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Building materials for doll house/castle? Cardboard???

 
master steward
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I'm trying to think of relatively affordable, non-toxic materials and methods to make a castle for my my my daughter's dolls.



I ran across the neat idea to make it out of cardboard here: http://www.stormthecastle.com/how-to-make-a/make-a-cardboard-dollhouse.htm....but it requires a hot glue, which is something I'd rather avoid. I'm wondering if I could make the framework out of cardboard and apply clay to it to make it stronger...or would the clay crumble rather than harden?



Wandering down the rabbit hole, I discovered "cold porcelain" clay, which is usually made with Elmer's glue and cornstarch and a few other ingredients. Basically, you're making a polymer like the popular "slime" that will then harden. It looks like it might be prone to cracking, and I'm not too sure about heating up Elmer's glue. Maybe this would be a good science experiment for my son (who made "Slime" in his science class and then made "Oobleck"--which is just cornstarch and water).

I then ran across a Cold Porcelain recipe that doesn't require any cooking or glue (https://www.clay-it-now.com/coldporcelainwithoutglue.html). I think it'd be neat to have some sort of clay-looking finish on it so it looks more like stone. I think it'd be really cool to have a castle that looks more like stone!

..... But, I'm probably overthinking this whole project. I probably shouldn't even make one because (1) My kids currently have a doll house, sort of, (2) I'm pretty sure this is just me wanting one because I didn't have one when I was a little girl, and I always wanted one, (3) It's probably kind of a waste of my time/resources. I have so little time as it is!

My daughter currently has this castle that she was given. It's plastic and a bit garish, and not at all historically accurate but it makes noise and the kids enjoy it. And, we already have it.



I got my daughter those cute little wooden castle furniture set. It doesn't quire fit in the princess castle, but that doesn't seem to bother the kids. It just bothers me, LOL!



I think it'd be really cool to have a natural, more realistic castle for my kid's dolls I made them, but maybe I'm the only one that thinks that!

Anyway, I'm rambling a lot here. Has anyone made a doll house before? Anyone have any tips?

Here's a sketch of what I was thinking of making as a castle. Simple with lots of room for the dolls and furniture (most play castles have such tiny rooms that the furniture won't fit inside!). The bottom picture is supposed to be the back side of the top picture...but I forgot to put the turret on the other side, LOL!
Doll-House-Castle.jpg
I always wanted to live in a medieval castle with a turret. If I can't, maybe my kid's dolls can :D
I always wanted to live in a medieval castle with a turret. If I can't, maybe my kid's dolls can :D
 
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I think this is a wonderful idea!

I have what's left of my old doll house. It was a bought one made of painted masonite board.
I think masonite is the brand name and it is just a manufactured thin stiff pressed wood board with some kind of weird glue holding it together no doubt.

I wonder about paper mache? I've seen full sized tables and things made from it although I'm not sure it would hold up to children...don't want to give them something so delicate they have to be too careful?  That's the up side to that plastic castle I think.
...and of course when I looked the idea is already out there  

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570479477772619002/


http://www.coral-creation.com/2018/05/07/paper-mache-dollhouse-the-magical-bakery/

 
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That cardboard house is amazing!

A cardboard castle but with a friendlier glue might work?

Here you tend to get wooden dolls houses- but I certainly wouldn't be skilled enough to make one!
 
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Cardboard is fine to work with because big sheets can be easily found and cheap to buy. Another alternative is 1/4 luan plywood. That is very cheap and holds up better. I do a lot of model making, and so I use that a lot. Using a scrollsaw, that type of wood, and hot glue, a lot can be done. But I do not have anything against hot glue so I use it. Construction adhesive works as well.

But I use cardboard for a lot! I jokingly call it CAD as in Cardboard Aided Design.

Cardboard is great because its thickness scales easily to 2 foot contours. So I will get a 2 foot contour map of the area of my farm I want to 3D model, then cut layers of cardboard to the contour. This means I get a very accurate model of the area I am working. To take out the "steps" that laying cardboard gives me, I use drywall compound and fill in the areas. Then I add other modeling elements like haybales, gravel for roadways, wires for fences, and trees made out of wire, glue and flocking. In the end I get very accurate 3D models of areas of my farm. This tells me where to put in swales, how a WOFATI will sit into the location. I have a big farm, so I cannot do the entire thing in 2 foot contours, but for people that have 10 acre sizes and stuff, it would work out even better! For instance, the picture of the 3D model I am showing in the picture represents 42 real acres, so its usefulness is limited.

But I use cardboard for more than just toys for the kids and the cat. I also use it to make test models of my homemade farm equipment. Using cardboard and hot glue, I can cut complex shapes and give me a quick, 3D idea of how my design will work. I catch a lot of problems in this way because I can make parts move, and see where things hit or miss. In the picture I show a 8 in 1 bucket for my Kubota tractor.

