A Nifty Miniature Rocking Horse Made With Ordinary Things

Miniature rocking horse

This little rocking horse took his time being born. I started making him last fall. Stuff happened and stuff happened, as it does, to hinder my mini makes. Now, seven months later, he is finally ready to show you how he was assembled.

In a nutshell, you take one plastic toy horse, add some chipboard rockers and some cotton cord mane and you have an adorable little rocking horse for your dollhouse, room-box or diorama. Check out these easy steps to cuteness.

Buy a pack of inexpensive plastic horses from the Dollar Store.
  1. Use a craft knife to cut the tail off the toy horse. Ouch! Sorry, but it’s got to be done.
Cut the rocker and little floor boards out of thin chipboard. I used my Cricut Air 2, but you can use scissors or an X-acto knife as well.
Glue the rocker assembly together and attach to horse. I used regular white tacky glue.

Paint the horse with acrylic paint. I started with a coat of white. Then I bounced the colors back and forth with brown, grey, rust and white until I had a finish that I liked.
Paint the rocker and, again, bounce the colors back and forth until you get a finish that you like. I used a dry brush technique for the paining and the antiquing.
My final dry brushed coat of paint was white.
Use string or cord of your choice to make a mane and tail. I used cotton yarn, tied a couple pieces together and then separated each strand.
Miniature rocking horse
Use tacky glue to attach the mane in the opposite direction that you want it to go. When The glue is dry, you can flip the mane to the other side of the horse’s neck and glue it down. This will give you a nice even line where the mane meets the horse. When dry, trim it to the length that you like.
Drill a hole into the horse’s hind. Gather a group of fiber together and use glue to attach the tail to the horse. Trim as desired.

Visiting the Palatki Cultural Center

The Palatki Cultural Center is awesome! Les and I are interested in ancient ruins as well as artwork from any period of time. This place is rife with both and is located smack-dab in the middle of some of the most amazing red-rock scenery. It gets a HUGE thumbs up from us. OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you about our day at the site. (grin)

A gorgeous meadow on the walk from the parking lot to the Cultural visitor’s center where you have to check in.

The very first thing that we learned upon entering the visitor’s center is that we were supposed to call ahead to make reservations. Oooops! After a long, bumpy drive down a dirt road, we could have easily been turned away from the ruins. The reason is that they don’t allow more than 10 people on any given tour. The ledge in front of the dwellings is fairly narrow and really would not comfortably and safely accommodate more than ten. Also, the site can be closed for renovation, rock falls and rain. At times, the walk to the cliff dwelling is closed, so you can only view them from a distance below the cliffs.

That would have been a bummer to be kicked out. So call ahead if you plan on going. We were lucky. On Sunday they were turning people away at the parking lot. On Monday we got to go in with no problem. You do have to get a parking pass, but the tours and site entrance are free. There are less and less free sites these days so that was a pleasant surprise.

Looking up through the trees on the trail to the cliff dwellings.

Les and I spent the better part of a perfect day hiking and taking a ton of pictures of the area. The day was a little overcast, so it was the perfect temperature for me. There was enough shade for comfort and enough sun for pictures. On a perfect plus note, it has been raining a lot this year so the varied wildflowers were in fabulous bloom. Can I say that it was just beautiful over and over?

Located outside of Sedona Arizona, Palatki and its sister site, Honanki, were the largest cliff dwellings of the Red Rock Country between AD 1150 – 1350. The sites were first described by Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes, famous turn-of-the century archaeologist from the Smithsonian Institution, who gave them the Hopi names of Honanki (Badger House) and Palatki (Red House). The Hopi, however, have no specific names for these sites.

There are three trails at Palatki Heritage Site, one trail that takes you up to the Sinagua cliff dwellings, one that takes you to a view of the dwellings and a third that goes to the alcoves that shelter the painted and etched symbols from every native culture to ever occupy the Verde Valley. These trails, each ¼ mile one way making the round trip distance one and one half mile, are fairly easy but they are not accessible to wheel-chairs.

