Make Detailed Dolls House Scale Tulips

  • 01 of 10

    Make Detailed Dolls House Scale Tulips

    Deep pink lily flowered tulip and rounded cottage tulip in dolls house scale.
    A lily flowered and a cottage tulip in 1:12 dollhouse scale, Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    This miniature or dolls house tulip making project is categorized as an intermediate miniature project because it requires a bit more practice and skill to perfect than some other projects. Intermediate projects have a greater attention to detail than beginner projects, but a beginner can skip the finicky bits and make a beginner's style tulip instead of an intermediate one.

    Beginners Tulip

    At a miniature fair, a beginners tulip would look like a tulip, but it probably wouldn't have a detailed center, or have petals colored or shaped to represent particular flower types. It would be a generic pretty tulip that was well made.

    Tulip at Intermediate Level

    To work on flowers in miniature at an intermediate level, a craftsperson needs to know much more about the flower than just its general shape. You need to know more about the real plant, what particular color is it, what color are its leaves, how do its petals curl, its leaves. What color are the pollen stamens, the anthers? Is the flower shiny inside or matte?

    Expert Level

    What would be an expert level? At the expert level, the miniature should be indistinguishable from a real plant in miniature. In furniture, an expert piece would function exactly as a real piece would, and the same holds true for other levels of craft. At an expert level, all materials would be documented and the piece would have information allowing it to be carefully cared for under museum conditions. Your tulips would need to have a recorded list of materials used to make them, paints and glues, and craft style paints without artistic standards wouldn't be acceptable. Light would have to come through the petals the same way it does through a living plant.

    This project will have a lot more information on how to do it, but less information on exact measurements than a beginner project might. It isn't hard, just done with more care.

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  • 02 of 10

    Materials for Detailed Dollhouse Scale Tulips

    Paint, paper, wire and glue are the main materials for making dollhouse miniature tulips.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    To Make Detailed Dollhouse Tulips You Will Need

    • Fine Translucent Paper Paper for detailed flowers needs to allow light to pass through. If you hold a detailed miniature tulip to the light, it should glow, just like its real counterpart would as light passes through the petals. Soft tracing paper will work. A paper that is too stiff will be difficult to shape. The same paper can be used for the leaves. The light can be blocked by using acrylic paints instead of watercolors or markers.
    • Watercolor Paints to color the paper for the flower petals. You can use an artist's grade water-based marker if you prefer. Artists grade markers are more resistant to fading and have better quality inks than school type markers.
    • Acrylic Paints to color the leaves. For most plants, a Hauser Medium Green is a good base color available in craft paints. You will need at least a green and a pale yellow for this project.
    • Paper Embossing Tool And Eraser To shape the flower petals you will need a medium or large head embossing tool. To make the leave veins you will need a finer head. You can substitute a dry ballpoint pen for the smaller head, and use a rounded toothpick for the larger head if necessary.
    • Craft Wire Paper-covered wire in a #26 gauge is the best weight for the tulip stems. Cloth covered wire will work but is harder to smooth with paint. An unwrapped metal wire is harder to get petals to stick to.
    • PVA White glue
    • Daisy or Teardrop Paper Punch To cut the basic petal shape.
    • Fine Curved Scissors
    • Fine Thread for pollen anthers.
    • Fine paintbrush
    • Straight pin or toothpick


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  • 03 of 10

    Make Stamens for Miniature Flowers

    Threads tipped with yellow paint make dolls house scale tulip anthers.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    Know the Parts of the Flower

    The first step in detailing miniature tulip flowers is to match the central stamen and anther color to the flower you are recreating. Tulips generally have black stamens with yellow or black anthers (the pollen holding piece on top of the stamen). Some have yellow or green stamens with yellow anthers. There are a few with different color combinations. Each tulip flower will always have six stamens.

    To Make Stamens and Anthers

    Choose a thread color or run a 6-inch length of fine sewing thread through fingers coated with the correct color of acrylic paint. Roll the thread through your fingers as you pull it through the paint. Set aside to dry.

    When you have the correct color of stamen thread, cut 1/8 to 3/16 inch lengths of thread into a dish or onto a plate. Cut six or seven for each flower you intend to make.

    Use your tweezers to dip the top 1/3 to 1/2 of each thread piece into a bit of pollen colored paint. This could be black, or yellow, depending on the flower you are making. If you are making a general tulip, use yellow. Set each stamen down on a ceramic, or plastic surface to dry. This will help the paint to flatten out slightly on the ends of your stamen.

