Make Pouring Liquids for 'Frozen Moments' in Miniature Scenes.

  • 01 of 12

    Make Pouring Liquid Effects For Miniatures, Models and Dollhouse Scenes

    Tea is poured from a dollhouse teapot into a cup in a 'frozen moment' scene in miniature.
    A dollhouse doll pours tea into a miniature cup in this 'frozen moment' scene. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Pouring liquids can bring a 'frozen moment' to a dollhouse or model scene, whether it is gas pouring from a gas tank or tea from a teapot spout. This method of making directed pouring streams of liquid can be used for any scene where a liquid is poured from one container to another, or into a puddle or stream. The technique is simple, although you have to have patience and wait for the various steps to dry before you proceed to the next step. As the method using colored PVA glue or tar gel acrylic medium it can be combined with the Miniature Splash Effect for a range of scenes, or used to pour water from a bucket or fountain into a Miniature pool made from sheet plastic

    One of the advantages of this method of creating pouring streams of liquids is that it can be adjusted for any color of liquid, you can add objects (fish, strawberries, ice cubes) to the streams, and the method can be corrected during the process without destroying any precious miniatures. On most materials (except paper, and painted surfaces) the stream can be easily removed from the miniatures in the future if you tire of the scene.

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  • 02 of 12

    Materials Needed To Make Streams of Pouring Liquids for Miniatures and Models

    Materials used to simulate pouring liquids for miniature displays.
    Glue, syringe, fishing line, micro brush and water color paint used to make pouring liquids for miniature displays. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To Make Miniature Streams of Pouring Liquids You Will Need:


    • Suitable Miniature Containers - To pour and receive your liquid. Or you can use a pouring vessel only, and pour the liquid into a small splash or puddle on the ground or other surface.
    • Fine Clear Nylon Fishing Line - The 'test' or size of line should be fairly fine to ensure that your pouring stream is easily flexed to create a realistic arch. For larger scales or longer pours you may want a heavier fishing line.
    • Clear Drying Pva Glue or Tar Gel Acrylic Medium - If you will be making a lot of water scenes, I suggest you purchase a small container of tar gel from an art supply house. You can also buy tar gel in a sample pack or as a small container from Dick Blick Art supplies. Buy Direct
    • Water Color Paint to create transparent colored liquids, in your choice of colors.
    • Plastic Glue Syringe - This isn't essential but it makes it much easier to position the pouring liquid mixture in a container. These glue syringes are easy to clean and reuse.
    • Microbrush - These tiny flexible plastic brushes are available from most model supply store, or online from Lee Valley Tools or Micro Mark among other suppliers. They make it easier to clean up lines of colored glue or tar gel from the inside of small clear pitchers and glasses.
    • Tape - to hold your coated fishing line in place while the coating dries.
    • Blue Tack or Modelling Clay - to hold a container in place while you create an angled pour line of liquid.
    • Dressmaker's Pin - to apply small bits of medium to the spouts of containers.
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  • 03 of 12

    Color Your PVA Glue or Tar Gel Acrylic Medium To Simulate a Realistic Liquid

    Watercolor paint is stirred into pva glue to create a transparent glaze to simulate liquids.
    Adding watercolor paint to glue to make the base for a simulated pouring liquid in miniature. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd
    Begin making your pouring liquids by coloring your pva glue or tar gel medium so that it will resemble the liquid you want when it is dry. You don't need a lot of color for most liquids. When they are being poured, they are thin streams which are not as strongly colored as when they are in a deep layer in a container. Look at photographs of the liquid you want to copy. Milk is slightly opaque, so you can use acrylic white paint in very small amounts added to your glue to create the correct color for milk. Tea is usually a reddish brown, I used shavings from a water color pencil to color my tea. To simulate bright purple juice, I used very small amounts of purple watercolor from a tube. Tube watercolors are easier to mix into acrylics to color them than are block water colors. If you are using a block of water color, add water to the top of the block and mix the color there, then transfer small amounts of strong color to your glue or acrylic medium. Both PVA Glue and Tar Gel Medium shrink as they dry, so any coloring you add will darken as the materials dry.


    Mix your paint into the glue or medium thoroughly so there are no streaks. Depending on whether you need to fill a container or not, start with a teaspoon or so of colored medium to create just the pouring stream from one container to another.

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  • 04 of 12

    Thin Your Colored Medium and Add it To a Glue Syringe

    A syringe has a couple of tablespoons of colored glue in preparation for a dollhouse pitcher.
    Colored glue is loaded into a plastic syringe so it can be positioned in the base of a dollhouse pitcher to make a scene with a poured liquid. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Depending on your containers, your fishing line and how far you want your stream of liquid to pour, you will need to experiment a bit with the thickness of your liquid. To thin, and it will run down your fishing line before it dries, Slightly too thin and it may form globs or beads on the line, Too thick and your stream may have sharp points.

