Saturday 21 January 2017

A Special Gift

Hi everyone!

    It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post. I don't do much crafting these days - not enough to be writing blog posts about - but this is a very special occasion and is about a craft that I love dearly, so I couldn't resist revisiting my blog for a long overdue post.

    As many of you may already know, my mother-in-law owns a Dolls house Museum and she is always recruiting family and friends to make things. You can click on these links to see things I have made here and here. She mentioned to me that she would like to do a dolls house makers workshop. Dolls houses inside a dolls house. So I made some items for her birthday this year and we celebrated it today, and so I can now share the things with you.

    I really enjoy making items like this because I LOVE attention to very small details - so working in miniature appeals hugely. Also there are no rules, which is perfect for the creative mind! I like the guesswork and problem solving that comes with making something when there are no instructions. All I do is start with an image in my mind and then guess how I am going to make it, and I work out all the problems as I go. Sometimes it works and some things take forever to get right. It is all quite a journey and very very addictive!

I didn't get detailed instructions from my mother-in-law as to what she required. I just went ahead and made the items that I thought might help her construct a dolls house workshop. 

The best place to start is the structure of the houses...

These worked out fine and were very easy to do. I realised that ideally I needed to do several houses in various stages of work. So I left these ones as they were and went to work on others. And inevitably as is always my way of working...I get more and more adventurous each time. 

Can I do better?
Can I add a roof?
Can I add floors?
Can I make stairs?
Can I decorate the rooms?
Can I make furniture?

So by now I know that yes, I can make floors and yes, I can make a roof and I really hate making roof tiles!

Onto the next ones....can I do more?

Yes, tiny stairs are possible, each step individually cut from balsa wood and carefully glued together and a support wall attached.

But come on! It is hardly a challenge! It is only two floors after all!

That is a bit more like it! Scale is getting better now...smaller house, more floors, more rooms and of course this makes it trickier to make stairs (why do I love a challenge?) This house required lots of measuring, re-measuring, a further double checking of measurements, and also I decided it would look better to add a doorway which made the wall even more fragile to put in place.

Why don't I ever stick to easy?!!!

I put a £1 coin in the photo so you can see the you can see, the steps are very tiny! My eyes were hurting after this! Not the easiest thing to make - I had to work with the much hated superglue as I needed them to stick quickly. P.V.A takes time to dry and it is tough to work with at times like this. Getting the amount of glue right is very difficult - not enough and it won't stick and too much and the wood slides around. Superglue works better, but required much use of acetone to remove the yukky stuff that stuck to my hands no matter how carefully I tried to use it.

So, I had gone as far as I wanted with that house - that one can be in the workshop awaiting decoration! I wanted to experiment more and decided that decorating would be the next thing to attempt. I decided to make a three floor dolls house. I knew I couldn't decorate it once it was made because the rooms were really tiny. So I decided that perhaps it would be easier to decorate each room before the house was put together.

This meant I had to really plan this going with the flow here! I selected all the paper and paint, drew plans, decorated a pile of balsa wood squares and then tried to follow the plan of where they go! Thank goodness for the very careful planning! It meant this actually was easier to do than I had thought it would be. I was really pleased it went together as easily as it did!

A lot of fun to make, but what else shall I do now? 

I thought it would be a nice idea to put together some bits and pieces for the dolls house workshop.

No dolls house workshop is complete without mess - so I decide to add some of the actual off-cuts from when I made these dolls houses! A nice touch of authenticity there!

A dolls house maker needs bundles of wood

And of course there needs to be paper to decorate walls, floors and roofs

A dolls house maker would have a box to put the rolls of paper in!

Material is needed for making furniture and other essentials for the house. I wrapped some material around strips of kraft paper and tied the bundle up with string so Gil can either have the bundle set up like that or she can arrange them around the workshop. I decided to do some cut outs of some of the material and glued around the edges so they don't fray - ideal for perhaps a changing workshop set up.

A dolls house maker would have blueprints, so I hunted online for some and printed them up....and of course, they would have paper already cut to fit walls and floors

Blueprints?...hmmm....lets just stop for a moment here and take a closer look at that...

Isn't that a gorgeous dolls house?

I wonder?......

I admit I am tempted.....

After all it would be fun....

To at least see.....

If I make this blueprint larger on a word doc. and then print it up, I could then use it as a template to cut out the balsa wood......Would that actually work?

Yes it did....

 I was so pleased with this house which was a joy to make. Not all the pieces were totally accurate,  and so they had to be tweaked slightly, but that really just added to the just gave me a few little things that I had to think about and solve.

