Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tutorial: Embellishing a Miniature Chandelier

I feel it is very hard to find miniature light fixtures that aren’t dated-looking or that look like they were from a big-box hobby store (common).  I don’t like most of those battery fixtures – the bases are very thick and the bulbs very squared off, they don’t look like candle flames when on sconces and chandeliers.  They have their place – like maybe in a room box, where there are only a few fixtures but who would want to turn on many of these every time you display your dollhouse?  This is why I have so many blog posts for making sconces, lamps, etc.

I like traditional fixtures but want a modern spin on it.  I found one that I really like at Lighting Bug.  I purchased it but it was kind of expensive (absolutely worth it when you consider the artistry!).  But when I decided I needed another one, I wanted to try to replicate it using a less expensive chandelier to start with. Here is the one I purchased (left) and the one I embellished (right).

Here is how I did it. Supplies and tools are in bold and also listed with cost at the end.

  1. Find moderate cost working chandelier with graceful curved arms, simple lines and narrow sections of post that you could fit a brass flower around (with a center hole).  Mine was a vintage Clare Bell Brass 6 arm Williamsburg-type with large turned balls on the post.
    Vintage Chandelier purchased for $75 with shipping

  2. Find brass petal findings with long, slim petals, about 1-1/2 inches tip to tip, 6 petals. I found these searching "layered flower finding" on Etsy.

  3. If you can only find them riveted together (as mine were), they can be easily separated by drilling through the rivet.  Use a drill bit a little larger than rivet hole.  If possible, use a drill press for straight vertical drilling (or your Dremel with steady hands and pliers to hold finding so it doesn’t move when drilling).  Notice in the photo that these were kind of rusty.  It will buff out with steel wool.
  4. I used two findings, they were the same size but one was flatter and the other one was taller, with the petals pushed together sort of like a crown (photo below, the one being drilled).  The crown shaped one I used near the top of the chandelier – to mimic the one I was trying to replicate.
  5. Cut through the center ring between two petals to open the ring (I just used my wire cutter).  Use pliers to open it up wide enough so it will fit around the chandelier.  I just found some spots where the center post of the chandelier was very narrow and fit the open ring over two of those spots (but don’t put it on yet).
  6. Drilling holes for crystals - I used my Dremel and wire drill bit (#64?)

    • Its easiest to turn the flower upside down and drill through the back of the petal.  This way the drill bit didn’t ‘walk’ as much as when I tried to drill it from the top
    • My findings were kind of thick brass and it took a while for the wire bit to get through.  After about 7 holes I had to re-charge my Dremel.  Let it do the work and don’t press down very much.  It may take a while.
    • Any scratches from the drill bit ‘walking’ can be removed in later steps with sandpaper and steel wool
  7. Once drilled, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper over the holes to remove snags.  Then smooth all the scratches with 0000 (‘four ought’) steel wool.  This should make the brass very shiny, smooth and golden.  If the underneath side of the holes will show, then sand and steel wool there too.  I found the steel wool was able to remove some rusty looking spots that must have been there for years (these were vintage findings).   In the photo below, the petal near the knife tip was buffed with steel wool while the petal right below it still has some scratches from the sandpaper.

  8. Preserve that golden brass glow by spraying the finding front and back with a clear acrylic spray.  I used an old product “Triple Thick Glaze”.
  9. The crystals – I used some tiny clear ‘delica’ beads (cylindrical, very tiny) and larger 2mm (hard to find) and 3 mm Swarovski crystal beads.  I used some thin brass non-tarnishing beading wire and cut two pieces (since it was so thin).  I threaded one delica over both pieces of wire then brought the four ends up together with the bead at the bottom of the fold of wire.  Then I threaded the bigger 2 or 3 mm bead on the four wires.  Then another 1 or 2 delicas – threading all 4 wires through them.  I put all 4 wires through the BACK of one of the drilled holes in the finding, folded it around the petal and twisted the wire about 3 or 4 times.  The steps are shown in order in the first photo below.

  10. Clip off the excess wire with flush cut pliers.  Put all the crystals on the finding before trying to put the finding on the chandelier.  Repeat for the other finding (if you are also doing two).  
  11. When ready to put the findings on the chandelier, use pliers to open it up and slip it onto the stem of the chandelier.  Try not to scratch it (but it may be inevitable).  I did not glue my findings – they are just wobbling around.

