Thursday, December 30, 2021

How do you Glue That?

Are you a miniaturist and not sure what glue to use for a particular project?  Something that is unique about the dollhouse miniatures hobby is that incorporates many other hobbies such as woodworking, sewing, paper crafting, jewelry/beading, etc. This can be daunting and intimidating for new miniaturists.  How does one know what glue is best for wood furniture kits?  How to glue fabric to cardboard? How to glue Foam Core together?  What is the best glue for beads?

For my last blog of 2021 I have assembled some hints and tips for dollhouse miniaturists on different types of glues.   Here are some of the glues I refer to below:

Chart of Glue Uses for Miniatures:


Paper, card-board


Foam Core



Crystal, beads


Crafter’s Pick Ultimate


Yes (to paper)


Yes (to wood)



Small items

















Spray Adhesive

Yes (Wallpaper)







Wood Glue








GS Hypo Cement







Jewelry Findings









Loctite Super Glue (Gel)




Yes (to plastic)




Two-part Epoxy








Here are the glues I like best and what I use them for:

For paper, fabric, cardboard, foam core and gluing any of those things to wood I use Crafter’s Pick “The Ultimate” glue.  This glue really lives up to its name since it can be used for almost anything! Though I don’t use their bottle (ever!).  Instead, for a tinier line of glue, I transfer it into paint bottle with a small tip [see hints below].  I have tried it in those needle tipped bottles and it is too thick for those.  The only thing I don’t like about this glue (besides its bottle) is that it balls up if you try to sand it so I never use it for gluing wood to wood.  Here are two hints for using "The Ultimate" glue:

Alternate Glue Bottle

Hint #1 – get the slick paint (dimensional paint) or glass stain in plastic bottles with a tiny tip on clearance and dump out the paint.  Rinse well with water then rinse with Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to remove all the water.  Let dry then fill with glue. 

Hint #2 - It’s a pain to transfer it into the new bottle.  I use a small skinny spatula and tap, tap, tap it down into the new bottle allowing air bubbles to come to the top to make room for more glue.  I don’t know why glue manufacturers don’t package glue in bottles with tiny tips (for miniaturists, eggers, modelers, etc!

For ribbon bows and anything requiring a very tiny line like upholstery cord trim I use Sobo glue in one of the needle type glue applicators.  The only reason I don’t use “The Ultimate” is because it is too thick for the needle applicator.

For fabric, I use either Fabri-Tac, Sobo, or Ultimate Fabric glueFabri-Tac is a solvent glue but very tacky and doesn’t seem to seep through most fabrics.  It holds very well but is smelly and hard to clean off your fingers.  Sobo is a thinner white glue and may seep through silk so be careful.  When using Sobo and gluing to cardboard, let it get a little tacky first (on seam or edge where it won't show) before pressing to the other surface.  Examples of things I have used fabric glue on are hats, upholstering (wrapping fabric around a cardboard form covered with padding), draperies (gluing pleats to cardboard backing), lampshades.  I usually don’t use solvent glues when I’m teaching a class because someone in a room will be bothered by it.

Another product for fabric, not a glue but for sealing edges of fabric seams, I use Fray Check.  It’s amazing how you can seal a very narrow clipped edge then sew it, turn it inside out and it will hold!  I’ve even made tiny stuffed animal bears out of velvet ribbon using the tiniest cut pieces sealed with Fray Check.  See my earlier blogs on making pillows from vintage hankies where I have used this product.

For gluing wood to wood I use any wood glue because it can be sanded.  Wood glue also grabs pretty quickly and holds strongly.

For Mini jewelry or rhinestones or crystal beads glued to metal or glass I use GS Hypo Cement.  This glue doesn’t fog up crystals like some of the other Super-type glues.  But it does try to ooze out while you are holding it due to the heat of your hands.  Also get the smallest tube (unless you do TONS of rhinestones) because it does dry out if you don’t keep it tightly capped.  Uses: beads, cabinet hardware, jewelry findings.