    When I have finished adding color to my glue or tar gel medium, I test a bit on a short (three inch long) piece of fishing line, weighted down by tying a pin on one end of the line. Holding the pin, I dip my line in my mixture and then tape it to the edge of my work surface to see what the medium does on the line. If it doesn't form an even stream, I thin it a bit with water. The medium should be a consistency somewhere between pouring or whipping cream, and molasses or treacle.

    When you get the consistency correct, load your glue syringe with the liquid and then press it down to the end of the syringe with the plunger. If you don't have a glue syringe, spread your medium out on a tile of other smooth surface (an old plate works well).

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  • 05 of 12

    Cut Lengths of Fishing Line and Dip them in Your Colored Medium

    Fine fishing line is dipped in a pool of colored glue to create a miniature pouring liquid.
    Two to three inches of fine fishing line is dipped in colored glue to simulate a pouring liquid for a miniature 'frozen moment'. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Cut lengths of fishing line that will be one or two inches longer than you think you want your liquid stream to be for your miniature scene. I like to make several streams in case some don't work out. If you don't have a glue syringe dip your fishing line in a pool of your colored medium as shown in the photo on this page, keeping both ends free of the colored mixture. Tape the end without the pin or weight to the edge of a desk or some other overhang and leave the medium or glue to dry thoroughly on the fishing line.

    If you have your medium in a syringe, you can tape your line to the edge of a work surface, then run a thin stream of medium down the line with your syringe.

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  • 06 of 12

    Fill Your Container With Simulated Liquid If Necessary

    A pitcher filled with a shallow layer of colored glue is set on modelling clay to angle the pour.
    A syringe is used to place a layer of colored glue into a dollhouse pitcher set at the correct angle for the pour on a bit of modelling clay. A piece of fishing line with a dried layer of glue applied for the pouring liquid is shown next to the pitcher. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    If you are going to be pouring your stream of liquid from a container where the level of liquid can be seen (this plastic pitcher made from a makeup cap for instance) you will need to determine the angle the pitcher will be held at, and how the liquid will should appear inside the container as the pour is taking place.

    Set up your container at the correct pouring angle, holding it in place with a bit of modelling clay or blue tack, and use the syringe or another tool to place your colored glue or medium into the container. Use a damp microbrush, or damp paint brush to clear away any medium that gets on the wrong part of the inside of the container. If you want to show a fairly full container being poured, you will need to build the medium layer in stages, roughly 1/4 of the depth required each time, allowing the medium to dry thoroughly between stages. Otherwise shrinkage may destroy the effect you hope to achieve. Your stream of liquid should not build up to a thick line above the spout. Leave adding medium to the area around the spout until after you have the main layers of liquid built up. Look at how liquid pours from a full pitcher, from a partially full pitcher. The liquid doesn't overwhelm the spout.

    To create something that looks like it has just been tipped over to pour, make sure you add a very thin layer of your medium to the bottom or upper side of your pitcher, showing how the liquid has just now been tilted. Look at photographs or watch carefully the next time you pour a liquid out to see what happens.

    Your section of fishing line should have a thin line of dried colored medium coating it similar to the one in the photo before you proceed to the next step. Don't worry if your stream of liquid looks to uniform, or too thin at this point.

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  • 07 of 12

    Position a Stream of Liquid At the Mouth of a Visible Spout

    A line of colored glue on fishing line is added to the spout of a dollhouse pitcher
    The edge of the first glue layer at the spout of the pitcher is lifted and the glue color line added to spill out from the pitcher. More glue is applied to the line using the syringe. It may blob as shown in this photo. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    There are two main positions you will need to set when making miniatures with pouring streams of liquids. One position is set to come out of a visible stream, like the mouth of this plastic pitcher. The other system sets the pouring liquid where the line of liquid can't be seen pouring from the spout, out of the spout of a tea pot for example.

    How to position your fishing line stream of liquid so it appears to be pouring from a visible line of liquid.

    To set up your liquid stream emerging from a spout where you can see it joining the main body of liquid, gently pry up your dried layer of medium just at the front edge of the pouring spout. Trim your line of poured liquid so you have roughly 1/8 inch of clear fishing line, and apply a bit of glue to the clear end of the line. Insert this glued bit of line under the edge of the poured liquid at the end of your spout. Press down on the dried medium above the spout holding your line in place until the glue grabs.

    When the fishing line is securely glued to the container, just under your line of pouring liquid at the spout, take your glue syringe (you did cap or tape the end to keep it from drying out I hope), or mix up a bit of fresh material, and apply another coating down the fishing line, this time adding a bit of material to the sides of the line where it emerges from the pouring spout or lip of the container. If there is no spout (for example on a bucket) you may have a fairly wide pour line of liquid to gradually blend to the edges of the liquid in your container.

