Family Introductions: The Hopper Grandparents

Hopper Grandparents

Grandfather Herman spent many years working on boats and captaining his own vessel. Old habits die hard, so he insists that he live near the sea in his retirement. Some of the children find his mustache intimidating, but underneath that bushy ‘stache and salty sea dog looks, Grandpa Herman is very kind and loves spending time with his grandchildren and the other young ones in Crabapple Crossings. Through his years working on various boats, he really honed his whittling skills and now delights in creating wonderful toys for the children of Crabapple Crossings. And don’t tell just anyone, but Grandpa Herman sometimes moonlights as one bearded, red-suited individual in the wintertime.

Grandmother Helen got quite accustomed to spending a lot of time on her own while Grandpa Herman was at sea – and now even with Grandpa spending more time at home in his retirement, Grandma values her alone time. Her biggest passions are cooking and baking. Everyone in town knows to go to her if they need help with their kitchen skills or if they need a sure-fire recipe. When not stuffing her husband and grand-kids with tasty homemade treats, Grandma Helen can often be seen getting her beauty treatments at the salon or puttering in her flower garden.

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Parade of Homes: The Mouse House

The first stop on the inaugural Crabapple Crossings Parade of Homes is the home of the Mouse Family. As Mr. Mortimer Mouse has to awaken bright and early to get started on the day’s baking, he didn’t want to live too far away from his bakery. “Nothing feels better than knowing that my commute is just a short trip down the stairs, especially on cold winter mornings,” he says.

mouse house exterior

mouse house kitchen

The Mouse family had the home built to their own specifications and preferences. “We wanted a nice cozy kitchen and living area,” says Mrs. Mitzi Mouse. “It’s so wonderful having a nice space for all four of us to spend time together in the evenings.”

mouse house bedroom“But also Mort and I do enjoy being able to have time for rest and relaxation, so we definitely wanted a private master bedroom,” Mrs. Mouse continued.

mouse house kids roomOf course Millie and Martin Mouse’s favorite room is their shared bedroom. “It’s so colorful and fun,” says Millie.

“And I like playing with my toys there,” adds Martin.

“We really love our home and welcome guests wanting to come take a look,” says Mrs. Mouse. “It’s wonderful to get to share our ideas and tastes with our friends and neighbors.”

mouse house interior 2

 

To be completely honest, this project has been more or less done for quite some time, but I just haven’t shared it. It was probably the most time consuming of all of my projects, from the initial design through construction and then decorating.

As with most of my self-made buildings, the Mouse House is built from foam-core board. I wanted a structure that could sit on the Lil’ Woodzeez bakery I repainted, so its measurements are based on that. This was my first major construction project and I did a lot of figuring it out as I went along, but I have to credit this site with helping me figure out how to best build with foamcore board. I also have found that Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue works a lot better than other glues I have tried. Just don’t forget to replace the cap or you’ll get a tough workout trying to squeeze out the glue from then on!

Oh! I also want to mention that I chose to apply all of the floors and interior wallpapers before I glued the walls and floors together. It is a whole lot easier to apply them while everything is still flat. I used a heavy-duty gluestick to apply the wallpapers and it’s been probably a year, and I’ve noticed no un-sticking. The floors are this super-cool adhesive-backed wood veneer called “BARC.” It was super easy to cut into small “planks” and then just stick down. And I love that it’s real wood.

One of the trickiest and time consuming parts of the project was the windows and window frames/trim. Each piece of wood had to be cut to the right length, then the corners properly mitered. Then sanded, and painted a couple of times, then fit together and glued, and finally glued into place. The house has six windows, each of which had 12 pieces each to trim it out. The rest of the exterior is also trimmed out in painted bass wood, though the “siding” is just cardstock paper. Each piece of trim also was mitered to create a more streamlined look. Seriously, the amount of time I spent on the woodwork was not fun. Which is why, as much as I wanted to add baseboards and crown molding to the interiors, I just couldn’t do it. And that’s also why the shutters and window boxes are made of paper. I was too tired of cutting, sanding, and painting that I just couldn’t take it anymore!

mouse house exterior 2

Speaking of the window boxes, they are filled with handmade paper marigolds and little clumps of decorative moss. I really like the cheery look they give the house.

