Use a Recycled Plastic Pencil Cap to Make a Dollhouse Miniature Pitcher

  • 01 of 12

    Make a Dollhouse Miniature Pitcher From A Plastic Makeup Pencil Cap

    Six inch plastic action figure shown with a miniature dollhouse pitcher made from a pencil cap
    A six inch plastic action figure is shown with a dollhouse miniature plastic pitcher made from the cap of a makeup pencil. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Make this miniature dollhouse pitcher from a clear acrylic cap off a makeup pencil. The technique involves simple plastic bending using an embossing heat tool.

    These miniature pitchers can be left unfilled, or filled with colored acrylic mediums to give the illusion of liquids and drinks. You can use the frozen moment liquid pour technique to show liquids pouring from your pitcher into glasses or other containers.

    The pitchers can be colored with many glass stains or clear paints to create a range of colors. Test your stain on a scrap of the plastic after you have made your pitcher to check whether you can use the stain on the plastic your pencil cap is made of.

    If you want a frosted pitcher instead of a clear one, you can use fine sandpaper (200 grit or so) to create a 'frosted' effect, or you can 'fume' the plastic pitcher with plastic welding solvent or super glue.

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  • 02 of 12

    Materials Used to Make a Dollhouse Plastic Pitcher

    Plastic makeup cap used as the basis for a dollhouse scale miniature pitcher.
    Plastic makeup cap on an eye shadow pencil, used as the basis for a dollhouse scale miniature pitcher. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To Make a Miniature Plastic Pitcher You Will Need

     

    • Clear Plastic Cap With a Flat Top - In the photo on this page you can see a suitable cap for making a miniature pitcher. The clear plastic should be brittle rather than soft, and clear like glass. Soft, bendable plastic caps are much harder to bend with heat than harder acrylic plastic. The end needs to be flat as this will become the bottom of your dollhouse pitcher.
    • Embossing Heat Gun or a heat gun suitable for softening plastic.
    • Bent Nose Tweezers - To bend the tiny plastic handle for the pitcher you will need a pair of bent nose tweezers to hold the plastic while you heat it. With their angled ends, bent nose tweezers allow you to hold your hand out of the stream of hot air while you soften the small plastic parts for this project.
    • Plastic Glue - While you could use a tube plastic glue, plastic solvent flowed into the seam with a brush will make a better weld for the handle of the miniature pitcher.
    • Razor Saw - To cut your plastic cap to size.
    • Mitre Box - to hold the cap for a square cut.
    • Embossing tool or other metal modelling tool to pull the spout into shape.
    • Fine Sandpaper - You will need a fine grit close to 150 and a superfine wet dry grit close to 600 or higher to sand the edges of your cut plastic.
    • Needle or Miniature File - a half round or round miniature file works best, you can use sandpaper wrapped around a toothpick if you don't have a suitable needles file.
    • Modelling Clay - to hold your plastic cap level for a straight edged cut, if your plastic cap has sloping sides and to hold it for gluing.

     

    Note: When working with plastic and heat, work in a well ventilated area, free of any fire hazards.

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  • 03 of 12

    Cut a Test Strip to Begin Making a Miniature Pitcher

    Plastic rings are cut to size for a handle for a miniature plastic pitcher in dolls house scale.
    Rings of plastic trimmed from the end of a makeup pencil cap are cut apart to make a curved handle for a dollhouse miniature plastic pitcher. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    As plastics and heat guns vary, when you are making miniatures from unknown materials you will need to test the properties of your plastic. To do this, start by cutting a small circle, roughly 1/8 inch wide, from the open end of your plastic cap. See photo this page. Set the cap in your miter box and use a fine toothed razor saw to make a neat square cut so that both sides of your strip are even, and the open end of your cap remains flat. If you find it difficult to brace your cap in the miter box to make a straight cut, see the suggestion in step 8 for securing the cap with modelling clay to brace it evenly in the mitre box.

    When you have a test strip cut, use your 160 grit sandpaper to sand the edges of your cut plastic, finishing with the 600 grit paper, then the 600 grit paper with a bit of water. This should give you a nice smooth finish on your plastic. If your saw tears your plastic or fractures it as it cuts, you may need a saw blade with a finer tooth count to work or your plastic to make the miniature pitcher. This will depend on both the type of plastic you happen to be working with, as well as your particlar saw.

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  • 04 of 12

    Cut Plastic Rings The Correct Width for a Miniature Pitcher Handle

    Circles of plastic for the handles of a dollhouse miniature pitcher, cut from a makeup cap.
    Circles of plastic for the handles of a dollhouse scale miniature pitcher are cut from the open end of an eyeshadow pencil cap. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When you have successfully worked out how to cut your plastic end cap without fracturing it, cut one or two rings off the end of the cap, cutting them roughly the width that will be useful for a handle for your miniature pitcher. To make a 1:12 scale pitcher you need a ring roughly 1/16 to 1/8 inch wide, for a 1:6 (playscale) pitcher for re-ment you can cut your rings double this width.

