DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse: The Herbology Greenhouse

Wow. I’m sorry. The last two weeks totally got away from me. I had a migraine for a few days (gah!), the kids were off school, then back at school, then I was volunteering at school, then the kids got sick, etc. Basically, normal mom stuff, just a bit crazier than the usual crazy.

But, back to Hogwarts Castle!

‘Herbology’ is one of my favorite parts of the Harry Potter series. Somehow it captures the feeling of my own childhood-imaginings – a feeling I don’t often experience as an adult. As with many aspects of the books, I also love the depth of the detail it involves. It’s all there – from the names of plants to their descriptions, histories, life cycles, uses, and dangers. All of this detail lends a sense of credibility to such a fantastical world which is largely what maintains our interest as readers.

A view of a crafting workspace covered in splotches of paint, glue, and faux plant pieces.
My workspace got a bit crazy while I was working on the Herbology room. Creative process, right?

Having said that, I struggled bringing the wonderful world of Herbology to life in the Greenhouse room. My representations of various magical plants came across as cheesy and just didn’t translate – a frustrating disconnect for sure. In the end I found that both mantras ‘the more the better’ and ‘less is more’ rang true! Greenhouses often seem to be bursting at the seams with plants, and the more plants I added to the room, the more realistic it looked. At the same time, I found it worked best not to overdo the overtly magical plants. One or two obviously odd plants tucked among the rest, along with some warning/poison signage, set the magical tone perfectly.

A Harry Potter doll holding a pair of earmuffs as he sits in a miniature Herbology Greenhouse
It’s Herbology time!

I barely spent on anything for this room. The floor is the same as the ‘stone’ floors I made in other rooms. The wall on the left is papered with scrapbook paper from my stash, and I already had the little wooden crate that serves as storage in back of the greenhouse – I just added a little shelf to it using scraps of wood and painted it. All of the plants were crafted from random sprigs of faux plants that I accumulated over the years and/or polymer clay, with the exception of the ‘spidery’ plant hanging from the ceiling, which I bought for $.30. I also bought the little orange-ish bowls sitting on the shelf for $.30. (Yay for Michaels clearance!). The plant pots are an assortment of painted bottle caps, and I made the plant stand/trays/trellis from popsicle sticks. Obviously, I did not make the gardening tools – they are from our collection of dollhouse accessories.

A storage shelf in a miniature Herbology greenhouse, covered in small potted plants, mandrakes, and gardening tools.
Part of a miniature Herbology greenhouse showing various miniature plants, and a poster of plants on the wall.


I wanted to add a slanted roof to contribute to the greenhouse vibe. Scrap wood painted green provided the frame, and I printed the ‘panes’ on a good-ole transparency sheet. I nestled some blue tissue paper above the transparency sheet for the ‘sky,’ and hot glued the whole thing into place.

What do you think?

I haven’t tallied up how much is pent on the whole dollhouse yet. I’ll do that ‘with you’ in my next post which will feature the last room – Hagrid’s Hut.

Other

Fairy Trails of Scotland

Just a quick post today –

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because we’ve been away on a beyond-long-overdue trip to visit family in Scotland. Because of the pandemic it had been nearly three years since we’d seen most of them. It was SO good to all be back together, and to see the kids reunite with their cousins.

The weather was (unusually) warm and sunny and we spent a lot of time outdoors. One thing we often see in the parks we visit in Scotland are fairy trails – whimsical displays of little fairy doors and houses, usually found along woodland paths. Fairies are a big part of Scottish folklore, and while you can find the odd fairy trail here in the US, they are everywhere in Scotland!

Some of the trails are large, professionally built attractions with an entry fee. Others are built and maintained by volunteers in the area for the enjoyment of the public. My favorite trails, though, are the ones that develop more organically on a community level – informal clusters of fairy houses and doors made and left by local fairy-enthusiasts, both old and young.

A red birdhouse
A green fairy door painted on a round slice of wood

On this trip we came across a few handmade fairy houses along one of the walking paths that cuts through Barshaw Park in Paisley. They were nestled in and around a few trees at a bend in the path.

Colorful fairy doors painted on rock slabs, propped up against a tree trunk.
A fairy house made from a painted piece of cardboard with doors and windows cut out.

A whimsical wooden fairy house painted blue

I love how varied the little magical homes are, both in their construction and interpretation – each maker’s unique imagination shines through, and there is no right or wrong.

I don’t think a community display like this would survive the public parks here in the city, but who knows? Maybe I’d be pleasantly surprised. If anything, the kids and I can surely dedicate a corner of our garden to fairy life!

