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Studs in Houses: I have built several structures in the way you mentioned, with studs, 1/16" plywood for the walls, wiring run inside the walls etc. Makes for an extremely lightweight house. I learned this method from Keith Long, who sometimes teaches classes at the Gulf South show in New Orleans. Most of the houses are in 1/2" scale, though the first one we did was 1" and I have built an oversize roombox in 1" this way.

Beth, In A Miniature Manor

Building Greenleaf kits.

Sealing the pieces - I know people say it helps prevent warping of the big pieces when you paint them but I don't think it's a tragedy not to seal them. You may want to seal the small trim pieces IF you plan on spray painting them, which makes faster work, especially with all the window trim. The wood will suck up so much paint if you don't seal them you'll need about 5 coats to cover it! BUT if you're going to paint the pieces by hand using a thickly applied coat of paint, I say the heck with sealing.

DO NOT punch out the pieces till you're going to use them! Leave them in the sheets! I learned this the hard way. Sounds obvious I guess but I must think I am "special".

The die cut luan is a pain. Punch out carefully. I had some pieces that just weren't punched all the way through so I am sure you will too. I had my hubby get them out with a Dremel (I am afraid of it) and a hacksaw. But don't despair if you break a piece you can glue it or use spackle or putty to fix it. If you want a super final finish you'll want to use spackle or putty to smooth out the edges of the pieces; this is due to the poor quality of the luan.

Are you electrifying? This will change the whole way you build the house and their instructions will be useless. This will also affect how you wallpaper, which is tricky in itself with these houses - some of it must be added before assembly on certain parts, like bay windows and towers, or eaves, 'cause you'll never get your hands in there after it's glued together! PLAN - go slow!

I also recommend, if you can stand the wait, to put the house shell (walls and floors) together in one "spurt" of work and not to do a little at a time (like on Thanksgiving break!) and then leave it for weeks. You need to get the whole thing together and clamp it (I used old tights tied around the walls) to make sure it all fits and stays and doesn't warp or separate.

Fit all the pieces before gluing! You will have to make adjustments! The parts are supposed to fit but they don't sometimes. I used a wire-snipping pliers to "snip" the wood, usually the tabs had to be trimmed a wee bit. Because of this you want to avoid wallpapering or painting over the tabs, they won't fit. Don't go mental - paint can be sanded off, I'm not suggesting you tape off all the little tabs when you paint!

And remember - boo boos with fitting, gluing or wallpaper or flooring can be hidden with baseboards, crown moldings, wainscoting, etc. Oh watch out for splinters - keep tweezers handy.


Stable: For your stable you will need water buckets, baled hay and feed sacks, though my neighbor keeps her feed in metal garbage cans to defeat mice. Two types of tack box. A large one that usually looks like a plain wooden trunk with a lid that lifts. These often are parked outside a stall. Some people keep all the tack inside them, but some will hang a saddle on a wooden rack on the wall of a separate room. Bridles will be hung on wall hooks. A saddle blanket lying on the tack box could add some nice color. There is also a small tack box like an open tool box with a handle across the top. This will contain a hoof pick, brushes, liniment, a pulling comb for tails and manes. You might want to set up cross ties, which are simply two lead ropes that attach opposite each other on the walls of the open 'hall' between stalls. This is used to restrain a horse for saddling or a visit from the blacksmith. No stable is complete without a barn cat or two. You could have barn boots, too, but be sure they're NOT clean :). You could include a long whip used for lunging- which is just holding a rope and using the whip to encourage the horse to trot in a circle around you for exercise. Well, hope this helps.

Linda in Leroy,

Dollhouse Plans: Here are a couple sites for dollhouse plans.