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cardboard diagram of farm DIY
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cardboard model of a 8 in 1 bucket for a Kubota tractor
 
Nicole Alderman
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Thank you, Judith! I actually passed out last night thinking "I wonder if there was something I could add to the cardboard to make it more durable...."

I've been going down the paper mache rabbit hole today, and found something really cool called "paper clay." Basically, some kind of paper (toilet paper, old egg cartons, etc) are wetted and shredded, and then glue and other stuff is added to it to make it into a clay. This recipe looks really promising, though I think I'll substitute actual gypsum for the drywall compound. https://www.ultimatepapermache.com/new-air-dry-clay-recipe


Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay Recipe:
First, mix together –

1/2 cup toilet paper (24 grams dry, 110 grams wet)
1/2 cup Drywall Joint Compound (200 grams) – Note: DAP brand joint compound will not work. Use any other brand except DAP.)
1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (130 grams)
1/2 cup corn starch (70 grams)
3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 grams) to start

Then, add up to 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour and mix.





It looks like this can be used just like clay?! And it is rock hard and not fragile. That sounds like good stuff for a play house!

I've not made large things with clay, and have only worked with paper mache like twice as a child, but it looks like they need a support structure? This has me thinking of making a structure by weaving with twigs and then coating with the paper clay....kind of like wattle and daub?

I'm going to go jump back down the rabbit hole for a while....
 
Nicole Alderman
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Here's another tutorial on paper clay I found, which kind of tells me that I don't need to worry too much about how perfect the mixture is. She's made it without the drywall compound in the past, and it's worked out fine. She also adds a lot of salt to make sure it doesn't mold. I think that's a great idea!



She makes her houses with cardboard boxes taped together with masking tape and alluminum foil with paper crete on top. Here's a very beginning stage:




And, here's a view at the things she's made with these materials:

 
Judith Browning
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haha...you are on your way now

...and as far as this goes

 (3) It's probably kind of a waste of my time/resources. I have so little time as it is!


I believe that we need these creative projects just as much as anything else...everyone has a creative side that needs feeding, something beyond all of the day to day 'stuff', something that is just done for the joy of making something...not to sell...just fun and creative problem solving.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Judith, you gave me the push I needed to get started. Thank you! ♥♥♥

I used cardboard boxes I had lying together. It took me a while to sketch out the windows and doors and figure out which boxes were best. I left the bottom nice and big so there's room for a big feast (for some reason, doll castles are almost all made with rooms too small to put anything in). I didn't want to use any hot glue to hold it together, so I used reinforced paper packaging tape. I'm hoping that paper mache/paper clay will stick to it easily.

Of course, I didn't get a chance to put on any paper clay, let alone figure out how to make the turrets and crenelations on the top, because the kids demanded I put it down on the ground and let them play with it! And so I did :D.
20191227_140641.jpg
toys in a cardboard box
Kids were interested in the project! They started using the boxes before I even had a chance to figure out what I was doing!
tracing-windows-and-doors-with-elsa.jpg
sketching out doorways and windows with elsa doll for refrence
I drew out the doors and window with pencil and used Elsa for perspective
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Using my grandfather's Exacto knife to cut out the windows--I used the first window of each type as a templet
Using my grandfather's Exacto knife to cut out the windows--I used the first window of each type as a templet
basic-cardboard-form.jpg
child playing with DIY doll house castle cardboard not finished
I taped it together with paper packaging tape...and then the kids demanded I put it on the floor for them to play with.
son-playing-with-rough-cardboard-castle.jpg
inside of half-done cardboard dollhouse castle
The inside. Not done! But, evidently done enough for the kids, LOL!
 
Nicole Alderman
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I got a chance to put more work into it. After a lot of pondering on how to make the turret, I basically used thick brown packaging paper and taped it like crazy to the floors. It took a lot of tape! I think I'm basically paper macheing with packaging tape, LOL!

I also made some crenelations at the top for the battlements. These got attached, once again, by layers of paper tape. So much tape! Lots of overlapping to get it to hold together.

The kids also started having fun cutting cardboard. My son made a "piano" and insisted that it get taped in. My daughter was really excited about the piano, so I taped it in.

The fringed thing sticking off the second floor is the piano :D
Cardboard-and-paper-packaging-tape-castle.jpg
cardboard and packaging tape castle
I still need to figure out how to do the pointy roof on the turret, but it's looking more and more like a castle!
top-view-of-castle-so-much-paper-tape-.jpg
top view of paper tape and cardboard castle
So many overlapping layers of tape!
 