  12. I also put crystals hanging from each of the 6 arms using the same process.  I used the bigger (3mm) crystals with the delicas on the arms.
  13. Even though my chandelier was brand new, still in the box and never been connected there were some rusty spots in the brass I noticed AFTER I did the work of embellishing.  So I brushed over them with clear nail polish (actually used some old Fimo glaze but it is the same thing).  I didn’t want these to continue rusting or make the fixture look patchy after a few years though it still might.  Time will tell.

Vintage Clare-Bell Chandelier - $74.50 (with shipping, Ebay)
2mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
3mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
Crystal Delica beads - $8 (with shipping, Etsy store “Seaofbeadstx”)
Tarnish resistant brass beading wire, 34 gauge (Artistic Wire brand) - $6
Vintage flower findings -  $8 (with shipping, Etsy “BossJewelrySupply”)
(total = $106)

Hope this inspires you to embellish a chandelier.  Next time - some hints on working with vintage or used chandelier and hints on hanging a chandelier.

Monday, June 28, 2021

NAME Window Shopping and Decoupaged Palace Chest

A few years back, NAME (National Association of Miniature Enthusists if you haven't heard of it) had a NAME Day project called Window Shopping.  It was a small display with lots of shelves to display a grouping of minis like they were in a shop window.  Ingenious! 

NAME Window Shopping Prototype from Gazette July 2015

I LOVED seeing all the examples of this project sent in by Gazette readers and was so jealous of their lovely displays.  Hats and wood-turned vases, and every kind of subject.  When my club did our orders, I selected a kit in walnut from Tom Walden.  It was beautiful! But then I had a problem – the lovely walnut was so dark that many items were just lost against it.  I didn’t want to paint it.  So I decided to display light colored things – PINK!

So I gathered together my most favorite pink minis and tried to come up with a pleasing arrangement.  They looked great against the dark walnut.  (Scroll down to the end for the artisans of the minis I put in my display.)  I used shaped brackets for the wall shelves instead of the simpler column provided and I didn't use the platform that came with the kit because I needed some height to display the chest and painting on top.


The Decoupaged Chest

In case you didn’t recognize it (if you are not a Baby Boomer!) the pink toile chest is just the Petite Princess Palace Chest with wallpaper applied to the drawers.  Petite Princess items are actually a little smaller than 1:12 scale but I still think they can work in 1:12 miniature scenes.  What I like about this chest is 1) the faux marble top and 2) the serpentine drawer fronts.  Those serpentine drawer fronts would be SOOOooo hard to reproduce in miniature!  But disguised plastic can look great!

I accented some of the edges and the pulls with acrylic gold paint.  When I had my drawer front pattern made (with markings for where to punch holes for the knobs) I just cut them from wallpaper so the design continued down the front so the drawers matched up.

After gluing the wallpaper on using Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue, I let it all dry then antiqued it with a faint wash of Burnt Umber acrylic watered down and just brushed over here and there.  Then I finished with a water based acrylic varnish.

Here is another one I did in green (below).  On this one I filed down the top two pulls and instead, put a tassel in the center of the top drawer.

If you have the opportunity to find one of these Window Shopping kits, snap it up!  Sometimes the kit cutters (see recent NAME Gazette) have leftover kits.  I loved this project because it was small, not intimidating to complete, viewable up close, could be protected using a piece of glass and wall hung!  It checks all the boxes for mini displays!  Its a great way to display minis with painted details where they can be viewed up close!  In a dollhouse, these details, like painted dishes, tatting and pins in a pincushion would be almost invisible.

If you are not a NAME member, I highly recommend joining!  NAME is a wonderful organization dedicated to the education and support of the miniatures hobby.  Every year there is a "NAME Day" project and they are all very nice.

See below for the artisans of the minis I displayed in my Window Shopping display:

Clockwise from top of chest: (right click photo to open larger)

Painting - Josephine Meyer
Staffordshire dogs -  Metal Minis (painted by myself)
Rose glass candlesticks - Phil Grenyer
Urn jar - Jean Tag
pink lotus flowers in white bonsai dish - Small Time Operators
Tea cup, with pink flowers - unknown artist
pink lotus bowl - Deborah McKnight
pink, green lotus plate - Amanda Skinner
Cat Doll (on pillow by myself) - Ethel Hicks
Painted coffee set - Amanda Skinner
Framed tatted doily - Julie Felzien
shoes - Doll's Cobbler
Stool with petit point - Bespaq with Petit Point designed by Lucy Iducovich
hydrangea - Laura Crain
Bowl, oval scalloped bowl - unknown artist
Painting - Josephine Meyer
Porcelain pin cushion - Patty Caster (kit)

 That's all for this month.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Tutorial - Dollhouse Shipping Box...and packing peanuts!