Dumbledore's Room: I have used one of Debbie Jones's "Kitz" theatre kits and made a room for Dumbledore from Harry Potter. I made it bigger by putting both the bottom and top on the top, one half flap opens, and I used the false back for the floor and I used a piece of thick cardboard for the sides with the kit sides glued to inner walls. It came out so handsome for him, and I used not one skerrik of pink as it was the mighty Dumbledore head Wizard of Hogwarts and he demands respect, not frivolity with pink!!!!

robbie roo

The Dutch house: My initial feeling on the Dutch house was that with the interior bulging with wonderful things, the outside didn't matter, but I realised that was wrong, and the front had to be as good as the inside. Groan.   The work could be divided into 3 parts.   I had removed the American Colonial style door and windows that it had been fitted with, and I had decorated the top with with two big fish with a window between them, papered with very realistic (and amazingly expensive) Dutch brick paper the rest, and the lower part was rendered (filler and glued on tissues) and painted cream.  It then sat around for months while I did everything but..  coward me.

I had really wanted to put in a stable door (I believe you call them Dutch doors in the States) but chickened out, so that left me with only two things to do. :O)

First I made the glazing for the windows - only the upper half of the windows were glazed, with leaded glass. I've seen this is many Dutch paintings - the lower half is glassless but with shutters.   I cut the acetate, wrongly, so had to do it again.  I tried using lead paint, lines went wobbly, blobby, too thick or all 3 at once. Quivering slightly, I changed over to using mega fine strips of golf lead, cutting so SO carefully so I didn't hurt myself with my safety razor.  Finished applying the lead - it was out of scale.  I clenched my hand in my frustration, forgetting I was holding the razor, so cut across my palm and some fingers. Ouch.  Cleared everything away.  Now leaded glass looks so lively because, being small separate pieces of glass, they all catch the light differently, so I bought acetate with a printed lead design on it, and painted each diamond in a different direction with clear gallery glass paint, which made the windows look gorgeous - the glass blurry and soft yet very lively.  Hurrah!  There, that was worth all that blood and stuff - wasn't it?

Next I made the shutters from Starbucks stirrers - I scrounged a whole box of these from our local Starbucks and they are so useful. These are half shutters to go across the parts of the windows with no glass in them.   I cut to size then butt glued the stirrers, painted, aged with weathering powders used by railway modellers, then glued the shutters either open or shut so they made a dynamic pattern of open/close across the front of the house.  The closed ones have twiddly black hinges from Phoenix miniatures on them.

The next day the doors were made of wood, and I veneered them with oak veneer to look like planks, gave them a wash with acrylic, and fitted them, having made small metal door handles from twisted wire. I glued them so they are partially open, as the house which sells drinks downstairs, is full of people, and trade is brisk.

Helen from York, England

Tin roof - get sheets of crimped metallic paper, cut it the length you need into wide strips that will over lap, paint to appear weathered and rusted. It mustn't be perfectly done or it won't look authentic unless you're doing a fancy log cabin, in which case I'd do cedar shake shingles, say that ten times fast!!!!!!!!!

Molly Cromwell

Corrugated Metal roofing: Last night I had one of Pizza Hut's P'Zone's. I noticed in the bottom of the box holding the sandwich a large rectangular piece of white corrugated cardboard. I would imagine that you could probably talk your local Pizza Hut out of some, or they may sell you a few pieces for a nominal amount. The scale looks about right for a tin roof.

Rusty in Ky

Cinder block: use a wood base and paint it gray with sand in the paint and score lines for the cinder block edges. If you make butt joints where the wood meets wood at the corners, you can use the line between the wood as the line delineating the end of a cinder block run. Play with it.

Better yet use coarse grit sand paper and this permits you to go "around" corners. also paint this cinder block gray. The lines between courses and rows can be done with a fine brush and black or a dark gray paint. Stipple the "cinder block" with the black paint to give the impression of pits. We are talking illusion here. You are only limited by your imagination and the depth of your "pocket".

Dr Bob

Tin roof...when doing my log cabin, I found most of the "tin" roofing was in pieces to small for the expanse of roof I wanted to cover, finally went to a pack and ship shop and got a roll of corrugated packing material. FANTASTIC!!! I unrolled it, hung it on my fence and spray painted it with some chrome paint...because it absorbs the paint, it was a matt finish. I wanted mine to be rustic, so I used Instant Rust and weathered it after I glued it to the roof.


