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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Happy crafting,

Time to make another miniature chandelier!

Are you hooked on rustic French country style? I am too! I just can’t get enough of it, so when a gorgeous antique, wooden French chandelier jumped off the page of my home decor magazine… well,ย  I just knew that Iย  had to try to make it. NO! Not full sized, silly.ย  In 1/12 scale miniature for my little shabby chic cottage.

Antique-French-country-chan
Here is the chandelier taped up to the bedroom ceiling of my old English Tudor cottage just to show you how cute it is when lit. The walls and timbers that you see in the background are not finished yet, so no judging. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Continue reading “Time to make another miniature chandelier!”

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 linkย .

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

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Easy DIY dollhouse lamp

dollhouse-light-pendant

Looking for a cute and easy tutorial on a dollhouse lamp? And shabby chic too? Then you have landed on the right spot! I’m excited to share this 1/12 scale project with you because it was so easy, unique and FAST. Seriously, instant-gratification is my middle name when it comes to crafts. Maybe because every little step takes me so darned long that I get REALLY excited about a project that I can complete in one day.

Below is my step-by-step tutorial on a shabby chic hanging lamp for a 1:12 scale dollhouse. Naturally, it would work in other scales as well. I can totally see it in Barbie’s or Blythe’s house too.

LOL, ignore the dry hands that always have paint caked all over them. (grin)

light-tutorial

  1. The first step was to find something that would be cute in a dollhouse. This pendant is perfect! I got it at Jo-Ann’s fabric store.
  2. Next, I disassembled the pendant.
  3. Then I spray painted the little metal star shape with this kind of rusty looking paint.
  4. ย When that was dry I was ready to assemble. In figure 4, you can see my components that I used for the light. I have a 3 volt battery and cell holder with an on-off switch, a 3 volt nano light, several beads, two jump rings and a chain.

Assembly:ย Thread the beads onto the nano light, insert into the star shape and close up with a jump ring and chain on top. Attach a little drop bead at the bottom of the fixture with a jump ring.ย  Thread the light wires through the chain and hook up as per manufacturers instructions.

I don’t have my lamp permanently wired yet because I’m not sure if it will go into this kind of modern house with a shabby chic bedroom or into my old English Tudor cottage. The little shabby chic bed is one that I am refurbishing. I often get broken junk in with my Ebay “lot” buys and that’s OK. I can always use parts. The fun thing about this bed is a secret that I will let you in on with the next post. Be sure to come back for the bed tutorial.

You can get the chip battery holders, lights and a whole lot of dollhouse lighting info at True 2 Scale. Check out their little kits too. They are adorable. I especially love the little glitter house kits.

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Miniature blogs for inspiration or just eye candy if you like

I’ve been surfing again! There are so many fabulous miniature blogs on the internet that I can’t even begin to cover them all. Miniaturists are a very giving group who readily share their knowledge and, boy, am I GLAD! It has saved me a ton of wasted time trying to figure out much on my own. Believe me when I say that I feel like I need to catch up in the mini world FAST! Hmmm… it may have something to do with age. ๐Ÿค” (grin)

Here are a few artists that inspire me to new mini heights (and sometimes lows when I wonder why I even bother with my own puny attempts. LOL, no pun intended on the “puny”.) Mostly though, I LOVE looking at the work of these amazing artisans and I hope that you do too. Continue reading “Miniature blogs for inspiration or just eye candy if you like”