This is a short but cute tutorial.  Make a Priority mail box and packing peanuts (yes! mini packing peanuts!).  

To make the box:
Download the pdf file with the graphics.  You will need a printer that can print on the front AND back side of the paper.  The box lining (brown with "Priority mail" printed all over it) should line up with the front graphic.

    Here is the pdf link: Box Priority Mail with Brown back.pdf

Print it on heavy paper - like business card type or very lightweight card stock.  There are three boxes on the page.  Next to the box, near the margin is a shipping label you can use.  Or you can try to minimize your own address for a label (if you can get Microsoft Word to print in 4 point font - that's about right size).

Once printed, don't cut out yet.  First use the black lines to score fold lines.  I use the BACK of an X-acto knife blade to GENTLY score all across the box connecting the lines - side to side and top to bottom.

Now cut out on orange line, cutting off the orange.  The "Priority Mail graphic (white side) should form the sides of the box.  The flaps are to be the top and bottom of the box.  Fold on the crease lines and glue the flap under the last side to make the square.  Trim the bottom flaps, if desired, so the box sits flat.
Cut out the shipping label and glue to one of the top flaps.

To make packing peanuts:
You will need white craft foam - the kind used for kids' crafts (about 1/8th inch thick or thinner)
Straight edge (metal is best)
X-acto knife with sharp blade
small 'alligator' clips
hair dryer

Line the straight edge up against one edge of the foam (see photo below) and cut a strip only about 1/16th inch thick.  Cut long strips.  Wrap the strips around toothpicks and secure with clips.  Heat with hair dryer just long enough that they stay coiled.  Once cool, cut tiny curls off to look like packing peanuts.

I found some very tiny ziplock bags but I can't remember where.  I put a few peanuts into a bag.  Try these boxes on your dollhouse porch for that 'lived in' look!  Or, more appropriately - scatter a few on the dining table (where I always open my boxes!!).  Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Shabby Chic /Flea Market "Paris" Candlesticks

Here is a mini-tutorial to make a candlestick decorated in the shabby Chic (now more like flea market style).  You will need:

Metal Eiffel Tower charm, about 1 inch tall
Index card
Antiquing glaze (I used Folk Art brand Antiquing Medium)
Small flower or snowflake shaped paper punches (see photo below for the ones I purchased)
Piece of soft craft foam and ball stylus
Wire cutters, glue, paintbrush

Antiquing Glaze Medium

First cut the ring off the charm.  

Cut out one or two flowers from index card using the punch.  Use the craft foam and ball stylus to form the flowers into a “cup” shape.

Three styles are shown in the photo above.  You can use one or two aimed up or down.  When aimed up they can be used as a candle cup to hold the candle.  

Glue the flowers to the top of the charm and let dry well. Paint with pastel paint.  I antiqued mine with antiquing glaze.  You just paint it on then wipe it off.  See the difference in these photos.

Well, this was a short one!  Hope you liked this Mini-tutorial!  Here is another look at how these are displayed in my Linen Shop. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Tiny House Kitchenette Part 2 - Microwave and Stove Burners

This is a continuation of last month (Feb. 2021) Kitchenette Part 1 which described how the open cabinets and appliance doors were made.  This post will describe how to make the microwave, stove burners and counter top.  The stove burner 'drip pans' extend below the surface of the counter through a hole cut in the counter (kinda hard to see in the photo above).  This is to make it more realistic and dimensional.

As was done for last month, there is a downloadable instruction sheet:

[click here for Kitchenette Part 2 Downloadable file and pattern sheet].

A few tips and notes from the instruction sheet.

Supplies - these are listed in the linked file.  The Perler beads can be found at any craft store (or Target).  The washers were purchased at Home Depot (instruction sheet gives sizes needed).  The long curved tube beads used for appliance handles were purchased from Ebay (came from China).  Sizes of these are also in the instruction sheet.  Here are some photos of some of the parts used:

Perler Beads (burner knobs)

Cup Washer (or "Finish" Washer) - burner drip pan

Star Washer (internal teeth lock washer) for stove burners

Microwave handles were made just like was done for the refrig door but I used a little smaller bead, 2 mm by 20 mm.  Here is how they looked in the package (from China).  The larger beads at bottom of photo had been sanded so the ends were at a point for better fit against the frig door.  But I didn't do that to these smaller beads.

