Making Detailed Miniature Plants

  • 01 of 08

    Make Detailed Flowers for 1:48 or O Scale Miniatures

    Detailed quarter or O scale flowering plants decorate a dolls house or railway house.
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    It wasn't very long ago that O scale was the children's railroad scale, with simple landscaping and detailing suited to child's play. As the scale becomes increasingly popular in the dolls house collectors market, a wider range of accessories and housing styles are becoming common.

    The instructions which follow allow you to make detailed flowering plants which can be used to landscape or decorate the interior of a quarter-scale scene or house. These instructions use commonly available materials. More detailed miniature landscaping materials suitable for quarter scale (petals, kits, punches, and other items) can be obtained through online dolls house plant specialists. At least two companies will ship specific pre-punched petal shapes in your choice of colors, including petals suitable for 1:48 scale. These are The Miniature Garden Center in the UK (available at shows and through mail order) and through ​Hanky Panky Crafts in the U.S.

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  • 02 of 08

    Materials Used for Miniature Plants

    Materials used to make floral landscaping
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    Several materials for railroad terrains or scrapbooking projects are suitable for suggesting small-scale plants. These include various forms of railroad scatter/floral scatter, made from acrylic rod turnings as well as bits of foam, bits of colored sponges, and bits of sponge attached to fine 'net'. Most are available from railroad model suppliers, as well as dolls house shows. Some are available as mixed colors, others are available as separate colors. Separate colors are more useful and much more realistic than mixes.

    Many excellent tutorials for making terrain types of trees are available online. Some, due to their practicality and ease of construction, can be seen on The Kamloopian site, run by Steve Delaney, who builds detailed gaming terrains from simple materials. His information on building terrain is well worth watching, especially his many simple ways of making realistic trees.

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  • 03 of 08

    DIY Floral "Scatter" From Dried Acrylic Paint

    Colored scatter for dollhouse and railroad gardens made from shreds of dried acrylic paint.
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    Instead of using railroad or scrapbooking "scatter" to make colorful blooms in small scales for railroad and dollhouse landscaping, you can make your own scatter inexpensively from dried acrylic paint. To do this, mix the acrylic paint color you want for your scatter and paint it in a thin layer on a piece of tempered glass (an old glass shelf, a picture frame, or a work counter). If you do not have a glass surface to work on, you can use a smooth-surfaced china plate. Leave the paint to dry on the glass or china surface.

    When the paint is dry, use a plastic razor blade or a polymer clay blade and draw thin lines through the dried paint. Turn the razor blade across the end of the lines you cut, and use the plastic razor blade scraper, or your polymer clay blade (or a thin putty knife) and scrape the paint from the glass or china surface. As long as you acrylic paint does not have a lot of acrylic binders added to it, you should get a useful set of ground bits of paint you can use for your scale modeling projects. (see photo above) Make sure you leave the paint until it is completely dry before you try to peel it off the glass or china surface.

    Your custom paint scatter can be used the same way regular railway scatter is used. The space between the lines you drew with your plastic razor blade or clay blade will determine to some extent how large your pieces of scatter are. Wider lines will make larger sections of scatter.

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  • 04 of 08

    Colorful "Plants" From Railroad Scatters

    Simple quarter scale plants made from reindeer moss and colored railroad scatter.
    Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Simple small scale (1:48 and less) landscaping is easiest to make using railroad type scatters and reindeer moss.

    • Prepare the moss: Cut or pull an appropriate amount of reindeer moss from a clump, keeping the rounded tops intact as much as possible. Trim the base to make a 'bush' or 'plant' slightly taller than you want for your landscape. Check that it will fit into a planter, box or landscape section of your scene, trim it if necessary.
    • Apply glue to the top surfaces: Use a toothpick to apply small dabs of PVA (white) glue to the top surface of your reindeer moss "plant." Most plants bloom on the top and less, if at all on the sides.
    • Apply the colored scatter: Dip the plant into a small amount of railroad scatter in your choice of colors, making sure the glue catches on pieces of scatter. Set aside to dry. If necessary you can add more glue and dip the plant again once the first scatter has dried in place.