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I'm getting to the party late! First, I sooo... agree that designing it simple with big rooms will increase its play value and staying power enormously. Second, I am sooo... not surprised that the plan failed contact with the enemy children. Most children are perfectly happy with basic boxes with windows and totally prepared to use their own imagination to fill in the details. Third, since I read your initial concern about "glue" I went for a visit down that rabbit hole - https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Glue - Nicole I'd specifically read the last one - milk glue - as I suspect from hints you've given us, it would be totally up your son's alley! I'm hoping for a post on "real child recipe testing" sooner, rather than later!
My understanding is that one of the reasons that worms like cardboard so much, is that they use gluten (high protein component in wheat) to "glue" the layers together. The study's fairly old, so I don't know if that's still common practice or if they've gone to all artificial compounds like so many modern things that were fine the old-fashioned way!

Knowing how damp your climate can be, I'd note the ones that talk about thorough drying needs or added salt!
 
Nicole Alderman
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We made more progress! Kids had a lot of fun helping with making the materials for the castle. We went with a mix of toilet paper and old egg cartons for the walls--this wasn't as easy to get details out of as the mixture with just TP, but it already looked like stone!

They also enjoyed applying it to the castle. I realized after we'd put the walls on, that I'd forgotten windows in the turret! How could I forget that most-important-detail?! Thankfully, I'd made the mixture a bit too wet, so it was still moldable and I just removed the clay from where the windows would be.

We also had fun sticking in jewels I'd collected/been given, as well as quartz crystals we'd found in the gravel.

The inside still needs more work. It just has a white floor. I'll need a lot more glue to cover all the inside walls! Hopefully we'll get more done tomorrow. I'm pretty happy with how it turning out! Hopefully the clay won't crack. I used a bit too much water as I kind of winged the recipe based on the various different versions I saw on youtube. I have it drying by the fire, and keep touching up on it when I see cracks forming.
ripping-egg-carton-for-paper-clay.jpg
ripping egg cartons for paper mache clay
Ripping up egg cartons and TP. We first used the toilet paper that my kids had somehow colored with marker, LOL!
making-paper-clay-with-egg-cartons.jpg
mixing paper mache clay and cutting wet egg cartons
My son is ineffectively (but enjoyably) chopping wet egg cartons with scissors, while my daughter stirs the glue and cornstarch stuff
applying-paper-clay-to-cardboard-castle.jpg
applying paper mache clay cladding to the cardboard castle dollhouse
Kids had fun applying it to the castle, too :D
paper-clay-castle-progress.jpg
Made the turret more white, since my daughter liked the lighter color better
Made the turret more white, since my daughter liked the lighter color better
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side view of jewels embedded in the castle
Added in crystals and jewels for fun!
amethysts-embedded-in-paperclay.jpg
jewels and crystals in paper clay castle
What better use for all the jewels I'd collected over the years, than to put it on the castle!
20191228_171939.jpg
paper clay cardboard castle with jewels and crystals and turret
The exterior is almost done!
 
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I like the heavy cardboard that comes as refrigerator boxes and other boxes for new appliances.

Cardboard can be difficult to join, if you don't want to use a lot of duct tape and glue. My solution is to use small dimension lumber, at joints, and a stapler. The kind of stapler you would use in construction, not a paper stapler. Wood as small as 1 x 1 or as large as 2 x 2 can be used in the corners.

The amount of wood sawing is very minimal, and the cardboard can be cut with a box cutter knife. This makes for a very stiff structure, due to the wood, and very light, because of the cardboard. I've actually seen very cheaply built stuffed furniture, that uses this type of skeleton.

Cardboard can almost always be obtained for free , so it's just a matter of some very cheap spruce or pine, and the staples.
........
Edit ..... Earlier today, I was planning how to build a sort of sleeping coffin, out of plywood , so that my bed can be encased within a box, in the back of a cargo van. This serves the purpose of keeping the bed clean and allowing a very small electric heater, to have a chance of being enough. Now, I'm thinking that only the base needs to be plywood. The large lid could be this combination of 2 x 2 and  cardboard. So, now I'm working out an alternative plan. Glad we had this chat.
......
I'm not sure what the reinforcement is in the picture below, but just imagine that thin, light wood runs along the same spots. It would really stiffen things up, without adding a lot of expense or weight
Screenshot_2019-12-29-00-23-26-1.png
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_2019-12-29-00-23-26-1.png]
 
Nicole Alderman
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I'm glad we did, too, Dale . I was actually trying to think of a way to reinforce the open side of the dollhouse. It's leaning away from the big heavy front (drawbridge) side. My husband used to work at  a wood shop, and they would often throw out lots of little pieces of wood...which he of course took home. I know we've got some .5x.5 sapele wood that might be perfect for this. There's probably also some much cheaper bits of knotty alder that would work just as well.
 
Judith Browning
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Nicole, this is looking wonderful! I love it!

