Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dolls House bureau tutorial, matchbox style

Today I will breaking away from my normal style to show you how to make this adorable little dolls house bureau made from items which are really easy to come by. It is so simple to make and once you know how you can make all different styles of cupboards, you do not have to follow my layout exactly but the technique is important. Please first read through the tutorial before attempting it just so that you make sure what is expected. Measure twice, cut once.

I made this little bureau a few days ago and it came out exactly how I wanted but the second one did not go as well although I think that the charm lies in the imperfections. My teacher in junior school always said " if you want perfect, go to the shops and buy one" and this has always stuck with me, specially when I start noticing little mistakes in my work.

Enough Rambling and more working.

As a side note I would like to add that although I like working with different glues and cutters, you may use whatever you like. I prefer a box cutter for bigger pieces that need straight edges and a scissors for smaller work. I also prefer clear contact glue for quick drying pieces which is a bit expensive so I swap to regular white craft glue for paper and pieces that do not have to be perfect.

For this piece I have also broken it down into 3 parts which are the structure, finishing, and legs and handles.
 the structure:

1. The structure

Materials needed:

  • glue ( I used paper glue and clear gel glue)
  • box cutter
  • scissors
  • 4 matchboxes ( you may use more or less)
  • corrugated cardboard ( basically I cut up an old packing box
  • 2 pieces of 4.2x 6 pieces of decorative paper (or any size you like that will be sufficient to cover your piece.)
  • a metal ruler, cutting mat and a pencil for marking

 Step 1: glue your 4 boxes together. Set aside and allow to dry

Step 2: Trim your corrugated card on the edges with the box cutter so that you have a nice clean edge all the way around. Here is a view of the card with a clean edge.
Step 3: cut your card stock into four pieces. As matchbox sizes vary from each country it is best to measure them before cutting. The four pieces should be cut into two pieces making up the top and underside of the desk and the other pieces should be the sides of your desk.Just make sure your desk over laps the matchboxes by 1/4" on both dies of the top and bottom of the  desk. My pieces measured as follows:
The two big pieces were 3.5"x2" and the smaller ones were 2"x1.5"
Step 4: Take your two large pieces and lay them on 1 piece of the patterned paper and cut down the centre

Step 5: This part might be a bit tricky but please bear with me. Take one of the larger pieces of card and one piece of the patterned paper. Place the card in the center of the paper. Lift one corner slightly and make a crease where the paper and card meet. Once you have a crease then remove the card and fold across the crease. You could score it but I don't have a tool for that so I just fold it over and fold it the other way. Make sure your fold is neat and clear.
 Step 6. measure about a 1/8th of an inch and make another fold just above the fold you have completed. The second fold should be closer to the edge and not on the other side
The crease should fold neatly over the edge of the cardboard
Now place your piece of cardboard in the center of the same paper and repeat this step so that you have neat double folds all the way around the card board. Using a pencil, mark out the smaller boxes made by the folds. Measure the folds closet to the interior.

This is how it should look when folded.
Step 7. Cut away the parts that were marked in pencil, making sure to cut very neatly. This is how it should look
Step 8. Using some white  liquid paper glue ( like the ones we used in primary school) I glued the top of the cardboard into the center of the paper. Then one by one, lining up the surrounding tabs, I glued them all down.

Step 9. I did the same with the other piece of board which measured the same and then with the smaller pieces. I now have 4 covered pieces of cardboard.
Here are the four sides.
Step 10: Glue all pieces into place around the box making sure to spread glue evenly and gluing corners as well.
Remember that when you glue the top and bottom piece to have about 1/4 inch visible.

Here is where my measurement was off.

I notice that one side always comes out nicer on each piece so I chose which side of each board I want showing and marked that with an arrow drawn in pencil to remind myself. It is now time to assemble.

I noticed that when I measured my four sides that I had it a bit long on the sides so I took an extra piece of card and folded a strip of the paper over and glued on the bottom.I tried to turn a mistake into a design element and I like how it looked so it became a happy mistake.

