March 24, 2019

The Half Scale Slightly Haunted House

Between posts for my friend's miniature Paris Project (see link and photo in left column for first day), I thought I'd share progress on my current half-scale house project. (Click the photos for the full image.)

The Before:

The Almost There: 

I've had this Chantilly house kit by Greenleaf for years. I got it from Tracy Topps (of Minis on the Edge - check out her amazing houses!) and was never sure if I wanted to tackle it. The problem? It was partially assembled.

Well, I kept thinking of what a cool haunted house it would be. At least as a "holding" place until I build the much bigger house I want to do.  So... I gave in.

Ohhhhh... Never ever do I want to wallpaper an assembled house this small again. As it doesn't have to be "perfect," I did a lot of piecing since it was hard to make paper templates and get my hand in some spots. But I survived! (Cue Gloria Gaynor!) Oh and, glutton for punishment, I did more piecing around the front window since I wanted to put brick paper in. Yeah, fun. The large strips can't be glued on until I first cut and paint the wood strips for the front porch floor.

I made paper templates and measured the floors, too. The living room floor (first floor right)  is wood I had. It's perfect for an old house as there's a tiny section missing near the door. You can't tell too much because of how I painted it, but that's okay either way. I still have to figure out a rail by the stairs and find a post I had made a while ago or make another one since I somehow  lost the pre-punched railing.

I love the paper patterns I had for wallpaper. It's scrapbook paper. The gray on the second floor and the shabby blue in the dining room are from Michael's. I probably will use those patterns in another house as they work really well. I love the checkerboard look and use that a lot, too.

The floor is interesting on the second floor. It's actually from a scrapbook paper pad. The floor has a slightly shiny coating. I pieced it on the side wall and at the staircase opening.  It was really too nice to mess up, too, as it fit the room size perfectly.

I love the green paper's print, too, in the living room, but that's all I have. Probably got it in a garage sale find. I decided to sponge paint the bedroom a two-tone in purple with gray. The floor is another cool scrapbook paper with lamination on it. Too bad that's all I have, too. It's a cool pattern.

The upper attic is simply painted gray with some brown accents. I'll add a photo in a later post once I put in some cobwebs and stuff, meaning lots of junk. ha!

The house's outside is painted a medium gray sand paint (sand mixed in for texture). I'll be dabbing on black around the house edges to age it. I'm painting window trim now along with all the decorative trim. Too-much-trim!! The second floor balcony has to repainted and I'll be adding some plastic "wrought iron" trim around it. Once I get to it, I'm going to try using corrugated cardboard painted black for the roof. Yeah, should be fun cutting the shapes.

One thing I decided for fun was to make some flower beds for the "Punny Plants" that  I got a long time ago in a half-scale group swap. (Can you guess what the plants are?) I'm going to make raised beds with foam core and brick as then if I want to move them to the bigger house's yard later I can. I'm also thinking of making a colored brick walkway with some white square plaster pieces I have. I really really don't like all the painting I have to do, but I admit, I am liking the look of this house more as I go along.

The other big project I've been putting off is figuring how to run the wires for LED lights. I'm planning on one in each room. This is the kind of house I figure shouldn't be too bright, so we'll see. I got the 3-volt battery holder with an on-off switch and a AA battery holder from True2Scale. I didn't want to bother with electric this time and wanted to see how this will work. They also have a pretty decent LED tutorial on their site.  

Hopefully later, I want to take apart some light strings and see if I can adapt some. Cheap way to do lighting. We'll see. 

I'll share some other pix later of the furnishings I made. Some will only be in this house temporarily as it's pretty small, but it's good for the moment. 

Oh, and why the title? Well, I've been admiring some amazing dilapidated miniature house photos online - but I just couldn't do it on this one. I'll add some cobwebs and some staining, but I just couldn't totally mess it up. That really is much harder to do than you think. Maybe another house...

Don't forget to come back on Friday for another Paris Project post! Ta-dah! A preview!! (and it's really cool-looking!!)

Until then, Chris 

March 22, 2019

The #Paris #Miniature Project, Day 2

Welcome back! 

If you're new, you can start the series posts here or click the Paris photo in the left column to go to day one. (If you didn't, you also can sign up for the email updates in the box in the left column. I tested it and it works.)

The Somewhat, Sometimes Boring Stuff: Building & Planning, Day 2

By Gigi Nephew 

Today’s focus is on the plan of the structure itself.  The bottom floor of the design will incorporate the Houseworks Street of Shops Bay Window Shop kit, which has the shop window on the left and the door on the right.  The shop measures 13” wide by 11 ¼” high by 13” deep.