Tube Beads for appliance handles

All the instructions are in the file (see link above) but here are a few main points about making the Microwave:

  • It is basically a wood block with a faux glass door made from clear plastic glued to one side.
  • Wood block can be any kind of scrap wood.  My husband cut mine from a pine 2 by 4
  • Microwave is glued between two shelves then the back of the microwave is glued to the foam core wall.  This made it easier to 'hang' the shelves since the microwave  supported the shelves.  At least this was the intended design for simplicity (remember this was a group project for 85 people).  I changed the design for my own prototype and split my shelves around a window (photo below). 

A few points about the Stove Burners:

  • The burner base is a piece of plastic painted silver with two half inch holes
  • Burner pans (silver cup washers) are glued UNDER the holes
  • Burners (star washers painted black) are glued OVER the holes
  • The entire thing is set into an opening cut in the counter top so the burner pans sit below the surface of the counter

Sink – this was a square shaped tub from Sponge Bob "Krabby Patty" candy sprayed silver- refer to old blog (March 2020) for sink and faucet.

Here is the tiny house kitchenette finished (below).  Because I wanted a window over my sink, I cut my shelves in half and put the microwave on one side of the window.  I also added a third shelf.  Since it is hard to mount heavy things to foam core, I mounted the individual shelves (left of window) by gluing a separate piece of wood (same as shelves were made of) between them.  That piece of wood served to space the shelves equally and was what was glued to the wall. You can also see another spacer above the microwave which attaches the third shelf to the microwave shelf and wall.

Next time...??  What shall we make?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Tiny House Kitchenette - Part 1

Here is a tutorial for a mini kitchen – a kitchenette from the Tiny House project (subject of most of my blogs for 2020).  The Tiny House was a group project that my club sponsored as a day-long workshop for members.  The kitchenette was designed to be simple (so it could be taught to 85 people in about 2 hours), inexpensive and compact (it was for a tiny house, after all!).  It is basically a short wall of open shelves, lower “cabinets” from foam core and has all the necessary appliances. In that tiny space it has a 2-burner stove, microwave, refrig and dish drawer (dishwasher).  I think some of the techniques shared here could work for travel trailer (think Airstream!) and Gypsy wagon type miniature projects too.

The sink and faucet were the subject of my first post on this project back in March 2020 (click here for link to Sink Faucet Tutorial).  For Part 1 of the Kitchenette covering the cabinet base and appliance doors, most of the instructions and photos are available in this downloadable file and pattern sheet:

[click here for Kitchenette Part 1 Downloadable file and pattern sheet].

Since I had made up these instructions for the event it was just easier to modify them for this blog post rather than uploading all the photos to the blog.  Here’s a summary of the important points if you decide to try to make this kitchenette:

Lower “cabinets” – these are just open shelves of foam core.  Construction is basically just one long piece of foam core scored and folded.  Then the center dividers and bottom are glued in.  If you want, you can add your own cupboard doors but due to the simplicity and small size of our project, we didn’t include doors or drawers.  The front edges and area under the sink were trimmed (disguised) with thin wooden coffee stir sticks.

Appliance doors – For the frig and dish drawer – the doors are made from foam core and covered with a vinyl film that looks like stainless steel.  There are several different companies that make a product like this.  One is by ConTact brand.  The one I used for this project is made by Cricut.  See photos below.  It is not the "removable" kind that I see carried by Michael's.  I don't know if the "removable" product will work - I just haven't tried it.  Here is what I used: 

 Here are my very important tips for covering the doors with “stainless” film:

  1. The narrow edges of the doors are covered in four separate strips of silver film.  You might think it will be a great short cut to just fold the film over the edges but this is a mistake.  Eventually it will bubble up.  Trust me I have done it many times.  The stuff doesn’t like to be folded (I even tried scoring the fold with the back of an X-Acto and it still won’t stay flat and square where it was folded).  
  2. Glue film to the narrow edges of the doors but DON’T put any glue on the front of the doors.  Even though it has an adhesive back, it needs the extra glue for the edges to stay stuck down.  But glue will make lumps on the smooth front so use the film’s own adhesive there.
  3. Any little spec of dust or dirt will be very visible as a lump when the film is laid on it.  Use scotch tape to remove any particles before applying the film to the door front.


