How to make an aquarium for your dollhouse

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Me sitting at my desk with latest creation

Here is an aquarium for a dollhouse.  First you will need a rectangular mini perfume bottle.  This one is two inches by one and a half inches. It could be a little smaller. Dollhouse scale is one inch to one foot.  So in real life this would be 24 inches by 18 inches.

First download and print on photo paper some 2 x 3 images of fish or an aquarium scene. You can find under Aquariums or Petco. Cut out part you want to show. You want some blue water for the background. Glue rectangular piece to back of bottle using glue around the edges.

The top of your aquarium will be where the opening is. Put “gravel” in through opening, a few grains at a time.  You can use sesame seeds, rice, or coarse salt for the gravel.For plants  I just snip off a few stems and leaves from a silk/plastic arrangement I have and push these into the hole. A little craft moss is nice to tuck around.  I bury the ends in the gravel using a bamboo skewer to guide the plants.

You can put some Triple Thick on a toothpick and drip it in to seal gravel and hold plants in place.  This takes a while to dry.  Overnight is best if you can wait. Then if you want to put real water in your aquarium you can, or just leave it empty.

For the hood, I use Hefty disposable aluminum pans.  A loaf pan or little baking pan is good.  Use the curved part for the hood and try to use the crimped edges for a nice finish. You can leave this chrome or paint black.

Cost of this aquarium is almost nothing. Of course it helps to have a few basic supplies on hand. Bamboo skewers, toothpicks, Triple Thick, craft moss, aluminum disposable pans, glue, photo paper and a sharp scissors.

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Coca Cola Lamp

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OK. I know I said I would show you how to make a Coca Cola lamp out of nothing.  Well you do need a computer and some photo paper, unless you happen to have a 2 x 3 photo of a Coca Cola lamp lying around.  Check out Coca Cola lamps on internet, print out one or two you like. (You will note that real ones cost hundreds of dollars and if you can find a miniature one, they are very expensive.)

Cut out around lamp. Get top from a fat vitamin bottle for the “base”, make a hole in top with an awl or hammer a nail in to make a hole.  Roll cut out of lamp around a pencil to round it.  Give it a coat of clear nail polish.  Hot glue it to base.  Take a piece of chain from any costume jewelry and run through hole and hot glue.

Put a safety pin through top link and jab into ceiling.  As I have cardboard ceilings this is easy.  If you have a wood ceiling, you may have to hold safety pin with duct tape.

My dollhouse is not electrified, however I have used three strands of mini Christmas lights, which I have taped to the ceilings.  The lights are very bright and I put a dab of blue translucent glass paint on each one to dull the light down a bit.  You may want to use red translucent paint in the bedroom as it is more sensuous. (Just kidding)

I have also used the stick and click lights in the center of the ceiling of each room…these take 3 AAA batteries each.  So be sure and buy a 24 pack of batteries.  If you want to get fancy, you could snake a Christmas light down your chain and tuck it behind lamp to “light” it.

The fireplace is made out of a can of Spam, with the Spam removed. I cut the shape with a tin snips and painted the inside flat black. Glue little rocks all over and paint later if you want a different color.  Little rocks can be bought in the florist department of a craft supply store.

Or you can use styrofoam pellets from packing material.  Glue on and then paint with whatever colors.  Use acrylic paint or you will melt the foam. To make embers, sprinkle some foam crumbs on bottom, and drip red/white, silver nail polish all over. Then some black here and there.

The logs are little twigs.  It helps to have a fine craft saw and a little vise, but if you don’t, you can use cinnamon sticks and cut with a scissors.

The flames are red satin ribbons, dusted with glitter and once over with clear nail polish. Or if you don’t have red satin, you could use any color and paint ribbon with red nail polish.  Nail polish is a must have product for so many things.

The mantle is just a piece of black cardboard that was part of a box.  Try to use little boxes as they have nice edges. Cut with a one sided razor blade.

The mirror over the fireplace is a cosmetic mirror from an eye shadow box, glued in a little picture frame. You don’t have to separate the mirror from the black plastic as it will probably break.

I bought the pool table from a catalog.  A real bargain at $10.99 and it even came with a pool rack (on wall)

All the background you see is cut from magazines. The disco ball is a Christmas tree ornament.

The play yard features my grandchildren Ben and Cami. I bought the dolls and glued their photos on for the faces. The grass is green craft foam/covered with white glue and sprinkled with dried parsley.

The bucket with spilled “water” uses Triple Thick for the water.  This is a wonderful product that dries clear like water.  Good for bathtubs,sinks, birdbaths, swimming pools and glasses of “liquid”.

