tutorial :: valentine heart stamps

This is a redux of a tutorial from late last summer -- but this craft is so perfect for creating peg doll gifts and Valentine cards for your favorite sweethearts, that I thought it would be a good time to bring it back again.


-- 1 sheet of craft-foam (this stuff)

-- Larger size peg dolls, at least
    2 3/8 in tall (6 cm) like these

-- water color paint

-- beeswax polish (tutorial HERE)

-- Scissors & glue


STEP 1 :: Cut a shape from craft foam.  The shape you cut should be smaller than the diameter of the peg doll base.

STEP 2 :: Glue your foam shape to the bottom of the peg doll and allow the glue to dry for at least an hour or two.

STEP 3 :: Have fun using your stamp!

Note: If you use water soluble glue, be careful washing your stamp.  I find it's best to clean these stamps by dampening a paper towel and gently wiping off ink residue.


-- 1 peg doll stamp (see instructions above)

--  Colorful ink pads & a black ink pen

-- Card stock paper

-- Scissors or a paper-cutter


STEP 1 :: Cut your card stock paper to desired size. My card stock was 2 in (5 cm) by 3 1/2 in (9 cm). After cutting paper to size, fold it in half.

STEP 2 ::  Use ink pad to apply ink and then stamp your card(s).

STEP 3 ::  Use a black pen to write little messages on your card(s).


Happy February!


making tiny fairy cakes :: a re-post


Two weeks ago I re-posted a tutorial on making a recycled cardboard doll house, and then last week re-posted tutorials for making tiny beds & little doll tables. Today it's a post on creating something festive for your dolls to bring to the table (originally posted July 29th, 2015).

I was introduced to this tiny cake recipe by none other than the inimitable Anna Branford.  You can click here to see the original post where Anna's cakes first made their appearance.  Anna surely rubs elbows with members of the fairy community in order for her to know how to create such delicacies as these.


-- Wool felt in flavors to suit your taste:
    chocolate, vanilla custard, lemon curd,
    banana cream, strawberry swirl, sugared
    violet, etc...

-- Glass beads in complementary flavors
    (might I suggest sweet cherry cordial or
    essence of rose?)

-- A very fine embroidery needle & floss 

-- Scissors

STEP 1 ::  Cut 5-7 circles of wool felt per cake.  For smaller cakes, the circles should be approx. 1/2 in. (12 mm) diameter. For larger cakes, the circles are 1 in. (2.5 cm) diameter each.

STEP 2 ::  If you would like to stitch a platter, cut a circle from felt 3/4 in. (2 cm wide) in a contrasting color.  For a decorative touch, you can use blanket stitch to trim the edge.  Note: I only made platters for the smaller cakes.  I find that large buttons make suitable platters for the larger cakes.

STEP 3 ::  Arrange your cake layers and choose pleasing decor for the top.  If you don't have beads, you can make nice decorations by sewing tiny french knots with embroidery floss (see photos of Anna's cakes here).

STEP 4 ::  Hide your knot between the bottom 2 layers of cake (or between the bottom layer and the platter).  Then sew down through the bottom layer/platter, take a tiny stitch, and come up again through the center of your cake.

STEP 5 :: Put your needle through a bead, and then draw the needle & thread back down through the center of the cake.  If you would like to add more beads, bring the needle back up through the cake to the spot where you would like to add another bead and repeat process.  Note: I found that, to keep the cake a nice shape, it worked best if I did not pull the stitches tight when adding beads.

When you are done adding beads or french knots, bring your needle and thread up between the bottom two layers and knot discreetly (out of sight) between the layers.

Now it's time for cake!

Be sure to invite all your friends.
They like cake, too.


making peg doll furniture :: a re-post

Last Monday I re-posted a tutorial for making a peg doll house.  Last Thursday I re-posted a tutorial for making peg doll beds, and today, here is a tutorial on creating dining room furniture for your peg doll house (originally posted July 27th, 2015).

As with the peg doll house and beds, I used only items I had in my cupboards and did not buy any special materials for these projects.  I also made the furniture designs as simple as possible so that even a small child could have success creating these items.