I hope to post the next installment of the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse tour by the end of the week. We’ll see. Jet lag is legit a thing.

I’ll leave you with some totally unrelated pictures of Scotland, just because it’s BEAUTIFUL!!

View of a rocky hill in Scotland
View of green fields of Scotland
View of the rocky coast of Scotland
Created By My Kids

Kid-Made Minis + A Sneak Peek!

A miniature wooden crate filled with straw, with a few brown and white eggs nestled on top.

Both of my kids celebrated their birthdays last month, and they ever-so-cutely decided to gift each other miniatures they made themselves. My daughter made her little brother a Farmer’s Market where he can ‘sell’ the produce and other items from his little farm. I had made the farm-stand and veggies a while back, but she made everything else and put it all together. My favorite part is the little crate of eggs – so cute!

A miniature farmers market with a farmstand and baskets holding veggies, jars of honey, and bottles of milk. Two tables hold fresh flowers, eggs, and butter for sale.

My son, in his usual ‘why-think-small’ mindset, had a long list of things he wanted to make for his big sis. At the top of the list was a car for her dollhouse family. He also made a playground structure, a bunny burrow, and some accessories for the ‘remote school’ room she set up in one of her houses. I did help him quite a bit with constructing the larger pieces, but it was all at his (very specific) direction. My favorite part is the little climbing wall he made for the playground structure!

A miniature bunny burrow with a rabbit and carrot peeking out.
A dollhouse family sitting in a miniature car made from cardboard. Behind the car is a miniature playground structure with a slide and climbing wall, also made from cardboard.

And now, as promised, a sneak peek at something I’ve been working on – pieces for a miniature Honeydukes Sweet Shop! More details to come (and a lot of work to go), but it’s off to a good start and has been a lot of fun to work on.

A turquoise floor to ceiling shelf and counter for a miniature candy shop. The shelves are partly filled with jars and packs of candy.
DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse: The Classroom

View of two stories of DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse, the stone top floor painted a dark gray, the lower stone floor painted a lighter gray.
I painted the stone floor in the classroom (top) a little darker than the one in the Great Hall (below)

This week on our tour of the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse, I bring you to The Classroom. Note the capital T and capital C. Yes, it is the one and only classroom in the castle. It started out way back as a little collection of items for Potions class, but over time it has morphed into a multi-purpose Hogwarts classroom. (Basically, the bookcase we used to make the dollhouse didn’t have enough real estate available for multiple classrooms).

The Classroom was pretty simple to make. I left the walls gray, and gave it a stone floor using the same technique I used in the Great Hall. For the posters on the walls, I searched through digital copies of vintage books on astrology and mythical creatures to find illustrations that would work. After I printed the pictures and backed them, I glued a thin strip of wood at the top and bottom of each ‘poster’ to give it a more classroom-y look.

A miniature bookshelf painted black, and filled with various Hogwarts classroom items including glass bottles and jars of potion materials, books, candles, a crystal ball, and more.
Miniature potions galore

The shelf of potions and other items was one of the first things I made for my daughter way back. I made it from one of those little wooden boxes that Melissa and Doug craft sets often come in. I just added the shelves from wood scraps and painted it black. Then I had so much fun filling the shelves! We already had an assortment of miniature jars that fit perfectly. I filled a few with materials I had on hand and glued on little labels. Shreds of an orange craft feather became ‘Feather of Phoenix.’ Loose foliage became ‘Fluxweed.’ Snips of a plastic plant covered with shiny gloss became ‘Gillyweed.’ Green sequins became ‘Mermaid Scales.’ You get the idea.

The other items on the shelf are a total mishmash of things I had or made. I used beads to make little jars, jewelry findings and a marble to make a crystal ball, an earring back and eraser cap to make a goblet, foam and the inner tube of a pen to make a test tube rack, and polymer clay to make a dragon egg and a basilisk fang. The books are made from cardstock, a checkbook cover, and printed images.

The desk is exactly the same as the tables in the Great Hall, only painted black. For the cauldrons – one is the wooden cap from a bottle of Cholula hot sauce, painted black. The other is half of one of those plastic balls that little junky toys come in. (You know, from those toy vending machines at the grocery store that your kids always want quarters for). I much prefer the Cholula cap version and had another one lined up to use, but I failed to let my husband know in time and he threw it out. (He is very efficient). I’ve started on another bottle of hot sauce but it’ll be a while!

The cauldron stands are made from, well, I don’t completely know. The stands themselves are made from chair leg caps propped up by head pins. I have no idea what the ‘burners’ under the stands are – I found them in my grandfather’s workbench and they looked perfect for burners to me.