Once the actual structure was completed, it was time to decorate. I guess that probably the best way to do this is by room. 

mouse house interior

Kitchen/Living Room

  • Stove, sink, pantry, table and chairs, and most accessories are the Calico Critters Deluxe Kitchen Set.
  • Stove backsplash is self-made with 1/2″ paper squares (I used a punch) applied to a white background. I then used “Glossy Accents” to add shine and dimension to the “tiles.”
  • Stools and benches are self-built of balsa wood.
  • Chair, stool, and bench cushions are self-made from fun foam and cotton fabric.
  • Clock is a button with a printed clock face applied, Glossy Accents added to give it dimension.
  • Side table is a tiny wooden candlestick I found at a thrift shop flipped upside down. 
  • Curtains are cotton lace that I embroidered with red floss to make it more fun.
  • Book and plant on side table are purchased miniatures.
  • Seed packets are self-made.
  • Paper doll images were found online, scaled down and printed.

Master Bedroom

  • Bed is self-made of balsa wood. Mattress is fabric-covered fun foam. Pillows are self-made, blanket is felt. (Note: I hate the felt blankets and intend to change them, I just haven’t yet.
  • Side tables are self-made of balsa wood and miniature wooden spools.
  • Books are purchased miniatures
  • “M” is a necklace pendant.
  • Picture frame is a plastic refrigerator magnet picture frame, magnet removed.
  • Image is this printable, resized.
  • Curtains are cotton lace

Kids Room

 

Hmm, well, I think that’s pretty much everything I can think of to say about this project. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to share it (actually, taking the pictures probably was the hold-up.) I still am very happy with how this project turned out, although I always have things I want to add or things to improve – and actually, the seed packet box I made for Iron Craft a while ago is in there now. Other things to work on still: new coverlets for the beds (no more felt!), wooden window boxes (if I can figure out how to transfer the flowers without destroying them), better-looking shutters, more flowers around the house (Mrs. Mouse is the village florist after all!), a chimney, improved master bedroom tables, and some nicer looking books. I honestly have no clue how any serious miniaturist ever decides that something is done!

If you have any questions or want more detail about anything, don’t hesitate to comment!

And just for fun, a  bonus picture of the teensy mouse-themed paper doll:

mouse house kitchen 2

New Restaurant Coming to Town

After months of planning, the long-neglected Seaside Restaurant is getting a much-needed face-lift. And Crabapple Crossings will be welcoming something new to the village’s culinary landscape: sushi!

Cooler1

“I’ve been wanting to open up my own restaurant for years,” says Owen Otter. “When I saw that the old Seaside Restaurant was up for sale, I felt like I finally had the opportunity to make my dreams a reality.”

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When asked about whether he thought a sushi restaurant could succeed in our small village, Mr. Otter was extremely optimistic. “I love traditional fish and chips as much as anyone. And I know some may find the idea of sushi a bit intimidating. But I think that once people taste it, they will embrace it. All of our fish is as fresh as you can imagine – as you may know, my wife Octavia is our town’s fishmonger and is awake bright and early on her boat. You can’t get more fresh than that!”

Of course, Mr. Otter also plans to offer some options for the less adventurous eaters in town. “Not all sushi is raw fish. Some is cooked. And we of course will have some really delicious vegetarian options.”

Although the restaurant is not quite ready to be open for business yet, this week’s delivery of a special sushi case cooler gets Mr. Otter that much closer to the grand opening. “I can’t wait to open my doors and share my love of food with everyone!”

restaurant1

 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t been able to spend much time in Crabapple Crossings, and projects have been relegated to the back burner. My July was packed, and my August looks to be even more so! But I was able to find time to do a project for this round of Iron Craft. The theme was “Cool” – things to keep you cool, made with cool colors, or otherwise get you in a “cooling” mood.

I had an idea as to what I wanted to create, because I have been thinking about creating a sushi restaurant for probably almost a year now, since I first saw the Calico Critters Seaside Restaurant. But with all my other projects, it fell to the wayside. When I saw the “Cool” theme, though, I knew I could at least get started on the conversion by creating a sushi bar style cooler.

cooler3

The set came with a counter with a built-in grill – I think the restaurant is supposed to be in the style of a hibachi restaurant? This counter made a great base for my sushi cooler.  I didn’t want any of my changes to be permanent, so the cooler just sits on top of the base. It is made of thin foamcore board, plastic window sheets, and cardstock. 

