One of the reasons I love miniatures so much is how they draw the viewer in and encourage deeper scrutiny. Like this pixie den lantern, we made a few weeks back. It’s filled with ancient scrolls, fairy-tale artifacts, and a light that casts a magical glow over everything.
Can you see you see it yet?
Wait I’ll open the door for you. Maybe that will make it easier.
Come inside, let me show you around. It’s a bit cramped for a human but just perfect for playful little creatures who need a quiet place to do their research.
Can you see the ancient scrolls on the shelf in the background?
And a collection of well-loved books on a floating shelf.
I wonder what mischief this little pixie is planning 😀
And since we installed a stained-glass light for them, they can stay up late to plot their escapades.
Let’s venture outside again so you can get a better idea of how magical the lights are.
Isn’t it gorgeous? So if you want to make something similar, we’ll show you step by step how we created this pixie den lantern and share tips on working in a small space. But before we get there, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!
What you need
You can build the pixie den or any fairy scenes inside a mason jar, glass trinket box, bottle, or a lantern like this one. Anything that has clear glass sides, without flaws, raised lettering, or permanent labels will work. Make sure whatever you use has an opening that’s wide enough to fit your hand through. The inside of this pixie den is 4” (9.5 cm) wide and 6” (20 cm) high, while the door opening is 2.5” by 4” (roughly 6,3 cm x 10cm) which is pretty small.
Besides a lantern with a door, you also need:
- Reindeer moss
- Scraps bits of wood and twigs
- Fairy lights
- Glue with a fine applicator tip
- Paper and printer
- Sharp nail scissors
- Small bead and feather
- Old tacky nail polish
- Twine or yarn
- Water balloon or small polystyrene ball
- 2-minute resin
- Alcohol ink
- Free printable that contains a collection of:
- Newspaper pages
- Antique paper with writing
- Small handwritten letters
- Book covers
How to make a pixie den lantern
The pixie den lantern contains so many little things that it would be almost impossible to share them all in one tutorial. So, in this post I’ll show you how to make:
- A bundle of magical newspapers
- Tiny scroll with wax seal
- Small quill and ink well
- A working stained glass fairy light
I’ll also share tips on creating miniature worlds that are pixie perfect in a cramped, tiny space towards the end of the post. You can find full tutorials for the bits and pieces that aren’t covered in this tutorial by clicking on the links below:
So, grab a cup of your favorite brew and get comfortable, because this is a long one filled with tips, tricks, and how-to photos.
Bundle of magical newspapers
Let’s start with that small bundle of newspapers. I used MakeMyNewsPaper to create magical newspapers. They’re really quick to put together. Since the newspaper bundle is so small, you only need to focus on a catchy headline and image, if you’re making your own. You’re welcome to use this free template if you don’t want to go to all that trouble.
Print the newspaper in color and cut out the pages. Fold the pages in half and then half again.
Use some twine to tie the newspapers together and create a small bundle. Depending on the thickness of the twine you have on hand, you may want to split it into separate strands, so it isn’t too bulky.
Tiny scroll with a wax seal
The scrolls are made in much the same way as the newspaper bundle. Print and cut them out but instead of folding the printouts, roll the scrolls up.
To give the scrolls a slightly burnt, well-worn look you can use a brown pastel to color the edges.
Tie a piece of twine around the scroll and trim away any excess.
For the wax seal put a tiny dollop of old nail polish on the knot.
Wait for the nail polish to dry completely before adding the scrolls to the pixie den.
Miniature quill and ink well
The quill and ink well are probably the easiest to make. All you need is a small round bead for the ink well and a tiny feather. Our feathered friends leave lots of little ones all over the garden for us to find, so I just used one of those. Carefully remove the bottom feathery bits from the shaft.
Trim the shaft and dip the tip in the black nail polish. Leave to dry.
Working Stained-glass hanging light
Oooo, this stained-glass hanging light was so much fun to make 😀 Cut a small polystyrene ball in half with a craft knife. If you don’t have a polystyrene ball you can use a water balloon too.
Wrap the half ball in cling film to protect.
Insert a long screw or nail into the bottom of the wrapped ball and stick it down on a level surface. I used masking tape folded over so the sticky side faces outwards to keep the screw from toppling over. Double-sided tape or press stick will work too.
Pour a thin layer of 2-minute resin over the half ball and cure under UV light. Add a second and third layer in the same way. You can add more layers, but I found that three was enough. Just make sure there are no open spots.
Remove the resin dome from the half ball. It should come off easy enough.
Neaten up the edges with a pair of nail scissors.
Drizzle alcohol ink all over the dome.
I used blue and green because that’s what I had in my craft cupboard. Place a fairy light under the dome to check if you’re happy with the colors.