For the second floor, I have the room box kit that I thought I would use, but am modifying it with new wood since this kit's wood is flimsier. Already a change in plans - I'll have my husband custom make the second floor.

(Image: Parisian facade,

The idea for the second-floor shop is to have a typical Parisian-style look, with three windows with shutters in the front and the door on the side to access the apartment from the outside stairs.  It will have approximately the same dimensions as the shop. It will contain the living room, kitchen with eating area and a tiny bathroom.

Floor Three:

The third floor uses the Serendipity Shed kit from Hobby Builders Supply.  It is 13 1/16” wide by 10 7/8” high by 9 1/4” deep.  It will be accessible from the second floor via a spiral staircase.  

Another change is the angled roof will be modified into a flat surface with a "glass" roof frame, allowing an open-air view. This allows the occupant to sleep under the stars in her bedroom or sit on the open terrace where she can enjoy her morning coffee and croissants, or maybe some wine and cheese, perhaps?  That kit is from 
  (Yay! Progress: The flat ceiling/floor piece is cut and glued. Thanks, Don!) Stay tuned for more photos! - What colors and patterns will I pick???) 


About Me:

 I plan on having regular updates, but at times real life will interfere and deter me as I am also a student pursuing my third graduate degree.  We also have a son who is in eighth grade.  Not to worry, my good friend Chris will nudge me  (NOTE: You bet I will!) to ensure I keep on track to complete this Paris Project to submit by December 16th for the HBS 2019 Creatin’ Contest.  The deadline seems far away, but time goes quickly. (Quicker than you think!) 

* Go to: Day 1 - Day 3 (Tues. 3/26)

Until next time… Happy creating!

March 19, 2019

The Paris #Miniature #Dollhouse Project, Day 1

Welcome Readers!  

Today I am beginning a series of posts featuring my friend Gigi Nephew's new miniature adventure. We both love history and reading historical fiction as well, so this project will be a fun and unique combination of all our favorite interests!


Follow along for an insider's view, some tips, ideas and general mini FUN! as Gigi delves into the creation and kit-bashing of this year's Hobby Builders Supply 2019 Creatin' Contest kit, the Serendipity Shed. 

 I'm helping her brainstorm and do some creative things, as well as serving as her project post-master here.  The idea is to have the posts run on Tuesdays and Fridays, though the Friday posts may be more sporadic, or will be shorter. The posts will be linked and be listed below so you can follow along on the mini adventure. (NOTE: You can sub to email updates in the box in the left column.)

We hope you enjoy the journey - and please vote when the time comes!
--Chris & Gigi.

Day 1 - So It Begins!

By Gigi Nephew

 On the advice of my dear friend Christine Verstraete, I will provide regular updates on my next miniature build that I now refer to as - The Paris Project.  A big thank you goes to Chris for helping me to actually do this in a public manner, and for all your inspiration and friendship!     

Book Inspiration

As I was reading the books, The Paris Key and Letters from Paris, both written by Juliet Blackwell, the vision for the Serendipity Shed came to me.  I envisioned a three-story old building in the heart of Paris that has a shop on the ground floor that makes and repairs locks and keys, sells masks, and also has some Paris memorabilia.  The two floors above the shop are the living quarters of the woman from Wisconsin who pursued her dream to own a shop and live in Paris.

(Image: Potential components for miniature building levels.)

 The mask portion of the store in the book is based on the accounts of L'Inconnue de la Seine (translated “the unknown woman of the Seine").  According to the stories, a young woman was pulled out of the Seine River at the Quai du Louvre in Paris around the 1880s.  A death mask was made of her face which became a popular fixture on the walls of artists’ homes after 1900. In reading about the history, this became a well-known method to capture a loved one or a famous person’s face upon death. (Image:

 Keys and locks have been around a long time and the many different designs of keys are a unique art form and also hold mysteries to the doors they unlock.  The theme for the miniature shop is not only to cut keys, but to repair old locks, and sell unique keys as art work. (Image:

 So, with the vision of this building incorporating various historical aspects, I am excited to begin another mini adventure! I invite you to come along for the journey. Maybe I'll even inspire you to start a project of your own!

** (I will keep adding the series of links here. Links may not be immediately active.)

* Go to  Day 2   - Day 3 (Mon. 3/26)

Until next time... Happy creating! 

March 11, 2019

March Project - HS Dollhouse

I've been rather obsessed with getting this half scale dollhouse kit, Greenleaf's Chantilly, done. (Wow that went up in price. I think I've had this kit part-finished for probably 10 or more years! It's been a long time.)

