The seasoned and new miniaturist will tell you that buying the items needed to make minis can get costly for such tiny items. Buying the items already made isn’t any better on your wallet, either. So, what is one to do?
Well, there’s a lot of things that cane be done with items that you would normally throw away in your home. Things that are rendered trash to some can make such a treasured miniature item for your doll house or room box.
Right now you are probably asking yourself what exactly can be used, and how does it look? Almost anything can be used, and I’d bet it looks a lot nicer than you can even imagine.
We all know real glass is both difficult to work with, too thick and too heavy to really work with in a doll house or room box environment. So, how do you emulate glass in these situations? There are several options available that I’ve discovered, you’ll find a list of my own ideas below.
Top Loading Sheet Protectors
These are fairly inexpensive to purchase and when cut down can look like glass in a 1/144 scale house. They can also look like the little ‘window’ in bakery items, or glass in a framed photograph, print or painting.
Ink Jet Print Transparencies
These can serve the same uses as the sheet protectors.
Scraps of Scrapbooking Paper
These can be used for accents in a mini scrapbook, or made into mini wrapping paper. Keep in mind your scales and the sizes of the printing on the fabric used.
Scraps of Fabric
Those tiny little scraps that are just a few inches big can still be used in miniature bedding. A child’s quilt can measure only three X four inches. An adult quilt measures around six X seven inches! Just keep in mind your scales and the sizes of the printing on the fabric used. Have fabric too small for that? Try making a throw pillow. These only measure one to two inches each!
Fabrics with larger prints can still be used, but instead of bedding, clothing or drapes, try making a rug, quilted wall hanging (like those you see for an infant’s room), or a large design on a blanket. You can even cut out the design and make it into a doll or stuffed animal with a bit of sewing and stuffing added!
Dried Up Nail Polish
Have a bottle or two of dried up nail polish? Why not take the brush that came with it and wash it off. Now you’ll have a small brush for painting doll house detail work.
My son broke a bell of mine years ago. He had taken the inside part off and were not able to repair it. Recently I peered inside of it when he had picked it up again. Inside of it was this little gold piece that was wrapped around the inside top and used to hang the clapper. I pulled it out and discovered that with a little dress, some hair and a face it’d make a great little doll. (See photos for a picture of this piece.)
Old Magazines and Catalogs
These can serve a multitude of uses! Magazines can provide you framed photos for your home, paintings, miniature books, movies, and CDs. You can look at the clothes inside and clip photos and with a bit of handiwork you can make these clothes for your home’s residents. Sometimes magazines will have small photos of their products, often these are perfect for doll house and room box scales. Clip them, mount to cardstock and place on display in your home. Found a photo of a clock? Clip it! Mount it to a thin dowel slice craft foam, or even cardboard and hang in your home. Found some decor ideas? See how you might incorporate them into your home. Perhaps you could even make some of the furnishings inside with a bit of work and planning.
Catalogs can serve the same purposes as above, plus they can serve as tapestries. Clip any photos of tapestries or needlework designs and you can frame and mount them on your wall for a simple no-sew addition to your decor.
Have some old child’s socks lying around? You know, the ones with the little bits of lace around the ankle? Take them aside and cut off the lace. You will want to leave a built of the sock attached to the lace to sew to your mini item and to assure the lace is not damaged. This is often right in scale for use in clothing or decor in your room box or doll house. The sock itself can be used as fabric, thin panels in your windows, etc.
Foam sheets that are often used in packing can be used as batting in quilt and blankets if thin enough. The thicker piecs can be used as a mattress to cover with fabric.
Stray beads from broken items, or that are leftover from projects can be used in a multitude of ways. You can use them as light fixtures, perfume bottles, nail polish bottles, ornaments on your Christmas tree, garlands to decorate for the holidays and more.
If you’ve ever tried to open a child’s toy before you are more familiar with these than you probably want to admit. But before you trash them, put them aside with your miniature crafting stash. These either in brown or that clear silvery white color are perfect to use for wires on non-working light fixtures. They will look just like a real wire when attached to the back of a lamp.
