Making a Book in 1/144

Lots of things are fun to make in 1/144, using clever fixes. 

You can make books in different ways.  You can cut pieces of mat board or construction paper into the right sizes and line them up on a shelf. You can buy, and then paint, laser cut book inserts (made for shelves) that SDK Miniatures and others supply.  You can take a class with Miniature Bookbinder and IGMA Artisan Tine Krijnen, who teaches you how to make wonderful twelfth scale books, but will also give you tips on (and sometimes teaches) how to make tiny leather covered books, with real pages, in 1/144.

Books on Bookshelf in a Miniaturist’s Workroom in 1/144 scale

For the miniature workshop I taught in 2019 at the Guild Show, I used a variant of Tine’s method to make modern, inexpensive books that don’t open (or have individual pages).  These will be very tiny, so you won’t be able to read the covers easily! Some will look good, some will not. If you have a bunch, you can pick and choose.

You will need to search your personal library and also the internet (being mindful of copyright considerations) for images of book jackets and print them on thin paper.  You will also need:

  • Watercolor paper or card stock that is about the thickness of a 1/144 book (less than 1/32” thick, i.e., less than about 4” in R.L.)
  • Thin white glue (such as Elmer’s or a PH-neutral book binders adhesive)
  • Lighter weight printer paper, preferably acid free for more longevity for printing covers on
  • Construction or colored paper, for alternative book covers
  • A thin (in terms of thickness, not width) metal ruler for folding the paper to create book spines

Step 1. Create a Word File

Put together a digital collection of dust jacket images. Be sure to use those that have the back and front cover (they may also have the material on the flap—you will cut this off later (sorry, authors!).

Insert the images into a MSWord document. Initially, size them individually so they are about the size of a book in twelfth scale. E.g., size them all so they are 1” tall, or 1” wide.

Select them as a group, then copy and paste them all. Size the copied files so they are about ¾” tall. Repeat this process a few times, making them different sizes, height and width, so you have a variety of books.

When you are done, you should have about 30 to 50 book jackets, of different styles and sizes.

Change the page layout to “columns” and choose 4 columns. Also choose “centered” for the layout, so all the books will line up with the spines one above the other. Make sure there is a carriage return (Oops! Showing my age), or a “paragraph mark” (enter) after each book. This will help to ensure that the images line up one above the other, and the center spines of the books align.

Select all the images, then copy and paste repeatedly until you have filled up 16 pages of your document with books. This is what a sample page looks like.

Page of Book Jackets

Step 2. Size and Print

Each printer will be different, and different versions of word operate differently, so you will have to hunt around to find the features you want in your print settings and the options for your printer.

  1. Choose 16 pages per sheet. This will print all of your pages on one sheet. Each picture will be about the quarter of its current size; so if you want 1:48 scale, you can stop now.
  2. Look at how your printed sheet looks, and the height of most of the books. Depending on whether these are coffee table books, hardcovers, or softcovers, you may want the books to be different sizes. In general, a good rule of thumb is that you want a large number of the books to be about 2 mm (or about 3/32”) tall when printed. This would be relatively tall (about 1 foot in R.L.) but then you want them to be visible in 1:144! If you want smaller books that are better to scale, they should be shorter than this.
  3. To get to the right size, you will have to reduce them further. Find the feature for your printer that reduces the printed page (it might be called “zoom”). I reduced mine to 50 % of its size. In other words, when I printed my page at 16 pages / sheet, my books initially came out to about 6/32” tall. I want them to be half of that, or 3/32” tall, so I printed at 50% (still at 16 pages/sheet).

Be sure to seal the printed paper with Krylon or Plaid matte or glossy sealer, depending on your preferences.

Printing 16 pages per sheet at 50%

Step 3. Make the Book Strips

Find different thicknesses of cardstock or watercolor paper in your stash, so you can make books of different thickness. From each type of cardstock, cut a few strips that are 2″ to 3” long (at least as long as your columns are when printed at the appropriate size) and about ¼” to ½” wide (for ease of handling).

Different thickness and types of cardstock

Cut one of your printed columns. Mark the center of the spine of the books, at the top and bottom edges of the paper column with a pencil, and then cut through a little with your knife. Flip over and use the knife mark to align a ruler, and then score along the ruler with the back of your craft knife. Fold the paper up along the ruler, tight to the side of the ruler; push the edge of the ruler hard onto your table or mat, to create the book spine.

All the pieces ready to go!

If you have colored paper you like for the book covers, you can also cut a few strips that are about the width and length of the book columns and take the same steps to fold the paper.

[If you want to be really fussy, you can move the line (before scoring) over by an amount that is equal to the thickness of your ruler or piece of card stock, so the spine is truly centered on the book cover. But … most likely no one will know but you!]

Spread some white glue—preferably a bookbinders glue—lightly along the long edge and the sides of your cardstock strips (you do not need to go the full width). Push the edge of the card stock into the fold of your printed column. Press down—the edge of the card stock will be the spine of your book. Then press flat on each side.

Put a weight on the glued strip to keep it flat. Let dry.

Strip Folded and Glued, Side View

Step 4. Cut Out Your Books

When your books are dry, cut the strip horizontally between each book. Then trim each book individually to width.

You will have lots of books. Choose the ones you like and glue in place!

Lots of books!

Challenge in Quarter Inch Scale: Making a Chair (Part I)

I’ve worked in various micro scales most of my life.  Recently, I’ve become intrigued by the potential for added detail that 1/48 scale (quarter inch scale) offers. After all, it’s absolutely huge in comparison to 1/144!   The challenge, though, is how to bound that potential.  Should drawers open?  Cabinet doors have working hinges?  Should  the lumber be to scale in thickness?

When I was asked to contribute a 1/48 scale chair to an exhibit about dollhouse scale at the recent IGMA show in Teaneck, NJ, I decided to see just how detailed I could get.  This is the result. To learn more about the process of making the parts and assembling this chair,  stay tuned for my next post.

0. Quarter scale finished - 1 0. Quarter scale chair


Carving a Dragon Chest in Quarter Inch Scale

In June 2013 I took a class from Ann High at IGMA Guild School in Castine, Maine, in which we carved a dragon chest.  Ann does truly amazing carving and is an excellent teacher, getting the best from her students–even the newbies.

Front of chest carved in class with Ann High at Guild School in 2013

Front of chest carved in class with Ann High at Guild School in 2013

The finished chest is about 5 inches long and a little over an inch high. This is the almost finished chest–all that remains is to add the final finishes over the stain.

Finished dragon chest

Finished dragon chest

Chest with tools by David Brookshaw displayed

Chest with tools by David Brookshaw displayed

The beautiful period-appropriate carving tools are made by David Brookshaw, who makes museum-quality reproductions of full-sized antique tools, as well as 1/12 scale miniature tools.

Being incapable of leaving anything in 1/12 scale alone, I tried to make one in 1/48 scale.  The results were not stellar.

Attempt to carve the dragon chest in 1:48 scale.  UGH!

Attempt to carve the dragon chest in 1:48 scale. UGH!

My carving skills were simply not up to the task–and the intricacy of the pattern–even with simplifications–was difficult to reproduce in wood, as small as it needed to be. So, what to do? Perhaps there is another way….