    To fix your plant in place, apply glue to the surface you want it to adhere to, and press the reindeer moss plant down gently into the glue. Allow it to dry.

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  • 05 of 08

    Make Quarter-Scale Sunflowers Using Paper Punches

    Paper punches
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    Sunflowers are one of the easiest quarter-scale plants to make. You will need a small sun punch and a circular daisy punch as shown. The sun punch is approximately 1/4 inch across.

    • Punch and trim the flower shapes: Punch out one sun shape for each sunflower you want to make in quarter scale. Use fine curved scissors to trim off the "squiggle" at the end of each arm of the sun, leaving regular petal-shaped sections. You can see the trimmed sections of the punched shape on the bottom of the second sunflower head in from the left of the photo. All but the first sunflower head on the left have been trimmed to shape.
    • Paint the flower centers: Use a bit of brown acrylic paint to paint the flower centers as shown. Set the flower heads aside to dry.
    • Shape the petals: Use a pin held at an angle to draw a fine line down the center of each petal on your sunflower head.
    • Glue the heads to a stem: Glue the center back of each sunflower head to a 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch length of fine (#28 or #30) paper covered wire. When the glue has dried, paint a green corolla around the wire and cover any edges of the wire. Set the sunflower heads and stems aside to dry.
    • Punch and trim the leaves: Punch out some daisy punches from green paper or paper painted with green acrylic paint. Use sharp curved scissors to cut each petal of the daisy free to act as a sunflower leaf. Run a line with a pin turned slightly sideways down the center of each leaf to make a central vein.
    • Attach the leaves to the sunflower stem: Use tweezers to hold a leaf securely and dip one end slightly into PVA glue. Press the leaf to the stem at the top beneath the sunflower and release the tweezers when the leaf holds in place. It is best to work on several stems at once, setting the leaves aside to dry on one stem while you add a leaf to the next. Attach the leaves alternately down the stem, turning the stem slightly as you go so that the leaves are attached in a spiral down the stem, putting leaves on all sides, not just opposite each other. Leave the bottom 1/2 inch free of leaves and plant this section of the stem in your scene using modeling clay, florist's clay or florist's foam as a base. Turn all the flowers to face the sun in your scene.
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  • 06 of 08

    Make Quarter-Scale Delphiniums Using Paper Punches

    Tiny delphiniums made from punched paper
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    These tiny delphiniums can also be made from 3/32 inch five-petal punched petals from the vendors mentioned on the first page of these instructions if you prefer to make them from already punched petals.

    • Punch the delphinium flowers: The flowers shown here can be made from tiny pre-punched petals, or from small stars from a readily available commercial paper punch (shown above). The leaves are made from tiny oak leaf paper punches, roughly 1/4 inch long. Delphinium flowers should be punched from dark blue, white, light blue, pink or pale lavender paper.
    • Shape the flowers: The flowers are shaped by pressing them gently into an eraser or a computer mouse mat (or sheet of foam) using a small paper embossing tool, rounded toothpick, or spent ballpoint pen.
    • Set the flowers on the stem: Cut a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch length of fine (#28 or #30) paper covered wire. You can used painted wire, but the paper petals stick more easily to paper covered wire which is available from the suppliers listed on the first page of these instructions or from general craft stores in the floral department. Dip the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the wire in PVA Glue and then using tweezers, press the shaped flowers into the glue on the wire beginning at the top and working around the top, then down the wire as shown in the sample above. Set the flower head aside to dry.
    • Punch the leaves: Punch five to six small oak leaves per plant from dark green paper.
    • Set the leaves on the base of the plant: Dip the stem of a leaf in a bit of PVA glue and glue it to the wire 1/4 of an inch below your flower head. Turn the stem and apply more leaves until you have a base group of five to six leaves clustered tightly together. Leave the bottom 1/4 inch of the stem free of leaves.
    • Plant your tiny delphinium - Use the bottom quarter-inch of the stem to plant your delphinium in the ground so the base of the leaf cluster is touching the soil.
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  • 07 of 08

