Mini Madness– Or, How I Made Tiny Glasses From Crayons

Aside from a handful of sweet little-girl pals of my son, none of the people I hang out with in real-life are into dollhouses.  In our friend group, this is a realm that is completely unique to me and my hobbies, and that is fine– I have a large, like-minded bank of online buddies that are equally obsessed with miniatures and making them, so all is good.  I’m not feeling lonely in my craft or anything.  The reason I bring it up is because I have some really wonderful, creative, true-life friends that ask questions in regard to this hobby, and I often don’t know how to answer them.

Miniature Glassware

Miniature Glassware

Its not that I don’t want to answer these questions, or even that I *can’t* per se, its more that miniatures are kind of a mindset.  The process of it’s creativity is hard to describe, because it is so varied from one craft project to another.  I’m not carving baskets from blocks of balsa or anything, its more of a process of adaptation.  After spending a while delving into this world, you find that your eye becomes quite trained to see tiny things around you everywhere.  Grocery store-rack gum containers become quick trash cans, and toothpaste caps are ready lampshades.  Miniatures are to be found everywhere.  If you are handy and willing to experiment, many things can be made from inexpensive, mass-market items, or even trash.  And the more of these projects that you do– the more successful miniatures fashioned from these noticed bits– the more adept you become at these types of crafts.  Its amazing and fun, really.  (I almost feel like I have a peek into some magical squee-world, where common junk becomes awesome tinies.)  These projects build on and inform the next group of adapted items, and before you know it– you’re a miniaturist.

All Of the Things I Used But My Hands

All Of the Things I Used But My Hands

To help illustrate what I mean, I’ve decided to quickly give you the rundown my most recent of these projects.  I made a set of 1/12 scale drinking “glasses.”  They aren’t 100%  realistic, as that would be one stupid-heavy tumbler in our everyday world, the glass would be so thick, but they’ll look great set on a table or stacked in one of my kitchen cabinets.  That’s all I need!

The Retractable Crayons

The Retractable Crayons

So.  My inspiration.  On Friday of last week, I cleaned my son’s room.  It was a mess– LEGOs everywhere.  And because these are in a state of perpetual “projects” (despite maybe not being touched in weeks) it is nearly impossible to get him to pick them up.  He will regress to playing and in no time, they are freshly inspiring to him and messier than before I had asked him to clean.  I really have no problem with the mess of the toys, I like that he likes them, but every once and I while I *do* have to vacuum, its way important to the household allergy fight.  Anyway.  I just dump those mammajammas into one big bucket.  I’m so mean.

In the midst of doing this, I spotted this pack of plastic retractable crayons, still unopened from his Christmas stocking.  Sticky factory tape on them and everything!  I mean, c’mon, it’s October for goodness sake!  The kid clearly has plenty of crayons, colored pencils, and markers downstairs in his little foxhole office.  He doesn’t need them, and every once and a while a lad has to pay a little momma tax when she’s forced to clean his room for him, amirite?  Yes, that’s me justifying swiping the child’s crayons…  and I have no regrets!  I told you I was mean!

Finished Drinking Glasses

Finished Drinking Glasses

I happen to know that Santa’s elves purchased this pack of crayons at their local grocery store chain, Food City, so they should be readily-available, or at least reasonably so.  They weren’t expensive, either, like two or three bucks for a pack of twelve.  Or so I heard.  I also used some plastic-coated paperclips to fashion quick straws, and my tools were minimal:  wire cutters, a couple of small metal files, and a q-tip or two for cleanup.  If you don’t have any of these skinny metal files, I would highly recommend them– I use them for near-everything– but they may be hard to find.  Emory boards or nail files will work if they are all you can get your hands on, but I suspect you’ll sand for a little bit longer time than I did.  These little rasps make quick work of projects like this.

