Make Dollhouse Miniature Luminarias or Farolitos in Several Scales

  • 01 of 08

    Make Dollhouse Luminarias Lit with Battery Operated LED Lights

    Dollhouse scale luminaria made from paper and lit with tiny LED's run by a watch battery.
    Dollhouse scale sandwich bags made from kraft (brown) and parchment paper are lit with tiny LED lights run by a watch battery. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    These miniature luminarias or farolitos can be made for a dollhouse or model scene, or used on door wreaths, or centerpieces for Christmas and Halloween displays. The luminarias are lit with tiny LED's that are battery operated. If made correctly, and used safely, the cool running LED light will not be a problem.

    You make the luminarias on a base, so you can set them at the correct distance apart for your miniature scene and cover the base with snow, sand or soil, to suit your season and display.

    For the safest Luminarias, use kitchen baking parchment paper which can withstand heat. The LED set I used is battery operated and very cool running (see the review of Evan Designs LED sets similar LED's and the battery cases and batteries to run them can be found in hobby electronics stores and electrical supply outlets. The scale shown in the photo above is made using 1:12 scale sandwich bags. Instructions for making miniature sandwich and grocery bags include a folding template.

    The miniature terrier shown in the photograph is made from the instructions to make a poseable miniature dog with needlefelting techniques.

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  • 02 of 08

    Materials Used to Make Miniature and Model Scale Luminaria

    Materials used to make dollhouse scale luminaria
    Materials used to make dollhouse scale luminaria include tiny LED lights, a paper bag template, kraft or parchment paper, sharp scissors, glue, paper punches or paper piercing tools, card. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To Make Miniature Luminaria or Farolitos You Will Need:

    • Parchment paper or thin kraft paper - and the template to make sandwich size bags in your particular scale from the Miniature Grocery Bag Instructions
    • PVA (white) glue
    • Sharp Scissors
    • Hole Punch and Awl or Needle
    • Scraps of Craft Wood
    • Piece of card the length you want for your display
    • Sand or Faux Snow To cover the card base.
    • Tiny LED Lights - I used a Battery Operated LED Lighting Set from Evan Designs which will work with up to ten LED's. You can also use strings of small dome shaped LED lights or strips of LED's (lights must be LED's or there is a danger of fire). Do Not Use Miniature Christmas Lights - unless they are cool running LED's.

       

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  • 03 of 08

    Prepare the Miniature Paper Bags for the Luminaria

    Decorating the sides of dollhouse miniature luminaria with punched or pierced paper designs.
    The sides of miniature luminaria bags are decorated with pierced or punched holes, and a hole for the LED light is punched into the bottom edges of the bag near the center. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Most luminaria or farolitos are made with sandwich sized paper bags, filled with sand and lit with a tea light. For the dollhouse scale luminaria, you will need to make miniature sandwich bags in your choice of scales using the templates provided with the sandwich bag instructions.

    Before you begin to glue your miniature bags together (see the sandwich bag instructions) you will need to punch or prick out designs on the sides of your luminaria bags. This is best done when the bags are flat, after the fold lines have been made (see photo). As luminaria usually have the top edges turned down to make the bag sturdier in wind, you should turn the top edges of the bags down before you assemble and glue them.

    Finally you will need to use a hole punch to punch a hole large enough to allow you to fit the bag over your LED light. The hole must be punched in the bottom of the bag before it is assembled (see photo above).

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  • 04 of 08

    Setting Up the Base For the Miniature Scale Luminaria Lights

    LED lights for dollhouse miniature luminaria are bent and fit through holes on a cardboard base.
    The LED lights for the miniature scale luminaria are bent to the correct height and set through the holes cut in the cardboard base strip. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To set up a base for your set of miniature luminaria, cut a piece of lightweight card to the length you want your luminaria to be, or a length that will hold the number of lights you want on your 'string'. Punch holes large enough for your LED lights at the intervals you want to set your luminaria. The luminaria can be set so they are side on or face on on your base. ( I set mine face on in the example). The base should be roughly twice as wide as the width of your luminaria, so that the assembly is easy to stabilize.

    Prepare the LED's for Your Luminaria Base

    If your LED's have straight wires out of the 'bulb', you can gently bend them with plier or tweezers as shown, so that the LED's will stick up out of the base. You want your LED's to be set to a height roughly halfway up your miniature paper bag or lower, so the light will shine out the holes you made for the design on the side of your bag.

    When you have your LEDs bent, insert the light through the hole in the card strip, and tape the light and the wires to the underside of the card base, running all the wires back to the same end of the card strip.

    Some LED strings will not need to be bent, just inserted through the card and taped on the back side. This type of LED's is more like a low dome, and is the type usually found on small commercial light strings. Check that all wiring on these strings is safely covered before you tape your LED string to the card.

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  • 05 of 08

    Assembling the Wiring for Miniature Luminaria Lit by LED's

    Assembling the wiring for a set of dollhouse scale luminaria lights or farolitos.
    The wiring assembly for the battery operated miniature luminarias or farolitos simply involves twisting all red wires together, and adding them to the battery lead, then covering them with a heat shrink tube, and repeating the process fo the black wires. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    If you are using LED light strips, or strings of dome shaped LED's, your lights will already be in a string. If you are using individual LED's or the sets from Evan Designs, you will need to join all the wires which are red by twisting them together, setting a piece of heat shrink electrical tubing over the wires (this is supplied in Evans light sets), then twisting on the same colored line from the battery case to the twisted wires, covering the wires with heat shrink tubing, and heat shrinking the tubing in place with a hair dryer or embossing heat gun or torch.

    When you have connected the wires of one color to the battery pack, use the same method of twisting, and covering with heat shrink tubing, to connect the black wires to each other and to the battery pack.

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  • 06 of 08

    Test the Light System for Your Miniature Luminaria

    A watch battery powers a set of miniature LED's for dollhouse scale luminaria or farolitos.
    After wiring, a watch battery is inserted into the battery case and the miniature LED's are checked to make sure they light up correctly. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    With your light runs assembled, insert a battery and test that your LED's are all wired correctly. Make sure all bare wires are covered, so there is not danger of sparks and run your system long enough to check the amount of heat your lights put out. The lights must run cool enough to be safe close to paper.

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  • 07 of 08

    Glue the Miniature Scale Luminaria To the Lighting Run Base

    Gluing dollhouse miniature luminaria to a lit base of LED lights.
    The dollhouse scale sandwich bags are glued to the cardboard base over the LED lights which were inserted through the bottom holes. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    With your lights in place and checked, it is time to glue the luminaria over the lights. Gently fit the hole in the base of you luminaria bags over each LED light on your base. Line the bags up in the direction you want them to face, and glue the base of each luminaria neatly to the card. Make sure the light inside the luminaria does not directly touch the side of your luminaria bags. There must be some space around each LED for air flow. If your bags are too small for your bulbs you may need to make larger bags.

    Leave to dry thoroughly

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  • 08 of 08

    Finish the Base of the Miniature Luminaria Set

    The cardboard base for the dollhouse scale luminaria is covered with fine decorator sand.
    The cardboard base for the miniature luminaria can be covered with sand, soil, or faux snow. Here it is shown with decorative sand. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the base of your miniature luminaria, apply a thin layer of pva glue to the card, and sprinkle the card with faux snow, flocking, fine decorator sand, or dried potting soil to cover the card. Choose a cover based on where you will be setting your luminaria in your scene. Also plan on where you will site any extra cord or battery packs. Allow the coating to dry, and install the miniature luminaria in your scene. Enjoy!