    Sand both edges of the cut ring and the top edge of your plastic end cap so that the edges are smooth, beginning with the 160 grit sandpaper and then finishing with dry, then wet 600 grit sandpaper. To sand the edges it is easiest to lay a section of sandpaper on a flat surface, then rub the rings or the plastic end cap over the sandpaper in a figure 8 pattern. Avoid sanding and scratching the sides of your plastic end cap or you may end up with a 'frosted' pitcher!

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  • 05 of 12

    Cut and Test the Size of the Handle Sections Against The Main Pitcher Body

    Testing the size of a plastic semi circle against the body of a miniature plastic pitcher.
    Test fitting a half circle of plastic cut from the top opening of a makeup cap against the side of the cap to check the size for a miniature plastic pitcher handle. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To make the handle for the dollhouse scale pitcher, you will need to cut one of your circular sections to form the main part of the handle. I prefer to cut the circle into two parts, roughly 2/3 and 1/3, so that I can turn up/down the ends of the larger semi circlular section to get a better glued surface to hold my handle in place on the side of the pitcher. Check that the semi-circular section you are preparing to use as the handle is fairly even in width. Try to cut away as scrap, any sections of your semi circle which are badly marked or uneven in width.

    When you have a possible handle section cut, check the measurements against the side of the dollhouse pitcher to see if the handle will appear to be in scale when it is assembled. This particular handle is a bit too small. It would work if glued with no bends, but to give the handle a larger attachment point for glue to make the handle stronger, the section of plastic needs to be longer.

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  • 06 of 12

    Shape the Handle of the Dollhouse Miniature Plastic Pitcher

    Shaping a handle for a dollhouse miniature plastic pitcher
    Tweezers and a Heat Embossing Tool Used to Shape a Plastic Handle for a Miniature Pitcher. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When you have a section of plastic that will make a suitable handle for a scale miniature pitcher, hold the end of the handle securely in a pair of bent nose tweezers, and apply heat to the plastic just below the tweeers. This should cause the plastic to soften and collapse against the tweezers. Move the heat source away as soon as you see the edge of the plastic turning clear and softening. Allow the semi circle handle to droop away, bending the plastic back into the center of the handle circle with the tweezers if you can. Allow the bent handle to cool. Repeat on the other end of the handle if you wish.

    You can use this technique, similar to the technique used to bend sheets of plastic, to shape a range of different handles for miniature pitchers.

    When your handle has cooled, rub the sides and ends of the handle against fine sandpaper laid flat on a work surface, to smooth the edges. Wash all traces of sandpaper off the handle carefully and dry the handle before you proceed.

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  • 07 of 12

    Make a Test Spout for a Miniature Pitcher on a Plastic Cap

    A miniature pouring spout is shaped on the end of a plastic cap from a makeup pencil.
    An embossing tool is used to form a test spout for a miniature pitcher on the plastic cap for a makeup pencil. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Before you cut your clear makeup pencil cap to size for the body of the dollhouse miniature pitcher, test making a spout on the length of cap you have, after the rings for the handle have been removed.

    As you don't know exactly how plastic will react, try making a test spout on the length of plastic cap you have left, before you shorten it to the correct length for a miniature pitcher. Once you have tried making a spout, you can either try another on the opposite side of the cap's open edge, or you can trim the cap to the correct size in preparation for making the final spout.

    To Shape A Pitcher Spout in a Plastic Cap

     

    Hold your plastic cap in a clamp or with tweezers to keep your hand out of danger. Aim your heat gun or embossing heat tool, at the top edge on one side of your plastic cap. When you notice the rim of the cap becoming clear, and starting to round off, quickly turn off the heat tool and press an embossing tool, or another narrow metal modelling tool, against the softened edge of the plastic and pull it out to make a spout. You may have to reheat the edge and gently work the plastic several times. The object of this trial is to work out how quickly your plastic softens and whether you have enough time to set down the embossing heat gun, or whether you have to heat the plastic edge while you hold and embossing tool above the heat gun so you will be ready to shape the softened plastic within a second of turning off the tool.

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  • 08 of 12

    Trim Your Plastic Cap To the Final Length For Your Miniature Pitcher

    Slope sided plastic cap braced on modelling clay to hold it level for a straight cut in a mitre box
    To cut a slope sided plastic cap evenly in a miter box, the cap is held square into the box with a support of modelling clay. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When you have tested your heat tool and your technique by making a test spout on your plastic, it is time to cut the plastic cap to the right length for a miniature pitcher and make a proper spout. Most pitchers are ten to twelve inches tall, so cut your pitcher to a length equivalent to 12 inches in your particular scale (one inch for a 1:12 scale pitcher, 2 inches for a 1:6 scale pitcher).

