miniature dish tutorial : make tiny teacups and plates

doll house dishes diy

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.

doll dishes diy

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.

revelations:

  • 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…

miniature china tutorial

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.

 

doll house dishes diy

*Some links are are affiliate links – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

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.

doll house dishes diy

doll house ideas

doll house dishes diy

doll dish diy

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)
  • scissors
  • paintbrush
  • plastic pencil
  • a little cornstarch
  • sandpaper
  • tooth pick or skewer

tiny teacup diy

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

miniature teacup diy

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).

doll house dishes diy

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.

doll house dishes diy

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.

miniature teacup tutorial

how to make a miniature teacup

Tap the end of the pen on your working surface to flatten it.

make a miniature teacup

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.

tiny teacup handle

Trim your little section of dried thread to the size you want.

miniature teacup handle

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…

dollhouse teacup diy

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.

doll house ideas

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

 

make doll dishes

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.

miniature plate tutorial

You will also need:

  • paper clay
  • mat board and/or skewers
  • scissors
  • exacto knife
  • rolling pin
  • wax paper
  • cornstarch
  • fine sandpaper
  • optional – manicure scissors are handy for cutting little details

doll house plates : rolling clay

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.

doll house plates : rolling clay

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.

stamp clay with found objects

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.

trim the plates

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.

shape the plate with a measuring spoon

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.

drying miniature plates

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

sanding miniature dishes

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.

miniature plates

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.

dollhouse dish tutorialpin it for later

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.

doll house ideas : dishes

34 Comments

  1. SUSAN JONSSON

    I absolutely love this idea! You make my heart sing with your innovative and charming ideas. Can’t wait to make my own dishes to share with my granddaughter’s! Thank you so very much♥️

  2. Oh my! These are so wonderfully made. I can see there are a lot of tea parties already being planned by Miss Thistle❣️ Lucky friends.

  3. Margaret Berryman

    Love all your work – Miss Thistle, and the colours of the little birds! Thank you. I look forward to trying some soon. You are a true talent, and very generous to share them. Thank you so much.

  4. I’d be happy to follow link so that you can get commission but I’m in uk so use amazon.co.uk is there anyway I can link that to you?

  5. pippa wilkes

    I’ve been waiting for this post with bated breath! Such brilliant ideas – I can’t wait to have a go with this. I love all of your posts – I gave your little birds to all my colleagues for to hang on their Christmas trees the year before last and they all said again this year what a joy it was to unpack them at Christmas time. A real pleasure. Thank you so much.

  6. People who might scoff at our inner child have forgotten. This absolutely makes my heart sing. Thank you for the well written and detailed tutorial. You are right, I am seeing all sorts of tiny possibilities for this craft as well as stenciling with paints and on fabric…

  7. Susan Hebert

    My paper clay package arrived just as I was opening up this blog email. Kismet! Thank you so much for sharing.
    I want to know more about Miss Thistle and her world. Where did she get her goats? What do her bee skeps look like? What does her garden look like and what does she grow in it?
    Looking forward to learning more.

  8. These little dishes and cups are delightful! It was so generous of you to share your amazing creative process. I am going to try these soon. One of the things I thought of was how potters make slab plates and bowls. They place the cut shapes on a piece of foam and with a slightly smaller shaped form, push in the center of the clay shape…it forms a rim and a perfect depression. Not sure if it would work on something this tiny…?

  9. I always enjoy reading your blog and I am always looking forward usually early Saturday mornings (time zone here) to open your email. Thank you for sharing your beautiful creative inspirations.

  10. Thank you so much ! I needed a bowl with a tiny little firedrake painted inside, for a japanese fairytale and I had no idea of how to make it ! just great

  11. Thank you for your kind generosity Ann! This is the most perfect project for me to share with two others who need a little heart hug right now. I’ll send pictures after we do:) xoxo

  12. I just love paper clay but am never sure exactly what to use it for. This is really such a great idea for it! Little figurines having little tea parties, I love it so much!

  13. I have to tell you that I subscribe to many art newsletters and blogs.. I read some . But I read and enjoy each and everyone you send out. I have never not read any or found it less than delightful. You inspire me and I enter a wonderful world with you.. I am beyond delighted to find a kindered soul far away who loves to create.. play with dolls ..old fabrics and an imaginary world. You inspire and delight me. I am always left with the feeling – that I want to create too . You are truly the wind beneath my wings. Much love

  14. Oh very well done! I’m so glad to see that you’re getting seduced into dollhouse making. Your little doll pattern is one of my all time favorites.

  15. Love, love this so much. Thank you for sharing.
    I am a cookie baker and there is a set that I have called Regency Evendough bands for precise dough thickness. They have bands that go around your rolling pin to keep your dough thickness even. LOL but the set I have starts with 3/8 in. thickness all the way down to 1/16 in. they are very helpful. Also I use food gel coloring in my frosting and I think I might try it in the paper clay to give it color. Gel coloring is much thicker than regular food coloring so it doesn’t thin out the frosting. Just thinking ahead. I so enjoy all that you share Ann.

  16. Denise Leavens

    Your cup handle solution is brilliant! I am loving all the Miss Thistle making and her story. Homes are such special places.

  17. Ann thank you for your tutorial. It’s awesome! I’m super excited to make some dishes for my dollhouse. I’m a brand new miniature dollhouse collector and designer so to speak!

  18. I’ve been looking for tutorials for dishes, bowls and cups that gave the little details. This is perfect! I’m looking forward to exploring your site.

  19. Shanna Klehm Robinson

    thank you so much. My little dishes came out great. Can’t wait to decorate.I did find that trimming the edges with large nail clippers gets that nice rounded edge for plates. thank you again

  20. Ann: I love your plate tutorial! Well written and illustrated, and reminded me of the 50-60 Fimo plates I made before I managed to turn out 4 that actually matched. I do have one suggestion/correction to the tutorial. You refer to the multi-sided plates as Hexagons, but they are Octagons, since they have eight sides. I didn’t catch this at first reading yesterday, but today I was reviewing the English names of geometric shapes with some Grade 4-5 ESL students and the lightbulb in my head went on.
    Mini Hugs. Chris in Canada 🙂

  21. Another way to get the exact size thickness of clay is to use playing cards. Polymer clay artist stack 5-10 cards on either side of the clay and then roll the clay out. You could glue the card stack together once you find your desired thickness. Or glue a set of different thicknesses to have on hand! Cheap fix too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *