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Tips for Making or Working With Dolls House Printables and Paper Miniatures

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What Are Dolls' House Printables or Printable Miniatures?:

  • Dollhouse Printables sometimes called "printies" are graphics available on the web used to print doll house miniatures (wallpaper and accessories) on paper, fabric and other materials which can be used in laser and ink jet printers. (acetate, etc.)
  • Paper miniatures are miniatures you assemble from paper, there are a wide variety of these available commercially and on the web. They range from designs for origami, to scale models of famous cars, planes, houses, or models of the Roman Coliseum.

How to Make Your Own Printables or Paper Miniatures:

You can make printables from available kits, or free designs offered on the web. You can also draw your own artwork in a paint or graphics program. The resolution in a graphics or drawing program or photo program (in pixels per inch) will give you the size of the final print in Windows Paint, which uses a resolution of 97 pixels per inch. If you want a rug 4 inches by 6 inches after printing, you would need a drawing (97 (resolution) x 4 (inches)or 388 pixels by (97 x 6) 582 pixels. (Caution, computer screens use a lower resolution, so photos on a computer screen may print out at a smaller size. Your final printed graphic will be smaller than it looks on your screen.) You can set this size in the Attributes section under Images.

More advanced graphics programs allow you to set the print size of the graphic as well as the resolution in order to allow more detailed scale prints.

You can also somewhat control the size of your printable through the settings on your printer scree, scaling the size of the print up or down by a particular percentage.

Can You Make and Sell Printables? Copyrights on Printables and Paper Miniatures:

Printables and paper miniature designs are the property of the designer and may only be used for personal use unless you have the designer’s permission. Each website will explain permissible uses and whether it is possible to use the images for sale. It is not permissible to make miniatures of known branded items without a special license.

Some websites sell kits of printables, these are also protected by copyright. If you use graphics or images which you didn’t design and create to make printables, you do not have the right to profit from them. If the design is covered by copyright, you may not circulate your own versions of it. Disney prints and other well known commercial designs, or trademarked material, cannot be turned into a dollhouse printable without the company’s permission. Companies which produced miniature versions of full size items usually have special licenses granted by the company who produce the originals (Crabtree and Evelyn miniatures are covered by a license for example)

Using Works in the Public Domain for Printables:

Works in the public domain are items which were generally produced before 1920 or are works which were not trademarked or copyrighted. These may be converted to printables for distribution. However, even if a work is in the public domain, a photograph or other rendering of the work may be copyrighted by the photographer, the person who reproduced it, the heirs to the original artist’s estate, or a museum which owns the original. Some items created before 1920 are protected by licenses held by the museum or group who own them. The Louvre holds such licenses on the Mona Lisa and other works in their collection.

File Types for Printable Miniatures:

Most printable files can be saved to your computer and printed on ordinary bond paper on a laser jet or ink jet printer. Older online printable sites have their printables saved as Jpeg files, and these may require some adjustments to print at high quality on a printer. PDF files are generally set for a higher resolution and do not need to be adjusted. Some files can be printed directly without being saved.

For higher quality printable miniatures, look for files which were ofcreated for printing at 150 to 300 dpi. If you print directly from jpeg files or photos from a computer screen, the printables may be grainy or of very low quality, especially if you need to resize them.

If you need to rescale a printable to make it a different size, you may have to adjust them in a computer graphic program.

Some printables and all paper miniatures will need assembly, more complicated examples usually have a separate file with construction tips which you can print.

Paper Types for Printables:

Paper is sold by weight. Good quality ink jet paper is usually graded at 20 – 22 lb weight and is fine for dollhouse printable books, newspapers, some wallpapers.

Cardstock, sometimes called Bristol for ink jet and laser printers is 60-65 lb weight, suitable for printable furniture and items which need to be strong or thicker than regular paper.

Matte and gloss photo paper are 50 lb weight. They work for items with many scoring and fold lines which still need strength,small model buildings,vehicles etc. Whenever possible use acid neutral (pH neutral) papers and archival inks.

Life Span of Dolls House Printables & Paper Miniatures:

The light fastness and archival qualities of paper models and printables depends on the type of paper and ink that you use to print them, as well as the environment in which they are stored and the glues and finishes you use to assemble them.

If you use the stabilized inks recommended for your printer and also use the recommended stabilized pH neutral paper, some photo print companies claim the paper/print will last without fading in normal circumstances for up to 100 years. If you use recommended inks on non recommended papers, the print may not last as long.

It is especially important to check the quality of paper and inks if your project is enclosed in a glass or plexiglass case. Highly acid materials can cause damage to fabrics and other items in a display, so avoid using them whenever possible.

Printing on Fabric:

There are several special fabric sheets which have been designed to be used with colored printers, both ink jet and laser printers. Silk,cotton lawn, and some fuzzy types of fabrics are available. Printable fabric sheets like EQ Cotton Lawn are a good weight for dollhouse miniatures and can be used to make printable fabrics for miniature quilts, tablecloths and other projects.

Alternatively the designs can be printed on transfer paper and ironed on to an appropriate fabric. Check with your art supply, fabric, or craft store.

Glues for Printable Miniatures:

To make your printable last longer without turning yellow with age, or becoming brittle and flaking, try to use pH neutral glues. Acid neutral pva (white) glue (like the Lineco glue used for bookbinding is fine. Regular glues (not acid or pH neutral) may yellow with age, or can create acidic conditions which affect other items in a collection.

If you are applying sheets of printed paper to walls in your dollhouse as wallpaper, you may need to coat both sides of the printable with a stabilizing fixative or art spray on both sides before you glue. This will keep the ink jet ink from running on contact with the moisture in the glue.

Tips for Making Printibles and Paper Miniatures:

  • Use very fine scissors or a very sharp craft knife on a self healing mat when cutting out paper miniatures and printables. An Exacto knife or an inexpensive retractable razor cutter works well. For finer, more complicated cuts, you may want to have a swivel blade hobby knife, or a ceramic blade craft knife.
  • Score fold lines by bending over a sharp edge (the edge of a table or a board) or use a bone folder, available from a scrapbooking or craft shop.
  • If you don’t have the right weight of paper you can print the items on standard paper, then cut widely around them and glue them to cardstock or file forders using pva (white) glue to make a thicker item.
  • Spray the printed paper with an artist's fixative before you begin assembly. It will prevent ink from rubbing off the miniature as you handle it.
  • Use a toothpick or a glue syringe to apply small amounts of glue to the tabs used to assemble paper miniatures and printables.
  • Print dollhouse wallpaper on card stock to make it easier to apply and remove from dollhouse walls. The thicker paper will cover electrical tape runs as well.

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