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.
https://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/collections/lights-for-miniaturists/products/chip-light-kit

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.

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.)

Inspiring Paper Mâché

It’s very early morning and I’m surfing the web again. I ran across a couple of REALLY fantastic paper mâché art pieces. I have to tell you, right off, that not one piece of art in this post is my own (I WISH!)  I just wanted to share it with you because it is so darned inspiring. Of course, all links to the original artwork are included in my post.

teacuptower1-1
http://www.annwoodhandmade.com/paper-mache-teacup-pattern/

Continue reading “Inspiring Paper Mâché”

How to make resin elements with glue-stick molds

This is such an exciting discovery for me that I cannot wait to show you! I wanted to take the time to make better “after” pieces, but this idea won’t be patient. Seriously!

Back when I was heavy into rubber stamping, I used to make medallions and little elements for books, cards, assemblage (you get the idea) by stamping into hot glue-stick. Let the glue cool down, pull your stamp out and you have a really cool little art piece after you paint all over it.

rubber-stamps-and-hot-glue-

Run forward a few years and I am now heavily into scale miniatures. I’ve been scouring the internet for architectural elements that I can use to add to my French dollhouse walls, ceilings, pediments, etc. and, BOY! They are kind of expensive if you need a lot of them for your project. Hmmm…. I started to wonder if my glue-stick elements would make good molds for resin pours. After a messy, quick pour, voila! It works! (picture a crazy miniaturist jumping up and down here)headboard-on-miniature-bed

When I buy mixed lots of minis off E-bay there are always a few pieces of broken furniture included. And that’s OK, I can usually use them in some way. This is a junky little bed after super glued a resin piece to the headboard and painted it white. It turned out so cute that I will actually put some legs onto the bed and use it in my shabby chic cottage.

So, here is a run down on the how to’s.

Supplies:

  1. hot glue gun and glue sticks,
  2. black permanent ink
  3. rubber stamps (either clear or rubber, either mounted or unmounted)
  4. two part resin (get small boxes of two part resin in craft stores)
  5. a small piece of mat board (to hold your molds)
  6. paper towels, a small mixing cup and a Popsicle stick
  7. sandpaper, scissors and a craft knife
  8. Dremel moto-tool (optional)

Steps:

1. Select rubber stamps that will fit your need. If they are unmounted stamps, you will want to mount them onto something so that you do not burn your fingers while stamping into the hot glue.

stamps-mounted-on-block
I chose these two stamps because the round one will make a perfect ceiling medallion and the other will be a furniture element. I used a piece of double stick tape to mount the stamp on the right onto a little piece of scrap wood.

2. Use black permanent ink to stamp the image onto a piece of mat board. This is so that you will know where to put the hot glue.

3. Use the glue gun to deposit hot glue onto the stamped image, going over the edges just a bit. My first “mold” had too much glue on it as you will see in the following photos. It isn’t a bad thing, but it looks sloppy and wastes glue.

4. Stamp lightly into the glue just up to the edge of the rubber stamp. Don’t push so hard that the glue gets onto the block or the foam rubber cushion (if you are using that kind of stamp). If you do, the glue will adhere to that part and mess up your stamp.

5. Wait until the glue has cooled down and peel your rubber stamp out of it. Now you have a mold!

6. Mix resin according to manufactures directions. Pour carefully into the glue stick mold. Try not to overflow the mold. If you do, wipe up excess with a paper towel. The more carefully you pour, the less clean up on the resin element you will have to do later.

7. Lightly tap the resin filled mold onto your work surface. This will allow any bubbles to rise to the top. Blow gently onto the resin and the bubbles will pop. This step is very important.

8. Let cure according to manufacturers directions. These little elements usually take only about 10-15 minutes. When solid, peel your resin piece out of the mold.

resin-right-out-of-the-mold
The top two pieces are the glue-stick mold and the bottom two are the resin pieces. You can see in the photo that I overflowed my molds the first time that I poured. If you do this, just wipe up the excess with a paper towel and toss. The nicer you pour, the less cleanup on the resin after it’s out of the mold.

9. While the resin is still softish, you can use scissors or a knife to whittle away overflow or little sprus. If the piece is too thick, use sandpaper to sand down the back of the piece.

scale-resin-elements
You can see that the permanent ink transferred to my little element which was great because I wanted to sand the piece after painting to give it that shabby look. I was glad that there was black underneath. If it did not transfer, I would just paint the piece the color of the wood, let dry and then paint with white to get the dark to show after the sanding.

I used super glue to adhere the little element to a junky bed headboard.miniature-resin-element

When the glue was dry, I got out the Dremel with a sanding bit and cleaned up my resin piece a little more.Dremel-cleanup

A white coat of acrylic paint transformed the bed and her new element. After sanding the whole thing, it began to look very shabby chic. What I thought would be a throw away bed is actually now going to be used in my little cottage.

DIY-shabby-chic-mini-bed

If you want to see how I made the “rusted” lamp above the bed, click on this link .

I hope that you will find this project useful in ways that apply to your own favorite craft. Happy experimenting!

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1/12 scale miniature French sewing kit

One of the Facebook groups that I’m in is The French Dollhouse. A recent challenge for the group was to make a French sewing box so, of course, I turned to Google to see exactly what a French sewing box would look like. What came up was several antique French kits for children. They were intended as gifts and were completely captivating. The kits were loaded with a child sized sewing machine, a dolly to dress, tools and several bits of fabric, lace, trims and notions. I would have LOVED one of those when I was a kid. Who am I kidding? I would LOVE to have one now!

antique-sewing-boxAnyway, this is my version of a miniature kit. I made everything myself except the tools and the sewing machine. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything with miniatures (about 20 years) so it was a challenge to get my fingers to do what I wanted.  I did try to make the tools myself. THAT was a disaster! 😜 Ah well, maybe next time.

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