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Projects to Display Miniatures


The display cases, bookends, room boxes and dolls house projects listed here are all designed to be easily made from a wide variety of basic materials. Many of them introduce you to techniques that will allow you to build displays in a variety of scales.

1. Make a Sturdy Roombox From Baltic Birch Plywood

A simple picture frame encloses the front of a dolls house scale roombox which fits on a bookshelf.
Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Baltic Birch plywood makes sturdy lightweight roomboxes that can be combined to create baby houses or larger displays. You can find smaller sized pieces of this plywood in craft and model stores where it is sold to make airplanes, or you can substitute regular plywood.

If you make the boxes shallower, and use standard sized picture frames from an art store to front them, you can make boxes for vignettes to hang on the wall.

2. Make a Scale Roombox from Book Board or Mount Card

The exterior of a book board box is covered with paper for strength.
Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Roomboxes can be made from Book Board or strong mount card and grouped together in a bookcase to make a display, or a complete dolls house.

This is really a method for building your own custom sized 'shoe box' to house a display. If you don't want to use the box for a room display, make it shallower to use for a vignette, or custom size it to fit your particular miniature scene or vignette.

3. Make a Bookend Display for Scale Miniatures

A simple mdf bookend set ready to complete as a exterior dolls house scene.
Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Bookends can be a good way to display a small collection of related miniatures. This one could be used for either an outdoor or indoor vignette, depending on how you choose to finish it. It is made from MDF (medium density fiberboard).

Acrylic or 'plexiglass' covers can be made or purchased to fit over these small displays. Size your display to fit existing covers from craft stores or plastic suppliers if you do not want to make a custom cover.

4. Build a Storefront Windowbox Display

A dolls hose scale windowbox with enough interior space for a shop counter and displays.
Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

This narrow depth dollhouse scale windowbox display has a large window opening for a storefront, as well as an area for a paved display area, patio, or garden. The lid lifts off or can be hinged, and the front fastens to the box through the use of supermagnets, making it easy to access the contents to set up a display.

Instructions can also be found on the miniatures site to build a shop front door with a transom window, and to build a non-opening window in miniature scales to fit the shop.

5. Make a Miniature Cabin Front Porch Display Shelf

1:12 scale miniature cabin front porch with rustic wood trim
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

This display shelf has room for a small interior display as well as an exterior shelf. It is made of gator board which makes it lightweight enough to hang on a wall. The same technique can be used with a number of different finishes to create a variety of building fronts, from beach huts to small store fronts and souvenir shops.

6. Showcase a Small Collection in a Display Box or Shadow Box

A display box with a photo of Ireland backing a row of collectible Bailey's cottages.
Photo copyright 2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Simple display boxes or shadow boxes can be used to showcase travel or event mementos, or to hold a small collection while you build it further. These boxes can use a background photo from a trip or special day, to draw attention to the items protected in the case. They are also a great way to show off collectible heirlooms while keeping them dust free.

7. Make a Simple Break Away Box To House a Scene

Open breakaway box for a scale display showing two hinged drop down sides.
Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Break away boxes with hinged sides can be built in custom sizes to hold a range of miniatures or a dolls house scene. The boxes have at least one hinged or drop down side, but they can also be made with clear acetate sides to allow a view into a closed box. The drop down sides can be a means of enlarging the scope of the display, or creating a simple scene for a child's play.

8. Make A Miniature Scene in a Tea Cup

A 1:48 scale landscaped garden and cottage built in a tea cup.
Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Tea cups can be used to create a series of miniature scenes using quarter scale (1:48) printables and railway building pieces. You can find the printables for the front porch scene shown here in the article on Building a Quarter Scale Front Porch Scene in a Tea Cup. Instructions for Landscaping the Tea Cup Front Porch Scene are provided separately.

9. Make a Printable Miniature Dolls House Shop in 1:48 Scale.

A 1:144 scale printable miniature shop next to one in 1:48 scale.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
This printable paper shop is in 1:48 scale, or railroad O Scale, sometimes called quarter scale by doll house miniaturists.

10. Printable Village Shops in 1:144 Scale (Micro Scale)

Three Tiny English Village Shops in 1:144 or Micro Scale
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
Micro Scale fits with N scale trains. These shops are part of a collection of 1:144 scale printable miniature buildings with open backs and finished interiors. They are also suitable for a Christmas village, or will hang on the tree as ornaments.

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