Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Miniature French cottage horse stable


The stable is attached to the side of the cottage. This was my first time making "dirt". I did it a little different the second time for the Timber Cabin, but here are the directions: Click here!

I designed the side of the stable to open with hinges. The roof is in the process of being attached. The roof is gator board. For those that have not worked with gator board, it is basically foam board but with a hard plaster shell. It will not warp and is still light weight. I highly recommend cutting it with a power saw and not by hand with a utility knife. Too many cuts injured my rotator cuff while making the walls for this cottage!

I need to make a sable stand for this beauty! I will post a tutorial here for that. I got the saddle at Karen's Dollhouse Shop in NJ.

The bottom door swings open but the top is glued to the wall. I love all the different textures surrounding this stable.

There is a loft inside that will have a ladder.

There is a 'concrete' ramp to make it easy for the wheel barrow and other equipment to go in and out. I am still doing research to gather ideas for items that need to be in here. I have never had a horse so I have some fun things to discover.

Until next time!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

French Stone Cottage

Now that the Timber Cabin is finished and sold, it's time to get back to the French Stone Cottage! This is the project that injured my rotator cuff while cutting gator board with a knife too many times. I strongly advise using an electric saw when you have to cut gator board! 

It's almost 2 years later and for the most art my arm has healed. Kaiser Permanente was no help during Covid so I found and downloaded a treatment online and took care of it myself. Which turned out to be a good thing because I learned that if the doctor knew I had rotator cuff issues it would go on my record and I would have a hard time finding a different insurance group because they share EVERYTHING! Crazy! Anyway back to fun things...

In this post I will share a little bit about what I have done and what the future plans are. This house was my design and made from insulation foam and gator board. The stone work was sculpted from PaperClay and then painted.

The door and shutters along with the hardware were all handmade. That color took a long time to get just right and I'm so happy with it! The windows still need to be constructed.

I remember making the stone walls from PaperClay in the middle of severe thunderstorms. I moved my work station to my living room because that is the side of the house where there are no trees that could fall on me. Then the lights went out, so I lit a few candles and continued sculpting through the chaos. That definitely kept me calm and focused! I shared a tutorial for the stone wall in American Miniaturist issue 209-210 (this was a jumbo issue).

I knew I wanted a small stable for one horse in this house, something I've never tried before. I made the side so that it would open to insert a horse and take better photos. The 'dirt' was made by sifting real dirt and mixing it with grout. Then the floor was sprayed with glue/water and after the mix was applied, it was sprayed again. The little stable doors are on working hinges. One of the first time I got mini hinges to work when installing them!

This shows the inside of the house. I made it as small as possible because I wanted it to be cozy. I imagine an elderly man lives here and it's his happy little sanctuary. Peaceful and simple out in the country. The floors were made with wood filler and then painted. See the tutorial on my older blog here.

My signature in my builds, since my first one in 1999, is to add one wall with a William Morris design. The stair well was the perfect spot because it was a difficult place to apply wall stucco. I have been drawn to his intelligent designs since I discovered him in art college. That fabulous leather chair was purchased at Karen's Dollhouse Shop in Clinton New Jersey. If you are even up to 3 hours away, you need to visit her! Such a cool hip town and the shop is incredible! Not to mention, she is such a sweetheart.

First thing to do will be to add the ceiling. I want a storage attic above the hall and bath with a hinge drop down ladder. The bedroom will have a vaulted ceiling with wood beams and wood slats.

The fireplaces were hand-sculpted and painted in both the living room (above) and the bedroom (below). 

So that is where we are now. I hope you will stay tuned as I finish up this sweet little cottage! The roof and electric will be first, then I will make a little garden outside and a stone walkway.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Dirt for Miniatures

Today I will be sharing how to make faux dirt in miniature. There are so many ways to do this in the diorama world and many products you can use. As always, I opted to use what I have in my magical basement. One of my friends is fascinated with my basement and all the materials it holds. Funny, because it is pretty tidy but I have a lot of home improvement tools and materials on the shelves.

In the very back of my basement I have a room with left over tiles, grout and some mortar. Grout is something I have used before for faux dirt but this time I am using mortar instead of going out in the summer heat to sift up some dusty dirt, which is a great option if you don’t have mortar.

The grout needs to be a light grey or brown color. I mixed them together. The mortar was a little chunky so I crushed it a little, but kept some of the texture for this project. If you don’t want any chunks, crush it up and pour it into a spray can cap. Use a rubber band to fasten some tulle fabric to it. Then when you shake it, it will come out fine.

Get a small spray bottle and add a mix of water and plain white glue (not tacky). You want it to be watery not thick. Shake it up and spray the surface where you will be applying “dirt”. I am using a scrap sheet of gator board for this demonstration.

FYI - The area I am applying dirt is under the Timber Cabin deck and hard to photograph. I had to sprinkle the mixture with a spoon because there was no room to shake the lid full of “dirt”. I also used a small piece of card stock to protect the stone work when I sprayed the glue mixture onto the surface area.

Shake your cap full of the mixture over the wet glue mixture until it is covered. Let it soak in. Once it is dry, if you see uncovered areas, you can repeat the process. I painted my base a dirt color before I started because it was a difficult space to be able to see if every little section was covered. I sprayed a top coat as well.

