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!

An inside look at building the matrix for a 1/144 fireplace

As LEDs become smaller and smaller, it becomes more fun—and feasible—to add fireplace lights to a dollhouse-for-dollhouse roombox or vignettes. Even unlighted, fireplaces are a staple in living rooms of all time periods. While a few metal minis, laser cut wood fireplace mantels, and cast resin pieces are available, not a lot of choice exists. What I wanted was a way to make fireplaces for roomboxes in different styles—traditional, art deco, ornate, and so on.

This was my first foray into molding and casting–and began back in January of 2013.  As I learned in a wonderful course taught by Judy Andraka (Acorns by Oak) at Philadelphia Miniaturia a few years ago, molding and casting allows you build a “matrix” or object to be reproduced using a variety of materials. Molding and casting is the great equalizer; whether you use paper, styrene, metal, fabric, or braid, ultimately everything looks like plastic when it comes out—and has the same level of permanence. And if one happily spends 10 hours designing a single fireplace, all that work ends up embodied in not only one roombox—but can be used again and again.

Of course designing, building, molding, and casting is not an easy task, and getting from here—an idea—to there—a fireplace in 1/144 scale–took time.

How to Build a Miniature Fireplace is a look at the process of building free standing fireplaces—and getting them ready for casting.

Be sure to keep an eye on my website this summer, to see the fireplaces painted and in use in vignettes.  Hopefully, a few unpainted mantels and free-standing fireplaces will be offered for sale.

Here’s a look at the finished and painted free-standing fireplaces. The tallest is about 5 feet in real life.

Tile

Tile fireplace with copper highlights

Marble

Faux marble

Painted black and white

Painted black and white

 

Making a tiny carving gouge

Working in small scale often requires making your own tools (or doing without).  After a lot of searching on the internet,  I found a few, nice quality, small palm-held gouges from Two Cherries and Pfeil.  Two Cherries makes three that are 1 mm in width and various shapes (sweeps #3,  #6, #11)–the number refers to how deep the “U” of the gouge is.  Pfeil makes #11 sweep gouges in both 1 mm and 0.5 mm.

You can find these and other tools at some online stores, such as Chipping Away.  For the Pfeil tools, search for Palm Block cutters, and for the Two Cherries tools, look for their Palm Micro series.

But no one makes anything smaller than 0.5mm.  And I just wasn’t getting the scales on the 1/48th scale dragon right!

Making the groove

Getting ready to make the groove in the gouge

My friend Tom  is a wonderful turner (both full size, small, and dollhouse miniature) and loves to innovate (and share those innovations).  He gave me a few tips on how to make my own gouge.  After a few false starts and many hours of trial and error, I produced a gouge that was about 0.3 mm in diameter, smooth in shape, and shaped about like the #11 gouges I had been working with, in terms of the depth of the U.

marks

Marks made by new gouge and commercially available gouge

 

 

Finished gouge

Finished gouge

 

If you want to learn more about how to make this tool, check out a TUTORIAL: Making a tiny gouge.