So I spotted this pack of crayons, and my eye saw the tumblers instantly.  It was so inspiring that I literally stopped scooping LEGOs and immediately took one out of the pack and deconstructed it, to see if my idea would work.  These pencilmajigs are made of a hollow plastic shaft that encases a long, narrow wax crayon.  (I have put these wax parts in my pile of bits for the next time I make chunky crayons, and all of the unused plastic parts go into my junk box, the source of much future craftyness.)  In between these two pieces is a long, narrow slide that sort of moves and protects the bit of wax.  It is this slide piece that is attached to those end knob parts that I recognized as great miniature glassware.  They’re the bit that you would turn to get more crayon poking out of the other end.  I knew from looking at them in kiddo’s room that the plastic was thin enough that I could remove it pretty easily, and my vision would likely come to fruition.  I pocketed the pack of pencils for working on later, and went back to my LEGO scoopage.

Felix Has a Snack

Felix Has a Snack

Clip Off Excess Plastic

Clip Off Excess Plastic

This morning I finally sat down and made some glassware, it took me about an hour to do all of them, they were that kind of easy!  I watched some guilty pleasure TV, slurped coffee, and spent some time lost in the fun of it.  Bliss.  I tell you guys, miniatures are addictive.  You’ve been warned!

I started by deconstructing all of my retractable crayons, piling up the like excess parts as I went.  Taking that long, clear, slidey middle piece, I used my wire cutters to snip that slide as close to the outside rim of my end “drinking glass” piece, wearing eye protection of course.  Be smart, people, and survive to craft another day! (I saved the long slide parts and excess bits for later making of other wee things, as I’m sure I can come up with something to use those pieces eventually.)

File File File!

File File File!

The wire cutters I used were just the kind for making jewelry, you can get them at any craft store, and they aren’t expensive.  However, if you are in a pinch (no pun intended!) and really want to tackle these without those, you could likely accomplish the same task with toenail clippers.  Really, don’t forget the eyewear, those little plastic shard thingies go everywhere.

Carefully Getting the Inside Edge

Carefully Getting the Inside Edge

Then I used my file to sand down all of those extra jagged pieces I couldn’t snip off, and make the top edge of the glass as flush as possible.  Okay, some notes on this stage.  Turn your glass every few rasps of your file, so that you don’t wear your edge in a lopsided pattern.  Try to hold the file as flat to the top of the glass as possible, so you aren’t rounding outside edges unevenly or anything like that.  Also, if you snip pretty closely in the previous stage, it can be pretty tempting to call it ‘done’ as soon as you get those lumpy bits smoothed…  but the little part that looks like a tumbler has one edge, and then there are these pieces toward the center that you are trying to sand off.  If you *just* get the interior bits, it looks sort of weird because there is a smooth factory edge next to your worn sanded edge.  I tried to file down the entire lip so that it was all flush, and that top opening of your glass all looks consistent.  It’s a few extra minutes of rasping, but its worth it I think.  They look better in the end.

I also used a super-thin file to carefully sand the perimeter of inside lip, just to clean it up.  Be careful if you do this step, you don’t want your rasp scratching the inside bottom of your glass!

Wiping Out the Dust

Wiping Out the Dust

Also, if you are anywhere *near* as weird about your nails as I am, this step can be a manicure killer.  I don’t know what to tell you about that other than to be careful, and file slowly.  I totally took a big hunk out of my pointer nail when I was doing this– it was the only downside to the project.

I finished it by using a q-tip to remove any dust from the interior, because that doesn’t look pretty.   A regular swab is a little to big to cram in there, so I just pulled a little bit of extra cotton off of the ends of a q-tip, and rolled it around in my fingers a bit to re-smooth the end.  I would also suggest moistening the cotton a little bit so that it pulls out every bit of that plastic dust.  You’ll be surprised by how much gets in there!

The straw is literally a bent piece that I cut from the inside of the paperclip.  Its kinda hard to get a realistic straw-bend on it (I don’t know that I really succeeded!), but not impossible, and the little extra touch helps it look more real.  You could always just go with a straight piece of wire clip for a ‘regular’ non-bendy straw if you’d like.

That’s all!  DONE!  All in all, a rewarding little project.  Cheap, easy, no crazy tools needed!

 


Oct 10, 2014 | Category: Doll Stuff, Tutorial | Comments: none | Tags: , , , , ,

 


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