You have me really interested in this papercrete now too...maybe later this winter.  I'm thinking maybe I could use some natural dye baths as the liquid and tint it a little? or the paper?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think linseed oil would give it a leathery look and would prevent material from dusting off every time the kids touch it. Probably best to be an outdoor summer project, since it takes a while to dry and if you put too much, there's the spontaneous combustion thing. I doubt that could happen with something like this, so let's just say we're going outside because of the nice sunny days. Linseed oil is often used on cob benches , to give it a durable finish and avoid everyone having clay dust on their clothing.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Judith Browning wrote:Nicole, this is looking wonderful! I love it!

You have me really interested in this papercrete now too...maybe later this winter.  I'm thinking maybe I could use some natural dye baths as the liquid and tint it a little? or the paper?



It looks like people dye the papercrete/clay after they make it. I've seen them add in dry pigments as well as acrylic paint, so I don't see why you couldn't color it! Since the paper has to soak to fall apart, maybe have it soak in a dye bath? The longer you let it soak, the better it'll probably do, anyway. I didn't really break down some of the egg cartons as well as a I should have, since the kids wanted more clay and I wanted to get it to them while they were still interested. The toilet paper doesn't take long to soak, as it falls apart almost instantly (as TP likes to do!), but I'm sure that sitting in a dye bath longer wouldn't hurt it!

Dale Hodgins wrote:I think linseed oil would give it a leathery look and would prevent material from dusting off every time the kids touch it. Probably best to be an outdoor summer project, since it takes a while to dry and if you put too much, there's the spontaneous combustion thing. I doubt that could happen with something like this, so let's just say we're going outside because of the nice sunny days. Linseed oil is often used on cob benches , to give it a durable finish and avoid everyone having clay dust on their clothing.



Most of the recipes for the paper clay called for baby oil, but I saw one person use linseed since they had no baby oil. I didn't really want to use more petroleum, so I used lineseed oil. It only used a tablespoon for a big batch, though. I hope it helps with the preservation, too!

It is taking a long time to dry. Despite being in front of the fire all yesterday and last night, it's still damp. Things take a long time to dry in my house, though. The humidity likes to hang out around 60. Living near a wetlands and pond and surrounded by shady trees does have it's disadvantages!
 
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This is awesome, Nicole! And, the kids will never forget building it with you!
 
Nicole Alderman
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It's been really fun! My daughter found my old stock of Sculpy clay (lets NOT think about what is in that stuff--we all washed our hands multiple times), and she wanted to play with it. So, I made a caldron, pan, bowl, cup, a parsnip, and a bunch of leeks. The kids had fun making random shapes and trying to make leaks. Then they wanted me to make bread, so I made loaves. They're currently baking in the oven. No idea how long they'll last while being played with (I'm thinking not very long!), but we had fun.

I also found the BBC "Secrets of the Castle" series with Ruth Goodman, which shows how castles are built. SCORE! We watched the first episode today (which is why we made leeks and a cauldron, as those were in the video).

 
Nicole Alderman
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Got some pictures of our new little castle accessories. We're still waiting for the floor to dry, so nothing on the bottom floor.  I also used some seasoned maple sticks nailed to sapele crossbeams to help support the second floor and roof.
20191229_153034.jpg
sculpy clay castle accessories on Mellisa Doug castle furniture in cardboard castle
I should have zoomed out a little more to show the stick/pillar supports
dollhouse-medieval-food-leeks-cauldron-ovenbake-clay.jpg
bread, leeks, cauldron, pan, cup bowl, parsnip made from sculpy clay on Melissa Doug castle furniture
Bread made the medieval, marked with initials on the top so you could tell who's was who's :D
 
Nicole Alderman
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My son wanted to make more stuff with clay. While it really isn't the best clay to be working with, I already had it around, and he really gained confidence working with clay (he went from sobbing and frustrated that he couldn't make a pot, to making bowl after bowl). I turned on of his bowls into the well. Since the kids were really enjoying pretending to cook with the pot and pan and breads I made earlier, I made a bunch more medieval foods (peach, pear, apple, radish, turnip, beet, cabbage) and a pail for the doll house. My daughter already broke off one of the pear's leaves. But, if nothing else, this has been a great sensory and history learning experience!
dollhouse-fruits-vegetables.jpg
A whole bunch of Sculpy clay fruits and veggies, and a well, too.
A whole bunch of Sculpy clay fruits and veggies, and a well, too.
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I hung the leeks to dry. You can also see the maple sticks that are helping support the second story. They really blend in, though!
I hung the leeks to dry. You can also see the maple sticks that are helping support the second story. They really blend in, though!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Got more work done on it! The exterior that I did two days ago is now rock hard. It makes a satisfying THUNK when you knock on it. Success!

My husband picked up a bag of gypsum and some more glue on his way home....of course, the gypsum is low dust, which means it in little hard rocks, rather than dust. So I ground it in the mortar and pestle and added it it in. It didn't seem to make much of a difference. I found the biggest component to really nice, workable paper clay was really squeezing out the water from the paper. If I didn't do that, I ended up having to add too much corn starch, which made the paper sticky in weird ways.  I did like how the ground gypsum added a bit of warm brown color to the paper clay.