The items inside the cooler are a mix of handmade and pre-made items. On the left is supposed to be a piece of tuna, made from polymer clay. The two shellfish came with the seaside restaurant. The salmon is polymer clay. And on the left is a bowl of “scallops.” The bowl is from a different Calico Critters play set, and the scallops are the filling from a Dollar Tree baby rattle favor. No, I did not come up with it myself, this person of Flickr gave me the idea. (She has tons of other great ideas for minis, too!)

It was overall a fun project, and it makes me excited to continue furnishing the sushi restaurant. I’m not really planning that many big changes, mostly just making lots of tiny sushi!

Around Town: Harold Hopper’s Aquarium

Today we captured a snap of Mr. Harold Hopper with his beloved aquarium.

“I’ve been keeping fish for years,” he tells us. “After so many months and years spent on the sea before I retired, I like to have a little bit of the ocean to keep me company. So I keep goldfish.”

aquarium1

This round of Iron Craft was themed “It’s a Zoo Out There”. We were to make a project that featured an animal, could be used by an animal, or used animal-themed materials. Of course, I’m almost always making things “for” anthropomorphic animal characters, but making just any mini for my village seemed like a bit of a cop-out on the theme. So I wanted to make a project that focused on other animals in this imaginary world. Since all the villagers are mammals, this left me with making a project about birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish.

And then I stalled out/procrastinated for two weeks. Finally, on Monday I realized I had to make something. So I finally settled on making a little fish tank. The past few rounds of Iron Craft I’ve been trying to avoid buying new materials for my projects. So I used things I had on-hand for this project.

aquarium2

The base of the tank is a 1″x 2″ piece of foam-core board. I smeared white glue on it and sprinkled it with some craft sand. After it dried, I added a second coat. Meanwhile, I cut some silk flower leaves into tiny little plants. I just eyeballed them. I then used Fast-Grab Tacky Glue to attach the plants. This glue has a more viscous consistency, so it kept the leaves fairly vertical. The five or so plants I had cut out looked a bit sparse, so I grabbed some green embroidery floss I had on-hand. I coated it lightly with white glue (just smearing a bit on it with my fingers) and let it dry. Once dry, I separated out the individual strands. This turned out awesome. It really looks like grassy underwater plants! After all the plants were glued in place, I added a bit more glue and a bit more sand where the plants and base met to ease the transition and cover up any shiny glue areas.

aquarium3

The walls of the tank are very thin acetate sheets. Mine is from Stampin’ Up. The sheets are scored at each corner. I then used narrow adhesive strips to attach the acetate to the foam core base. A narrow strip of black cardstock adhered over the top gives it a tidy look.

The next challenge was the fish. I struggled with this part of the project. I tried using styrofoam, but I am not talented enough to carve a realistic looking fish. I then tried origami (I have experience making tiny origami projects) but I couldn’t get them small enough to look right. I considered polymer clay, but I my sculpting skills are not nearly up to par. Finally, I decided to simply make them out of paper. I found an image of a goldfish and mirrored it in Photoshop so that it was attached at the mouth and could be folded in half so both sides looked good. I printed and cut them out. I carefully used a marker to make the paper edges orange (I find white edges on paper crafts like this ruin the look.) I had some ultra-thin clear thread on-hand (I can’t remember the gauge of it, but it is finer than strands of my hair) and I sandwiched it in between the two sides of the printed image and glued it all together with a tiny dab of white glue.

The top of the tank is an identical piece of foam board to the base. I cut out a piece of black paper to fit the foam board and poked holes in it to thread the clear thread through. Making sure that the fish were freely hanging into the tank, I affixed the thread to this piece of paper and glued the paper to the foam board. More narrow adhesive strips attached the “lid” to the acetate walls. This also helps keep the tank properly squared. More black paper was adhered to the top of the foam core and around the edges for a finished look.

I am really happy with how this project turned out. I love the freely hanging fish – they look really great in-person. It was nearly impossible to get an in-focus picture of this project, so I apologize for the blurriness and weird digital artifacts in my photos this week. I am so enjoying the Iron Craft challenge because it is forcing me to be creative in new ways – I never would have thought to make a tiny fish tank for my village without this round’s prompt – and I just love what I came up!

Around Town: Lemonade Stand

We spied a couple of enterprising children ushering in the warmer weather with a favorite summertime treat: fresh-squeezed lemonade. Patrick Porker and Beatrice Beaver had set up a small stand selling refreshing homemade lemonade right downtown.

lemonade1

“We’ve made almost fifty cents already!” said Patrick.