Mattel Draco Malfoy doll sitting at a miniature classroom desk, with posters of dragons and unicorns hanging on the wall behind him. Cauldrons, scales, and a mortar and pestle sit on the desk.
Malfoy, thrilled as always to be in Potions class

I made the scales on the desk from miniature plastic bowls, the metal loops from a binder clip, a few beads, two headpins, a cotter pin, and a piece of plastic I salvaged from a broken toy. After I glued it all together I slathered it in gold paint.

My purchases for this room: the table against the left wall of the classroom is a Dollar Tree buy (painted dark brown). I bought the mini glass lab flasks for $3.99 and a pack of Tim Holtz Halloween ephemera (I used a few pieces for labels) for $4.99. Total spent: $9.98.

The Classroom is one of the rooms in the dollhouse that my daughter uses the most – what do you think?

Also, I apologize for any email bombardment from post updates this past week. I am learning via my mistakes. But I am learning, so that’s good, right?

DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse: The Gryffindor Common Room

It’s Gryffindor Common Room/Dormitory time!

I think the Gryffindor Common Room is my favorite space in our DIY Dollhouse. It looks cozy – I’d be pretty happy to curl up in the armchair with a glass of wine and a good book, with the fire going…ahh…

Ok sorry. I thought I was back in Vermont for a second there.

When I think of Gryffindor House I think of red. I covered one wall of the common room with a piece of red scrapbook paper. It has a slight linen texture to it (that’s right, I splurged for a $0.79 sheet instead of the usual $0.49), and between that and the deep red color it gave the room a nice warm feeling.

In that same line of thought, I really wanted to do a wood floor in the common room as it would definitely move the room up a few notches on the warm/cozy scale. Especially compared to, ya know, the cold, castle-y, stone floors everywhere else.

A pile of jumbo wooden popsicle sticks with their curved ends cut off.
The 874,379,729 (ish) popsicles I trimmed

I had so much fun making the wood floor. I almost gave myself carpal tunnel in the process, but yeah. I cut the curved ends off of approximately 874,379,729 popsicle sticks. Ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but it was a lot. I tried out a few ways of cutting them (wire cutters, craft knives, box cutters..), but in the end a plain old pair of scissors worked the best. My wrist hated me, but it worked.

I decided to make a base or ‘subfloor’ of sorts for two reasons. One – the popsicle sticks are thinner than the wood sheets I used to make the stone floor in the room next door, and I wanted the two floors to be even. And two – I didn’t want to glue the ‘planks’ straight onto the surface of the bookcase. So I pieced some thin sheets of balsa wood together, and glued my little ‘planks’ onto that instead. I off-set the strips a bit from row to row, and cut a few to size here and there.

(This is the point where I discovered that many of the popsicle sticks I cut had been the slightest bit warped. Which meant many of my little ‘planks’ were the slightest bit warped. Which meant they didn’t quite lie flat. Which meant I had to cut the ends off of even more popsicle sticks, until I had enough usable ones. Which meant my wrist went from hating me to really hating me. But I don’t want to talk about that, so I’m not even going to bring it up).

The sanded wood floor of the dollhouse room painted with various shades of brown, varnished, and polished.
The finished floor. You can see where the wood floor meets the stone floor in the room next door.

Once all the wood pieces were glued down, I sanded my newly pieced floor. And then I sanded it again, and re-sanded it, and gave it one more sand before giving it a final sand. I may have missed one or two sandings in there, but yeah – it was well-sanded. I stained it brown and then applied a darker-brown wash (sanding in between, of course. And after). I gave the floor a coat of semi-gloss varnish, buffed it a bit, and ‘installed’ it on the shelf. I love how it turned out.

With the wall and floor done, I got started on filling up the room. I printed the unicorn tapestry and the rug out on some of the printable fabric sheets I bought for the Great Hall banners. As with the banners, I feel the rug and tapestry could use a bit more ‘body’ but overall I’m pleased. Before purchasing the printable fabric, I had wracked my brain (and google) for AGES trying to come up with a way to make or buy both items. In the end it was quite simple. (And it didn’t involve spending any additional money).

 A view of the miniature Gryffindor Common Room in the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse. An armchair and ottoman sit in front of a stone fireplace. Portraits in gold frames line the walls, and a Unicorn tapestry hangs on the wall.
Little touches: The candle on the mantle is made from a bead. The side table is from our stash of dollhouse furniture, and the inkwell/quill set features a real feather.