    For the pitcher with a spout in the photo on this page, the line of liquid just needed to be roughly doubled with medium, and blended in at the edge of the container to make continuous stream.

    Note: Liquids flow in a pour so that the stream is narrower at the base than in the middle of the stream. While you can create perfectly smooth flows of water (laminar flow) this requires special nozzles and isn't seen naturally. Liquids poured from most containers display some twisting and the base of the pour is slightly narrower than the mid section. The twist can be either clockwise or counter clockwise. It doesn't matter where in the world you are!

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  • 08 of 12

    Ways to Smooth Out Bumpy Streams of Pouring 'Liquid' in Frozen Moments

    Blobs of colored glue on the pour line from a dollhouse pitcher are spread out with a pin.
    A fine pin can be used to draw down blobs of glue that form when thickening a pour line for a miniature 'frozen moment'. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Depending on the thickness of your medium or glue, you may have bumps that form on your fishing line stream of "liquid". If this occurs, remember you can always remove the non set layer and try again. If your bumps are not dry, you can run a pin gently down the sides of your stream to pull the bumps across and even out the stream. This works best if you draw the side of the pin down the stream in one continuous motion. If you stop moving the pin, you may create another bump or a peak in your stream. If your stream of liquid looks to clumpy, try adding a bit of thinner medium to the line, letting it find it's own level, and breaking up any bumps that appear. If you have your line weighted with a pin, and you don't handle the line too much while the medium is drying, you usually have a better stream.

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  • 09 of 12

    Setting a Pouring Stream Line Into a Closed Spout

    A line of fishing line colored to resemble tea is set into the spout of a dollhouse teapot.
    A line of pouring tea made by coating a piece of fine fishing line with colored glue, is set into the spout of a dollhouse scale tea pot. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To set streams of faux liquid pouring from closed spouts for miniature, model and dollhouse scenes, you only need to show the stream of liquid emerging from the spout, not connected to the liquid in the container. For this type of effect, prepare your fishing line with a layer of colored medium as before, but when it is dry, trim the line just above the start of the liquid effect, add a bit of glue to the clear portion of the line, and instert the line into the spout of your container. Leave the glue to dry.

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  • 10 of 12

    Blend The Colored Fishing Line Stream Into the Edges of the Spout

    A dollhouse teapot spout is filled halfway to simulate liquid pouring from the spout end.
    The sides of the tea pot spout are filled with colored glue which is continued down the fishing line to create a realistic pour of tea from the dollhouse teapot. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When the coated fishing line is securely glued into the end of your pouring spout, take a bit of your colored medium on the end of a pin and lay it on either side of the coated line, to blend the line into the spout as shown in the photo on this page. Don't add more medium to the top of your line, you don't want the layers to build up above the tip of the spout. When you have the spout neatly filled to blend with the fishing line, add another layer of medium down the length of your line, just like in the step with the clear pitcher, and leave the medium to dry thoroughly.

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  • 11 of 12

    Position Containers To Set A Miniature Stream of Liquid In Place

    A dollhouse teapot with a pouring line of tea and a scale mug are positioned for the pour.
    A dollhouse teapot and cup are positioned in line for a correct pour of liquid from the pot to a cup. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Position your containers so that you can set your 'frozen moment' stream of liquid into place in your dollhouse or model scene. If you are using dolls or other figures, make sure the doll can be posed naturally with the container, and that the weight won't cause problems. Don't worry about where the stream appears to go before you fix it into place. What you want to do is make sure the pouring and recieving containers are in the correct positions.

    As these streams of liquid are easy to make and won't damage most miniatures, you can use them for printable miniatures as well, like these printable miniature shamrock cups or the other printable kitchen miniatures.

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  • 12 of 12

    Attach the Bottom End of the Pouring Stream to the Receiving Container

    A line of tea pouring from a dollhouse teapot is cut and set to flow into a dollhouse cup.
    A line of tea pouring from a dollhouse spout is measured against the cup postion, trimmed to size and glued or set into a miniature cup with museum wax to hold the tea pour in the cup. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the stream for your pouring liquid "frozen moment" miniature, trim your final stream to the correct length to fit into your receiving container. Attach the receiving container to the stream using glue or museum wax. If you wish, you can add a miniature splash or a layer of faux liquid matching your stream at the point where the pouring stream meets the receiving container. The printable paper cup shown here has a very thin layer of 'tea' in the base of the cup, and the stream of pouring tea is glued to this layer, then blended with a bit of leftover colored glue.

    When your stream is securely fixed to the receiving container, set the receiving container (in this case the miniature mug)in place in your display. Secure the container if necessary with museum wax or Moveable Miniatures glue.

    Have fun using this technique wherever you can imagine creating interest in a scene by using a stream of water. You can use the same method with taps, hoses, watering cans, oil cans, juice boxes, and all manner of other containers and liquids.