Finished Refrig Door

For the handles of the appliances, I used some long curved silver tube beads.  Because I had about 300 of these to make, I ground down the ends to an angle using my husband’s grinding wheel so they would fit more flush against the front of the door.  But if you don’t have a grinder you can use low grit sandpaper (like 150) or just pinch the tube ends with pliers to make them flatter.  I ran a piece of wire through them and poked the wire into the foam door for a little more ‘grab’ than just glue alone.

Well that covers the hardest part of the kitchenette.  Next blog I will tell how the microwave and stove top were made.  Here is a photo of my finished kitchenette in the tiny house:

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Tiny Plant Tutorial

It seems tiny plants are IN right now!  I’ve even seen a kitchen magnet to hold a tiny (real) succulent on your refrigerator!  Even the non-miniaturists are into tiny plants!!

Here is a tutorial for some simple tiny plants to place around your dollhouse room setting.  The supplies are fairly easy to find and just require some glue – bead glue (for the crystal parts) and regular craft glue.  The photos show the parts arranged as they are glued because I had made up many kits of these for a Society of American Miniaturists event.

General Supplies: use Bead glue for any glass/crystal beads and metal to glass parts.  Use craft glue for everything else (Crafter’s Pick Ultimate is my favorite which you know if you have read any of my blog posts).

Plant pots:  see descriptions by the photos below.

Plant parts:
For the plants, I just walked the aisles of the Hobby Lobby floral section looking for anything that had tiny parts that could be cut into smaller plants.  The ones that looked best were sold as “spheres”.  I just cut the smallest snippet of plants that had very tiny lobes or even just a few plastic grass blades.    Here are some photos of how they look before you cut them apart:

This one is "Soft Green Grass Sphere" on Hobby Lobby's Website

Photo #1 Plants:

Plant A (succulent dish).  Cut a small ‘rosette’ off the succulent pick (not the sphere for this one).  For the dish I used a brass #12 “finish washer” (Home Depot - photo below).  For 'dirt' I cut a circle of brown craft foam and punched a circle in the middle.  Glue the 'dirt' to the washer – stuff it down in the brass dish.  Then glue the plant in the hole.  For the “feet” I used a pronged stud – the kind usually used to decorate denim items.

Plant B – (long thin leaves) –Just cut a few blades from a grassy looking plant.  I found some really nice painted wooden beads in a big package of mixed beads.  See photo below.  For the top of the wooden bead that looks like brass I used an eyelet.  For the brass base I used a small brass cap (I think I may have purchased these from a miniature show – brass findings).

Plant C – goblet – cut the tiniest snippet from the plant with the smallest lobes (see photo above – this was called “soft green grass sphere") and squish and glue them down into the goblet (Chrysnbon type).

Plant D – cube – the cube is a glass bead that came from a big plastic jar, different shapes from Hobby Lobby.  There was a mix of silver, gold, all mostly metallic (photo below).  The plant had small round-ish ends.  Just cut a small clip and stuff it in with glue.

Washer for Plant A above

Wooden bead mix Plant B

Glass bead mix - Plant D above

Photo #2 Plants

Plant E – copper cup – the copper cup is actually a tube.  They are from Home Depot (photo below).  Just like for the goblet above, cut a tiny piece of the soft, squishy grass sphere and stuff it in.

Plant F – branch - this took a little more work.  It is railroad greenery clumps glued to cloth covered wire twists.  The top of the round wooden bead is finished with an eyelet and the base is a small flat washer (Home Depot).

Plant G – this was a snippet from the “Succulent Sphere”.  The bead was a faux crystal type with eyelets on both ends of the hole (these are the kind of beads sold for Pandora-type bracelets). I removed the eyelet from one end with pliers so it would glue to the base more easily.   I purchased these from Etsy.  The base is a 4-pronged stud (denim embellishment).

Plant H – dish garden - a bigger snippet from the soft grass sphere made as described for the “Succulent dish” Plant A from Photo 1 but using a smaller brass washer and smaller stud.

Plant E Copper 'cup' - Home Depot


There is one more thing I want to include here – my attempt at those popular “terrariums” with gold edged glass frames.  I found a fairly close representation in these hollow ‘cage’ beads that have a faux jewel inside the cage.  I just kept the jewel in there and glued railroad greenery clumps to it.  See below – another photo from some kits (with my handwritten instructions).  The right half of the photo shows another part of the kit which made a set of candlesticks from the glass mix beads described above, eyelets, plastic styrene tubing and cloth covered wire.


Well there are a few tiny plants for you.  Hope your 2021 is starting off safe and better than 2020! (something I think most of us are hoping)!