tips and how-tos

Neckties: Silk, preferably. Found in used clothing stores. Check the tag should say 'silk', or anything else that catches your fancy. Cheap, less than a dollar, most $.25. Fabric is small, prints are lovely, some suitable for framing as prints or mini needlework. Rugs, drapes, upholstery, table cloths, bedspreads and throw pillows etc. It ravels easily after cutting, may have to stabalize with a light glue line. (Judie)

Aquariums: Small ones, often sold at yard sales for a couple of dollars. Make wonderful glass room boxes. Some plastic or acrilyc ones can be drilled for lights and wire. A tiny hole in wallpaper with light behind and fiber optic can lead light to a table lamp or use hole in paper and put a wall sconce over it. Larger Aquariums can be used for big houses. Silicon sealer makes nearly invisible but strong glue for floors and other attachments. (the same stuff the tank itself is assembled with) Big ones are HEAVY.(Judie)

Fullsize trees, the ones that tower over the house: Yucca skeltons, you find them in the west every late fall. They are wonderfully shaped and can be embelished with folage. Glorious shapes and texture. Had for the taking everywhere. Look around any southern/western neighborhood or countryside. (Judie)

Beads, baubles, shiny stuff: Yard sales, used clothing stores. Fancy tops and embroidered clothing. Stains are ok because you only want the beads and stuff. Beads are expensive. Might check for silk blouses too. Wonderful stuff, silk. Flows like water and make gorgeous accessories. Old t-shirts, the ones that have been washed a thousand times. Great fabric for minis, drapes wonderfully. (Judie)

Coat hangers: The ones from drycleaners, thin. Curtain rods, golf clubs, ski poles, curl them with needle nose and gild, flower stands, plant hangers, anything that comes to mind. (Judie)

Take a walk in the country, or around your own neighborhood: Fall is wonderful because it drops it's clothing and lets it's bare bones show. Those bones are amazingly useful and delightful for the mini person to use in a thousand ways. Take a few plastic bags where ever you go.(Judie)

If you have access to a band saw: Buy a piece of 1/2 inch thick oak trim about 5" wide by 18" long at a home center. Using a band-saw, slice it into the thinest strips you can consistantly cut. (Use a fence, or straight guide clamped to the saw table.) For a few bucks you can make enough flooring for a whole house.

Toothpaste caps make cute little lampshades. Just add a little paint.

Those plastic pizza support things (that come in the box when you order pizza) make great little tables or stools.

You can use clear plastice straws to make see-through jars if you cut them to the correct lengths.

I make upholstered furniture and I have found that trims can be found from my weaving yarn supplier. I use hard twist yarn of wool, rayon, silk, cotton and metallic. It looks better than the smallest cord that I can find. (Charlean)

The finger of an old leather work glove is good for using as a thumb protector when you are carving or trimming wood.

If you decide to work with polymer clay, buy yourself a large smooth glazed tile, or several smaller ones, or both. Tile can usually be hadcheaply, and it makes a great surface on which to bake.

Floor tiles: cut shapes from colored cardboard (they can be solid, marbled, textured, whatever) and cement to a piece of thin card or paper cut to fit the floor of your room. Seal with polyurethane.

Coordinate mis-matched furniture pieces by painting them all the same colour. Use black paint to simulate laquer, and highlight details with gold paint.

Use a pale, milky paint wash to simulate old stone walls. Rub on with a rag and don't be afraid to leave blotches and natural shadings. Score lines with a pencil to mark individual stones.

Make a Tiger skin rug by marking a cut-out shape in velvet with a felt-tipped pen. Mount the velvet shape to a red felt cut-out that is just a quarter inch larger all the way around.

A champagne cork becomes a fancy footstool when you cover the top with velvet and tack long fringe around the side.

Thick lace or eyelet with a regular geometric pattern can be used as wall or ceiling moulding. Stick it on with glue, then paint over it to match your interior colour.

Use plaster filler as stucco and put on balsa trim to make a plain exterior look like an English Tudor.

Use fabric as wallcovering and apply with ordinary with wallpaper paste. Much cheaper than dollhouse wallpaper.

To make a realistic stone chimney, use white glue to affix the largest stones from a bag of aquarium gravel, and fill in with plaster of paris as "mortar."

Shapes cut from grey cardboard egg cartons can be used to replicate stone blocks on the exterior of your house. Use watercolor washes to provide realistic coloring.

Tongue depressors (from medical supply) can be used as wide plank flooring after the rounded ends are cut off. So can craft sticks (aka popsicle sticks) available in bulk in most craft stores.

For an old-fashioned ribbed tin roof, glue aluminum foil, shiny side down, over vertically spaced dowelling or plastic coffee stirrers.

Use thin cork sheeting for flooring. Glue it down and then seal with polyurethane like it was wood.

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