I did, however, buy a set of two miniature frames for the portraits on the walls. The other frames I either made, cut out of catalogs, or already had. It was fun choosing the ‘people’ to go in the frames. You may recognize some of the faces – many are works of famous artists in mini-sticker-form. (You know those little Dover sticker activity books that keep your kids busy for about 30 seconds while traveling? The ones that come with a few stickers and a little scene to put them on? Well, Dover also makes a series of little books called ‘Dover Fine Arts Stickers’ – and the stickers are the perfect size for dollhouse decor).

I made the armchair and ottoman a year or two back. I used one of those little cardboard boxes that earrings or a necklace come in for the basic frame, padded it out with fiberfill, and then covered it with fabric. I did some minimal sewing for the arms of the chair. They are basically mini bolsters – I stitched along the ends and then pulled on the thread to gather the fabric. Looks cozy!

The extended bed isn’t the prettiest, but when it’s all made up, who would know?

I received the fireplace and Harry’s bed from a very generous Craigslist-er who passed on a ‘free to a good home’ vintage dollhouse to us, along with a box of furniture and accessories. The bed was a bit short for the Harry Potter dolls, so I extended it with some wood scraps. The piece that attaches the posts at the foot of the bed was already loose/off when I got it, so it was easy to add some length there. All of the bed linens and pillows are from scraps of fabric in my stash.

View of Harry's bed and belongings in the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse. The bed is wooden with tall posts, and is made up with red and white blankets and pillows. Harry's trunk is beside his bed with Hedwig's cage and a scroll on top.
Harry’s bed and belongings. See the Monster Book of Monsters peeking out from under the bed?

I think that’s pretty much it! The little posters and newspapers are from a Harry Potter sticker book – I just backed them with cardstock. As I mentioned in one of my other posts, Harry’s trunk was one of the first pieces I made for my daughter – it’s repurposed from a little wooden chest she used with her dolls during her pioneer girl phase. Oh, and I can’t forget Hedwig. I already had the birdcage, and for Hedwig himself I painted a little wooden peg I had left over from another project.

Since I had already purchased the printable fabric sheets for the Great Hall room, all I spent on the Common Room was $3.78 for the frames and scrapbook paper. Woohoo!

I’ll end with Hermione and Harry chilling out in their new space.

A Hermione and Harry doll sitting in the Gryffindor Common Room/Dormitory room of the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse. Hermione is seated in a red armchair and Harry is sitting on his bed.

DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse: The Great Hall: Part 2

So, I was away, but I have returned.

The kids were off two weeks ago, so we took the opportunity to escape the city for a bit and enjoy some fresh air in Vermont. It may have been freezing fresh air. But it was wonderfully, wonderfully fresh! We pretty much just chilled for the week (ha) which was perfect.

Then after the week away I obviously needed a week to recover from all that rest. (Am I the only one?)

So now that I’ve caught you up on all that, back to business.

I’m excited to share all the minis I made for my Hogwarts Great Hall – I definitely like creating miniature furniture/accessory/decor pieces more than working on the walls and such. Though I’m very new to the latter so I guess time will tell.

A Harry Potter doll sitting at a make-shift table made from the sleeve of an American Girl book set.
Harry sitting at the book-sleeve ‘table.’ And yes, the sleeve is from my childhood Felicity book set, which I passed on to my daughter – I may not have had an actual American Doll, but I had Felicity books and paper-dolls which is (not) almost the same thing!

The first things I made for the Great Hall were the tables. Actually, I can’t take the credit – my son built them! (Daddy did help a bit). When my daughter first got her Harry Potter dolls, she didn’t have a mini table for them, so she improvised. Remember those American Girl book sets that came in a sleeve? She figured out that if she slid a doll’s legs into the sleeve, it would ‘sit,’ with the sleeve itself serving as a table. She was especially pleased with this discovery because it was so sturdy – she didn’t have to worry about balancing the dolls on chairs and trying to maneuver everything into place while making sure not to knock it all over in the process. Seeing as the Hogwarts dollhouse is for her to actually play with, I kept this practical table design. My son was very into woodworking at the time so I handed him the book sleeve and told him I wanted a wood version in the same dimensions, but with both sides open so more dolls could ‘sit’ around the table. He got to business and with Daddy’s help we soon had our tables. They don’t exactly ‘match’ each other because we used random bits of wood from our scrap pile. But no one’s looking that closely, right?

I gave the tables a few coats of brown paint, sealed them, and that was that.