From the visitor’s center, you get your first guide, and walk a moderately short hike up to the cliff dwellings. The ranger at the visitor’s center said that the first hike up to the cliff dwellings was about half a mile, but it did not seem that long to me.

There are a few steps along the way, some of them a little steep. The center offers hiking sticks for you to borrow if you like. The ranger at the station handed this old lady (me) a stick automatically. I probably should have been insulted, LOL. Well, it turns out that I LOVED mine and never knew that I wanted one until I used it on the trail. It really did help with the steps and my arthritic knee. My purchase as soon as we got back to Sedona was a hiking stick with which I will never again hike without.

Hike up to the dwelling with my hand carved walking stick courtesy of the visitor’s center. It came in handy while trying to step down some of the higher rocks.

After you spend some time at the dwellings, you continue your hike on up to the grotto where you will be handed off to another guide. The grotto is a huge open cave type of area where the ancient art is. I have read reviews from people saying that there were not as many pictoglyphs (a picture/symbol painted on the rock) and petroglyphs (pictures and symbols incised into the rock) as they expected. LMAO! There were a ton of them once you really started looking.

Imagine how many years this rock art has been faced with harsh sun, snow, wind and rain. I was actually amazed by how many images were still in great condition and clearly visible under the circumstances. Our VERY knowledgeable guide was adept at pointing out layers upon layers of ancient artwork, separating them for my puny little mind to see.

The day was light as far as visitors go, so Les and I had the tour guides to ourselves. We got to take our time with each guide and ask as many questions as we wanted. The people working there are volunteers who, each and every one of them, were happy to answer every question as well as provide a wealth of information and stories along the trail.

A part of the grotto was closed off for the bats that migrate there every spring. When we craned our necks around the rocks, we could see into a small entrance to the bat cave, but we could not walk past a roped off area at the entrance.

The Palatki center was a wonderful experience. We were lucky because this year has brought a lot of rain to Norther Arizona. The spring trees were practically glowing with their neon green colored leaves. The varied wild flowers were blooming in profusion. It was magical.

Les looking at art. You can see that the drawings were roped off. You could not touch them, of course, but we were right up next to them which is starting to get rare out here.

On our drive home, the skies opened up and the rain let loose. Even so, it was still a beautiful drive home.

Below is some practical information if you plan on visiting the site. I hope that you will. It was way worth it.

Currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service under the Red Rock Pass Program, the site is open to the general public for visits seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). A small visitor center and bookstore, run by the Arizona Natural History Association, is located a short distance from the parking lot.

Time Period Represented
AD 1150 – 1350

Hours Open
Open 7 days a week, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m
Seasons Open
Open year-round

Visitor Fees
Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required on all vehicles parked at our cultural sites. This pass can be purchased the Palatki Visitors Center.

Visitor Restrictions or Regulations
The area next to the cliff dwelling is limited to ten visitors at a time. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Before you visit, please call for reservations at (928) 282-3854 and read our Archaeological Site Etiquette Guide.

ADA Accessibility Notes
The trails are short and fairly easy, but they are not accessible to most wheelchairs.

Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are not allowed beyond the parking area at this heritage site.

Coin Cell Battery Holders for Your Scale Miniatures

I’m so over wiring 12 volt wiring. That’s right, I’m over it!. At first I was excited to wire my entire, three story, 1/12 scale miniature house. After completing only one floor of round wire, I am already looking for alternatives.

My grand scheme was to have round wire lighting throughout the entire mini house. It quickly became apparent that I would need to decide where the lights should go before the house was even built, let alone decorated. That was NOT working since I kept changing my mind about what each room would be. So, what to do, what to do?

Finally I came to a decision. My solution is to have only battery operated LED lights in the rest of the house. BUT, a thorough search of on-line miniature stores turned up the same old boring lights over and over. Oh sure, when I first saw them, I thought that they were cute. Then I realized that none of them are very original and ALL of them have the same look to them. Well, to be completely truthful, there are some extraordinary lamps out there, but they are very expensive and way out of my league price wise.