I managed to make more workable egg carton clay by letting it soak over night and really whisking it with the blender. This helped break it down. The dark clay on the battlements and the fireplace were from this whisked egg carton mixture.

The interior walls was much less egg carton and more toilet paper. The TP makes it a lot more workable. An entirely TP mixture is almost exactly like clay. Very nice!
cardboard-framework-for-fireplace.jpg
dollhouse castle fireplace framework made from cardboard
The castle needed a giant fireplace to roast pigs and such, so I made the framework out of cardboard and paper tape
cardboard-fireplace-in-castle.jpg
cardboard fireplace framework for dollhouse castle
Stuck it in (don't think about the fact that there's a window directly above the placement of this fireplace...)
fireplace-covered-in-paperclay.jpg
inside of paper clay castle with fireplace
Covered it all over with egg carton paper clay, and put a thick amount of it to look like a chimney
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inside of paper clay castle with gypsum
Other side of the bottom interior. This is mostly TP and ground gypsum
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paper clay medieval toilet doll house castle
No castle is complete without a toilet! I made a framework of cardboard and paper tape, and then put clay over it.
20191230_145538.jpg
paper clay castle with turret and jewels
The exterior is finished! .... Well, except for the turret. I still need to figure that out....
 
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This is fantastic Nicole!  I love that the kids are involved in building it, which is perhaps just as fun (or more so) than playing with it once it's finished.

If you find that cardboard isn't strong enough, Masonite would make lightweight but strong floors and walls.  You don't have got buy a full 4 x 8 foot sheet.  Home Depot and Lowes sell 2' x 4' sheets -- easy to throw into the trunk of a car.  I'd go with masonite over luan plywood as it's easier to cut and work with but tremendously strong.

What I love about your building materials is that it'll be easy for the kiddos to add onto the castle depending upon what their interests are.  Add a horse stable.  Add an armory.  Add a chapel.  Add another turret . . .

 
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Oooh... Let me introduce you all to my latest obsession. Terrain building for wargaming!

Industrial machinery from trash
Gaming table scenery
Ruined walls from polystyreneIndustrial water tower
Pirate hideout!
An awesome dice tower (for rolling lots of dice without messing up the gaming board)
Sump Canal board
Wizards tower

Lots of these use XPS foam. It is sturdy, cuts easily, takes texture well and is easy to glue. XPS foam board can be found as off cuts from insulation projects, or bought at a hardware shop. A little goes a long way! There a loads of video tutorials on youtube on how to build the various effects and textures. I've build a few small items, but not finished them yet. Big lesson seems to be that details really matter to hide the original look of the item. Simple things like using PVA and sand to give a texture to a surface, or making a more organic rough surface on the foam (screw up a ball of tin foil, roll the ball over the pieces = instant "weathered rock" effect). Then you get into the fun of painting it to make all those lovely details pop out.

Seems like lots of the people doing this keep boxes of junk just for this purpose. Kids toys that are broken can get butchered and turned into something else. A toy tank gets broken down and becomes sections of a bunker with a gun emplacement.

Here is a tutorial that shows some of the techniques used with foam.

 
Nicole Alderman
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Not quite what to do with this room. I had envisioned a natural pink (like what comes from avocado peels). My daughter LOVES pink, so I thought it'd be nice to make one princess-y and pink. I used gypsum to done down the magenta food coloring...and it didn't work. At least, I don't think it did. It looks to me like pink insulation. Adding the white trim and amethysts helped, I think, but I still think something needs to be done....but what? Maybe a white wash? I don't think I have the required lime for that. I have "general purpose limestone." I could thin out white acrylic paint, but I was kind of enjoying avoiding paints.

Any ideas?

(Sorry about the bad lighting. I used my loma creek headlamp to get the area lit, and it's a bit too bright)
20191230_181241.jpg
How does this room look? Too garish/pink panther insulation color?
How does this room look? Too garish/pink panther insulation color?
20191230_181206.jpg
How can I get it to match the other rooms?
How can I get it to match the other rooms?
 
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Would a *very* thin layer of the toilet paper mache mix do the job? It might let the pink "bleed" through without covering it completely. It would be better if you had a scrap left of the bright pink to experiment with.
 
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Nicole, that is an amazing castle. I am wishing I knew children I could make one for!   I actually love the pink room. And the mini kitchen stuff is so creative

I remember my childhood dollhouse had a secret passage and a mailbox. Those were my favourite parts. Those and the stables/farm set I was determined went with it...., Complete with miniature fences.

Anywas, thoroughly enjoying this thread.  Hoping for more pictures as your their dollhouse grows/evolves.
 