    Set these aside to dry while you make the center of the flower in the next step.

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  • 04 of 10

    Make the Tulip Center

    Detailed dollhouse miniature tulip center with a pistil and six anthers around it.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    To make the center of the tulip, cut a piece of wire the length of your tulip stem, plus 1/4 of an inch if you are going to plant it in a pot or a garden scene. Various tulips have different heights, a good length for a generic tulip would be 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches.

    Paint the cut wires a basic green with acrylic paint and set them aside to dry. When the paint on the wire is dry, pick up some of the green paint with a toothpick or a straight pin, and dab it around the top of the wire. You want to have a small blob on the end of the wire, and a larger blob 1/8 inch down from the top. Blend your paint to give it the rough shape of the center pistil and ovary of a tulip flower. See the photo above. You may need to put an extra coat on the bottom of the ovary to make it round enough. Set the wires aside to dry. (I set them upright in styrofoam or scraps of floral foam).

    When the painted wire is dry, take three of your stamens from the previous step and roll the yellow pollen end between your fingers to flatten it a bit. If the paint spread out too far, you can trim it off with scissors before you roll it. Dip the non-pollen end in PVA glue and gently press it to the wire just below the swollen ovary you made with paint. See the photo above.

    Arrange three stamens evenly around the stem, then place three more in between the others. Set aside to dry.

    While these are drying you can make the petals.

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  • 05 of 10

    Make Petals for Detailed Miniature Tulips

    A paper punched daisy and a tear drop form the basis for dollhouse tulip petals.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    Use a large daisy punch (1 1/4 inch diameter) or a standard teardrop punch to cut out the base shape for your tulip petals from a piece of painted or colored paper. If you are using watercolors or markers to color your petals, paint the paper on both sides and let it dry before you punch out your petals. To make the paper shinier on one side, you can add a tiny amount of gum arabic medium to your watercolor paint.

    For each tulip, you will need six individual petals. Depending on the type of tulip flower you decide to make, you will shape the petals slightly differently. To make lily-flowered tulips with their elegant pointed petals, thin the point of the teardrop punched petal with scissors or cut a single daisy petal from the cluster creating a long point as shown in the photo above.

    For lily-flowered tulips, you will use the rounded end of the punched petal as the base. For Emperor, or rounded cottage tulips you will use the rounded side of the petal as the top. For these tulips, you will need to cut off the point from your punched petal. Small cottage tulips will need petals roughly 1/4 inch long. Larger florist's tulips will need petals which are a bit longer, depending on the type of flower you are making. For some modern florists tulips, you will need to create a slight point on the rounded end of your petal using curved scissors. If cutting off the point leaves you with a broad base on your petal, use curved scissors to narrow it slightly.

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  • 06 of 10

    Shape the Petals for Your Dollhouse Tulips

    Tulip petals are rounded by pressing into the base with an embossing tool.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    When you have your petals cut to the correct shape for the type of tulip you are making, lay them out on an eraser or a mouse pad, with the inner surface of the petal facing up. (The shiny side would be up if you made the paper slightly shiny on one side.) Press the embossing tool gently on the edge of the rounded section of the petal and go around in circles to the center of the petal, pressing a bit harder as you get to the center. Each combination of paper and paint will shape differently, so you may need to practice on a few petals before you get it to cup correctly. Shape all of your petals, and put them in a safe place where they won't blow away!

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  • 07 of 10

    Start Attaching the First Ring of Petals to the Center of Your Dollhouse Tulip

    First ring of three petals glued tight to the base of the pollen anthers for a dollhouse tulip.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    To add petals to your tulip, begin by holding the top of the petal in a set of tweezers, and dip the inside edge of the petal base into a small puddle of glue. You only want a bit of glue on the inside of the bottom of the petal. If this technique doesn't work for you, take a straight pin and put a thin line of glue around the wire stem, just under the ovary you made with paint.

    Press the glued end of the petal to the wire flower stem, just below the thread stamens to cover them. (See photo above)

    Place three petals evenly around each wire stem, with all bases lined up just below the stamens. Your bases may overlap a bit, but it is important that the petals be placed evenly around the stem. Set the flower with the first ring of petals aside to dry.

