So....in my spare time I make doll houses. Not pretty little dollhouses from pre-cut kits: custom dollhouses and all the stuff that goes inside them. I usually make them from scratch, cut from foam core display board. The furniture is balsa wood, and the furnishings are sculpted from polymer clay which is cured in the oven right in the kitchen at home. I use acrylics, tempera and enamel paint to finish everything. Sometimes I incorporate metals such as copper and punchable tin. The vegetation is made from mosses, shells, pine cones, sticks, small stones- you name it. The 'river rock' base of this particular cottage is made from antiqued pistachio shells my friend Jule saved for me. I use a lot of 'found' stuff because I like the challenge of figuring out what to use it for and how make things....and it's affordable. Making miniatures is an expensive hobby if you use kits and purchased items, a lot of enthusiasts do just that. Some people are collectors, and some are artisans. I am the latter, and I learned to make things out of necessity because I couldn't afford to buy them and I loved the hobby. I have used kit that were given to me as gifts, but none of them have been used to make what they were intended to make originally, because I 'kit-bash' them, which is changing out certain elements and replacing those with custom parts. I save everything from the kits and eventually they're used for other projects. I make dolls, too.
I use Xacto knives, disposable scalpels, dental picks and scrapers, pins, Emory boards, and a small hack saw and miter box to cut and shape things. I also have a Dremel tool with detachable sanding and cutting heads. It's the most elaborate tool I own. Everyone has their own personal preferences.
This is a part of the rear exterior of the cottage, showing the vegetation, river stones and a few fun things- a toad house with a painted copper roof and to the far right, a green turtle shell, made from a 'push mold' I made from a silver ring I own.
This is the upper room of the two-room cottage. The stuffed chair is polymer clay over a wire armature. All the other furniture pieces are cut from sheets of balsa wood, which are purchased in packs.( Occasionally I buy a specialty piece of fancy molding or mill work.)
The food stool, night gown, socks, boots and pitcher and bowl are all polymer clay, as are some of the more detailed 'fancy' books. Other books are made from scraps of balsa covered with paper.
This is the downstairs main room.Once again, the fireplace is clay over wire. There is a stack of wood inside and it's fitted with a battery-powered artificial candle votive flame. All the furniture is painted balsa. All of the furnishings except the 'crystal ball' and candle holder on the table are sculpted from polymer clay. The corn stalks in the corner are balsa shavings with clay leaves. The candles hanging by the fireplace are pieces of thread dipped in wax. The rag rug the cat and rat are sitting on are braided embroidery floss.
The buckets of kindling are scored balsa wood and found sticks. The broom is a twig of sweetgrass. There is a bubbling cauldron on the top of the fireplace, a grimorie, and a green mortar and pestle. The brick floor of the fireplace is balsa wood that has been scored and painted.
All of my dollhouses and vignette boxes have a story to go with them. I draft the story, then cartoon out the house or box. This one is a simple witch's cottage in the woods.The witch is out wort-cutting, but she's not too far away, she's left her tools-and a cup of coffee-on the table.Her hat and cape are hanging next to the book case. Lois wanted an orange tabby cat in her cottage, so I made one from a push mold modeled from a pewter charm and then detailed it into shape before firing the clay. The rat on the rug is a little 'bonus' I threw in at the last minute. I figured the cat would be busy while the witch was away!