Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tutorial - Dome Project - Carved Shelf Niche

This is a project hosted by SAM – Society of American Miniaturists (  I have been a member for 20-something years (on and off).  I have blogged about other projects.  We get together for an annual themed birthday which is celebrated by a day-long workshop (free to members who pay $25 yearly membership!!).  It is always an awesome day.

The project made last February 2017 was called “A Dome of My Own”.  It was created by some of our SAM members in the San Antonio, Texas area.  Everyone received cut out wall and round base to fit inside an 8 x 12 glass dome (like you find at Hobby Lobby).  Members had to purchase their own domes but the workshop included the walls, floor, window, and optional window box and awning (in case your wall separated an indoor and outdoor space).  I should mention also we received lots of wonderful tote bag favors!

I wanted my dome to have both sides be interior spaces– don’t ask me why I would have a window between two interior rooms – that’s just how I want it!

Since there was very little space on each side for any furnishings I thought I would “expand” one side of the wall by cutting into the ½ inch foam core wall to make little inset shelf units.  Here is a tutorial on how I did it.

  1. After wallpapering both sides and cutting out my window, I decided on how big to make the shelf units and marked them on the wallpaper.  Start with a new blade in your X-Acto knife.  I marked my X-Acto knife with blue tape to mark the depth of the cut – so I didn’t go all the way through to the other side of the wall.  Believe it or not this worked well (I was careful).  I never did cut through.
  2. Push the knife into the foam core just to the tape and slowly trace around the area to cut out being very careful at the corners not to over-cut.
  3. Peel off the outer ‘card stock’ layer.
  4. With the X-acto knife, section off the large area with horizontal cuts.  I made about 5 or 6 sections.  Again, make sure you don’t go all the way through.
  5. Take something blunt (like a flat head screwdriver) and dig it into the slice made by the X-acto and slowly wiggle it to loosen a chunk of the foam.  Carefully pry it out trying to peel it from the bottom layer of card stock (which is the opposite wall so try not to make nicks or dents). It will look very messy at first.  Worry about that later.
  6. When most of the foam is removed you can clean it up with your blunt tool, scraping the bottom GENTLY to remove the stray chunks.  This will be covered later with another layer of index card (back of the shelf) and wood strips (shelf edges).
  7. What it looks like when all cleaned out.
  8. Here is what the opposite side looks like – no knife marks!
  9. Here is the final product.  I covered the backs of the niche with a painted piece of card stock (index card will work).  The inside edges of the box were lined with painted ½ inch wide strips of 1/16th inch thick strip wood (Hobby Lobby or hobby stores).  For the bottom shelf I made a shaped piece from 3/32 or 1/16th thick bass wood (can’t remember which) to extend beyond the wall a little so it could hold a larger doll.  The other shelves were made from scraps of thin acetate (to look like glass shelves).  I had some left over from a door or window project.  Sometimes I have used a thin clear plastic used to cover posters (again, Hobby Lobby) in the framing department.

Hope to be posting more of this project in the coming weeks!