My extra piece for the bottom

extra piece glued on.
Now you should have your structure complete. In the next part we will be decorating the drawers and sealing out little bureau.

This is how it should look when you are done

2. Sealing the structure and drawers.

This step is quite easy and can be done on the same day as finishing the structure.

Materials needed.

  • Modge podge
  • craft paint, preferably a neutral colour to contrast with the patterned paper. Gold or silver is also a good choice.
  • a paint brush
  • left over patterned paper
  • scissors
  • glue ( I just used regular craft for this step)

Step 1: Remove all the little drawers. With your neutral craft paint and a small paintbrush, lightly  paint the card from the matchboxes which is showing. No need to paint inside the boxes, just the outer edge. Leave aside to dry

Step 2. Paint the front of the drawers with the same paint. Once again, no need to paint the whole drawer unless you really want but is easier to pull the drawer out if it is not painted.
front of the box painted.

view from the side

Step 3. Take the piece of patterned paper that was left over from the structure and measure it to fit on the front on the drawer, make it slightly smaller than the drawer so that it fits on the front and still leaves space around.
measured the paper with a pencil on the back

Here they are cut out.
Step 4: Glue the strips of paper in the center of the drawer faces, making sure that the paint has dried before gluing anything down

Step 5: Paint one layer of modge podge over the entire structure and the front of the drawers. Basically this step is to protect our little desk, you may skip it if you like but since we where working with paper, I think this step is vital to ensure our work is protected. I also add a layer of clear varnish over the top of the desk to give it a nice shine.

This step is now complete and your bureau should look something like this.
A little wonky but cute none the less.

At this point you can choose to use big glass beads for legs and handles by using a hot glue gun to glue them on or you could follow my last step which involves a little patience and some paper-quilling techniques.

You could also line your little drawers with some cut out felt to make the inside more attractive.

PLease note:

3. Handles and legs.

This part can be a bit tricky since it involves very small pieces and making sure they are just right but the finish is well worth it in the end.

Materials needed

  • regular white craft glue
  • scissors
  • one hole punch, or two hole, whichever you have on hand
  • some paper ( if you have any patterned paper left over from the structure then you can use that)
  • hot glue gun ( or regular clear glue if you are making this with kids or do not have a glue gun)
  • paint, the same  colour you used from the drawers is best.
  • modge podge
  • 4 tooth picks
Step 1: cut your paper in strips that measure 2"x 0.5" , you will need 8.
step 2: take your toothpick and one strip of paper. Wrap the paper around the toothpick and add a bit of glue to the end of the strip. Roll between your fingers until you have thin tube of paper. If the top is uneven then when you slide it off the toothpick you can just push it all into shape with your finger. Roll between your fingers until the glue is set.

 Step 3: reapeat this with all the strips of paper until you have 8 little tubes
Step 4 : Set four tubes aside for the legs and take the other four for the drawer handles. Punch out 4 little hole punhes in some think cardstock for the handles. Then glue them to the top of the four tubes. I then placed them on the toothpicks and in the middle of some left over corrugated cardboard.

 Step 5: Paint the 4 handles with the paint. I had to do 2 coats but you can judge for yourself how many you think you need. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 7: Using a hot glue gun (or regular glue if you don't have a glue gun) glue down the handles onto your drawers. Glue the legs to the bottom of the desk.

Step 5. You can now paint the legs and another layer of modge podge, if you like. You are now done and ready to dispaly in your dolls house.

*Please note that I have left the back open on purpose. This function is so that you can push the drawers open from the back. The little handles are cute but might be fragile  after too much pulling on them. You may cover the back with a piece of cardstock but I prefer not to.

So after a full day of preparing this tutorial I am finally done. The bureau is really cheap, easy and looks great when completed. I really do hope you give it a go and I would love to see a picture if you ever get around to making one so please feel free to message me. On another note, if there is any step that confuses you of if you need a little more clarification please feel free to contact me or leave a message anytime.