi

Creating Grandma Hopper’s cookbook collection was a bit of an in-depth process. I wanted the books to look classic and colorful (and be copyright free!) I used archive.org, especially the Cornell University Library collection to create the book images. I imported each book cover into Photoshop, re-sized it, removed any stray bits I didn’t want (such as library bar code stickers) and added a spine to give the books some thickness.

Click on the following image for the downloadable PDFcookbooks small

The image is sized to print on 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper. I honestly don’t know how it would print on A4 sized paper. Give it a try and let me know? Anyway, make sure that you print on nice cardstock (I used 65 lb. weight, bright white. I think a linen-textured paper could also be lovely.) And print using your printer’s highest settings. My printer is a total crap basic inkjet that I believe we got for free bundled with a desktop computer we don’t even have anymore. It’s probably nearly 10 years old at this point. Anyway, even on my cheapo printer, it printed pretty well at high quality.

Before I get to the actual tutorial, I’d like to mention something I didn’t do when I made my books but should probably do in the future. It is recommended that you should spray your printed image with an acrylic spray fixative before cutting or handling it. I don’t know much about the various types available, but after having done this project, I would definitely add this step in the future. Each time I’ve handled my books, both while making them, and after, they have left ink smudges on my fingers. So far I have not noticed any additional ink transfer between books or from my hands to other surfaces, but that may happen over time. I may be able to spray the completed projects, but I think doing so earlier in the process would be much easier.

Onto the tutorial!

  1. Print out the image on high quality cardstock using the best setting on your printer.
  2. Roughly cut out the book image(s) cookbooktuto1
  3. With sharp, small scissors, carefully cut around the image, as close to the images as possible. cookbooktuto2
  4. Run a marker with similar colors to your cover along the cut edges of the book. It’s a minor thing, but making the white edges a matching color really increases the realism of your books.
  5. Using a colored pencil, color the reverse side of the book with the color of your choice. This creates an effective endpaper look and also helps to disguise that it’s just plain cardstock. cookbooktuto3
  6. With the printed side up, use a ruler and a narrow tool to create tiny parallel creases at each side of the book’s spine. I used a piercing tool for this step. I found that even the blunt side of an Xacto blade cut into the cardstock too much. A ball stylus may also be a good solution. Some of the book printies have very narrow spines. I recommend still making two parallel creases to help reduce the cardstock cracking when you fold it.cookbooktuto3-2
  7. Carefully fold your book on the crease lines. Try to fold the creases to 90 degrees, not fully in half. If you fold fully in half, your cardstock will crack. cookbooktuto4
  8. Cut several pieces of cardstock or other paper into pieces slightly smaller than your book cover. Cut enough so that they will “fill” the space created by the book’s spine.cookbooktuto5
  9. Glue the filler pieces together. I use a liquid glue for paper, but glue stick would probably also be okay.
  10. Open up your book. Apply glue to the back cover. (I use this Tombow liquid glue. It dries quickly and I like the precision tip.) Place your filler paper unit into the cover, making sure to leave the spine free so that the book can be closed. cookbooktuto6cookbooktuto7
  11. Place some glue on top of the filler paper, then close and hold the book until the glue engages. If your glue takes a long time to dry, you may be able to keep it closed with a binder clip. But the Tombow takes only about 10 seconds to bond. cookbooktuto8
  12. Your book is now done. Repeat 49 more times for the complete 50-book collection. 🙂cookbooktuto9

Greengrocer Display Tutorial

Here are directions on how to build Mrs. Goat’s greengrocery display. I’m admittedly not the best at doing tutorials, so please let me know if any part of this needs more clarification! This display is made for these crates from about.com. Other items may fit on this display as well, but it was designed with those particular crates in mind.

Supplies:

  • Bass or balsa wood sheets, 1/16″ thick (mine was 4″ wide by 24″ long, so I only needed part of one sheet)
  • Balsa wood sticks, 3/16″ x 3/8″ (I needed two 36″ long sticks)
  • Balsa wood stick, 1/8″ square
  • Self-healing cutting mat or other cutting surface
  • Xacto knife
  • Metal ruler
  • Glue appropriate for wood. I use Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue (a PVA glue)
  • Toothpicks
  • Paint of your choice. I use multi-surface acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush

Directions:

  1. Using an Xacto knife and metal ruler, begin by cutting the wooden sheets into the two flat parts of the display. Each flat should be 4-1/4″ by 1-3/4″. Since my sheet was only 4″ wide, I first cut the 4-1/4″ length, then subdivided it into the two 1-3/4″ widths (plus a little bit left-over.)tuto1tuto2tuto3tuto4
  2. Cut the 3/16″ x 3/8″ wood into eight lengths, each 4-1/4″ long. If lucky, you can get all eight lengths out of one stick. However, balsa wood is prone to splitting and/or breakage, so having more on-hand than you think you will need is a good practice.
  3. Cut two lengths of the 1/8″ square wood, each 4-1/4″ long.
  4. You should now have:
    • 2 wood sheeting flats, each 4-1/4″ x 1-3/4″
    • 8 pieces of 3/16″ x 3/8″ wood, each 4-1/4″ long
    • 2 pieces of 1/8″ x 1/8″ wood, each 4-1/4″ longtuto5
  5. You have two options at this point. 1) Paint all pieces with 2 coats of acrylic paint OR 2) continue onto Step 6 for assembly. If you want the painting to be easier, paint now. If you want the construction to be easier, construct now. For the purposes of this tutorial, I pre-painted all of the materials. But if I had to do it again, I would assemble first and paint later. It’s really up to you.
  6. Assemble the stand with the glue, using toothpicks for application. Apply glue all over the 3/16″ width of one of your lengths of wood. Carefully line up and apply along the long length of one of the flats.tuto6tuto7
  7. Apply glue to one of the 1/8″ square lengths. Apply to the front edge of the flat.tuto8
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with other flat.
  9. Apply two of the 3/16″ x 3/8″ strips to the bottom side of each flat.tuto9
  10. Choose one of the two units to be the back tier. Add the two remaining 3/16″ x 3/8″ strips to the bottom of the previously glued strips, doubling the heighttuto10
  11. Add lots of glue to the back of the bottom tier. Really give it a nice coating, like frosting a cake. Bring the two tiers together and very gently join them together.tuto11
  12. If you did not paint the pieces for the display in step 5, allow the glue to dry and give it two coats of paint.
  13. Allow the glue and paint to dry completely before placing handmade crates or other items on top. In general, be very gentle with your display, as it is quite delicate.

tuto12

Furniture Cleaning Tutorial

As I mention on my “About Me” page, I was first introduced to Sylvanian Families when I was a kid back in the ’80s. When I was maybe 3 or 4, I received a wonderful handmade wooden dollhouse and a variety of the furniture sets. When I became reacquainted with the toys as an adult, I was pleased to find that my original sets were still in storage at my parents’ house. However, I was a bit disappointed to find that as a child I had done some “decorating” of my own on a couple of pieces. (I actually find this quite surprising. As far as I can remember, I generally took pretty good care of my toys.) A kitchen counter piece had especially taken the brunt of my “artistic” endeavors, so I decided that I would try to clean it off. And it actually was quite easy, so I thought I’d put together this super quick tutorial to share my findings!

fix before

You can see that I seem to have colored on this kitchen countertop with a black crayon.

I’m pretty sure that it had undergone repeated previous attempts at cleaning, scrubbing, etc. But now I have a new (new since the ’80s at least) tool in my arsenal: a “Mr. Clean Magic Eraser“.

fix tool

Magic Erasers are, according to the wikipedia page, made of melamine foam. I have bought melamine foam from the dollar store for much cheaper than the name-brand seen above, but have found that they don’t seem to work as well and crumble very quickly. I’m always up for saving money, but I do prefer the name-brand product in this case.

Magic Erasers are an abrasive, like a very fine sandpaper, so they can really only be used on hard surfaces. Luckily for me, my scribbles were on the hard plastic of a toy countertop. Melamine foam will damage fabrics, easily scratched items, many painted surfaces, and other soft materials (don’t even think about trying it out on your Sylvanians!)

To use the Magic eraser you wet it down with water (I just stick mine under the faucet for a few seconds) and then squeeze out as much of the water as you can. Then you scrub your surface. The crayon markings had been on this toy for nearly 30 years, so it did take a lot of “elbow grease.” Rubbing in a variety of directions seemed to be the best technique – up and down, side to side, and in little circles. After maybe 2 or 3 minutes of scrubbing, the vast majority of the crayon was successfully removed.

fix after

The Magic Eraser may leave a powdery residue on your object; if so, just wipe it off with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Isn’t it a wonderful fix?

fix before and after

Like it’s brand new!

Now that I know that the melamine foam works well for hard plastic toys like this, I will be much more likely to buy similarly damaged items in the future (if the price is right, of course!)

 

Miniature Lavender Tutorial

As promised, here is the tutorial for the lavender from Mrs. Mouse’s flower cart.

Lavender 7

I discovered this super simple craft completely by chance. I’m always wandering the aisles of the local craft store, looking for cute mini things for the village. But I never think to go down the baking supply aisle. I’m not really a baker, so I thought I wouldn’t find anything that would work. Well, was I wrong! I definitely need to make that aisle part of my usual route. Because I found these:

Lavender 1

Wilton Flower Stamens. These are items for making the centers of frosting flowers. They seem to be made of very thin wire, paper, and in the case of the kind I used, tiny bits of foam. I seriously hesitated about buying them. For $3.50, I thought they were kind of expensive, but after going back and forth about it, I decided to give them a try. And I’m glad I did. The package contains three different types: a glitter style, a pearl style and a fluffy style.

Lavender 2

Lavender 3

The stamens I used for this project have the “fluffy” texture at both ends. I didn’t want double-ended flowers, so I trimmed off one end. Unfortunately, I wanted long stems, so I was only able to get one flower from each. If you want shorter stems, you can cut them in half and end up with two blooms each. At least I kept the extra bits – they may make great bunches of grapes!

Lavender 4

I then painted the stems in the green that I wanted. I’m not especially particular about accuracy, more about overall look, so I just picked some green paint I had on-hand.

Lavender 6

I then used purple craft paint (actually the color I chose was called lavender!) to paint the bloom ends.

I’m so glad that I took a chance on this product. Out of all the flowers I made for the flower cart, these were by far (BY FAR) the easiest. And I think that when gathered all together in a container, they make a great, colorful impression.

Do you have a favorite material or craft supply that you use in a new or unconventional way? I’d love to hear about it!