“It’s a hot day, so I guess people want something cold to drink,” said Beatrice. “I know that I’ve had two glasses already!”

lemonade3

When asked how often their stand would be appearing this summer, Peter stated “I don’t know. Probably when we are bored with doing other things or want some spending money.” So make sure you stop by and get a glass of tasty lemonade when you see it.

This round of Iron Craft was themed Summertime. We were asked to make a summer-themed item or something to use in the summer. I wanted to make something that was quintessentially summer – and a children’s lemonade stand definitely said “summer” to me. 

lemonade2

The stand is made from some unusual super-thin foam core board I found at a local junk shop. I think it may be used for framing? I got a few small sheets of it, but I’d love to find more! It’s a great material for minis. It’s so nice to have similar materials with various thicknesses and I think traditional foam core would have been too thick for the bulk of this project. 

The base is the thin foam core covered with white cardstock. I then added stripes with additional pieces of cardstock. The “counter” is a regular-thickness piece of foamcore covered in more cardstock. The uprights are thin pieces of bass wood. They help keep the structure squared. The sign is just cardstock and marker.

The details are a bit harder to see in my pictures (I couldn’t get my camera to focus well on them. The light isn’t great today.) On the left is a purchased miniature wooden bowl. I filled it with polymer clay lemons. In the center is a knife and cutting board from a Calico Critters set. The lemons are a polymer clay cane I made (it’s easier to see in the middle picture above.) The glasses are eraser covers from “Push Pencils.” This site has a good image of the pencils. They are the perfect size for making minis. I found mine in the Target dollar spot, 8 for $1. Figuring out how to make them look like they had lemonade in them was a huge challenge for me. Many people who do miniatures use resin to create faux-liquids, but that was a bit more than I wanted to attempt. (Lots of room for error and it’s not an inexpensive material.) I finally settled on using a yellow Sharpie marker to color the cups to at least give them a yellow tinge. I ended up coloring both the inside and outside of the cups to make them look nice and bright. It may not look as authentic as resin, but it’s effective enough for me!

Seed Packets and Box

Wow, I’ve really been neglecting the blog, haven’t I? After the last large project, I guess I took a bit of a hiatus from crafting minis. Well, I’m back this week to show a little project I made. A few months back, I made a whole bunch of miniature seed packets. They are 1/4″ by approximately 1/3″. Each seed packet is different. I used images of seed packet art from the collection of The Label Man for them. (I’m sure it’s a copyright infringement in some way, but I figure they are for my own personal use only, so I’m probably in the clear.)

So anyway, I had 90+ teeny tiny seed packets hanging out in a bowl in my craft room and nowhere to put them. So I was pretty excited when this round of Iron Craft was announced: Store It. Making things that can store other things. So I made a miniature seed box inspired by vintage wooden seed boxes.

seed box

I made the box itself out of cardstock. It’s 1-1/4″ long by 3/4″ wide. Making the dividers was probably the trickiest part for me (it really took a lot of faith that they would be the correct size to fit and gluing the tiny flaps was really nerve wracking!) I then made some quick printies for the box labels to give it a more authentic feel. I then aged the printies by sponging on some beige ink – I wanted the box to look antique.

seed box2

I thought adding a penny would help give a sense of scale to the box and seed packets. Each packet has flaps and is folded and glued so it’s not just a flat rectangle. I think it adds a bit more authenticity.

I’m really pleased with how this tiny box turned out. Of course there are a few things here and there that I wish were a bit tidier about it, but overall, I think it serves its purpose quite well and looks pretty cute.

Sylvia Squirrel Makes Sweet Dreams a Reality

Ms. Sylvia Squirrel has always had a bit of a sweet tooth, “Growing up, my mother could not seem to keep the candies out of my paws.” Luckily for her, the elder Mrs. Squirrel knew a thing or two about sugary treats – she, too, was passionate about confectionery. “I spent many afternoons and evenings helping my mother create the most delicious candies. Of course, it was not too much of a chore for me, as I got to help ‘clean up’ and sample all of the wonderful treats.”

squirrel1

Since those days of her youth, Mrs. Squirrel has dreamed of opening up her very own candy shop. “I’ve been imagining my store for nearly as long as I can remember,” she says. “So I could not be happier to finally have the chance to share my love of sweets with my family, friends, and neighbors.”

squirrel2

Her shop specializes in both simple, old-fashioned penny candies and higher-end artisan chocolates, made by Sylvia herself. “I try to stock all of my childhood favorites,” she says. “We have pretty much everything you can think of – gumballs, gummy fruit slices, caramels, mints, lemon drops, licorice, candy dots, candy corn, circus peanuts, bottle caps, and more. It’s been so fun deciding what treats to stock.”

squirrel3

But she is especially enthusiastic about her hand-made specialty chocolates. “These are the candies my mother taught me to make. I use dark chocolate, milk chocolate,  white chocolate, and lots of fun fillings. I tend to make whatever I’m excited about at the time, so I should always have an interesting assortment to fill a box.”

children

It looks like Mrs. Squirrel’s shop is going to a success. While photographing her shop, we caught some local children peering in at the tasty treats.