The next thing I made was Dumbledore’s golden owl podium. It wasn’t actually something I planned to make, but one evening (as I was scrolling on Pinterest, of course) I came across a video tutorial for making the owl portion of the podium out of clay. I was bored and already had some polymer clay out, so I started following along, and the next thing I knew I had a not-too-shabby looking clay owl. I think it was used as a pendant of some sort in the tutorial, but I decided to attempt an actual miniature podium for the Great Hall. I pressed the owl’s feet around a blue-ish colored marble, tried my best to prop the wings up a bit with foil, and baked it.

A Dumbledore doll standing at his podium, made from polymer clay and various other items. The top portion of the podium features an owl with its wings spread out, sitting on a blue orb.
Dumbledore at his podium

Next came the actual stand part of the podium, and this is where any resemblance to the ‘real’ podium ends. I just wanted it to actually stand. And to look a bit ornate-ish. I really went all-out-trash-to-treasure with this – I can’t even remember everything I used. But I know there was a spool involved. And an empty K-cup. And a popsicle stick, the tube from a pen, pieces from a broken folding fan, jewelry findings, bottle caps, and scraps of already baked polymer clay. And yeah, that’s only the things I remember.

It was tricky (translation: a nightmare) attaching the owl to the stand, but with the help of lots of super glue and a bit of wire, I got there. It was very top heavy and tipped super easily, so I hid some weighted washers in the base to make it more practical for actual use. After many coats of gold paint (overdone in an attempt to hide the hot-mess-ness), I spray-sealed it, and it was ready for play!

The rest of the items in the Great Hall are an assortment of smaller accessories. I printed the various banners onto printable fabric sheets, wrapped the top of each one around a piece of wooden skewer cut to size and painted brown, and stuck them to the wall. While they do look fabric-y, they aren’t quite as obviously-fabric-y as I had hoped. I think they need something to give them a bit more ‘body.’ Maybe a thin piece of felt as backing? (Thoughts? Suggestions?)

All of the candles are made with translucent polymer clay, with bits of black thread for wicks. The candle ‘holders’ are various upside-down jewelry findings and buttons. I used a few brass brads to fashion a candelabra of sorts for the mantel.

The food and dishes on the table are random bits from our (ridiculously) extensive collection of miniature polymer clay food the kids and I have made over the years. I never tire of making miniature food.

A Hogwarts Crest Banner on the wall of the Great Hall room of a Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse, along with a Ministry of Magic Educational Decree in a brown wooden frame.
A few miniature accessories for the Great Hall room

The last item I made for the Hall is the Educational Decree poster – straight from Professor Umbridge herself. I glued scraps of craft wood together to make the case, painted it, and inserted a mini printed poster covered by a piece of an overhead transparency sheet. These decrees weren’t technically posted in the Great Hall, but it works for us. (Sorry the picture is so dark, I got fed up waiting for a non-dreary/cloudy day.)

That’s everything! The only purchases I made for this room were a few pieces of star-patterned scrapbook paper, and a pack of printable fabric sheets. That’s a grand total of (drumroll) $16.51 – not bad.

(For those wondering – I didn’t forget about the fireplace at the far end of the hall. It’s an existing piece from one of my daughter’s dollhouses. She is using it as a ‘place-holder’ of sorts until Mommy [that would be me] makes one that is the correct scale for the Hogwarts Castle).

I guess I should get on that.

DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse: The Great Hall

Ok, first stop on the tour of the Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse is the Great Hall – I don’t know about you, but the Great Hall is the first thing I think of when I think of Hogwarts Castle.

We used the entire middle shelf of the bookcase for the Great Hall – I mean, it is GREAT after all. Because of the size of the room and the amount of detail, I’m going to do two posts for it. This post will take a look at the walls, floor, and ceiling of the space, and in a second post I’ll focus more on the furniture and accessories that the Hall contains.

Dollhouse Great Hall with a stone floor, diamond paned windows, house banners, and tables full of miniature food.
The Great Hall in our Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse

Oh, before I forget: I am going to hold off on detailing my overall treatment/painting of the castle walls for now. I used the same techniques for all the rooms, and that process warrants a post of its own in the near future. What I want to focus on in this post are the wall details that are specific to the Great Halll – basically the windows on the back wall, and the door on the left wall.

The Great Hall Walls

The Windows

Before I started on the windows I googled ‘Hogwarts Great Hall windows’ (genius, I know) and studied all the pictures/movie-stills that I could find. While I had no lofty aspirations of making my miniature windows identical to the ones in the movie, (it’s healthy to be realistic with ourselves, right?), I wanted them to have the same overall feel. In the end I decided I wanted my windows to have three things: those little Tudor-style diamond-shaped panes, some Gothic-style tracery, and a little rose-window type thing at the top. (I know, my knowledge of architectural terminology and style is impressive). Oh, and I would need three of them.