(note: the supplies listed are suggestions and you do not need all the supplies to create just one table. Pick and choose from the supply list according to what you have on hand.)

-- Cardboard
-- Small cardboard gift/jewelry box,
       2 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in (5 1/2 cm x 8 cm)
-- Decorative paper or card-stock (optional)
-- Paint & paint brushes (optional)
-- A spool of thread
-- Buttons
-- Scissors
-- PVA/white craft glue

STEP 1 :: For an oval shaped table, cut an oval out of cardboard (my oval is 3 1/4 in/8 cm at it's widest point).  For a rectangular table, cut a rectangle from a piece of cardboard (my rectangle is approx. 3 in x 4 in/8 cm x 10 cm).  

STEP 2 :: Paint your table-top, or cover the top of your table with paper. (I covered my rectangular table-top with blue paper and painted the oval.)

STEP 3 :: A small spool of thread or lid from a jewelry gift box would make an excellent base for a table.  Use PVA/white craft glue to secure your table-top to whatever sort of table-base you choose.  

Once your table is created, you might consider whether your peg dolls would like to sit on some cushions or chairs.  My peg dolls enjoy using colorful buttons as chairs.

"Hello. Please come in and join me at the table. I've prepared a nice supper for us!"

You can find tiny wooden bowls available for purchase here.  And please come back next week for another tutorial.  If it escaped your notice when I originally posted it last July, you will be utterly delighted.  I promise.


making peg doll beds :: a re-post

On Monday I re-posted a tutorial on creating a little house for peg dolls (of course other sorts of dolls are invited to use it, too!).  However, little doll houses need little furniture, so today here is a re-post (originally posted July 22nd, 2015) for creating tiny doll beds.  Next week there will be a tutorial on dining room furnishings, and after that, there will be another secret surprise tutorial.

The furniture I've created for my little doll house is utterly simple.  I used only scraps -- bits & pieces I already had in my cupboards (i.e. I did not buy anything special or fancy for this project). I also kept the furniture designs simple enough that a child around age 5 could have success completing much of the project on his own.  I'm enjoying the fact that my own 5 year old is moving toward doing more product focused craft (as opposed to process focused art), so it's fun to figure out projects he can do with little assistance.

-- Small cardboard jewelry/gift boxes.
    My smaller box measures 2 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in
    (5 1/2 cm x 8 cm). My larger box measures
    3 5/8 in square (9 cm square)

-- Decorative card-stock  or plain cardboard
    (which can be painted or embellished)

-- Fabric scraps (I used wool felt, but cotton
   flannel makes nice doll bedding, too.)

-- Scissors and (optional) pinking shears

-- Needle and thread

-- PVA/white craft glue

-- A pencil and ruler

STEP 1 :: Measure the height and width of your little jewelry box. Cut a piece of decorative card-stock (or cardboard) which is the same width and twice the height of the edge of the box.  Trim the top edge of the headboard into a decorative shape.  Your headboard could be topped with a simple curve or it could have corner bedposts -- whatever you wish.

After you have designed the head board, repeat the process for the footboard. Note: the footboard is generally not quite as tall as the headboard, but it's your little bed, so you get to design it to your own preferences!

STEP 2 :: Use PVA/white glue to affix the headboard and foot board to opposite sides of your box (see photos).

STEP 3 :: To create mattresses, I cut strips of felt which were the same width of the boxes, rolled the felt so that I had approximately 5 layers, and then sewed my layers together using a simple running stitch. You could achieve the same effect by cutting 5 pieces of felt to fit the interior of the box and stitching the layers together.  Just for fun, I added a stitch in the center of each mattress.

STEP 4 :: Cut small squares of fabric for "pillows" and larger rectangles for blankets. I like the effect of cutting the edges of the blankets with pinking shears but plain edges are fine, too.  I have also knit tiny blankets for dollhouse beds which look very cute.

STEP 5 :: Tuck your wee dollies beneath the blanket and sing a lullaby.