So, not only am I having battery operated lights but I’m going to make them myself. At the beginning of this mini journey, I went on e-bay and bid on lots of vintage lighting. I found out that “vintage” means in very poor condition despite the descriptions. Old, cracking and crazing, yellowed plastic, chips, bad wiring and out of scale sizes.

An ugly old, “vintage” lamp that was in an E-Bay miniatures lot.

OK, I thought, “Bummer, but I can use these as parts for my new lights and make them pretty again.” Now it is just a matter of taking a lamp that was wired for 12 volt and rewiring them into 3 volt fixtures. There are all kinds of 3 volt battery situations- this DIY is for one of many options. Read on to see how you, too, can make your own mini 3 volt LED light out of an old 12 volt fixture AND hide the wires as well.

To start, you will need to choose an LED chip light for it’s VERY thin wires, a 3 volt battery and a cell holder with an on-off switch. I ordered mine online from Evans Designs. The reason that I went with thin wires is that I needed to gut the old lamp of it’s 12 volt wiring and install the new LED light.

You can order here if you like. The site tells you about LED lighting so it’s a good place to start looking if this is your first foray into this mini light world.

Cell battery holder with on/off switch and 3 volt LED chip light

While I was brain storming a way to hide the battery pack and on/off switch. My AHA moment came when I thought about my bedroom lamp that is too short to read by. To fix that I raised the lamp by setting it on a stack of books. Yes! Let’s make a lamp that has the battery pack INSIDE a book.

Cut a piece of foam core a little larger than the cell battery holder. This is going to be your faux book. Then trace the outline of the holder onto the foam core.

Use the X-acto knife cut out the part of the foam where I will nestle the holder. Leave the bottom layer of paper on the foam core intact.

Print out a book cover from the internet.Glue it to thin chipboard or cardstock to make a book cover. Color the edges with a marker that matches your book cover.

( Remember to only use copyright free images (really old books) if you plan on selling your mini makes.

Glue the cover to the foam core. I had to add little strips of chipboard because my foam core was a little thinner than the cell holder.
Leave the back cover free of glue so that you can open and close the book in case you ever need to change the battery.

Now you have a cute little faux book to store your battery pack. Next you will have to rip out the 12 volt wiring from your old lamp. Now you can paint the lamp if you like. Then you can thread the new wires through the lamp base and you will be ready to hook up to the battery pack.

Remember to slip the shrink tube sleeves onto your wire BEFORE you twist them together. I clipped the wires on my chip light so that I would have less wire to hide. Use your knife to scrape the varnish off the wire ends so that you will get a good connection when you twist.

To connect the light to the battery holder, you will twist the RED wire to RED wire and black to green. Slip the shrink tubes over the exposed wires and heat.

This is what the wires look like from behind the table.

Once you place the lamp onto a table and push it to the wall, the battery pack and shortened lamp wires will be hidden. Yay!

You can stack a lot of books under the lamp to make a cute, informal reading nook too.

Have fun!

A realistic way to make an “antique” scale miniature rug

To make “antique” rugs, I use iron on transfer paper, BUT let me tell you how to get an aged look that is not so rubbery as you would normally get when you use this stuff. The rugs are so much fun to make that I went a little crazy. Now I just need to build a room box for a rug store.

NOTE: I used pictures of actual antique rugs that I found on Google. I don’t believe that there is any copyright on the antiques, BUT check before you decide to sell anything that you may make that has an image that you got from the internet. You are fairly safe when using antique patterns, but please do not do this with copyrighted work IF you want to sell any of your work. 😊

Basic supplies to make a rug. You will need iron on transfer paper, peel and stick tape, or fabric glue, fray check and assorted markers.

You will also need fabric with a fairly tight weave- something that has a little texture to look like a rug, but not too much texture. I used thin-ish upholstery fabric. It’s IMPORTANT that you choose a fabric with a high content of natural fiber. Material with a lot of nylon, for instance, will melt as you try to iron on the transfer.

You will also want some ribbon and cording to add a fringe and to finish the back side of the rug. Look for ribbon that you can fray. It makes great fringe.

