Wednesday, November 12, 2014

{Guest Post} The Thrifty Miniaturist by Joanna Campbell Slan

Those who’ve followed my career as a scrapbooker know I’m always on the look-out for thrifty ways to enjoy my hobby. (Translation: I’m cheap.) Although hobbies are much less expensive than therapy, the costs can add up. Besides, I feel virtuous when I use a coupon to buy supplies or snag something I want on sale.

I wondered if I could transfer my thrifty habits to miniatures. You see, there are two types of miniaturists. One type demands that every item in miniature works like its RL (real life) partner. Another type doesn’t care as long so the item looks like its RL counterpart. Count me in the second category. My goal is to create verisimilitude, the appearance of a shrunken reality. With that in mind, I can use el-cheapo materials with abandon.

Once I decided on this course, the next question was…how low could I go? How far was I willing to stoop to get my raw materials? And where would they come from?

I’ve been writing a new series about The Treasure Chest, a store that specializes in upcycling, recycling, and repurposed goods. My research has resulted in tons of ideas. In fact, I’ve begun looking at all my trash, every single piece of it, with an eye toward turning it into something useful. Could I do the same with miniatures? Yes, ma’am!

For example, the bottle of lavender bath lotion seemed to cry out, “Make me into a bathtub!” So I did. By cutting the bottle down to size, by painting the sides with gesso and nail polish, by adding feet and spigots, I think I produced a creditable tub.

The tiny table was a no-brainer. I cut down an empty toilet paper tube, strengthened it with masking tape, covered with it layers of silk, and finally attached a skirt of black tulle.

The fireplace was a quinoa box. I shortened it and covered it with paperclay.

In fact, I’ve pretty much decorated this whole house in trash. I did buy a dh (dollhouse) furniture kit. It cost about $40 for six rooms of furnishings. I knew I wouldn’t get much in the way of quality for so little money, but I did get a lot of raw materials. Using the wood in the kit, I was able to create the sink in the bathroom, the medicine cabinet, the armoire, the kitchen counter, and a mirror.

My biggest expenditures have been for raw supplies, paints, glues, a nice saw, sandpaper, and paperclay. But I’ll get more use out of those things as time goes on, because I’m already considering what to do for my next project! In fact, I had so much fun with this idea that I created a character, Honora McAfee, to be a miniaturist who works at The Treasure Chest. And as you might have guessed, Honora just loves crafting dollhouse items out of trash.

About the book—

In Kicked to the Curb, Cara Mia Delgatto’s cup runneth over with worries. Her ex-husband is refusing to pay their son’s college tuition, her evil sister is pulling mean pranks, and her old boyfriend has broken her heart. And that’s just the personal stuff. She’s also concerned about keeping the cash register ringing at The Treasure Chest, her retail store specializing in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed décor items with a coastal theme. The media event that Cara plans turns nasty when reporter Kathy Simmons threatens to share unsavory details from the shopkeeper’s past. Things get really dicey when Kathy mysteriously disappears. Cara’s other problems seem trivial in comparison to…a murder investigation!

Get Your Copy--

Kicked to the Curb is the newest book in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series by Joanna Campbell Slan.  You can get your copy at The first book in the series—Tear Down and Die—has been discounted to only 99 cents. You can buy your copy at To see all of Joanna’s books, go to or visit her website at or join her on Facebook at

A FREE offer!

Author Joanna Campbell Slan is offering a special free gift for readers who join her newsletter list. You’ll receive two recipes, two craft tutorials, and an outtake scene from Kicked to the Curb automatically when you send an email to  Once you’re on her newsletter list, you’ll be notified about free reads and other special offers.

1 comment:

sew.darn.quilt said...

Amazing pieces, I don't know if I would have the patience. I'll bet it's relaxing for you. You're not cheap, you're frugal! Big difference!! :)


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