Window design made on Canva for Hogwarts Great Hall windows.
The full window design I used as a guide for building the cardboard frames
Diamond pane pattern designed on Canva for Hogwarts Great Hall windows
The basic diamond pane pattern that I printed onto transparencies and placed behind the window frames

I sketched out some ideas and began playing around on Canva. I created a diamond pane pattern by crisscrossing a zillion straight lines. I placed thicker lines and shapes over this pattern to form the window’s outer frame, tracery lines, and rose-window. I searched Canva’s selection of elements for ornate, circle-shaped embellishments and placed one in the rose-window. Boom. Basic window design done!

Now I just had to turn the design into actual miniature windows. I chose some thin cardboard as my main material. (Translation: I raided our recycling bin for a cereal box). I spent a ‘woe-is-me’ moment wishing I had a Cricut or similar device that could cut out my design easy-peasy. Then I accepted my misfortune and moved on.

I wasn’t planning on cutting out each tiny diamond pane (!), but I did want the larger sections of each window cut out. My first thought was to print or trace my design onto the cardboard and use an X-ACTO knife to cut out the window sections. While this would have been ideal, I didn’t have enough large pieces of cardboard for it to happen. So instead, I cut the cardboard into thin strips, and using a printout of my design as a guide, I pieced the strips together to build the window frame and its tracery lines. It was tedious work, and they came out a bit wonky, but I was happy enough. I mean it’s an ancient castle, right?

To add the diamond pane pattern, I printed my crisscrossed line design onto overhead projector transparencies. Remember those? A few years back, someone in my dad’s office was getting rid of a pack of transparencies (ya know, because overhead projectors = obsolete), and he snagged them, thinking maybe I could use them for something ‘crafty.’ He knows me well. I stashed them in my craft cabinet where they sat until just this moment when I needed them. Perfect trash-to-treasure craft moment. I glued my cardboard frames onto the transparency printouts and voila! I had transparent, diamond-patterned windowpanes.

A miniature Great Hall window made from cardboard, with starry scrapbook paper behind the panes.
A completed window
A decoupage of tissue paper and mod-podge being applied to a partially finished cardboard window frame.
Decoupaging over the yarn with tissue paper and mod-podge.

My daughter and I decided we wanted it to be night ‘outside,’ so we added scrapbook paper with a night sky pattern behind the transparencies. As a last step I cut out cardboard pieces to make thick, ‘stone’ frames for each window. For some dimension and detail, I added a little raised ridge to the outer edge of these pieces by gluing down pieces of yarn and decoupaging over them for a smoother look. I painted all the window and frame pieces, sprayed them with an acrylic coating, and attached them to the back wall of the Hall, using a combo of double-sided tape and hot glue.

The Door

A miniature Great Hall door made from strips of wood painted brown, with a cardboard frame painted to look like gray stone.
The completed door on the wall of the Great Hall

The overall process for creating the door was much the same as it was for making the windows – but without the added complication of panes. I sketched out a design, pieced together thin strips of balsa wood to form the raised portions of the door face, and glued them to a piece of thick cardboard that I had cut into the shape of the door. While I could in no way come close to emulating the ornate carvings of the ‘real’ door, I wanted to snaz things up a little, so before painting the door, I added a small piece of cardstock with a pretty laser-cut design to the center. I had cut out that bit of cardstock from a greeting card years before when it caught my eye, and like the transparencies, it was waiting in my stash for its moment of need/glory. I also made a thick ‘stone’ frame for the door like I had done for each of the windows. After painting all of the door pieces, I sprayed the ‘stone’ frame pieces with the acrylic coating and applied a coat of semi-gloss varnish on the door itself (for a little more of a ‘polished wood’ look). After I attached everything to the wall on the left side of the Hall, I added door handles made from tiny beads and jump rings.

The Great Hall Floor

Balsa sheet carved to look like miniature stone slabs and painted gray.
The first coat of paint on one of the balsa sheets after ‘carving’ the stone slabs. I used the light paint in the cracks.

Luckily for all of us (because this post is getting long), the floor of the Great Hall was not very complicated to make. I wanted a ‘stone’ floor, and I spent hours online looking at various DIY dollhouse flooring techniques and methods, but they all seemed to require expensive materials that I didn’t have. In the end I kept it simple (aka cheap) and bought a few sheets of thin balsa wood. I cut them to size and using a stylus and a dental tool, I ‘carved’ the outline of stone shapes into the soft wood. Once that was done, I painted the pieces with various shades of gray, black, and brown to give them a stone-floor-ish look.