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Jay Angler wrote: Would a *very* thin layer of the toilet paper mache mix do the job? It might let the pink "bleed" through without covering it completely. It would be better if you had a scrap left of the bright pink to experiment with.



I don't think I can get the paper clay that thin. It always lies down either 1/2 centimeter thick or nothing at all.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Catie George wrote:Nicole, that is an amazing castle. I am wishing I knew children I could make one for!   I actually love the pink room. And the mini kitchen stuff is so creative

I remember my childhood dollhouse had a secret passage and a mailbox. Those were my favourite parts. Those and the stables/farm set I was determined went with it...., Complete with miniature fences.

Anywas, thoroughly enjoying this thread.  Hoping for more pictures as your their dollhouse grows/evolves.



Oooooh, secret passage! I've always wanted one in my house--my houses have all been new and efficient. Thinking of secret passage gives me an idea, though! Currently, the second story turret room has no door or entry. I wonder if I could make a secret passage somehow. How did yours work? Was it behind a book shelf?
 
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Next phase: the royal dog house for his majesty, "Duke Doggie Face".

 
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I tried a few different things to make it better. First I tried just dusting ground pink sidewalk chalk on it. That didn't really work. Then I mixed the chalk with cornstarch and bakingsoda to make it lighter. Nope.

Since the stuff was still damp, and the floor was now specked with pink from my attempts to recolor the wall, I just ripped off the wall and the floor and mixed them together with the pink chalk mixture. This made it a bit too dry to work with, so added a bit more wet TP and some glue, and it was perfect, if a bit thick. I put that back on the wall and it looks so much nicer to me! Now I have a bunch of left over pink to use somewhere else, and I need to make more white for the floor. But, that's okay. I've found it's MUCH easier to apply a wall or floor if the adjoining surfaces are dry,  

Oh! I also had fun with the fireplace. It just looked too bland. I mean, it should be black with soot, right? So, I grabbed some charcol from my woodstove and crunched it up and mixed it in to the still damp clay. I like this much better!
20191230_211227.jpg
A less-insulation-like pink!
A less-insulation-like pink!
20191230_210924.jpg
It matches much better now, I think!
It matches much better now, I think!
 
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This thread is so full of WIN its ridiculous.

I have to address this first

Nicole Alderman wrote:(2) I'm pretty sure this is just me wanting one because I didn't have one when I was a little girl, and I always wanted one, (3) It's probably kind of a waste of my time/resources. I have so little time as it is!!




I'm a red blooded African man, who has lived a very full life up to this point. I'll say this: if you aren't prepared to meet the needs of your inner person/child/long lived and long felt dreams, then you are doing yourself at all times, a grave disservice.

I only say that from experience, and having denied myself the same for decades. The feeling of innate fulfilment when listening and responding to these dreams is exceptional and life changing. So, you have my encouragement!



I have three young daughters, and just last night I was following a collection of visuals via Pinterest where DIY toys inspired by Waldorf School toys were being shown. I was amazed at the creativity, doll houses, castles, farms, et al that were being brought up. So much so that thats my project with my girls today :)

That makes this thread introduction to me, very timeous. Thank you. Your work thus far is amazing to me.


Question: given that you hate hot glues (the plastic is the problem right!?) what do you suggest as an alternative? I sit with the same dilemma and hatred for the plastic glues, though I have ample supplies from my neighbour wanderings (picking up perfectly functioning items destined for the landfill)
 
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This is so cool! I actually went down this "rabbit hole" probably 10 years ago or more, before I even had kids, and was just interested in crafting with recycled materials, using recycled building materials, etc. If I remember correctly, the paper clay can also be made from newspaper, and can even include dryer lint. I never actually got around do doing it, but I do remember being very excited about these ideas and making all kinds of plans

Thank you for reminding me of this! I now have 2 little kids who are just getting to the age where we can do this together and they can play with it. Something like this will definitely be in our future plans.

I love the pink room, btw. Compared to the brightly colored plastic toys kids are used to, it's very mild, and it's just one small part overall, so it's not overwhelming.
 
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I have some experience putting together wooden dollhouse kits. My mother and I were on a kick years ago where we both made several. I loved them, my girls couldn’t have cared less.

Due to my being a perfectionist, I painted each piece of trim separately prior to gluing, so it was tedious work. But they turned out beautifully, based on lovely Victorians.

Left over from those years, I have a half dozen large, unopened, expensive kits, bought on sale. My plan now is to make them into birdhouses which will be mounted on poles. There are many examples on Pinterest.

My builder has constructed a lovely dovecote that is a model of our farmhouse. I’m in the process of putting a veneer of small stones to replicate.

Good luck! Dollhouses are a fun hobby.
 
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I love this thread so much. There are so many good ideas. My first thought upon reading the original post was to use hypertufa, if wood (or analogs) wasn’t cutting it. The styling might be tricky, but with the right molds and mindset, potentially a lot of fun, and pretty durable. And it looks like stone.  