    This time it is very important that the cut end of the tube be square with the bottom of the pitcher, so if necessary, prop your cap in your miterbox with a bit if modelling clay to hold it square before you begin your cut.(see photo) As before, when you are finished cutting the plastic, gently sand the top edge of your pitcher with 160 grit and then 600 grit fine sandpaper.

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  • 09 of 12

    Shape the Finished Spout On Your Miniature Pitcher

    Shaping a heated plastic makeup cap to make a pouring spout for a miniature dollhouse pitcher
    An embossing tool is pressed against the heated plastic edge of a trimmed makeup pencil cap to pull a pouring spout shape into the plastic. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Using the technique that worked for you on your practise spouts, make a spout on the top of your trimmed to height plastic cap. Work slowly and carefully to pull the spout out to a neat even shape for your miniature plastic pitcher.

    Pulling the spout off to one side may make your pitcher have a slanted top. You'll see how to correct that in the next step. For now, get the spout out evenly on one side of the pitcher.

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  • 10 of 12

    Adjust the Angle on the Top of the Miniature Pitcher

    Angle across the top of a miniature plastic pitcher after the spout is pulled into shape.
    After the spout is pulled for a miniature plastic pitcher, the angle across the top of the pitcher may need adjustment. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    After you have pulled a spout shape onto the top of your miniature pitcher, the side which was not softened may have a pronounced angle running down to the spout. To correct this, lay a piece of fine grit (160) sandpaper on a flat work surface and sand off the slant on your pitcher, rubbing the top edge of the pitcher around in a figure 8 on the sandpaper, and checking the pitcher top often to make sure your sanding is removing the slope you want to remove

     

    When you have the top of your pitcher level. Use the 600 grit sandpaper to finish the edges, sanding dry and then wet with the fine sandpaper. Clean off any sanded plastic or grit. If it is necessary to smooth the edge even more, you can gently heat the entire top of the plastic pitcher until it the edge clears. Do not overheat or you will ruin all your hard work to this point!

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  • 11 of 12

    Fit the Ends of the Miniature Pitcher Handle To the Sides of the Pitcher

    Fitting a shaped plastic handle to a dollhouse miniature pitcher
    The shaped handle for a miniature plastic pitcher is filed on the ends with a semi circular file to fit it to the sides of the pitcher. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    With the dollhouse miniature pitcher body and handle complete it is time to fit the ends of the handle to the curved sides of the pitcher. Take a rounded miniature file, or a toothpick wrapped with sandpaper, and file the center of the ends of the handle that will touch the sides of the pitcher. File only small amounts, checking to see how closely the curve on the ends of the handle fits against the sides of the pitcher.

    When you have the fit as close as you can make it, sand the handle ends with fine sandpaper (600 grit) and clean the handle and the body of the pitcher. Set the pitcher and the handle aside to dry thoroughly.

    If necessary you can clean up any scratch marks on the side of your miniature pitcher by using find sanding pads designed for taking scratches out of car paint or plastic. You can usually find these very fine sanding pads or micro mesh sanding pads in automotive shops or online.

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  • 12 of 12

    Weld the Plastic Handle To the Sides of the Dollhouse Pitcher

    Miniature plastic pitcher in dolls house scale made from the plastic cap of an eye shadow pencil.
    Plastic pitcher in dolls' house scale made from the end of a makup pencil cap. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish your miniature pitcher, use clear plastic model cement or plastic weld to glue the ends of the pitcher handle onto your miniature pitcher. First test some glue on a scrap of plastic left over from the pitcher project, to make sure your particular glue is not too 'hot' for the type of plastic you are gluing. If the glue is too strong it can melt your plastic pitcher, or it can cause the plastic to frost.

    If your glue works well for your plastic, position the pitcher spout down, in a bed of modelling clay. Use tweezers to securely hold your handle in position against your pitcher, exactly opposite the spout, just down from the top of the pitcher. Dip a brush in plastic weld glue, and apply it just to the edge of the handle where it touches the pitcher sides, allowing the glue to 'wick' by capillary action under the top handle edge. Hold the handle in place with the tweezers for a few seconds until the glue has set. Check that the base of the handle is securely against the side of the pitcher and set a tiny amount of plastic weld glue to wick under the base of the handle. Press gently down on the handle to help the handle set in place.

    If you are using tube glue, you will have to apply it to the ends of the handle and press the handle exactly into place on the side of the pitcher.

    You can leave your pitcher plain or paint the sides with Sakura Glaze Pens or Pebeo Glass Paints to color it. Test stains and glazes on a bit of scrap plastic first before using them to color the pitcher, as the glazes and stains could react with the plastic.

    If you can find smaller clear plastic caps you can make glasses or clear steins to match your pitcher.

    Have Fun!