The original plan was to not have handles. It felt impossible and Miss Thistle didn’t seem like a handle kind of doll anyway, what with the no fingers and all. But once I figured out how to make a cup I had to have the handle. The handle quest was long but the solution is easy and makes a truly awesome tiny handle. Really, it is magic.
The little plates are simple too. In my first (and many) attempts I struggled with getting shapes and edges I liked. Lots and lots of failed tiny plates led me to an easy solution for that too.
- it’s easier to cut paper clay after it dries a little
- octagons are much easier than circles
- at this very moment your house is full of things that will stamp adorable patterns on tiny plates – soon you will be looking at the bottoms of everything…
Before we talk about how to make the tiny dishes and cups let’s jump ahead to the finishing. Paint your tiny cups and plates and saucers with acrylic paint.
I vote for heart and sweetness over perfection in decorating your miniature china. The more I relaxed the more I liked what was turning up.
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You can thin the paint to make washes. The effect of painting it on and wiping it off is nice, so is splattering using a toothbrush.
For little details and lines I use this brush. It’s handy for lots of things.
And optionally finish each with a coat of nail polish. Using one that is not quite clear (mine has just a hint of shell pink) makes a lovely surface.
how to make the teacup
You will need:
- paper clay
- a sharpie marker (or a few)
- white glue
- embroidery thread (I used – dmc 8 pearl cotton)
- plastic pencil
- a little cornstarch
- tooth pick or skewer
Double a length of embroidery thread ( I used dmc 8 pearl cotton – you could experiment with other floss or twine as long as it is a natural fiber). Saturate the doubled thread with glue (I used my fingers) and wind it around the end of the pencil as shown. Let this dry completely
When the thread is dry remove it from the pencil and snip off a small section of one curl. Coat the end of the sharpie with a little bit of cornstarch (just a very light dusting – you don’t need much).
Roll a small and smooth ball of clay in your hands, it should be a little bigger than the end of your sharpie marker. Place it on the end of the marker and begin to press it down.
Continue to press the ball over the pen. Gently form it it to the pen with your fingers – you don’t want it too thin.
Tap the end of the pen on your working surface to flatten it.
Trim the edge with an exacto knife. It does not need to be perfect (you’ll sand it later). Don’t draw the knife around – press it in, pull the clay away and repeat all around.
Trim your little section of dried thread to the size you want.
Press it into the cup – a little below the top and bottom edges. Use a toothpick to press the clay against the thread. Gently arrange the handle and then leave this undisturbed until dry. Completely undisturbed – step away from the cup…
This is the magic part – apply a little white glue to the handle and spread a little onto the cup where the thread is inserted.
Let this dry. I found one coat of glue was enough but you can add more after the first coat is dry for a more substantial handle.
Sand the teacup with fine sand paper. Tip: glue a piece of sandpaper to a piece of cardboard for making flat surfaces. You could also use an emory board. Sand the top and bottom flat and tear off a little piece of sandpaper to send the entire surface. You are ready for paint! Let’s talk about dishes.
how to make the plates
Begin by gathering things for stamping texture. My favorites were the bottom of a peppermint oil bottle, a mini jam jar and a glue cap. Other ideas are nail polish bottles – the bottoms are great – all sorts of little caps and lids. I had a blast looking around for things. Measuring spoons are ideal for making curves or use anything with a bowl like shape that is very smooth.
You will also need:
- paper clay
- mat board and/or skewers
- exacto knife
- rolling pin
- wax paper
- fine sandpaper
- optional – manicure scissors are handy for cutting little details
Work on a wax paper surface and sprinkle the surface and the rolling pin with a little cornstarch. The key to getting even thickness is to use guides for your rolling pin. Use two strips of mat board (or similar). For a little more thickness use bamboo skewers or chopsticks for even thicker.
Roll out a small piece of clay and stamp with your bottles and caps. I stamped with the peppermint bottle first and then the glue cap here. I made a few more with the mini jam jar and another glue cap. Important: leave a little space between you stamps.
Let the clay dry until it is a little firmer but still flexible – leather like. The timing will vary based on weather, humidity etc. Mine took about two hours.
Separate the plates with scissors and then trim the edges. I found making a good looking octagon much easier than a circle. Trim off each side so it is square and then cut off the corners.
Press the little plate into a measuring spoon – I used the tablespoon.
Flip it out onto a nonstick and non absorbent surface. I used this butcher plate – I love it and use it as a paint palette too.
Let the plates dry. Some of my plates dried perfectly and some lost their shape. Plan on some weird ones and make a bunch. I discarded the really weird ones but here too, I’m more concerned wth heart than perfection. That’s how miss thistle rolls too.
Tip: work in small batches – while some plates are drying stamp out a few more.
Things to experiment with:
- Adding paint to the clay – this worked well – I just kneaded a little acrylic paint in but it was very messy and sticky – fyi.
- different clay thicknesses
- pressing the stamped side of the clay into the measuring spoon
Sand the dried dishes. Sand the top edge and make a flat surface on the bottom. Tear off a little piece of fine sand paper for the rest of the surface.
And then paint your tiny heirloom china! If you make doll house dishes I’d love to see! Use #annwoodhandmade and/or #missthistlesociety on instagram. And if you find something great for stamping please leave it in the comments.