Depending on how much realism you want, you can also crush some real leaves and herbs and sprinkle them on top of the dirt. I added some crushed maples leaves and basil. I blew in the basil off my hand so it spread out under the deck. I added some white glue along the edge of the stone work and pressed the crumpled leaves in it and let them dry. I also found some tiny rocks and glued them in. Get creative and add all sorts of things to your dirt!

Crushed maple leaf


If you want a touch of grass here and there you can get these easy to use grass tufts. They come in different colors! I used them at the base of my steps.

Have fun creating!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Timber Cabin has lights!

Here are a few fun photos showing the Timber Cabin with the lights on! I made a secret door to get to the controls. It is secured by a magnet and will have the same wood treatment as the all the sides of the base. I will share some photos of it finished in a future post. 

I used wire lighting for this project because of the timber on the wall. This way the wires were able to be tucked in under the timber and behind the window/door frames. The kitchen light wires were then pushed through a hole I drilled to the ‘basement’.

The upstairs has a wall plug so the future owner can easily switch out the lamp if they desire. Once the fire place light comes I will install that as well. 

Now I move on to putting 'dirt' under the porch deck!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Dollhouse kitchen back splash tile

Elf Miniatures has some great kitchen kits! How did I not know about this?
Luckily I did lots of research online and found them HERE

Elizabeth was even there for me via email when I had a mini melt down and needed a little assistance. 

18 pages of directions resulted in a perfect little kitchen for the cabin.

I added some fun drawer liners with bears and pine trees since this is a mountain cabin. 

The sink was a coarse 3-D print out so I covered it with clear nail polish let that dry and spray painted it with white enamel paint. Then I added a little drain. 

I purchased the black faucet on Etsy. It is a high quality 3-D print made by Tease Miniatures.

I opted to change the hardware on the cabinet and drawers so it was a little more rustic than modern.

This cabin could be a vacation rental or a home.

The oven is not on a hinge, but does open if you want to have something on the rack while the door is shut. It fits snuggly in the hole. I love all the buttons and dials that came with the kit.

The non-opening fridge was from Elf Miniatures as well. A beautiful piece and very affordable!

Having shelves on the wall was a must to hold dishes and I also needed some back-splash tiles. I thought I would share a realistic way to make a small area of tiles in miniature.

Measure out your area and make a file you can print on the computer (or use pre-printed tiles).

I printed mine out on card stock and cut to fit the area they would cover.

Cut a piece of clear packing tape a little longer than needed and carefully lay it over the tile print out starting on one side and slowly pressing down the tape on the paper until it covers the full length. You need to do it like this because static will move the paper as the tape gets close to it so it may end up crooked or have wrinkles.

Put some paper over it and burnish it down really well with a credit card. The paper is so you don’t scratch the tape surface.

Trim away the excess tape. 

Use a small stylus ball tool and a metal ruler and run the stylus along the grout marks to make a nice indent. This gives the illusion of individual tiles.

Glue it onto the surface and rub it down as it dries.

Next up will be getting my lights all hooked up!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Miniature bush shrub

The Timber Cabin needed some landscaping so I made three bushes and filled the patio garden beds with some flowers. After watching some YouTube videos on landscaping diorama’s I came up with a method that would work for what I needed as far as bushes.

Sometimes with projects you have to be patient for everything to naturally fall into place. While pondering what I would use for the bush skeletons, I found myself pruning the heather in my garden and saw the perfect solution in the debris pile. 

I had been talking to Jeff Winkle, who just finished a year long workshop of landscaping in American Miniaturist, and he shared that using things from nature for the base of trees and shrubs would always look more natural than manmade frames.

Jeff has so much knowledge from endless experimentation with many different mediums and techniques. He even sent me a fabulous sample gift box full of all sorts of materials he has created over the years! 

First, I stripped the needles off of the heather cuttings because they will fall off easily over time so you should not expect them to be part of the bushes framework. Then I used pruners and shaped the bush to my liking.

Jeff had sent me some Poly-fil that was brown and green. This was great because I has planned to spray paint some to use for this, but now it was already finished! If you need to make some, just pull it apart so it is thin and flat and spray it with green or brown spray paint. Mist it and don’t let it clump. It must be completely dry before you use it. Wear gloves when handling.

I pulled and stretched it over certain large branches to simulate smaller sections of branches. I could have applied it in smaller batches. Always do a test first.

I leaned out my window and sprayed it with Elmer’s glue spray and then sprinkled a mix of diorama ground cover all over it. Mix your colors to add realism and depth. Let it dry for a half hour or so. 

I went in with scissors and snipped away some strings and opened up some areas that were clumping. Then added more Poly-fil and repeated. After it dried overnight, I sprayed it again with Elmer’s spray to set. I tried hair spray but it didn’t hold.

They look pretty good. The main focus needs to be the house and these are quiet enough to blend in. Still need to add two more on either side of the steps but I want to try a different method for those.

I decided to keep the landscape simple so if the future owner of this house wants to add their own touches they can make a big garden ad add some trees too!