October 07, 2009

Miniatures How To by Margaret Grace, author of Mourning in Miniature

For Part Two of our visit with Margaret Grace, author of the Miniature Mystery series, including the just released MOURNING IN MINIATURE, we're featuring a special post today: an easy miniature how-to.

Make an Easy Miniature Hat and Purse Set - By Camille Minichino/Margaret Grace

I'm not your typical miniaturist—infinitely patient, with a large dose of perfectionism.

I'm the quick and easy kind of miniaturist, much like the main character in my Miniature Mysteries series. Like Gerry, I'm thrilled when I can make something in less than half an hour and have it look good!

Here are some examples. The hats and purses pictured are so easy to make, they're day-care projects.

Easy Handbags

Materials: FIMO or other craft clay; pieces of thin chain (rummage through your jewelry drawer for those broken necklaces); embellishments (trims, flowers, beads, feathers); varnish or glaze.

Tools: Toaster oven, craft knife, scissors, small paint brush, tile or work surface.

1. Choose a block of colored clay and break off a piece that will be about the size of a regular marble when rolled between your palms.

2. Knead the clay until it's a workable ball.

3. Roll out clay (tile surfaces work well), as you would a pie crust (not that I've done that) with a pencil or dowel until it's about 1 1/2 inches wide on the long axis of an oval.

4. Use a sharp craft knife to trim away edges, leaving a rectangle.

5. Fold the bottom third (approximately, depending on the style purse you want) over the rest of the rectangle, leaving the top third to fold over for the purse's flap.

6. Before pressing the layers down, insert a piece of chain to make a strap.

7. Seal the edges and bake in a toaster oven according to directions that come with the clay – generally about 250 degrees for about 15 minutes.

8. Make several purses in different styles and colors, some wide, some deep, and bake all at once for efficiency. When cool, purses should lift off the tray easily.

9. Paint the entire surface of the purse with varnish or glaze to give a more realistic texture.

10. Add embellishments for a "clasp" or elsewhere on the purse. On the purse shown, I sprinkled shredded foam for a whimsical effect.


1. Start out the same way, but with a larger ball that can be rolled into a circle from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. A smaller circle will give you a cloche-like hat; a larger circle ends up with a brim.

2. Pick up the circle of clay and form it using your finger or another bowl-like object. Allow the clay to droop over the tip of your finger. The floppy part will be the brim, which you can shape any way you want: turn it up, trim to make even, or leave it as it is, crimping it into folds.

In this case a scissors works better than a knife-to protect your finger! The hardest part is getting the "bowl" of the hat to look right. If you've rolled the clay too thin at that spot, it will split and any patching will show.

3. Bake and handle as in above steps 7 through 10.

Use the hats and purses to accessorize any shadow box or room in a dollhouse. Or make dozens and open a hat and purse shop!

**Fun - and easy. Who can beat that? Thanks, Camille!

** Read about the Miniature Mystery series.

** Read about Camille Minichino/Margaret Grace and see her miniatures in part 1.

** Buy:


  1. Lovely, informative interview ladies! Great book covers and fun miniatures...what more could we ask? Best wishes for a sucessful run!
    Laurie Sisson

  2. Thanks, Laurie, and thanks, Chris, for hosting me these days!

  3. This is probably an odd question but I wonder if Camille has ever dabbled in cake decoration? I would imagine the skills honed while crafting miniatures would translate well into the sculptural arena of cake decoration. I say this because as a frequent visitor to Christine's blog, I've seen many miniature foods and I swear they look good enough to eat.

    A silly thought, I know, but there you go.

  4. I bet Camille would do great mini food! I know, Christina, I love the mini food! (only wish it translated to mini calories in real life! haaa!)

  5. Thanks for a wonderful tut on making hats and handbags.

  6. What great ideas - thanks so much for sharing with us!


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