Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Recycling tips for miniature-makers

The most important source of inspiration for me, at the early stages of my miniature making, and until today, has been the Swedish miniaturist Eva Malmsten. She has written several books about dollhouses, all about recycling, using your dollhouse eyeglasses and see possibilities where other people just see rubbish. It's all very nice to have expensive pieces made by professionals, and every now and then it's fun to make something from kit, but the most exciting thing about miniature making, at least for me, is turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, extracting an object from its old, useless shell, putting together incompatible objects into something new. This is creative. I cannot draw or paint, but I discovered that I was quite good at making small things. Yet without Eva's brilliant tips I would not have discovered the Marvelous World of Rubbish. Here are some things that come handy for miniature making.

Sometimes you see at once that buttons make picture frames and jar lids, that corks make bowls, that eye-drop containers make bottles, IKEA pegs make furniture legs, bottlecaps make pie forms, chess pieces make lamp stands. But sometimes you look at something for ages, literally for years, before you suddenly see exactly how it can be used. Or it can be the other way round: I would be looking for something to make a door handle, or a sugar bowl, or a TV screeen, or a towel rack. And I go through my supplies and find something unexpected. It is fun to copy something from a book or from the web, but the most fun is coming up with something you have never seen before. I will be showing lots of miniatures I have made from rubbish, and oftentimes they are not in any way inferior to what you can buy, and they are always unique.


  1. hi! I just found your blog today. I LOVE IT! I have you bookmarked and will check on you often. Thanks for sharing your creativity- such excellent ideas!

  2. Hello Maria, I too love making minis from things that would normally go into the trash and have made many things myself. Even entire scenes using throw away items. I see lots of mini goodie possibilities in here so I am going to share some of them with you all.
    From the earrings on the left top side, the round parts can be used for serving trays and the earring backs can be used as wall sconces and faucets.
    The bluish item by the earrings can be wall art.
    The chain is useful for hanging chandeliers/lamps/ planters. Mini jewelry and more.
    The blue piece next to that can be turned into a flower vase of drinking glass.
    The circle following that, more trays and even ceiling medallions for some scenes.
    The Chess pieces as table bases.
    I can’t see what’s inside the two bags on the left so can tell you about them.
    The barrel beads can become bases for lamps, or flower vases.
    The greenery can be used for plants, gardens, for decorating rooms with, for centerpieces etc...
    The white top shown open can become a baby wipes container, just add a printie or cut out a pic from a magazine or from and ad.
    The pine can be used for Christmas decorating, such things as centerpieces and if you take them apart you can cover a jar top or something to make it decorative for holidays.
    The little circles can be used for napkin rings and also for the base of beads to help them stand.
    The pill or gum plastics, glass bowls which you can paint and decorate as well.
    The ice cream sticks, can be used to make a Sea saw. All you have to do is glue a small empty thread spool to the bottom.
    Buttons- for dishes and bases for other things, also as wall art.
    Bottle caps – Baskets, cakes, planters, trash can and more.
    The plastic circles with the holes in them, can be used for a mobile in a baby nursery to start off with.
    The twist ties, plants and leaves. The wire inside the twist ties can be used for hanging plants and other things.
    The white item under the tops remind me of an office trash can.
    The spring can be used for toys and if stretch out a little, it can be a used in the kitchen for hanging utensils and other things.
    The items by the pill case can be used for shelving in room settings.
    The white item the looks like a large animal tooth can become wall art.
    The dowels can be turned into canisters and table legs.
    The clear plastic items beside the dowels , if they are round can be cut and made into condiment bottles. I can’t see them too clear but if they aren’t flat they can be used for bottles.
    These are some of the items I see using the items in the pic.

  3. Thanks for this, Leilani, If you read my blog you will see how I have used these things and many many more,

    1. Hello, I clicked on your name to find your blog but it said "NOT FOUND". Did you move it?

    2. Elaine, you ARE in the blog. You can go to for the most recent post or use tags on the right here to find what you are interested in.

  4. YW Maria, I was just going to ask if there are any more ideas for these items. Thank you. I will go look.

  5. Maria, are the items you made in one place or all over?

  6. Leilani, this is a blog. It has over 250 posts. In each post I tell about something I have made. There is a tag list where you can find something you are looking for specifically.

  7. wow love this site found it by accident but glad I did Great ideas

  8. Hello,
    I enjoy your blog. Is there a button I can click to become a follower?

  9. Tonight I discovered your blog. It is delightful!

    I used to have a 1:12 Medieval Castle, but had to dismantle it due to my my eyesight, which has become very poor. Now I work in 1:6 scale. It is unusually large for most miniaturists, but one must do what is possible in order to continue. Thank you for providing so much inspiration.


  10. Thank you Maria. I will enjoy looking and discovering all your wonderful miniatures. Blessings!

  11. Hurricane lamps are my favorite using beads and thumb tacks.