I'm much further along than this pic, but I wanted to put a post up. I have the inside done, except I'm thinking of adding some interior doors and have to put the front door on. I have to add some staircase railing yet, too.

It's going to be a "kind of" haunted house as I simply have not been drawn to making it completely spooky and dirty. I've tried and the house refuses. haa! We'll see. I'm going to add cobwebs, a little dirt, but not overdo it. I really like the spooky, abandoned look, but I'll have to do another project, maybe a book box as those are fun. I am going to try to put some LED lights in with a switch. Have to figure out the positioning yet (and how to do them. The scary part!)  

I've decided the house will be a light-medium gray with dark gray edges (using sand in paint)  and black trim around windows. the triangles in front and the large top of the roof are dark purple. I had it in mind to do a real purple color for the posts and trim. Even had to go buy some as, of course, I had every other purple and lavender but that color! ha! You know how it is when you have a certain idea in mind. It can't be anything else! 

The underside of the roof is a medium gray. The front porch will be wood strips and may be black and gray, I think.  The roof is going to be corrugated paper painted black.

I'm painting the outside and outside trim at the moment. You have to decide what goes on first with this house. I'll be adding a wrought-iron type rail on the lower roof as it seems odd not to have anything there. I'm also cutting off the bottom posts that would be right in the center as they just make it too crowded. I don't think they're needed. 

Stay tuned. I'll add more once I get some decent updated photos.

February 21, 2019

Loss of a Miniatures Legend

The Sun-Times ran a full page obituary yesterday on the death of miniaturist Hank Kupjack.

Kupjack, son of the late Eugene Kupjack, carried on the "family business" with his brother, Jay. The father was one of the principal artists who worked on the legendary Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Growing up in Chicago, the Thorne Rooms were one of the highlights of a trip downtown, along with seeing Colleen Moore's fairy castle at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Another legend is gone.

January 30, 2019

January Projects: Miniature #Dollhouse Books


(PS - If you're looking for real-life books, check my comprehensive list on the Pages tab at the top of the blog!)

I posted before about making miniature books. Yes, I'm still at it and came upon a couple cool ideas. (Click photos to see full size.)

 I've been making an assortment of faded, old-looking books.  Here's some of them:

I also was making a bunch of modern horror books before for the Mini Horror Bookstore project. I put that on hold for a bit.

Thanks to Jennifer's Miniatures on FB for offering a great tutorial on making "fancier" books. A few ideas I'd used before; a couple I tried and made some different books this time.

Here's my version -  Fancy Mini Books: 

I resized the sheet of vintage book photos to a 1", 3/4" and a smaller half-scale 1/2" high size. I always spray the sheets with matte acrylic or fixative so they won't smear when I varnish them.

I tried matte Mod Podge, but it didn't give enough shine, so I coated the covers with one light coat of gloss Mod Podge. My thought is that more expensive and "leather" books do have a slightly shinier surface.

This is something I hadn't tried before and thought it gave the books a nice finish. Trace over the designs and certain lines on the books with a stylus ball tool using the smallest size ball. I trace the covers on a small mouse pad that has a fairly firm surface. The books end up with nice definitions in the design. It's hard to see in the photo, but the indents are there. 

Cut out covers. I always trace the edges of books with a matching Sharpie or other marker to mask the white edges. Color in the inner edges of books with the same color. 

Inside: I like picture frame mat board as it's easy to cut with scissors and is simpler to use. Measure the board piece to fit the book interior. It should fit so a little cover overlaps the  board on each side. 

I usually don't paint my mat board as the edges then have an "old book" look. But since these are "fancy" books, I painted the edges as suggested in the tutorial. I use a bottle of yes, fabric paint, I have on hand, Tulip soft fabric paint Metallics. It dries quick and has a nice, shiny metallic finish.  (Oops! I see a spot I missed on the edge of the book cover.)

When dry, glue mat board inside cover with Tacky glue. Some books require two pieces of board for thickness to match the spine width. 

Bookcase Idea:

I saw another idea on Facebook that someone was making bookcases inside a book box. Well, I happened upon this case at Goodwill and got an idea. Can you guess what it is? (Yes, I still have to touch up the corners of the box with some acrylic paint. It has a fake-leather finish.)

I opened it up and it's a key holder box! I thought it would be perfect to turn into a kind of inventory box to store my miniature books until I need them. (The bonus being that they'll be easy to find! ha!) The nice thing is the box has sturdy hinges and a good clasp on the side to keep it closed. I just have to add a hanger on back if I want.