The stones in the patio are grouted with Colgate toothpaste.  Works fine. Can also grout with an old tube of facial mud mask.

The fireplace tools were a little complicated to make. I used a cut off chopstick with a cup hook screwed into it for the stand. I used small paint brushes cut down for the tools and the metal on one paint brush twisted with a needle nose pliers, for the poker.  I painted all the wood black and used silver leaf for the tops of the tools.  You could use gold or silver nail polish.

By the way, 99 cent a bottle nail polish works just fine.

To the left of the fireplace you will see a little aquarium.  Tomorrow I will show you how to make this.  Hint: You need to have a tiny rectangular perfume bottle (empty)

My dollhouse…playing in the kitchen

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Well, dear Readers, I guess by now, you can tell I like black and white checks. I dressed a doll I found at Walmart, added my photo for the face and a few snips of my hair glued on top and added an apron I cut out of a catalog. I added some narrow ribbon for the neck and ties. My sister gave me the “stainless steel” stove and fridge. (They are actually wood.)

My favorite designer is McKenzie Childs. Their line features hand painted furniture and beautiful dishes and items for the home. Lots of black/white checks. Their furniture runs into the thousands of dollars. I get their catalog and cut it up and make all sorts of things.

I took a band off a watch I bought for $5 and used a McKenzie Childs clock border to give it That Look. It really works. (I have no idea how to ever change the battery as it is hot glued to the wall.)  I had some plain enamel pots and pans for my doll house and I just glued on some tiny checkered pattern. There are even some pots in the oven. The real pots cost about $100 each and they do not make miniature items.

The knife sticking out of the turkey has a McKenzie Childs handle. I made the knife out of an end piece of a Pillsbury baking tube (with a little knife shaped piece cut out),and a fimo handle, covered in checkered pattern.  You cut the knife shape, handle and all and then just cover the handle in fimo and bake for 15 minutes on a baking sheet at 275 degrees,  You can use black fimo and just leave it.  Or coat it with clear nail polish, or cover in a pattern.  You can make a whole set of knives out of two ends. Copy your real knives for the shapes.

I did purchase the floor.  A miniature catalog had a plastic  floor sheet that was perfect, and I was able to do the kitchen and the pool table room.  Sometimes I can use contact paper for the floor, but it is hard to find a pattern in a small enough scale.

I made the little orange spatula out of a tiny corner cut from my real spatula and made a little hole and glued it to a toothpick. The Sandy doll is holding a purple spatula and also a grater, which I cut out of a real grater with a tin snips.

The pot rack was an old copper bracelet, bent and hung from the ceiling with a large paper clip.  The “chef” in the corner is actually a butter spreader and he is the handle,  I just wedged it behind the counter and he “sits” on the counter. The curtains were a napkin with a hand crocheted border around the edges. I think I bought that at a thrift shop for around 50 cents.

The Barefoot Contessa cookbook in the background is cute. I make all my books with “real covers”. I buy little blank books from the doll house catalog and glue on covers. (Or you can use little pieces of wood or thick cardboard.)  Where to find these perfect right sized covers?  The book club ads in the magazines have pages of books and usually the size is perfect.  Sometimes you have to trim a little.

Also some catalogs that have tee shirts with sayings have words and pictures that are the perfect size to cut out and glue on bottles and jars. The Sunday paper food ads have lots of tiny colored pictures of food things. It’s easy to make a bag of rice or dog food by gluing a picture to a little piece of card stock (just cut up an old greeting card), roll it around a pencil to give it roundness, and smear with some white glue to give it a finish.

OK, that’s enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make a Coca Cola lamp out of nothing.

My dollhouse….a work in progress

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Five years ago, I bought this basic four room doll house at a white elephant booth at a carnival.  It cost $20 and was just a shell.  It was too small to design a real kitchen, so I went to Costco, found a nice sturdy box and set the house on the box and that became my kitchen.

I have since added about eight more “boxes” to the left of the house and so now I have a twelve room mansion and a dress shop ( I have this sitting on the buffet in my dining room.)

The reason I make almost everything for my “house” is that here in Hawaii there are no Dollhouse shops and I am too impatient to wait for the ordering and shipping time to get here.  I did buy some things I couldn’t make.  My pride and joy is the parlor chair and of course my kitchen appliances, sink and counters.

Going room by room and starting with the master bedroom-the headboard is a double picture frame with the bedspread fabric where the photos should be.  I cut up a jewelry roll in a small print (25 cents at the thrift shop) and made the spread, bolster (out of the ring roll) and pillows.The fabric was already “quilted”.