Choose your design, size it and print it onto iron-on transfer paper. I Googled the internet for antique rugs. 

After the print is dry, cut the paper to rug size and cut the fabric a little larger than that.

Iron according to manufacturer instructions.

BUT, don’t iron as long as they tell you too. Check the image by peeling up a little corner of the paper.

Check the image by peeling up a little corner of the paper. You want enough of a transfer to see the image, but not so much that you get a crisp, rubbery look.

Peel the paper back carefully (and fairly quickly) while the transfer paper is still hot. THIS is the secret to getting an antique look without the shiny finish of a completed decal transfer. Don’t fret if some pattern is still on the paper. That is what you want in this method of “antiquing”.

IF you went too far and you got that full on transfer and rubbery look, OR if you did not get enough transfer, carefully lay the transfer paper back down and iron until hot again. Then rip the paper off the fabric. That should leave some of the print on the paper.

If THAT doesn’t work use sand paper- Not kidding, heavy grit sandpaper will knock the shine off and antique the rug the way it should be.

Cut the rug to size and then use Fray Check to keep the edges from fraying. The edges of the fabric will shoe so you can use a matching marker to color the edges of the rug if you like.

Now you can jump on to fringing and finishing up the back side of the rug.

This unlikely looking ribbon made a perfect fringe after I cut it in half and snipped off the top edge of each side to fray it. The rug is folded over so that you can see the back side with the finishing ribbon.
I use the Peel and Stick tape to attach the ribbon to the back side of the rug and white glue to fix the tiny little cord edging to the front of the rug.

The fronts and backs of a couple rugs so that you can see that you will want to make the back pretty too.

Another cutie. You’ll see. It’s hard to stop playing around with these transfers and patterns once you get started.

Bumble Bee to Cleator to Crown King

It was another beautiful day in paradise this past weekend so Les and I took a drive over to Crown King for another art day. For years, people have been asking if we’ve been yet and telling us that we are missing out and it’s so beautiful and yada, yada, yada.

Bumble Bee, Cleator and Crown king are recognized as three of Arizona’s many ghost towns due to the demise of the mining operations in the mid to late 1800’s.

We never actually got out our art supplies on this trip. We did take a few pictures that I used as reference for my art journal when I got home.

It’s true that the day trip was beautiful. There are lots of desert flowers in bloom right now so that was cool. Plus, driving anywhere in Northern Arizona is beautiful as far as I’m concerned. The dirt road as far as Cleator was fine – no wash outs or potholes to speak of. Viewing wide open vistas is always a favorite of mine.

We came upon Bumble Bee first. It has a really cool welcome sign as you see here. Bumble Bee is small. Just a handful of cattle ranches and private homes are all that remain of this once thriving stage stop.

Cleator was the next town that was along the route. We were surprised at how many visitors had come up for the day. The town bar was hopping. The yacht club was in full swing too. Yes, you read that right. They have a yacht club! It had lots of chairs and pick-nic tables with a ton of people talking, laughing and having a good time.

Les stopped in to check out the yard sale that looked like it never closed. We actually liked Cleator better than Crown King even though it is way smaller. It was definitely more interesting to us.

Pretty vistas surrounded us, but I had to keep telling Les to keep his eyes on the road. he was scaring the be-jeebers out of me.

The road on up to CK was pretty hairy. It was narrower and rougher. At times it narrowed down to a one car road. You had to pull as far to the side or back up to allow passing. I did not like that at all and was a nervous wreck by the time we got to the town.

Crown King also had hoards of people milling about but the atmosphere seemed creepy somehow. Well, two things that I don’t like (besides scary roads) are crowds and drunks. I don’t know if it was a special event or if every weekend brigs so many off-roaders, but it was evident that many had been drinking it up and were pretty rowdy. We were happy to get out of there!

To be fair, I heard one guy say to another that it’s always a zoo around there on the weekends. He said that during the week it’s like a ghost town (which kind of made me chuckle to myself.) So if you get on over to my neck of the woods, the shake down is as such: Bumble Bee= cute, Cleator= interesting and Crown King= thumbs down (unless possibly during the week).