The box inside has two rows of wood strips with the key holder hooks. I removed the hooks, then found a photo online of books on shelves. 

I printed out two sheets and sprayed the print-outs with the matte acrylic. I glued the books onto the back wall of the box in three large sections. I also cut down a couple lines of books to glue over the wood strips. 

When that was done, I glued in my own wood display shelves, which I edged with cove building so there would be a "lip" to hold the books in. All were painted black. I will also probably decorate those wood blocks to use as "dividers" and maybe put in some bookends as well. I know the printed books don't show much once the box is filled, but they look nice if any gaps show or on open shelves.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. So keep an eye open as you never know what you'll find to use for a project! Now to fill it....  

So far there are just over 50 books in there... yes, a compulsive thing that I won't be happy until all the shelves are filled! Stay tuned. haa!

What are you working on? Feel free to share your latest find or project idea!

December 28, 2018

The Year in Miniature 2018

I always like to sum up what I've made for the year. Sometimes you think you haven't gotten much done until you look at the photos. And I realized looking at the calendar, I better hurry up and plan this!  (Click photos for full size.) And I'd love to see what you made, so feel free to share your blogs or websites in the comments! (Not you spammers!) 

(The problem is remembering... I'm sure I made things early in the year, too, but I'll list this starting in summer!)

The MiniDoll list chose this fantastic illustration as a theme. I had to do this in a book box. Eventually I will make and add the doll. It also got a first place at the county fair in August.

I also made these mini plants and was surprised to get a reserve grand champion at the county fair.

This is my goofy entry for the fair in their special contest. The theme was Baa Baa Black Sheep. It got second place.


I love making Halloween items, and not just in October! Of course I had to make a spooky table!

Had fun making more books and these bookends.

Also made these flowers.

I also finished decorating this Halloween cottage and painted the Lemax fence to age it.

Loved making the interior real colorful and patterned. The edges were painted black after this. The top floor has bright orange walls.

I didn't make him, but I just love this Skellie dog I found at JoAnn's. He goes with the Haunted Porch. 

I love these mini zombie gnomes from Lemax. Made these little garden settings with them. The stones are florescent and actually glow a bright green in the dark!

 Also made a non-spooky sewing table. Fun adding things for this. There was a pair of scissors and spools of thread added after this picture.


I had this half scale Greenleaf house sitting around forever. I like the style, but didn't have one idea about what to do with it. Then I thought, I don't have a haunted house in smaller size! So I've been working on it though I will be making a larger house later on.  

The hardest part is papering since I got it assembled from my friend, Tracy. So cutting patterns... then I have to get past my idea that it looks nice and try to grunge it up to look haunted! Still working on it. I really love the scrapbook papers I'm using. Not much to see yet, have one wall done and one room almost done. Taking awhile as have to measure the papers. The outside parts have to be added yet and then finished. I'm thinking of doing it gray painted, and putting corrugated card for roofing painted black. I also am trying to figure how to use some battery light strings in it. 

A fun project - made this haunted book hutch for my longtime writer pal, Courtney. (Check out her Haunt Jaunts website!) She's not a miniaturist, but she loves books and spooky things, so this was perfect! The books below were included with it.

Mini Books - there are some things that are fun to make over and over. Mini books are one of them. There's something about a bunch of small things that are the same!  I have a container full of books as I want to make a couple book scenes!

I also found this new glass garden shed at Goodwill - $5! Have to clean it up and add a floor. I see a shabby scene in this. And I found a small round lantern which was kind of different for a small scene.

I probably missed some things, but that's enough for now.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my latest creations. I appreciate your stopping by and sharing my love of minis. Wishing everyone a wonderful new year. I hope to have some new writing projects and book updates in the coming year!

Happy New Year! 

November 21, 2018

November 14, 2018

Wee C Dollhouse Show Miniatures 2018-3

Here's the last photos of some of the miniatures on display at the annual Wee C Dollhouse Show in Elk Grove Village, Ill. See post 1 - post 2. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour!

 Two-sided room: This is a fun idea. The wall/room is angled so you can put inside and outside.

Framed scene:

You can make it look like the whole building with walls inside a frame. Neat way to make a scene in limited space. You can also do something like this in a book box.

Small Window Box: Another fun idea for lots of detail in a small space. Love all the Raggedies!

I remember seeing these stand-up figures last year and thought they were funny. Someone bought them and put them in scenes:

That's it! Hope you enjoyed the tour!
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