If you’re a regular visitor on the blog you’ll know how much we love making teeny tiny fairy gardens and miniature versions of the real thing. Over the years we’ve learned quite a few tricks, most of them through trial and error and making a whole bunch of mistakes along the way 😉 So in today’s post, I’d like to share my 5 tips for making miniatures and show you how to repurpose a cutting board into a tiny little craft room.
Isn’t it adorable?
My craft room will never ever look that tidy 😀 To make the flow easier, I’ll share how to repurpose a cutting board and make:
- A small floating shelf,
- Miniature clock, and poster,
- Tiny succulent in a can of tomato soup,
- A stack of miniature books,
- Craft desk,
- Teeny candles,
- and little pencils.
And then I’ll finish off with my top 5 tips for making miniatures.
Okay, before we get to all those tutorials and the 5 tips for making miniatures, 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 I used
When it comes to making miniatures the only limit is your imagination. There are so many different things you can use. A lunch box can be turned into a gypsy caravan and rusty nails can be transformed into a fairy potting bench. You can even create a whole world inside the covers of a book 😉 For this little craft room, it all started with an idea and a yucky old cutting board.
That really grimy cutting board has been stashed away in our craft cupboard for the longest time and it was the perfect backdrop for this project. To add the craft room details I used:
- Balsa or basswood
- Toothpicks and dowels
- Paper and free printables
- Craft paints
- Pill packet sleeves
- Miniature candles
- Twigs from the garden
- A broken faux succulent
My go-to tools for making miniatures
- Superglue (Instant glue)
- Sharp craft knife and/or nail scissors
- Clothing pegs (they make great clamps 😉 )
- Scroll saw or Dremel Moto-Saw (optional for detailed projects)
How to repurpose a cutting board into a tiny craft room
I always start all my miniatures or fairy gardens with a sketch drawn to scale. That way I can get a feel for how everything fits together. Plus sketching relaxes me and puts me in a creative mood 😉 If drawing is not your forte, use a picture from one of your favorite magazines or browse the internet for some inspiration.
Once I have a rough idea of what I want to do, I’ll wander around the house and garden to find things that I can use to turn that 2-dimensional idea into a 3-dimensional world. Branches can become a clock or a stained glass window, and the broken tip of a life-sized faux succulent looks just like a miniature version of itself. Leaves can be turned into fairy bowls and seedpods into rustic cradles. Try to see things from a different perspective and let your imagination run wild.
Play around with things you already have. There’s no need to go out and buy stuff. Like that cutting board. I’m not sure how it got all those oily marks, but they had to go!! My miniature craft room idea didn’t involve any yucky mess on the walls 😀 So the whole cutting board got a few coats of our homemade gesso first.
The gesso seals the wood and prevents bleed through too. It also looks a lot like a plastered wall 😉 Right, now that we have a clean slate to work with, we can use that sketch and build all the pieces that make up the craft room.
The shelf, books, clock, poster, and tomato can succulent planter
There are two “focus” areas in the repurposed cutting board craft room; the shelf and the craft table. For the shelf, I simply cut two pieces of balsa wood, one wider than the other, and glued them together. To add hooks to the shelf (not pictured below) use toothpicks.
The clock and the tomato planter are pretty simple too. For the clock, I downsized a real clock face and glued it onto a branch sliver. The tomato can is a dowel stick cut to size with a hole drilled down the center.
The hole makes it easier to glue the faux succulent inside. You can paint or stain the wooden dowel, or glue on a miniaturized printable, to mimic the look of a real can of tomato soup.
Always refer back to the original sketch or image to double-check that everything is still within scale.
The succulent planter rests on a stack of teeny, tiny books. Small books are one of the easiest things to miniaturize. We use them often in our creations. Like this one that sits on a stool sample, and this open one that’s captured in a fairy beach cloche. They’re all made with balsa wood.
For the poster, I found this beautiful mushroom printable at Picture Box Blue. She has an amazing collection of free printables to choose from. I resized the poster and just glued it onto a piece of balsa wood to give it some weight.
The craft table, miniature artwork and coloured pencils
The second “focus” area in the repurposed cutting board craft room is the craft table. Once again the initial sketch makes it so much easier to figure out how big (or in this case small 😉 ) everything needs to be cut. To make the craft desk I used balsa wood.
For the drawers, I took the easy way out and just cut ice cream sticks to make mock drawer fronts and glued them onto the craft table frame.
Paint or stain the craft table before adding some drawer pulls. To make the drawer pulls, empty pill sleeves work like a charm 😉 and you can paint them using craft paint or spray paint.
Once the paint dries cut the little plastic bitty that normally holds the pills in half. Dip the cut end of the pill sleeve halves in super glue.
Use tweezers to attach them to the drawer fronts. Tweezers come in super handy for small, delicate work like this 😉
The wonky 3-legged stool that slips in under the craft table has a balsa wood seat and twig legs. You can also use plaster of Paris and a muffin pan to make a small stool.
And to create a little crafty chaos on the craft table I added a miniature painting and some pencils.