For metal to anything I have these favorites:

  • Loctite Gel Super Glue.  I especially like that it doesn’t seem to clog (you can leave it open for a long time) and I like how the bottle is easy to squeeze to get only a tiny amount. If it does close up I use a long ball head pin to unclog the opening.
  • E6000 (see photo above).  This is a solvent glue so it has a smell and dries very fast.  But if you get it positioned before it dries it is very strong.  Use for gluing jewelry findings together, also works for beads (as in gluing lamps) and it doesn’t fog crystals.  Other uses: gluing hardware into wood drawers, cabinets.  Also gluing acetate windows into cabinets (since it doesn’t fog plastic).  I also use it for gluing brass parts for light fixtures where they don’t need to be supportive (for that I use two-part Epoxy).
  • Two-part epoxy.  a little harder to use than the E6000 because you have to mix equal parts from two tubes with a toothpick then apply.  But I have never had it not set up – or in other words I haven’t used too much from one tube such that it didn’t work.  You have to work fast and have your parts all ready to go, trial fitted, etc.  I use this for making light fixtures where metal has to be glued to metal and it has to stand up to being knocked around or holding the weight.  Also good for jewelry findings.

For Plastic to plastic – I also like the Loctite Super Glue especially if I need a quick set.  For plastic glued to wood, paper, etc I would probably use Ultimate glue.

For Wallpaper – I started out using Yes glue up until about a year ago.  My entire dollhouse was wallpapered with this.  You have to use a credit card to smooth it on and a brayer to smooth out the bubbles.  But recently found that when using a very old container which had turned quite brown, it did show through a light background wallpaper.  So very recently I have been using a spray adhesive for my wallpapering.  I am not brand loyal yet as I have only used what I had on hand (Elmer’s brand and another one from the dollar store).   I spray the back of the wallpaper outdoors on a piece of cardboard then apply the paper to the surface.  I find this to be less messy and you can find the repositionable kind.  Crafter’s Pick Ultimate could also be used for small sections of wallpaper but I wouldn’t use it on large areas unless you were able to smooth it out really well.

Special Circumstances

For any situation where you need strength plus immediate ‘grab’ and can’t really clamp – use a combination of Ultimate (or Tacky type glue) PLUS a dot of Super Glue.  This is a trick I learned a long ago from Brooke Tucker when I took one of her workshops.  She used this for gluing wood braces in place behind the false walls.  The super glue provides the immediate ‘grab’ to hold the piece in place until the Tacky dries (Tacky provides the long-term strength).  You can even put the dot of Super glue right in the center of the Tacky blob.  Or spread out dots of each along the length of the piece, Tacky, Super, Tacky, Super, etc.  You just have to hold the piece in place until the super glue is dry then let the white glue dry on its own.  I find it helpful for mounting brackets on exterior walls, exterior wood trim, things that are kind of heavy but can’t be clamped.

Hanging pictures or objects on dollhouse walls (non-permanently) – instead of “Blue Tack” (which

I used to use for years) I now use only Mini Hold wax.  This is a sticky wax for holding vases on mini furniture but I have found it very useful to temporarily hang objects on walls.  I don’t like to permanently mount anything on my dollhouse walls because I like to re-decorate.  A few years ago I purchased an old 1980s dollhouse.  All the items on the walls had been mounted with that sticky wax.  I was able to scrape it off with a palette knife and there was ALMOST NO RESIDUE AT ALL!! Also no 'grease' stain like you see from the white or blue tack poster hold products.  And scraping didn’t damage the wallpaper, either.  I couldn’t even tell afterwards where the items had been on the wall.  That wax had been there for about 30 years.  The lady even hung her curtains with it. The only caveat may be that it might not be so easily scraped off of papery wallpaper (non-vinyl type – like J. Hermes or scrapbook paper) or textured paper.  I use Mini Hold wax to mount plates, artwork, sometimes even shelves holding light items. 

Yellowing - some glues dry more yellow than others. Here is a test plate I made back in 2014 of several different glues.  For some reason I forgot to ever put a blob of Sobo on this test plate but from all the other glues you can see that Crafter’s Pick Ultimate is the most clear after 7 years.  The regular “Tacky” (in the gold bottle) seems to be the most yellow.

One final note - there is one glue I have never used for miniatures: Hot Melt (glue gun).  I haven't ever assembled a dollhouse kit so I don't know if hot glue is useful for tab and slot kits but I don't see glue guns as very useful in miniatures.