Was I done now?.....Well not quite.

I decided to make some furniture, because some dolls house makers make furniture too!.....

....and yes, as usual, I wanted to see if I could!

And as you all know, I do like a challenge!...and this certainly was.
I have not made dolls house items this small before. I didn't even know if it would be possible. I have previously made a dolls house scene for my mother-in-law as you can see here, but most of that was 1/12 scale or just slightly smaller. These items had to ultra-miniature...I am not even sure what scale they are!

Some things were easy. The stairs, by now, were relatively quick to make as I had sussed out the right and wrong ways of making them! The plant was very easy and rug was super simple.

The frames, chair and sink unit were nightmares!!!

And perhaps that is why they became my favorite pieces and the ones I was proudest of

The unit measures about 2cm and it was a complicated task to construct that very tiny sink that measures about 5 mm in length and is about 3mm deep. Trying to glue the tap in place was a long struggle. But I got there in the end!

The chair is another favourite of mine..I had so many disastrous failed attempts at this I lost count!  Each failed attempt just made me more determined to get it right. It is made from balsa wood that is only 1mm thick (thin!) and is soooo fragile. Cutting the pieces for this was so frustrating! A slight wrong cut with the craft knife meant it was ruined. Once this one was glued and painted I thought YAY!!! I finally have a chair!!!.

Then the ambitious ideas started needs something....a cushion!....A piece of felt was cut out and because the piece was so small, the felt was surprisingly too thick and square edged for the chair. This then required very delicate trimming and shaping with a small pair of very sharp scissors and the finishing touch of embroidery thread glued to the edge.

These frames I am VERY proud of. Basically because they were hugely difficult to make - the 1mm balsa wood really doesn't like being cut into very small pieces! Large pieces are fragile, but fairly stable...very tiny 1mm strips can become as delicate as tissue. Just trying to pick them up will break them. Just gluing them into place can break them! It is also very difficult to measure and mark out such small items accurately on the wood - and working in this scale doesn't allow much room for mistakes! Eventually I figured out a technique that worked and I was so happy....

I am also proud of them because I actually painted all of those pictures. I painted these pictures ages ago and I had them as files on my computer. If you would like to see some of these paintings and others take a peek here . All of them were put onto a word doc. Then they were resized to very small sizes and printed. It was wonderful seeing them all finally framed, ready to join the collection and know that they are all my original paintings.

And there is the whole gift for my Mother-in-law ready for her birthday!

Happy Birthday Gil!!! I really hope that you have a lot of fun setting up the dolls house workshop for your Museum. I can't wait to see it!

Happy crafting!
Laura xxxxxx


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this, Laura!

    The scale of your dolls house miniatures are so incredible!!! Love that sink too - but all the other bits and pieces too! You are genius!!!

    Claudia xxx

  2. Wonderful! And very Happy Birthday Gil!!

  3. I was almost speechless as I unpacked this wonderful array of houses in all stages of their development. And then the little package of unbelievable furniture! Just wonderful - thank you so, so much Laura.

    I can't wait to get everything into the house that is standing waiting for them in Small Worlds. When I mentioned that a dollshouse maker's workshop would be a lovely thing to have, I never imagined such riches!

    But of course I should have known better! The jewellery should already have told me what you find possible, if I hadn't learned from that, then the corsets certainly did!

    Thank you again...
    Love and hugs xxx

  4. I am totally gobsmacked! All of these tiny, tiny makes are absolutely brilliant!! Reading how you made all of these gorgeous little bits and pieces was an absolute delight!! Love, love, love this!!

  5. WOW! Laura, every piece is brilliant - and so ambitious. Unwrapping them nust have been a challenge is in itself..
    Andrea xx

  6. Amazing. Such an incredible labor of love and fiesta of creativity Laura. It's wonderful that it will be in the museum for so many to see and enjoy. j.

  7. wow!! what an incredible gift for your MIL - and what a gift you have - so creative and so so tiny!!

  8. An amazing gift with so much thought you have put into it. I know your MIL is thrilled as I just came here from her blog

    Love Chrissie xx

  9. Brilliant present, I been making dolls houses for 6 years now but not tried anything that small yet.

  10. Absolutely amazing! Even the thought of making stuff as small as that makes my fingers sweat.... I am in awe.

  11. Wow! These are truly wonderful miniature makes. What a lucky lady Gil is to receive these little marvels:-)


  12. Just brilliant. What a wonderful present for Gil.

  13. Your patience and determination are amazing. It makes my brain hurt to even think about making things this tiny! I think I most admire the little picture frames. And the stairs! A lovely gift.


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