Gift Room box ideas: Just choose the one thing that really makes her happy, her greatest interest. I'm planning to do a box for my mom on her favorite pastime: community theater. I want to do a birds-eye view type of layout that encompasses the front stage with a curtained stage and a row of seats, and a behind the curtain area with all the stacked props and backdrops, and a door to the "stars" dressing room with all the mayhem that goes on before a performance evident (ex: costumes and a make-up mirror cluttered with scripts and make-up, theater posters, etc.)

I'm also working on a Disneyesque nursery roombox for my best friend who just found out she's expecting and being a Disney fanatic will of course be doing her baby's room in that motif. I only have 7 more months to complete it! If any one has any ideas for either of these themes, please let me know.

Diane in Holtsville, NY

Inexpensive Dollhouse: Most hardware stores carry the shelving units made of pressed wood that has been covered with laminate. These units are often used in closets or laundry rooms. You can even purchase doors, drawers and more. Most are mix and match pieces that allow you to design your own size and application. A two shelf shoe rack becomes the foundation of your first dollhouse. Buy a single shelf for the base and attach the shoe rack to it. Or start with a three-shelf bookcase and add a pair of cabinet doors to cover the front. These items are easily electrified. Add casters to the base. Check out the wonderful moldings made from Styrofoam in the wood department. Paint the exterior to look like a real house and have a ball. You can also do this with an old upper kitchen cabinet purchased from a junk shop. If you are a good garage sale person, you will find a bookcase or cabinet for less than $10 and you're in business. Such adaptations can hold as much furniture and accessories as a large, expensive designer miniature house. Our European collectors have made wonderful dolls cabinets for centuries. Their faux exteriors are magnificent.

Becky Holliday

Gift Room box ideas: How about a mini-room-box that works as a neat thing she will use.  I mean a Kleenex box cover with a room box end that will have meaning for her.

They are nothing other than a box to hold the Kleenex with an end added to make a small scene of any kind.  If you want to go this way, find a scene your Mom will like and place it into the display end of the box.   The best part of this gift is that it provides a memory or a pretty picture and still has a use by the loved one you gave it to.   You can see more of these gifts on my website If you want dimensions for such a box, e-mail me separately and I will send you a plan.


Basketball scene container: I have an idea for a miniature scene that has been triggered by March NCAA   Madness.  I am wanting to do a 1" scale scene representing my dad's favorite team and place it inside a regulation basketball.   It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for him.   I want to cut out part of the side so that it serves as a "swindow" for the scene.   I know that an intact basketball will only keep its shape if inflated.   If I cut and remove a section, there goes the rigid structure for the skin.  

Has anyone out there used either a basketball, football, or soccer ball in this manner?   Have you seen any references for how to "stiffen" the ball so it doesn't collapse?   I would suspect that there is some kind of product out there that could be injected into an inflated ball which would then coat the inside creating the desired stiffness.   The problem is, basketballs aren't cheap to experiment with.   The second problem is, I am not thrilled about plunging a Dremel bit into an inflated basketball with the potential "explosion."


Stiffening the inside of a Basketball: I think I'd try cutting one and then putting the soft carcass into a bowl. Line it with fabric dipped in that stiffener and then inflate a balloon inside to hold it in place. Let dry for a couple of days, then pop the balloon. This might stick the balloon to the inside as well, but that's not a problem. Just paint it.

I've seen deflated basketballs and footballs before, they're not exactly without form, but kinda tough - a bit of encouragement to hold their shape might be achieved even by stuffing a plastic grocery sack with stuffing of some kind against glue covered fabric, then unstuff in a couple of days to see what it does.


Basketball: When I make plaster replicas of my sculptures, I use a hemisphere of a cut up soccer ball to mix my plaster in  (much cheaper than a special rubber bowl). The reason I mention it is because the plaster doesn't stick permanently to the inside of the ball and that makes it easy to remove.  When the leftover plaster solidifies, you just tap it and the leftover plaster shatters and falls out.