I hope this has been helpful to my readers to prevent your buying expensive glues unnecessarily.  Please leave me any questions you might have about glues and I will try to answer them.  HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my blog readers!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Tutorial - Miniature Faux Carved Gilded Frames

 Many years ago I purchased a collection of framed prints in an auction.  They were nicely scaled and finished, even covered on the back with nice wallpaper and signed “Bob von Fliss”.  Much later I learned Bob von Fliss was one of the original founders of NAME and the first Editor of the N.A.M.E. Gazette (so this is part tutorial, part miniatures history lesson!).  You can download the first issue of the Gazette from the NAME website and see him listed there.

I loved the antique carved ‘gilded’ look and wondered how he did it.  The faux carved look is from embossed foil called “Dresden” foil which you can find on Etsy. [click the keyword "faux carving" in the sidebar for my other posts on that topic]. The trim I used to replicate the Von Fliss frame (Napoleon, upper right of photo above) has a grape leaf or grapevine design but there are lots of Dresden foil borders which would work well for miniature frames.

To find the foil trim, search the words "Dresden foil border" on Etsy or Ebay.


  • Wood trim for frame, 1/16th  inch thick by ¼ inch wide – or however wide you want your frame
  • Wood trim narrower than frame, also 1/16th inch thick or thinner
  • Index card
  • Dresden Foil Border trim –see photo below for the designs I used
  • Picture or art piece to frame
  • Gold acrylic paint (I used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics “Splendid Gold”)
  • Antiquing Medium (I used Plaid brand Antiquing Medium in “Cocoa Bean”)
  • Paintbrush and paper towels
  • X-Acto knife
  • Wood glue

Close up of Foil Border Grapevine Leaf Pattern and Scallop

Here are the instructions for making your own faux gilded frame.
  1. Cut main frame pieces to fit your art piece.  I didn’t miter the wood since the foil will cover it but Bob probably mitered his.  I just butted the pieces together.  Glue them together with wood glue

  2. For extra support, trace around the frame on index card.  Cut out and glue it to the back of the frame.  The photo below shows the back with the index card and the art piece I wanted to frame. Below I am tracing around the art piece so I know how big to make my liner frame (step 7).

  3. Paint the front wood and edges with gold acrylic paint making sure to paint the raw edges of the index card too (I forgot to do this before I glued the first 2 pieces of foil on but it will help if you do it before gluing on the foil).
  4. Line up the outer edge of the foil border with the outer edge of the frame.  Use the X-acto to miter the corners of the foil at the corners of the frame.

  5. Glue foil piece to frame.  Flip frame over and trim off gold foil from the back where it extends to the center of the frame. 

  6. Repeat for the other three frame sides so you have all 4 sides covered with the foil.

  7. If desired, add another narrow edge of trim to finish the inside edge of the frame.  I trimmed a very tiny edge off of a different border, a scalloped border.

  8. Cut another 4 wood strips, (narrower strips this time) to support the back of the frame.  These should be set back from the inside edge of the frame and should be the right size to fit whatever art piece you want to frame.  Again, these don’t have to be mitered.

  9. Paint the entire front and back of the frame with the gold metallic paint.

  10. Add a hanging cord made from thread.  I just cut a piece of thread and glued it against the narrow trim on the back of the frame, let it drape across the opening and glue it again to the opposite side.  Allow enough slack so it will be above the center of the frame when hung.  This makes it easy to hang on a small sequin pin pushed into your wall with very tiny hole and makes it removable.   The thread is kind of hard to see in this photo.

  11. When dry, brush on some Antiquing Glaze then wipe off immediately for an antique look.

  12. Let dry and slip your art work between the frame and thread hanger.  Here are both the new frame (left) and the original by Bob von Fliss (right). The painting I framed was by Lynn Trenary.
Below is my finished frame hung above a fireplace.  Sometime in a later blog I will finish that room (I call it the "Guys from Texas Room").  I think the gold foil makes a very nice hand-made frame and nicely scaled.  It amazes me sometimes what nicely scaled items those early miniaturists could make by hand without access to Ebay,  miniature shops and the abundance of commercially made items available to us now.  There is a lot of charm in those vintage 1970s miniatures and we can learn a lot from them!

Until next month...Yikes!  Christmas is almost here!