“I do eat candy every day,” Mrs. Squirrel admits. “But I always make sure to brush my teeth and I’ve never had even one cavity!”

Okay, I’m the first to admit that this round of Iron Craft is a pretty big stretch, but hear me out. The theme this time was “Dots.” I was really stuck! I love polka dots, but I didn’t want to sew anything, and I just couldn’t think of very many crafts I wanted to make that used a polka dot pattern. But then I thought of candy dots, and that seemed like a fun mini project. So I got out my 1/16″ hole punch and strips of paper and made some candy dots:

candy dots

Of course, once I saw how cute these tiny candies made of paper were, I couldn’t seem to stop! So I punched out tiny paper bottle caps candy. And tiny M&Ms candy. 

inspiration

Well, once I had my three kinds of dots candy, I was pretty pleased. I had completed the challenge and was happy with the results. But something was missing. And that something was a place to put my tiny paper dot treats. So I decided to make a candy shop.

exterior

interior

It’s crazy, I know. And the reason this post is going up in the afternoon is that I finished the project today. I think this was my first Iron Craft time crunch! 

So, just a few words on supplies and such. Pretty much the whole thing is made of foam core and cardstock. I cut and dry fit the structure out of foam core, then applied all the papers while it was still in flats. The checkerboard floor was helped along with a 1″ square punch. The window is a piece of plastic window sheeting, which I wrote on with a white paint pen. The shelves and display case are foam board, cardstock, and window sheets as well. The chalkboard frames were a find in the Michael’s dollar bins (though I think they were $1.50.) The candy jars are from the Dollar Tree. They are for nail art glitter and come 8 to a package. A complete steal for real glass bottles. I filled the jars and case with some paper dots as shown above and polymer clay candies. The final touch (what took me into the time crunch) were the candy boxes which I printed onto cardstock, then cut and glued together. The one box is (mostly) full of the leftover chocolates from the display case, each one with its own paper candy cup made from a hole punch (hey! another dot!) of tissue paper.

This project was such a challenge for me. I’ve made and decorated structures before, but never in such a short time frame. I know it seems simple, but I really worked hard to get this done. I think I am the slowest person ever when it comes to polymer clay. It’s honestly quite ridiculous. And I’m still not sure I’m really done with this project. I always have tweaks I want to make. In this case, I want to add an awning to the front, because it’s really very boring and maybe some sort of hanging “open” sign. Just make the exterior more interesting in general, I guess.

So, I’m not sure I did so hot for the Iron Craft challenge of it. I mean, I truly was inspired by “Dots” as the theme, but the end result is maybe 5% dots to 95% everything else. But on the other hand, I would not have undertaken this project without the dots inspiration as a jumping off point. But either way, Crabapple Crossings has a candy shop now, and that makes me happy.

End-of-Season Sales

With winter finally coming to an end, the warmer temperatures and longer light mean that winter necessities, like stoves are available for best “deal of the year” prices.

“Now is the best time to purchase a new stove for next winter’s long nights,” says Herman Hopper, whose years of experience in trade have given him lots of economic know-how. “Many manufacturers are looking to sell off this year’s remaining stock so that they’ll have space in their warehouses for next year’s newest models. So if you aren’t too set on getting the newest and fanciest, you can get a great deal.”

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He, himself has decided to partake in the wonderful discount. “This little beauty cost me 40% of its retail price, and it’ll keep my cottage warm and bright for years to come.”

Citizens interested in discounted stoves or other winter gear can look to our pages for all the latest ads and sales.

 

This round of Iron Craft was an especially fun assignment: Hometown History. This year I moved back to my hometown, so I was especially excited to celebrate its history with a mini project.