Custom Fabrics for a Custom Dollhouse

In regards to dragging my feet on the dollhouse build….LOL…I will freely admit it- I’m a procrastinator. What can I say? But, I’m still busy at all times with SOMETHING.

I’ve been playing around with designing fabrics for my mid-century dollhouse which is ALSO not finished. I just want to make mini accessories at this point, so I’m gonna do what I wanna do. 😅😅😅

This picture shows one design but in a couple different colorways. That is what eats up so much of my time too. I design on the computer (Photoshop) and then change colors over and over and over. Geeze! But color is sooo fun and the computer programs are sooo cool. What’s a girl to do?

I did find out that my ink is not waterproof. See the red arrow? To fix that, I waited a couple days to be sure that the ink was dry and then I sprayed the fabric with waterproofing spray. It works when I use glue, but I still wouldn’t run the mini through a washer.

I know that most of you long time crafters have done this already but for the newbies, maybe it will be interesting. To print your fabric, all you do is iron muslin to freezer paper. Trim the paper to 8-1/2 x 11 and print. You must use a fabric like cotton and the fabric must be thin enough to go through your printer when ironed to freezer paper. that’s it! Easy-peazy.

You can print your fabric to look like a quilted comforter as well. My coverlet is not actually sewn yet. It’s just pinned to the bed, but it’ll give you an idea of what the quilt will look like (eventually, if I don’t keep changing my mind. It may make a really cute table cloth too.)

Miniature door mat made with a Cricut cutter

Even though I’ve been distracted from working on my dollhouses for quite a while, I continue to make little accessories when time permits. The porch floor is not finished yet, but I couldn’t resist placing this tiny doormat in front of the front door. I designed and made it with a Cricut cutting machine. I think that it looks pretty cute if I may say so myself.

The step-by steps are below if you are interested in making a welcome mat for your own mini door. Actually, even if you don’t have a dollhouse, a mat that is a little larger could make a cute coaster for your coffee cup.

1: To start, I took a photo of my own door mat.

My original, real-life, full sized doormat

Then I used Photoshop to clean it up and make a black and white jpeg of the border only. You can download my jpeg if you like. Just click on the image below.

Scroll cut file for welcome mat
Click on image for a downloadable jpeg of the welcome mat border

IMPORTANT NOTE: I learned that you cannot just shrink a photo down to get a good cut image for your machine. You must thin the black lines out as well or the details of the jpeg will be too small to see when reduced. For instance, the first time that I ran a cut  on the scroll border, the little corners didn’t even cut. They were too small and read as solid black with a little nick in the corner area.

2: Next, I uploaded the jpeg to my Cricut design space and sized it to approx 2″ x 3″.

3: This mat is cut from black card-stock, but next time, I would use the black vinyl because that would look more like the rubber from a real mat AND it would have the adhesive on the back already.

4: I used white glue to adhere the black border to a piece of upholstery fabric that looked kind of like a jute door mat to me.

The “Welcome” text is inked by using one of those little green plastic templates with letters punched out of it. Can’t think of what they are called, but you know the ones that I mean. 😊

Happy crafting,

Delicious Breakfast Parfait with Thanksgiving Leftovers

On the morning after Thanksgiving, I served my guests a simple, but pretty little breakfast. I do mean “little” since most of us were still full from dinner the evening before! So, I opted for a small slice of spinach cheese fritatta topped with sliced avocado and grated cheese, a couple small links of sausage and a breakfast parfait. The parfait is what the leftovers are made of.

To assemble the parfait, I used a small spoon to scoop out some of the pumpkin pie filling. Can you believe it? There were groans from a few guests over my discarding of that little bit of pie crust. I don’t like pie crust anyway, LOL, only pie fillings. Sweet tooth? You bet! Anyway, my house – my rules. 😅

On top of the spicy pumpkin puree, I added a dollop of vanilla yogurt. A little dash of cranberry chutney, a drizzle of amber honey and a sprinkle of chopped, candied nuts finished the creation. And it was soooo GOOD even without the pie crust.

Happy holidays,