D
 
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Daniel Ackerman wrote: I love this thread so much. There are so many good ideas. My first thought upon reading the original post was to use hypertufa, if wood (or analogs) wasn’t cutting it. The styling might be tricky, but with the right molds and mindset, potentially a lot of fun, and pretty durable. And it looks like stone.  



Ooooh, I've never heard of hypertufa. I'll have to look into it! This is a whole new realm of crafting to me!

Elizabeth Basden wrote: I have some experience putting together wooden dollhouse kits. My mother and I were on a kick years ago where we both made several. I loved them, my girls couldn’t have cared less.

Due to my being a perfectionist, I painted each piece of trim separately prior to gluing, so it was tedious work. But they turned out beautifully, based on lovely Victorians.



I'd love to see pictures! I've always loved Victorian architecture. I'm often saddened by all the big McMansions lacking the beautiful architecture of years gone by. I always thought I'd make sure to live in a victorian or tudor house...and here I am in a very plain manufactured home! Do any of your doll houses have turrets? They were always my favorite house feature!


----------------------------------

I got some more work done today! I was trying to think of a way to do the upstairs floor without thick paper clay, and I was thinking it'd be nice to have it look wooden. At first, I thought I'd do stirstick floors like the ones pictured here, but I don't have any stir sticks and really didn't want to buy anything more. Then I remembered how people make floors out of paper bags. So we sliced up a paper bag, as well as white and dark brown construction paper, and I dipped them in glue that I mixed with water and coffee grounds (too gritty--this was a bad idea), nail rust, and cocoa powder to stain the white. I wanted it to look more varied than just one color of brown.

Then, after it was mostly dry, I mixed linseed oil with  a bit of glue and coco powder to make what would hopefully be a shiny finish on the floor. It also helped to even out the colored pieces of paper a bit more.

Then I got to work on the "bedroom" walls. I mixed the left-over pink from yesterday with white and applied it to the wall. I really like the white window trim against the pink, so I did that. And, of course, I had to add some more amethysts to above the windows!
20191231_115347.jpg
mother and child using fiskars paper cutter
My son helping me cut strips
20191231_185251.jpg
The difference between the finished and unfinished room is extreme!
The difference between the finished and unfinished room is extreme!
 
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I didn't want to make the roof too heavy, so I decided to try paper macheing it with torn paper. I didn't have any grey, so I thought maybe I could darken the glue with charcoal and stain white paper grey. This didn't work as strongly as I was hoping, and so it didn't mix with the black paper I'd also ripped. So, I did just the white. It made a pretty nice stone grey, but not as realistic as I was hoping. So, I mixed some lineseed with charcoal and glue and "spoung painted" that on with a paint brush. I think this did a pretty good job of getting a stone texture that matched the battlements and rest of the castle.

But, I had all that black paper that was already soaked in glue mixture. What to do? I asked my kids, and they decided to make the top room black. So, I did! After it dried a bit (I had to wait for it to dry, because the charcoal kept coming off of it onto my fingers), I put the white trim around the window. Then I found a random solid black gemstone I was given, and put that in the keystone. I really like the result! I think I'll make the floor white, too.

I've found that lighter colors are much nicer on the interior than darker ones, as light has a hard time getting in there. White really helps brighten it up!
string-on-crenelations.jpg
The crenelations on the battlements were leaning out. So I used the power of yarn to keep them upright!
The crenelations on the battlements were leaning out. So I used the power of yarn to keep them upright!
castle-battlements-crenelations.jpg
paper mache stone look from ripped paper and charcoal
Since the battlements are dry, I removed the yarn. Here's the fake stone look made by using ripped paper stained with charcoal
black-turret-room.jpg
I had a bunch of left over black that I decided not to use on the roof. Kids wanted a black room, so here it is!
I had a bunch of left over black that I decided not to use on the roof. Kids wanted a black room, so here it is!
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Catie George wrote:Nicole, that is an amazing castle. I am wishing I knew children I could make one for!   I actually love the pink room. And the mini kitchen stuff is so creative

I remember my childhood dollhouse had a secret passage and a mailbox. Those were my favourite parts. Those and the stables/farm set I was determined went with it...., Complete with miniature fences.

Anywas, thoroughly enjoying this thread.  Hoping for more pictures as your their dollhouse grows/evolves.



Oooooh, secret passage! I've always wanted one in my house--my houses have all been new and efficient. Thinking of secret passage gives me an idea, though! Currently, the second story turret room has no door or entry. I wonder if I could make a secret passage somehow. How did yours work? Was it behind a book shelf?



It was I think a "secret" door to a secret room - it may have been a bookshelf or a painting? I've always dreamed of a secret passage too!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Worked on a bunch of miscelanious things today.