Use a darning needle to make a hole in the top of the resin dome. The hole needs to be big enough to fit one of the fairy light globes through.
If you have a strip of upholstery tacking lying around, you can use the bit where the upholstery tack goes and glue that onto the dome. It’s not really necessary, since you probably won’t see the top of the light once it’s installed.
Putting the pixie den together
Right, so now we have all these teeny, tiny things that need to go inside a lantern that’s smaller than a shoebox. And the only way to get inside is through a door that’s a little bigger than a credit card.
The secret to building tiny worlds in tiny spaces is to build outside rather than inside. To ensure you stay within the building lines, create a template of the “floorspace” by tracing around the bottom of the lantern, or whatever you’re using to make your pixie den.
Adjust the template a little by taking the “wall thickness” into account.
And check if it fits.
Keep the template as a guide when collecting the larger bits that make up the bones of the pixie den. In my case, I used an interesting branch as a focal point around which I could build a bookshelf and a small table.
All I needed to do was use the “floorspace” template to cut the branch to the right size.
For the table, I used a sliver of wood that just happened to fit around that branch.
All I needed to do was cut a few twigs to give the table a leg or three to stand on.
With the shelf, I wasn’t that lucky, and I’m guessing you won’t be either. To figure out how to cut a shelf I used a piece of paper and squished it around the branch. The squish marks can be cut away to create a paper template.
My next problem was how to support the bookshelf. I could glue it to the branch, but that meant the branch with the shelf wouldn’t fit through that credit card-sized door. Jewelry wire to the rescue. By drilling a few small holes around the branch, I could create supports for the shelf that would bend away when they went through the door and then bend them back when I was ready to add the shelf. A small upright twig glued to the bottom of the branch added additional support.
Test fit the larger pieces in the lantern just to make sure it all works in the tiny space and make adjustments as needed.
Once I had the shelf figured out, I glued on a collection of small books, the scrolls, and a tiny topiary.
Next up, wiring that gorgeous stained-glass light.
Adding the stained-glass light
Pixies don’t have a problem working in the dark, but they only see shades of grey at night, and I really wanted to make their den a workable space filled with color and light that worked with the flick of a switch. Easy enough to do, just wrap some fairy lights around the branch ……..
……… and pop the stained-glass light over one end.
To hide the wiring I use my trusty go-to; moss.
To disguise the battery pack I could either incorporate it into the fairy lantern as décor like I did when making the stained glass fairy door or hide it somewhere. Given the space constraints hiding it somewhere was a better option. Cutting a hole in the floor of the lantern that was big enough to slip the battery pack though, meant I could tuck the battery pack under the lantern and still make it easily accessible for any human to flip that switch.
Using my cardboard template, which had served its purpose, I taped the extra lights on and hid the whole ugly mess with more moss.
And with the wiring complete, I could finally, put all the bits inside and finish up the pixie den before switching the lights on.
And if the “power” does go out, our little pixie can always use his candles.
I hope it doesn’t happen though. That stained-glass light is too pretty not to shine its little light on the world.
Don’t you agree?
Okay, before I waste too much more of your time, let me quickly share those tips for working in small spaces.
Tips for working in tiny spaces
Assemble as much as you can outside the tiny space and then gently maneuvered everything into place. The table, shelf, and all the bits that fit on top were made outside the lantern using the cardboard template as a guide.
When adding larger pieces inside the lantern work from the back towards the front. If you’re making a fairy scene inside a mason jar, work from the bottom up.
Plan the scene and play around with the layout before putting the final look together. This miniature-making guide will help a lot to plan your scene.
My go-to tools when assembling a miniature are tweezers and glue with a precision nozzle tip. Tweezers help with fine tweaking and can get into spots that chubby fingers can’t, and glue makes things stay put. Glue any small pieces down on larger pieces before adding them inside the lantern or whatever you choose to house your tiny world.
On that note, save all those tiny, miniature creations in a zip lock bag. They are so easy to lose on a messy crafting table.
And finally, make sure to clean the glass inside and out and remove any labels before assembling the little miniature scene.
Trust me on this one, the last thing you want is a huge fingerprint blocking the view.
I hope you enjoyed the post and that the tips help a little when you create your own miniature worlds in tiny spaces.
And if you like the idea of making a pixie den lantern, don’t forget to pin it for later.
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Want a few more teeny, tiny tutorials to get crafty with? You’ll find a whole bunch on the blog including:
- A tiny world in a book nook;
- Sands of Time hourglass;
- Fairy beach in a wine glass clouche;
- A whole kokedama village;
- Real miniature toilet rolls;
- Victorian long drop toilet;
- Working grandfather clock;
- A stool sample and reading glasses;
- Fairy throne in an altered bottle;
- and a porch swing in an old clock.
Oh and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you 😉
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.