    Make Quarter-Scale Hosta Plants

    Quarter-scale hosta plant
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    To make tiny hosta plants for your scale scenes, paint the paper with a mix of yellow-green and dark green so that it forms thin striped lines. Use sharp curved scissors to cut slightly pointed leaves from the paper which are about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. Take a 1/2 inch section of fine (#28 to #30) wire and cover the end with green paint. When the paint is dry, glue the base of a hosta leaf close to the end of the wire, gluing the leaf around the wire to shape the leaf slightly.

    Set another leaf over the base of the first one, gluing it slightly further around the wire, and continue gluing the leaves around the wire until you have two layers of leaves glued inside one another, with some slightly above a second lower layer. When the glue has dried, use tweezers to pull the leaves slightly down and out from the wire. Trim the end of the wire so that it sticks down about 1/4 inch from the base of your hosta and use this section of wire to "plant" the hosta so that the base of the bottom layer of leaves touches the soil in your pot or garden.

    You can make several varieties of hosta by giving them characteristic white, green or yellow blotches down the center, or by making them from rounded leaves rather than slightly pointed ones.

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  • 08 of 08

    Make Quarter-Scale Hollyhocks Using Paper Punches

    Quarter-scale hollyhocks
    The Spruce Crafts / Lesley Shepherd

    These hollyhocks can also be made with small pre-cut five petal paper petals from the vendors listed on the first page of the instructions. Hollyhock petals should be punched from white, yellow, apricot, pink, or purple papers.

    • Prepare the flower centers: The centers of the hollyhocks are made from short lengths of green sewing thread dipped in yellow acrylic paint. Set these aside to dry while you prepare the petals.
    • Punch and shape the flower petals: The hollyhock flowers are made using the smallest five-lobed flower punch shapes from the commercial punch shown. Punch them holding the punch upside down so you can see the location of the shapes you need and punch only those small shapes, not all three sizes available. Shape each flower by pressing the petal gently in the center using a paper embossing tool or a rounded toothpick or empty ballpoint pen. You can press right through the center of the flower petal if you wish as you will need a hole for the flower center.
    • Assemble the flowers: Place a tiny bit of PVA (white) glue on the base of the yellow flower center you made in the first step. Insert the flower center through the base of the shaped petal and use tweezers to press the petal to the center just below the yellow paint. Set the flowers and their stems aside to dry.
    • Prepare the flower stalks: Cut 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch lengths of fine paper covered wire (#28 or #30). Use a toothpick or pin to apply small dots of glue around the upper third of the modeling, leaving space between the dots. Dip the stalk in small green (if possible) No Hole Beads or small balls of bead styrofoam, or small balls made from polymer or air dry clay. (see photo) Set the stalk aside to dry. When the beads are dry in place, knock off any extra beads (you need three to four per flower cluster) and paint the beads green if necessary to match the color of the stalk. Paint one or two beads in each cluster with colored paint to match the color of your hollyhock petals or dip the stalk into colored no-hole beads to make small flower buds.
    • Prepare the leaves: Cut out small oak leaves from green paper and trim the base to make them look more like ivy or large geranium leaves similar to those found on hollyhocks. If you wish you can order small ivy leaves from vendors pre-punched, or punch leaves from a small ivy punch if you can find one. Brass ivy leaves can also be used in the correct scale. Cut out some small slivers of paper (or even smaller ivy leaves) to use as leaves with the flower clusters.
    • Assemble the hollyhocks: When all the section are dry, glue a flower or two and a tiny leaf to each group of beads, Glue four or five leaves down the stem to within 1/4 inch of the bottom of the stalk. Set the hollyhocks aside to dry.