This leads me to believe that putting plaster in a basketball to keep it round and solid might not be a good idea as the least tap will shatter the lining.  P.S. Cheap soccer balls and basketballs are numerous at garage sales.

Evelyn in Saskatchewan

Found the Basketball Article: Ha Ha!  I found it, Kathy!   It is in Dollhouse Miniatures, March 1998.   It is a two-page article with a couple of pictures and just general directions. She does say that she puzzled over how to cut the ball for quite a while before it dawned on her to just let the air out.  She then cut a hole in the ball and "gave it to a friend who treated the inside with a hardening substance so the ball would permanently hold its shape and have a level floor."

Dayle in MD

Basketball: Maybe the basketball could be cut, deflated and made to hold its form with papier-mache. It would be heavier than stiffeners could hold up, I would think. Basketballs are pretty thick material, leather or plastic. Perhaps straight craft glue would hold it up.  

Teresa from Canada

Harry Potter: I now have a Harry Potter home in our living room. It is an old t.v case, wooden with a large plexi glass front. One room is Professor Snape with his potions, the middle is the castle, and the end is Hermione and Ron and Harry doing mischief in a cauldron! I got a large mirror like a secret door into another world for my birthday from Julia, on this list, and it has steps up into the mirror and Harry and Hermione and Ron may be led off into there after working up their potion by the looks of it! Things keep moving around in there and there is plexi glass, as I said, so it isn’t the cats and dogs moving them. Just magic!!!!!

Robbie Roo Pink Cyberfaery

Draping Fabric:   I am finishing out a Willow Crest as an interior designer's studio/display/sales shop, and hope that someone (or many someones) may have a hint or two to help me solve a minor problem.  I kit-bashed the house to remove all the walls in the first floor, except for two walls with big archways cut in them between the "foyer" and the rest of the first floor, which I have furnished with groupings of related types of furnishings and accessories (country, traditional/contemporary, Victorian influence, etc.), but my daughter, who is in the know about these things, says that I need more "clutter" in that room.  I had planned to add to each "style" vignette a selection of fabric and wallpaper samples from which the customer could choose.  My problem is, I am notoriously awkward with fabric, and can't seem to get my "samples" to drape in anything like a realistic way.   I have a big leather chair in one vignette and I thought I'd just drape several fabric samples over the back and let them drape down onto the floor, for example -- but my "drapes" all look like stiff little bunches of mini fabric -- not very convincing.  Over the years I have read about different methods of "draping" fabric -- wetting, forming into natural looking drapes and letting dry, spraying with hair spray, dipping in modge podge, wetting and forming a draped look over Saran Wrap, etc. -- but none of these seems to work.   I have lots of "fat squares" to choose my samples from, and really want them to look natural -- does anyone out there have a fool proof method of getting the effect I want?

My second floor boasts one big room holding a wallpaper and carpeting display unit that covers one entire wall, rolled carpets leaned up against the wall, and a table and chair where the customer can sit and pore over wallpaper and fabric sample books or books on interior decor.   There also is a foyer with an elevator door (I took out all the staircases and "installed" an elevator wall on all three floors), and a smaller room with another full-wall unit displaying coordinating wallpapers and a big piece of furniture stuffed with bolts and bolts of different kinds of fabric.   I also made lots of fabric and wallpaper sample books that are laying about the place.  The top floor is a big office with computer desk and chair, a sitting area, and a small "storage" room cluttered with odd bits and bobs of furniture and accessories.   My "designer" is a gorgeous Caco doll in a smart red "wool" dress, and her "customer" is a second Caco lady dressed in a wonderful corduroy pants suit with a lovely shoulder bag.   I'm very pleased with the overall effect -- but DO think I need a bit more "mess."

Any hints you can give me on the fabric issue will be greatly appreciated!

Dayle in MD

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