Finished DIY dollhouse stone floor installed in Hogwarts Great Hall room
The finished Great Hall floor installed on the bookcase shelf.

After a spray with the acrylic coating, I stuck them to the bookcase shelf using double-sided tape. Due to the soft and absorbent nature of the wood, the pieces did warp a bit after I painted them, so I resorted to a well-known and time-tested method of flattening them back out – I left a stack of heavy books on the shelf overnight. Problem solved.

The Great Hall Ceiling

Starry scrapbook paper on the ceiling of the Great Hall in DIY Hogwarts Castle.
The starry enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall

Finally, the ceiling! The ceiling is my favorite part of the whole room. It’s not super complicated or fancy. In fact, if anything it’s ridiculously simple. As you may know, the Great Hall at Hogwarts has an enchanted ceiling that is bewitched to match the conditions of the sky outside. To keep things consistent with the night sky visible through our miniature windows, I used a spray adhesive to attach scrapbook paper with a starry night pattern to the ceiling. Yeah, it was that simple. And it is oh so cute! The ceiling of the Great Hall isn’t immediately visible/noticeable when facing the castle dollhouse straight on, which makes it all the more enchanting when you do spot it upon a closer look.

That’s all for today, folks! What do you think?

Part 2 coming soon….

DIY Harry Potter Miniatures

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse

I didn’t read any of the Harry Potter books growing up, or see any of the movies. A few years ago I decided to read the first book with my daughter, and we both fell in love with the magical world within its pages.

We devoured the rest of the books, watching each movie as we went. (I’m a huge stickler for not watching a movie until after you’ve finished the book. I love hearing my kids say ‘that wasn’t in the book!’ and not the other way around).

ANYWAY.

For Christmas that year, getting Harry Potter themed gifts for my daughter was a no-brainer. I did a quick Amazon search and saw that Mattel made a line of Harry Potter dolls. Perfect! I chose three dolls – Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Then I looked for accessories to go with them, but it seemed that Mattel didn’t make any, and nor did anyone else. Some of the dolls came with one or two little things, but the Harry, Ron, and Hermione ones only came with their wands. I really wanted more than that to round out the gift and increase the fun-ness so I decided to make a few minis myself to go with the dolls.

DIY Harry Potter dollhouse miniatures including Harry's trunk, the Monster Book of Monsters, a quill, and the Marauders Map.

I made Harry’s trunk, along with a few little things to go in it – his Hogwarts letter and Hogwarts Express ticket, a few schoolbooks, a quill etc. I also made a shelf of little potion bottles, a Quidditch trunk and broom, and some Herbology pieces. I made everything with items I already had which was an added money-saving bonus.

Everything was a hit on Christmas morning. And that was the beginning of the end – I was hooked! Ideas of more Harry Potter miniatures to make swarmed in my head, and – as I had time – I brought them to life. While our collection of Harry Potter miniatures has taken various forms over the last year or two, it ultimately culminated in a Hogwarts Castle dollhouse that I made from an Ikea Billy Bookcase.

DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse made from an Ikea Billy Bookcase.
The Ikea Billy Bookcase after its transformation into a Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse!

Before I started modifying the bookcase, my daughter and I deliberated for days on what rooms to include. I had worked out that we could fit a maximum of five or six rooms on the shelves. We finally settled on five: the Great Hall, a Gryffindor Common Room/bedroom combo, an Herbology greenhouse, a multipurpose classroom, and Hagrid’s Hut. Before you say anything, yes – we know. Hagrid’s Hut isn’t technically in Hogwarts Castle, but we decided we could live with that. My kiddo reminded me the purpose of the whole thing was imagination and FUN – not getting caught up in silly adult concerns over minor technicalities. (The same went for the not-so-accurate common/dorm room combo, and the multipurpose classroom). Seriously, I’m glad I have my kids to keep me grounded.

It took me five months to finish the Hogwarts Castle. I use the word ‘finish’ lightly because let’s be real – a project like this is never finished finished – there’s always some little change to make, or detail to add. I had already made a lot of the furniture and accessories long before I started the castle, but there was lots to make and add as I finished off each room. (‘Finished.’ Not finished finished).

Classroom, Herbology greenhouse, and Great Hall in a DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse made from a bookcase.
Hagrid's Hut and the Gryffindor Common rooms in a DIY Hogwarts Castle Dollhouse made from a bookcase.