That artwork is an actual miniature I painted in oils for an exhibition a few years back. I never finished it for some reason.
For the pencils I used toothpicks with their tips dipped in paint and their ends painted to match.
Once all the miniature decor bits are done, they can be glued onto the cutting board to keep them safe.
To complete the picture, I added a few more things; like a small seed pod bowl and sprigs of dried thyme to hang from the toothpick hooks on the shelf. Thyme has such tiny delicate leaves which makes it perfect for miniatures and fairy gardens.
And there are three fairy candles on the desk just in case the power goes out while you’re busy drawing that masterpiece 😀
So that’s the cutting board repurposed into a small craft room done. Time to share those tips for making miniatures.
5 Tips for Planning and Making Miniatures
Miniature Making Tip 1 – Go back to being a child
Children have the most amazing imaginations. Everything could become something else. Crayons can fly at the speed of light and twigs can become fire-breathing dragons or a grandfather clock ;-). Free that inner child and you’ll see miniature potential in almost everything. For me, a trip to the supermarket becomes an adventure, and everyday things turn into playgrounds for my imagination. A stack of beads can be turned into a topiary and pill packets can be transformed into door handles.
And if your inner child is stubborn and doesn’t want to come out, then take your kids or the grandbabies with you and ask them to help you find stuff. If you listen carefully, you may just hear them tell you all about the pear blob monster in aisle 9 or the broccoli fairy trees in aisle 6 (true story) 😉
Miniature Making Tip 2 – Inspiration is everywhere
The possibility of miniaturizing things is endless. If you love your gallery wall at home, you can miniaturize it. That pretty bookshelf you saw on Pinterest, shrink it down. Or that gorgeous toilet paper holder you saw in your favorite blogger’s bathroom, make a tiny version. Even a succulent planted in a tomato can is fair game.
Draw or print out your inspiration and use that as a template to create your masterpiece. Printing or drawing helps break things down into flat planes making it easier to figure out the size or scale.
Miniature Making Tip 3 – Changing the scale
When making miniatures size really does matter 😉 Especially if you’re going to combine bought stuff with little things you make yourself. When it comes to buying miniature bits and pieces the most popular size or scale is 1:12. One inch in this scale equals 12 inches in the big real world. Here’s an interesting fact; the 1:12 scale gained popularity 100 years ago and is based on Queen Mary’s Dolls House. In the early 20th century, imperial rulers were marked in 1/12 of an inch, and it’s kinda stuck around. Another popular scale is 1:6. That’s the world Barbie and her friends live in. Picking one scale helps a lot when it comes to making sure everything works together and if you stick with that scale you can quickly calculate how to resize something to fit.
Miniature Making Tip 4 – Choosing materials
Toothpicks and ice cream sticks!!!! Those innocuous sticks of wood are perfect for making all kinds of miniatures; from porch swings to stained glass fairy doors and planters. Another staple we use all the time is basswood or balsa wood. Both basswood and balsa wood are very soft and extremely easy to work with.
And don’t worry about making a perfect copy of everything. Lots of things can be printed out and stuck down, just like the clock face and the mushroom poster. For small rugs, curtains, bedding, and hammocks you can even print a pretty pattern onto the fabric. On that point, when choosing fabric for your tiny world, a fine delicate weave always works best.
Miniature Making Tip 5 – Gluing and cutting
Put the glue gun away!!! The glue doesn’t hold up and you’ll spend hours cleaning up big fat glue blobs that just aren’t suited to small detailed work. I would also not recommend using wood glue unless you’ll be painting over it. Wood glue tends to yellow over time. Those small tubes of super glue are ideal. They dry clear and their application tip helps put the glue in exactly the right spot. Superglue dries really quickly too. Just a word of caution; superglue gives off fumes while drying so be sure to let your miniature cure completely if you’re going to add it to a small enclosed space.
For cutting, I usually use a pair of sharp nail scissors or a craft knife. For intricate cuts, nothing beats the Dremel Moto-Saw. The hubby bought me one a few months back and I love how easy it’s made my life.
Yoh!! That was a long one, but I do hope you enjoyed both the tutorial and that the miniature-making tips will help you create many little worlds of your own. Thank you for sticking around until the end.
If you enjoyed these tips and tricks for planning and making miniature, don’t forget to pin them for later.
And if you have an old cutting board that needs a small makeover 😉 then this is the pin for you.
And if you’re looking for a few more miniature tutorials, you’ll find a whole bunch on our blog, including:
- A tiny world in a book nook;
- Sands of Time hourglass;
- Tiny beach scene in a wine glass cloche;
- A whole kokedama village;
- Real miniature toilet rolls;
- Victorian long drop toilet;
- Working grandfather clock;
- A stool sample and reading glasses;
- Tiny sock gnomes;
- Pixie den in a lantern,
- Miniature garden in a seashell.
- and a porch swing in an old clock.
BTW, we’ve included some affiliate links below, so you don’t have to worry about finding some of the stuff we used to make miniatures. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a very small commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and fairy craft ideas for you 😉
And if you want to learn more about the wonderful world of miniatures or prefer to buy rather than DIY.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.