Left Over Scrapbook Accents
Scrapbook accents can be great for miniatures. Take some plastic mini buttons and use on a stuffed animal or clothing. How about some little apples, scissors or crayons? Use them in your office or kitchen area or maybe in the room of a crafty child. The apples can be used as kitchen accents on jars, dishes, wallpaper accents or even as wall hangings.
Gold Jewelry Charms
These can make great accents for your home, platters (for the photo holder type of charms), frames, mirrors, wall hangings, ‘framed’ cameos, clocks and more.
Buttons can serve as the same uses as the leftover scrapbook items and can also serve as a wall clock, clothing or bedding additions and so on.
Springs and Plastic Tubing From Pens
Has your old pen finally run out of ink? Take the pen apart and put the spring aside. Take the clear area of the ink tubing and cut to just above where you can see the ink inside. Put this aside, too. The springs can be used in making some toys and the tubing can be used for making little bottles and some household items. (I will post some projects using these items soon.)
Twist or Bread Ties
These can be used to add to drapes or bedding or stuffed animals to allow you to drape, or place them in natural positions in your home. (I also will have some projects posted using these in the future.)
Colored Pencil Lead
I discovered this thanks to my son as well. Recently he broke a couple colored pencils in half. The lead inside can be used as wooden dowels in projects.
Faux Leather Covered Tape Cases
This is another discovery thanks to my son. He tore off the faux leather covering on my travel tape case. It can be used to emulate leather anywhere in your home.
These are often the right size for a potted indoor or outdoor plant. Just flip them upside down and add your ‘soil’ and plant
These are often used as soil in plants for minis.
An old watch can be turned into a wall clock for your doll house. Just remove the wristband and go from there. The back can be used as a serving platter in your kitchen.
Gold beads make great doorknobs when glued into place.
Jewelry Pendants and Charms
A picture frame pendant can be used as a wall frame for a photo. A round picture pendant can be used as a frame or a serving platter. Gold charms used in jewelry can be wall hangings.
A cameo clip-on earring or cameo pendant can be removed from the backings and used as wall decorations.
A wire cap found in any hardware store can be used as cups.
Ceramic animals can be used as household pets.
An old mirror from a compact or purse can be used as a wall mirror on your bedroom or bathroom wall.
For a child’s doll house you can turn a toothpaste cap into a lampshade.
Cardboard is often used in place of wood in miniature furnishings. Just cover it with fabric and glue in place.
There are several ideas for these items. Look around you and look at every item before you toss it away. Being a packrat never paid off so well!
Below are some websites that further offer ideas for that junk lying around your home!Read through them and be amazed at all that you can create from these items.
Mini Trash To Treasures Tips include candy bags, French Bread Bags, Waste Basket, Cat boxes, Acorn Bird house, Cupcake Papers, Paper chains and an Oriental wall Hanging.
Creating Doll Houses From Common Materials This gives some cute ideas for houses out of recycled ideas. These are mostly play scale (or Barbie scale) house ideas.
Uses For Toothpicks
Cheap Thrills Wanna In El Paso shows us what some cheap craft items can do in miniature worlds.
Baking With Buttons and Beads
Make a Miniature Raincoat and Hood From a Rubber Glove
Turn an Altoids Container into a Miniature Paint Tray
Easy Miniature Hat Stand
Miniature Vignette Inside a “Lantern”
How to Create a Miniature Wall Clock With an O Ring
How to Make a Pillow From a Champagne Cork
Miniature Wire Chairs from Champagne Bottle Parts
Make a Valentine’s Heart Box
Miniature Stone Floor Using Egg Cartons
Miniature Kiddie Size Swimming Pool
Using Dryer Lint as Batting in Quilts
Make Your Own Decals With Fingernail Polish
Huge A-Z list of Trash To Treasure Ideas
Make A Mini Suitcase Out Of An Altoids Tin
Extensive List of Tips For Using ‘Trash To Treasure’ Techniques
You will soon find that many miniature do-it-yourself projects online contain some ‘trash to treasure’ or found item techniques. Just don’t forget to remember your item scales when you are digging through things.