It’s perfectly imperfect, isn’t it?

Tours of each room to come.

At some point.

(Sorry for the awkwardly placed/sized photos. Finally decided to just be happy that I got them in sorta-ok. Yeesh. This is what learning as I go looks like.)

Other

My Love of Miniatures ❤️

My love of all things miniature began when my daughter was gifted a dollhouse for her third birthday.

Well, no. It started decades before that when I was gifted a dollhouse as a child. (Duh). One Christmas morning, my sister and I awoke to find a particularly large gift – a beautiful dollhouse, built by my father. Even though I was too young to totally understand it, I remember feeling overwhelmed at what it represented – all the time, effort, and love my dad had put into it. Before long he made us a second one. We’d spend hours and hours over the next few years playing with those houses – continuously arranging and rearranging the furniture, bringing our little imaginations to life through the dolls, and adding to our collection of accessories.

Now, back to my daughter’s third birthday, when she was gifted a dollhouse – from my father of course. She was too young for a ‘proper’ from-a-kit dollhouse like the ones he had made for my sister and I, so he designed and built a sturdy, toddler-friendly one. Imagine a bookcase with a peaked roof on top, and shelves divided into little rooms. No finicky, uber-delicate bits like doors, staircases, trim, or shingles. It was perfect, and she loved it.

Bookcase style toddler-friendly DIY dollhouse
My daughter checking out her new toddler-friendly dollhouse.

We dug out the collection of dollhouse furniture my sister and I had amassed way back when and pulled out what non-delicate pieces we could find. It didn’t amount to much but it was perfect for my three year old.

As my daughter grew, so did her desire for more bits of furniture and decor for her dollhouse. This is the point where my interest in actually creating miniatures began. Money was tight at the time, and there was little (no) moolah for frivolities like miniature armchairs, cushions, and dishes. We were ‘making do’ and DIY-ing in many areas of life, and so that’s what I turned to. Re-imagining items we already had and crafting new miniature pieces became a special mom-daughter activity, especially after my son was born. Thimbles became trash cans, beds and sofas were reupholstered with scraps of fabric, buttons became plates, and our weekly grocery circular provided ample images for mini food products. And yes, those little white, plastic, three-legged thingies that keep the top of the pizza box off the cheese became mini tables.

As time passed, my daughter inherited one of the dollhouses my dad made for my sister and I (the one that became ‘mine’ over the years), and my son received a miniature barn made by my dad. Add in the various barbies and American Girl dolls (or knockoffs) my daughter accumulated over the years and I was one busy mama, crafting and sewing a whole lot of minis.

In the last few years, money has not been nearly as tight. We can afford frivolities like miniature armchairs, cushions, and dishes. But I still find myself gravitating towards creating items instead of buying them. My creations are not perfect or super professional, but that’s part of the charm for me. I am not an expert in miniature woodworking, polymer clay sculpting, sewing, paper craft, or really anything. I don’t like to measure. I improvise when it comes to the tools I need. I rely heavily (like, heavily) on super glue. And I go through gobs of paint (after all, those imperfections aren’t going to just cover themselves). But what I am good at, and what I really enjoy, is coming up with creative and unorthodox ways to bring the things I imagine to life. And then there’s the whole joy-on-my-kids-faces thing – best part of it all for sure.

In my next post (whenever that is), I want to show you my most recent DIY dollhouse project which also happens to be my biggest by far.

Look at me ‘planning’ a post ahead of time. Haha!

Other

I Must Confess

Ok, true story: I wrote that first post over three weeks ago. I was full of let’s-do-this bravado when I wrote it, and I had every intention of publishing it immediately. That was kinda the whole point. Just jumping in.

But then I hesitated. I told myself I should reread the post once more before I officially published it. That was reasonable, right? But then of course I ‘forgot’ to get back to it. And then I got ‘busy.’ I mean, yeah, I was busy – it was the holidays, the kids were off school, family was staying with us, etc. But really I had a zillion opportunities to quickly reread and publish the post. I just kept hiding behind convenient excuses not to.

Sigh.

Anyway, today I finally hit ‘publish.’ And then I wrote this post without rereading it. Gasp.

I feel like I deserve one of those adulting stickers. 🏅

So, now that I’ve bored you (and maybe freaked you out a bit) with two posts about nothing except my weird insecurities, here’s hoping my next post will have some actual crafting/miniature/about-me/anything-except-my-weirdness content.

I’ve been afraid to be me. And now that I’ve put it all out there, I’m ready.