* Floors and ceilings with paper towel. Since I've used at least 6 rolls of toilet paper on this project, I wanted to see if there was a way to use a bit more material and get a similar effect. I also was getting tired of tossing gloves when they got too stuck with glue. I found that if I washed my gloves after working, I could dry them with papertowel, and then use that paper towel to paper mache. This worked pretty well, except the paper towel made a different texture...more like rumpled curtain than stone. So, I used a small amount of paper clay is areas to give it the stone appearance. It worked! The floor of the top and middle turret rooms were made this way. I also used the paper towel mache to do the ceilings of the bottom two turret rooms.

* Shelves from cardboard and popsicle sticks. These would have turned out 10 times nicer, I think, if I had measured and cut more carefully. But, I'm still pretty pleased with them. I got cardboard and folded the sides in to make the side and back walls of the shelves. Then added some paper mache strips left over from yesterday's flooring. Then I used my pruning sheers to cut popsicle sticks to size and glued them on all sides of the cardboard. Then I used them to make the bottom and top of the shelving unit. To make the shelves themselves, I first glued (with Elmer's All-Purpose Glue) popsicle sticks to the sides. These were to support the shelves. Then I glued the popsicle sticks to the supports. This was a lot more secure then I hoped. The front of the side walls looked funky, though, as the cardboard peaked through and the edges of all the popsicle sticks were a bit uneaven. So I used a bit of rumpled paper towel mache to glue them on. Then I stained the paper towel mache with linseed mixed with cocoa powder. I brushed linseed oil over the whole shelves.

* More clay creations. Kids wanted to play with clay again, so I made pouches and candlesticks, (they had fun making snakes and balls and birthday cakes--not pictured). Then I had to decorate the house just to see how it looked, and then took some pictures!
castle-progress.jpg
polymer clay candlestick and popsicle stick doll house shelves
I had fun putting things in the rooms, just to see how they looked
before-after-paperclay.jpg
Still need to do the walls in the left room. I think those will be blue. We made little pouches from sculpey clay
Still need to do the walls in the left room. I think those will be blue. We made little pouches from sculpey clay
popsicle-stick-dollhouse-shelves.jpg
Candle stick I made today, on the rather wonky shelf
Candle stick I made today, on the rather wonky shelf
20200101_195732.jpg
popsicle stick doll house shelves and polymer candlestick
Black room is finished! It's the first to have ceiling, floor and walls! Yay!
20200101_200019.jpg
The shelves will be removable to reveal the entrance to the secret turret room!
The shelves will be removable to reveal the entrance to the secret turret room!
 
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AWESOME work Nicole!! And what an excellent thing to do with your kids! For the rest of their lives they will remember making castles with you! :)
I love the way it's all coming together!!

If you color on computer printer paper (or other light paper) with markers it makes excellent stained glass windows. Castles always had a chapel.

I build a LOT with cardboard, and when you are ready for an addition, tell me and I'll give you some hints for structure. You are wanting a turret, to make cardboard into a tube: cut a big rectangle with the ribs going up and down, as high as you want the tower, and as wide as the diameter of the tower times pi (3.14) cut through only the TOP SKIN of the cardboard, in the crack of the ribs, all the way from top to bottom, do this about every 2 inches all the way across. Roll it carefully, with the cut sides out, and it will bend on your cuts, but not break. If you want it to be REALLY sturdy, do a second one that is a bit bigger, and make it double thick by putting the small one inside the bigger one. Glue them together well, tape the joints tight, cut windows before you hook them together! This will be strong enough to hold your rock work looking mixture up. Tell me if you need pictures,  I can take you some. For what it's worth, to get cardboard to do what you want, you score it (cut it partway, but not all the way through with a knife, and it will fold along those lines neatly. The ribs run exact distances apart, and are straight and parallel, so it's easy to use them as a grid to keep it all square and neat.

If you look in the trash at furniture stores, a bunch of the boxes have cardboard type corner bracing. It's a 90 degree corner, about 1.5 inches each side, and they come up to about 4 foot long. They are GREAT for adding structure to small things. The next castle you do, use them to reinforce corners of walls, and fold them in half longways, and put them between the boxes near the edge on the exposed play side for each floor to keep your floors from sagging. Something interesting to do when you are learning cardboard art is go dig in the furniture store trash, they have some odd bits they use, look how and why they used them.

I'm a big fan of slot and tab work with cardboard, that's a whole post of it's own.  I have something I wrote elsewhere I'll put in a sec.  I have built a lot of castles out of cardboard and plywood, and been paid to build a plywood one that folded up for storage, had to be engineered against 50 MPH winds and 12 year old boys (after they are 12, there's no engineering against them, I didn't try.)  That's a post in itself too, and I don't want to derail yours, I'll start a new thread someplace and link here, so yours doesn't get derailed. Edit: New thread: Pearl's Castles and other old projects

AWESOME WORK NICOLE!!  


 
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