    Don't worry too much about the shape of the flower. Depending on how you shaped your petals some flowers will be closed tight, some will be more open. You can adjust that with tweezers when the petals are dry. The base of a tulip flower is bare, with no calyx or leaves to cover mistakes, so glue neatly and carefully!

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  • 08 of 10

    Finish the Second Ring of Tulip Petals.

    Pointed tips of lily flowered tulips compared with short rounded cottage tulip forms.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    When the first ring of petals is dry, take a fresh petal and place it on the first ring of petals, covering one of the spots where the first petals touch. Your second ring of petals will be offset from your first set, centered on the gaps between the first petals. Glue them just below the first set of petals, and glue them as neatly as possible to the stem.

    Set the flower aside to dry.

    When the flower has dried, you can cover up any horrible gluing with a slight cover of green acrylic paint on the stem at the petal base. Practise gluing your petals so that you don't need any cover-ups if possible. To cover any white petals edges that show once your petals are glued in place, moisten a fine paintbrush and blend the color from your petals over the white edge. This is one reason for using watercolors or watercolor markers! Leave this to dry.

    When your petals and your flower are as finished as you can get them, use your tweezers to gently bend your flower petals into the shape you want. You may want tight tulip buds, but you also want the odd opened flower to show people that it has a proper center, not a bit of cotton bud! The lily-flowered tulips will usually have tips that bend away from the flower slightly. Cottage tulips will have a nice round cupped petal. Gently tweak your tulip shape to suit the type of tulip you were copying. Now you only have the leaves to do!

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  • 09 of 10

    Cut and Shape Leaves for Dolls House Tulips

    Dollhouse tulip leaves roughly one inch long are shaped on an eraser with an embossing tool.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    Leaves for tulips are best made from paper that has been painted on both sides with acrylic paint. Most tulips have a slightly blue cast to the green of their leaves. If you use a slightly stiff brush it will create the effect of veins on the leaves. Brush the paint on your paper in the direction of the grain. To find the grain, wet a sheet of paper and watch how it curls. The grain will run down the center of the curl. You can take advantage of paper grain to shape realistic leaves by cutting your leaves so the grain of the paper runs from the top to the bottom of the leaf.

    Leaves for tulips are best cut freehand rather than from a pattern. Generally, tulips have leaves 9 inches to a foot long, so cut leaves that are the shapes shown above to varying lengths in that scale range, 3/4 inch to 1 inch in length. Make sure you cut a gentle curve to the pointed end of your tulip leaf, and try to keep the base of the leaf at about 1/8 of an inch wide. Tulips don't have a lot of leaves, so plan on two or three for each stem.

    Shape the leaves by running your embossing tool on a gentle curve through the center of the leaf from the base to the leaf tip. Don't press too hard, acrylic paint tends to stop the tool, and this can cause holes in your leaves. When your leaf is shaped fold the base of the leaf in half and glue it around your flower stem, 1/4 of an inch up from the bottom of the stem (at the level you will plant your flower in the soil). Place the next leaf opposite the first one, and wrap the base of the second leaf around the base of the first. Use your fingers to bend your leaves gently along the center vein, so that the leaf is closed at the base and more open towards the tip. Set your tulip aside to dry, and plant it or put it in an arrangement or bouquet when it is dry!

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  • 10 of 10

    Experiment and Create Your Favorite Colors and Types

    Tiny reproductions of rare tulips; viridiflora and Silver Standard in dolls house scale.
    Photo copyright Lesley Shepherd

    Use photographs from live flowers and cut flowers to experiment with particular flower colors, types and shapes. As tulips are fairly simple shapes without too many petals, they are an easy flower to work with. The tulips in the photo above, are parts of living history. Both the narrow petaled viridiflora tulip and the wildly contrasting Silver Standard are varieties known to be grown in the 1700's which are still available today.

    Avoid using flowers shown in period paintings unless you have alternate sources of comparison. One particular tulip flower appears in several paintings from the same period, often with plants that grow during several different seasons. That particular tulip was copied by many artists, although it flowered in that form only once, and is not necessarily drawn to life. It certainly would never have actually been available at the same time as the plants shown in the paintings, and recreations of painted floral arrangements of this type show a love for painting, but an ignorance of flowers. Period flower paintings were often not drawn from actual flower arrangements, but created to show off the valuable bank of floral material a prestigious collector or nursery might own.