I live in a small town in Michigan called Chelsea, which nowadays is known primarily as the home of Jiffy Mix. We also have an amazing library (best small library in the U.S. in 2008) wonderful local theater (The Purple Rose) and a downtown that is pure Americana. Chelsea’s community calendar was just recently featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s really a great town, and I can’t help but be a cheerleader for it. 

But looking to the town’s history, I had to go with it’s manufacturing past for my inspiration. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Chelsea was pretty much a company town for the Glazier Stove Company. So I decided to make a miniature version of one of Glazier’s “Brightest and Best” stoves. The best images of these stoves are from one of our local photographers. 

I took a little bit of inspiration from several of the stoves featured. My mini stove is made almost entirely out of cardstock paper. I punched circles of various sizes, then stacked them and glued them together. Then each layered unit received a very thin strip to cover the edge. Some silver foil paper details made my stacks of circles more stove-like. Painted beads for the feet and a tiny Styrofoam ball cut in half, painted, and glued to the top completed the project.  

stove1

Is this project the most realistic miniature stove? Certainly not. But I think it looks really cute in the corner of the cottage and helps give it an old-time cozy look. And it was so fun to make a miniature homage to the history of my little hometown. 

Students Say: Wood Shop Wonderful

A small group of students from Crabapple Crossings public school have opted to take a very special elective class – wood shop. The class is taught by local builder Mr. Bertram Beaver.

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“It’s so important to get children interested in skills and hobbies like wood working,” he says. “And wood working truly nurtures so many important life skills. I think it is especially great for teaching children how to problem solve and tackle difficult tasks. They have to design, plan, and follow through on those plans. As well as deal with realistic solutions to any hiccups they may encounter along the way.”

This year, three children signed up for the class: Patrick Porker, Caleb Cuddle-Bear, and Sally Squirrel.

“My favorite part was getting to use the neat tools. The saw is my favorite,” says Caleb Cuddle-Bear.

“I liked making the plans,” says Patrick Porker. “Figuring out what steps to take and when is quite the brain workout!”

“Painting the project was the best part,” says Sally Squirrel. “It’s kind of fun to be allowed to make a mess.”

The project the children made is a doll house.

“We brainstormed lots of ideas,” says Patrick Porker. “But Mr. Beaver really encouraged us to do the dollhouse. He said that it would help us build our skills and give us lots of opportunities to problem solve.”

dollhouse3

The children are quite proud of their project, but could not decide who should get to keep it.

“We all worked on it equally – it wouldn’t be fair for just one of us to get to have it,” says Caleb Cuddle-Bear.

“So we agreed that we should raffle it off,” says Sally Squirrel.

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Raffle tickets can be purchased exclusively at the grocery store. All proceeds will be used for next year’s wood shop students. All three students agree that taking the class has been a lot of fun and that they would encourage their friends to give it a try.

Says Patrick Porker, “It feels so good to be able to say ‘I made this!'”

 

I was so honored when I saw that this round of Iron Craft was at least partially inspired by my tiny projects! It makes me so happy to know that people enjoy my silly little things. With the theme being “Teeny Tiny” I didn’t want to totally rest on my laurels, as it were. I’m planning on making all of my Iron Craft projects teeny tiny, so doing just any mini didn’t seem to be keeping with the spirit of the challenges. So I decided to embrace the challenge – and make something tiny for my tinies. And really, the only tiny thing I could think of was a dollhouse. 

dollhouse5

I doubt I’ll ever make a dollhouse for a dollhouse again. The process was really quite difficult and frustrating. For context, the dollhouse is just under 1-1/2″ tall at the apex of the roof and 1″ across. I used 1/16″ thick bass wood for the project. With all minis, measuring and cutting correctly is very important, but with things this small, it has to be just right or it won’t work. Because the wood is so thin, I found it difficult to get good adhesion with my glue. And painting on the details was a true exercise in frustration. I’m really not all that happy with how it came out. The roof doesn’t fit quite right, as I couldn’t figure out how to cut the thin edges of the bass wood to the correct angle. The painting is amateur at best. My consolation is that at least for the story, I can say the kids made it.

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I continued with my folly by doing a bit of decorating on the inside. The bottom floor has a stove and cabinet (you can’t see it, but there are drawn-on details on the front of the stove and the cabinet) and the top floor has a bed with painted pillows and a paper comforter. 

So I guess this was a good experience in that I learned that I never want to do it again. I will definitely leave the 1:144 scale and micro minis to the professionals. I just don’t have the skills or the patience for it. 

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