I hope you will join me again soon for a tutorial on making tiny tables.


making a peg doll house :: a re-post

Below is a tutorial I posted over the summer; however, during the gloomy-weather days of January, I thought you might enjoy being reminded of this tutorial.  Doll house building and imaginative doll house activities are wonderful occupations for dreary-day indoor play.

Over the past three years I've received many requests for tutorials (and book content) related to peg doll houses & accessories.  I love feedback and requests, however, I've hesitated to create tutorials (and book content) for a peg doll house because there are already so many good online tutorials. I posted a round-up of some of the nicest tutorials I've spotted on the web, however, in the course of doing research for that post, ideas started brewing in my head.

Up until now, if any of our peg dolls felt the need to cook a meal or take a nap, they marched off to a doll house which was handed down to our family 11 years ago; in case you want a peek, the doll house shows up in my first book as home to the Three Bears, and in my second book, it appears on page 74.  The peg dolls in my home also sometimes take up residence in castles made of wooden building blocks, so there really hasn't been a need to make a doll house.  

But after seeing so many doll house ideas online, the impulse to make my own was too irresistible. Today I'm posting a tutorial for the house, and soon will follow up with re-posts on creating the furniture.

-- A cardboard box: I started with an 8 in (20 cm)
    cube box, however you could stack smaller
    boxes or use a larger box if you prefer.

-- Extra pieces of cardboard

-- Decorative paper, fabric or paint and pens

-- PVA (white glue) and a glue-stick

-- Scissors, Exact-o knife (or box-cutter), a ruler,
    and pencil

STEP 1 :: Cut the flaps off the box and turn it on it's side.  Cut back the roof section half the depth of the box (for example, my "roof" was originally 8 in (20 cm) so I cut it back 4 in (10 cm) -- see photo above for clarification.

If you'd like to cut windows in the sides, now is a good time (just be sure that they are low enough so that they are not obscured when you add the second floor).

STEP 2 :: The sleeping loft/bedroom is 3/4 the original depth of the box, i.e. the original depth of my box is 8 in (20 cm) so the depth of the sleeping loft is 6 in (15 cm).

To create support for the sleeping loft, add 1 in (2.5 cm) around 3 sides of the floor. Score the cardboard along the added 1 inch sections and cut out the corners (see photo above). Use PVA glue on the three flaps to secure the sleeping loft in place (see photo below).

If your box is a different size from mine and you plan to add a second floor, you can adjust the measurements accordingly.

STEP 3 :: Once the sleeping loft is glued in place, set the house on it's side, use a ruler to draw lines from the top corners of the box down to the bottom corners, and then cut away the sides.  This will allow light into the house and also make it more accessible.

STEP 4 :: To add a peaked rooftop, cut a long piece of cardboard the width of the roof, score & bend in the center, then glue it to the sides of the house (see photos above & below).

STEP 5 :: After construction  of the house is complete, you may choose to cover the floors and walls with decorative paper, fabric or paint.  If using paper for covering the walls and floor, you will want to secure it in place with a glue-stick (PVA/white glue will cause your paper to ripple). You can also add a decorative carpet, and framed pictures to the walls.

Having a selection of decorative card stock on hand is wonderful when working on a project like this. Several years ago, I invested in a several books of paper-crafting card-stock: the designs I used for this project are no longer available, however I own this card-stock book, and thought this one and this one looked nice, too.

In addition to papering the floors and walls, I was tempted to add curtains to the windows and cardboard shingles or paint to the exterior; however, I ultimately decided to keep the decor of my house simple, flaunting it's origins as a recycled cardboard box.

How will you or your children decorate your little peg doll house?  Please email me photos (or post photos on my facebook page) if you're so inclined. And come back soon -- I will have blog posts on creating furniture for your peg doll house!


the kitchen table

My cat is not allowed on the kitchen table.  Technically, he's on the window sill...

Can you see the titles on the books?  On top of the stack is Ready Player One; I bought it as a gift for Mr. Bloom with the thought that our 12 year old would read it, too.  But who's reading it? Me. It's disturbing, thought provoking and fascinating all at once, and I can't say I'm enjoying it, but I can't stop reading and thinking about it.  Have you read it? What did you think?


this will have to suffice

It's raining and the sun is hiding.  Watching this video created by They Might be Giants & needle felt artist Hine Mizushima will have to suffice. 