The carpet is a cut up sweater and the throw on the bed is a tiny snip of another sweater.  The walls are all photos cut out of magazines to give “windows” and light where there is none.

I used table napkins with some Battenburg lace trim for the curtains and lots of thumtacks, hot glue, tacky glue and duct tape.

The doll sitting on the bed is a replica of the one on my real bed.  Pierot. I photographed my doll, put it on my computer, printed it on photo paper size 2 x 3 inches, cut out hands and face and just copied the rest using my model.  I got all the gold material, etc. at my favorite thrift shop.

While shopping in a thrift shop look in the childrens clothes department for great fabrics, and also the napkin/doily basket for nice bits of lace and trim.

I guess the whole cost of the bedroom was about $5 with all my “purchases”.  In a miniature store or catalog, that wouldn’t even buy you one little pillow.  Sometimes you have to “splurge” on store bought stuff.  For example I needed some piping for a pillow and couldn’t figure out how to make that so had to run to Walmart for that.  I think I spent more on a card of piping, than the bed, doll, carpet and drapes all together.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the kitchen.  p.s.  just noticed little red object in bottom of photo is my flashlight that I use constantly for peering into corners and placing things with a tweezers.

ppss.  someone asked me why I “play” with a dollhouse at my age (72) and I explained, Cause it is fun, and the possiblilites are endless.  You look at every little toothpaste cap as a potential vase, thimbles make great waste baskets and ice buckets and little picture frames broken up make beautiful shelves.  (Four shelves to a frame) and they are usually finished with gold trim and all.  All  you have to do is hot glue to wall, or if you want a mirrored back to  your shelves, glue to a mirror and glue that to the wall.

Some leopard things I love

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After I wrote today’s blog I realized I have so many beautiful leopard things, I wanted to share all the different ones with you.

On the far right is the coat that started my obsession with leopard. I got it 25 years ago at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.  It is a Mickey Mouse leopard print in a very warm car coat.  I don’t get to wear it in Hawaii, but it is great for trips to the mainland.

On the left is a vest and in the middle, a very Vegas looking jacket to wear with jeans.  In foreground are shoes, tees, purse, gloves and the whole shebang is on my leopard throw, which I have on my bed.

Guess you realize, I really meant it when I said, “surround yourself with colors and patterns that make you happy.”

I love leopard pattern things

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Me on Birthday #72

My two daughters Jody 50 and Sherry 48 surprised me with this beautiful bathrobe.

I think you should always surround yourself with colors and patterns that make  you happy.  I have always loved the pattern of leopard.  I have many items of apparal, shoes, purses, gloves and jewelry.

My next project is to make or find a leopard apron, as I spend so much time in the kitchen.  Whenever I am in a Thrift Shop and see anything with a leopard print, I get it and use the fabric to cover something.  A pillow, a pencil holder, and lately, little things for my dollhouse.

The other day I found a child’s bathing suit in a tiny leopard print in a nice stretchy satiny fabric.  Cut up, it made a perfect footstool and it looks like real leopard.

Here’s how to make a footstool for your dollhouse:  I used a Listerine cap topped with a ball of cotton. If you don’t have Listerine, a top from a makeup tube will do just fine. Hot glue to hold cotton on base. Put a circle of fabric over cotton and secure with a rubber band. Then surround the sides with masking tape. Paint the masking tape with black nail polish (or black paint) and glue some trim around the part where the top meets the bottom to hide the rubber band.  (I have enough fabric left over to make about twenty pillows for my dollhouse.)

My next blog will be more about my dollhouse and why I make so many things for it, rather that buying them.  Hint:  There is no Dollhouse or Miniature shop in Hawaii

Decoupage (pasting photos and cutouts on old stuff)

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One of my favorite things to do, is to remake things I have or find at Thrift Shops by simply covering them with cutouts or photos.  It is very easy and fun to do.  All you do is take any item, say a tray or in the photo on my site, an old brown jewelry box and a box of favorite photos or cut out pictures from a magazine, such as a favorite catalog or photos of food, or cars or whatever.  Rubber cement is a good thing to use for glue as it doesn’t wrinkle up the paper, but you can use tacky glue, school glue or a glue stick.  Put the bigger ones on first and fill in spaces with smaller images.  Oh, you cut around the person or thing so you have lots of odd shapes…You can always peel off, rearrange or glue over.  When you are pleased with your result, you can get fancy and dab a little silver or gold leaf here and there, but that is not necessary as that starts to make the item expensive.  Now just rub some tacky glue, or school glue all over the surface and smooth with your fingers…It will look all creamy and white but will dry clear and seal all the edges…Voila….Enjoy

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