And then there's this video (so funny and sweet). To see more artwork by Hine Mizushima, you can have a look HERE.


kokeshi doll

Something beautiful to start the new year.


happy new year


From our house to yours, sending 
best wishes for the New Year...


crafts to cure cabin-fever

photo credit :: ana dziengel / babble dabble do

Tomorrow is officially the first day of winter break from school for my children.  We had planned a little road-trip up towards the mountains for the beginning part of this week, but with heavy rain in the forecast, we've decided to stay home.  Luckily, I've been keeping a list on a piece of paper taped to the refrigerator... a list of crafts, projects and games to keep us entertained during the two week break;  and I'm excited to share my list with you, because this is too much fun to keep to myself!

First on the list is this cup & ball toy created by Ana Dziengel of the blog Babble Dabble Do which (I have to admit) we've already tested.  I couldn't resist, so last week we made three of them, and I can firmly attest to the fact that they are as much fun as they look. No joke -- you have to try this craft.  Instructions can be found HERE. (note: another favorite craft from Babble Dabble Do HERE )

photo credit :: agnes hsu / hello, wonderful

Next is this spool-racer craft.  Do you sense a theme here?  Art which you can stick to the wall with bits of tape (or to the fridge with magnets) is very nice, but as far as I'm concerned, art which you can play with is way better.

Okay, so... we've already tested out this one, too, and I swear these are as much fun as the cup & ball toy.  The cat liked them, too, which added another whole dimension of cuteness and fun. Instructions can be found HERE at hello, Wonderful.

photo credit :: susan gaylord

A few years ago a friend & her children made these charming gingerbread houses out of recycled brown paper bags.  You can find the blog post describing the craft HERE, a video showing step-by-step instructions HERE and templates HERE.

photo credit :: gemma garner

Last winter we made pomanders from oranges and cloves; they dried beautifully and are still hanging on ribbons from the fireplace screen. A few weeks ago my little one asked if we could make these again, and so I have a little jar of cloves waiting in the kitchen cupboard.  Orange pomanders are so easy to make with young children and they smell really lovely.  You can find information about the history of pomanders HERE, some good instructions HERE, plus more instructions on this all-around lovely blog HERE.

photo credit :: helen hiebert / playing with paper

Window stars!  We've never made these. Why not?  I have no idea. With all this rain pouring down, we are going to need a little sunshine and a few rainbows coming in through the window, even if we have to fabricate the sunshine and rainbows ourselves.  If you want to make window stars, too, you can buy waxed kite paper HERE or HERE, and you can find instructions HERE.

Other things on my list: block-crayon drawing, magic color-changing markers, exploring Jan Brett's website (you can find her gingerbread baby recipe HERE), and origami.

Plus games: Crazy Cats, Blokus, Dixit, Sequence for Kids, Shut the Box, Animal upon Animal (Tier auf Tier), Tangrams, and Rush Hour.

Do you have any favorite projects & games for rainy-day cabin fever.  If so, I'd love to know.


kid-made angels

This morning I was at the library with a group of nearly 70 children and their parents making peg dolls. The theme was angels, though as you can see from the peg doll pup above, each person was welcome to create whatever their heart desired.  The enthusiasm of the gathered group was exciting, and some families were so immersed that they sat at the craft tables for nearly two hours.  The results of everyone's creativity was delightful.

If you would like to make your own angel peg dolls, you can refer to this tutorial for DIY angels I recently created for the blog hello, Wonderful, or you can gather inspiration from these photos, round up a bunch of craft materials and get going! (and if you need peg dolls, there is a list of supply sources HERE.)

Note: I believe it is very important to properly credit the work of all artists; however, due to privacy issues, I don't show faces or list names of children whose work I sometimes feature on my blog.  Please know that it is not out of lack of respect when I refrain from naming each individual child-artist, but out of consideration for their privacy.