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Trash to treasure miniatures from paper- how to change trash to minis for dollhouses, roomboxes and dioramas - T2T

This is 'sposed to be the paperless society? We are drowning in paper!

What can you make with it? Be sure to watch the video at the end - anything can be fabricated from paper!

Also see trash minis, and trash minis organic

Projects - what to create from

brown paper bag

  • use to sand painted finishes smooth
  • crunch up and open repeatedly, gives a leatherlike finish - wallpaper walls? use for books? trunks?



  • Make some shiny tiles for floors, walls or countertops by cutting up glossy gift boxes into squares and gluing in a tile pattern.  Some glossy greeting cards are stiff enough for this too!

  • Bentley Minis  - has a series of YouTube videos making a dollhouse and furnishings from cardboard Amazon boxes 



  • small pictures from the back of old wall calendars make great pictures to frame , and save the larger ones with landscapes for backgrounds in roomboxes.

cardboard, and corrugated cardboard

  • wood siding, roof
  • Small scale clapboard siding: flatten the “flutes” of a single faced corrugated cardboard with a tool handle.

  • The ccorrugated packing from a light bulb, when slit down on one side and turned inside out can be used as a garden shed or outhouse. You can also make realistic looking shutters out of it, just frame it with some poster board and paint over.

  • make Spanish roof tiles


dots from punching holes in paper

  • fish scales on your mermaid - layer them (staggered) on her lower body.
  • to make a little cupcake "cup", press a dowel that is smaller in circumference than the punched out circle in the middle of the circle, and pull up the sides of the paper. Fill it with a Fimo goodie.
  • use *as is* for coasters under tiny Coke bottles.
  • fold in half - cut out tiny hearts.
  • cut triangle shaped snips from bottom, side, top = butterfly
  • fold in quarters - snip little pieces = snowflake, doily
  • open & string on a thread with a needle - garland
  • shingles for a DH DH. Glue on so the circles overlap - Color with artists pastel sticks. Apply stick, then use fingers to blend and soften the effect.
  • mini coffee filters. Lay on Styrofoam meat tray. Use old ball point pen or other instrument to press in the cupped shape.
  • sink strainer - color with gray pastel, punch holes with needle
  • golden pancakes on the griddle


egg cartons

  • planters - from Candid Canine Blog
  • floors
  • Make brick facades from the flat areas of molded paper egg cartons. Mark out the brick courses and impress the grooves with a blunt scriber or ball-point pen. Glue in place, paint the panels a brick color, and paint in the mortar. The slight unevenness of the molded paper surface provides a wonderful brick-like texture.
  • flatten egg cartons, paint them with a light grey acrylic paint and allow to dry. Use a variety of different color chalks and spray with shellac to set. After tearing into "stones", they look great.
  • To store egg cartons, tear into pieces throw into a blender with some water and make a mache. Then flatten the mixture in a flat baking pan and bake slowly until dry.
  • Or wet them and pass through a pasta machine, which creates interesting cracks and texture. See Judy Ferguson's Garden Entry. Note that there is a different texture on either side of the carton.
  • Egg carton paper mache - from About.com
  • Egg Carton Flower Pots - from drorasminimundo blog
  • There is an article about Egg Carton Stones in the Miniature CollectorMagazine, Aug  09 - Page 18.



  • check the inside. Business envelopes have a design which can be used to line steamer trunks, as wallpaper, flooring pitchers or plates.
  • gold coloured insides can be used to mimic brass - a pot? range hood?
  • paper sweetner packets - the crimped edge is good for trims in QS, also for cupcake/muffin cups.


greeting cards

  • dunno what to do with those leftover birthday, anniversary, Christmas cards? Make a gift box to house a mini gift or swap item. If you haven't enough plain bottoms, save those cardboard boxes from your bakery...The top usually is pristine...

magazine clippings

  • to make a magazine picture look like a real painting, cut it out with a little extra around the edges.  Pin it down to a piece of foam core or something that's been covered with saran wrap....then take an old brush and dab glue on it to imitate brush strokes, let dry. You might have to repeat the glue dabbing step to get it right. Cut it out. Frame or stand on easel.   Granny Stover's "YES" glue is very, very thick and makes wonderful "paint swirls" to imitate an oil painting.

  • cut circles for plates from catalogues, using the prints to advantage. Glue to heavier paper, cup the inside of the plate on a mouse pad as you would a flower. Paint the edges gold, and you have a collectors plate!

  • cut out clothing illustrations and turn these into clothes for your home's residents.
  • make wall  clocks, mantle clocks
  • magazines can provide you framed photos for your home, paintings, rugs, miniature books, movies, and cds.


mat board


paint chips

  • picture mats, boxes, floor and wall tiles, kitchen countertops, book covers
  • mosaics




  • If you mangle and mash and smoosh and roll paper enough... it becomes very very soft... and much like flannelette in many ways! I needed bright yellow fabric for a rain slicker and souwester... to hang on a coat tree.  When I had both pieces just the way I liked them, I covered them in clear nail polish to get the shiny rubbery effect.
  • bedspread
  • make a piece of opaque paper translucent by rubbing some clear vegetable oil (canola, corn etc.) into a piece of bargain-priced paper (it's thinner than the good stuff) and put it on a rack to let the oils soak in. After 2-3 minutes you can check it by holding it up to a light, and touch up any spots you missed. When you are satisfied with the overall transparency, use a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil, then lightly spray one side with a matte sealer, and when dry, spray the other side. Taa-dah! :-) A sheet of semi-translucent paper for Japanese screens and lanterns, window blinds and all sorts of things. Add colour with a thin wash, sparkles or anything else you can come up with and have fun, 'cause it's better (and cheaper) to make your own! :-)
  • paper scraps - paint with washes of green, and let dry. Use paper punches to cut leaves, flower petals. Hooked on Miniatures and Hanky Panky Miniatures sell punches.
  • scherenschnitte, or silhouettes - see this Pinterest board by Peggy Shealy
  • paper lace strips - to decorate your mini shelves, from About.com
  • paper art crafts and models - Pinterest board by Pauline Coombes, shows how versatile this medium is.


paper napkin


print ads

  • check the flyers and catalogues for labels, book covers, pictures



  • Making a brick insert for a fireplace? no egg cartons? no fresh sandpaper? Are you sure? - check your rubbish bin for really, really messed up pieces. Take them out, paint them a nice brick colour, and then brush and stipple them with different earthy colours, and let dry. Cut the bricks and glue to the inside of the fireplace.  Drybrush with black to dirty it up a bit, and glue the whole thing to the back wall. 
  • All-purpose craft scissors can be used to cut the bricks, but a craft knife and steel ruler are better. Scissors sometimes stray, resulting in bricks that aren't all exactly the same width. Mark out a grid on the back of the sheet of sandpaper (after painting the front), and then cut away. Store the surplus bricks for the future. You sometimes need a few bricks for a project, like this time with the fireplace back. Most bricks measure 8 x 18 mm.
  • Some sandpapers are brick coloured, and can be used as is, but it does look more interesting if you add a little bit of shading and stippling to the sheet before cutting. Paint the background gray before you glue the bricks down, and leave a tiny space between the bricks to show the cement.



  • use stamps e.g. for paintings


typing paper



toilet paper rolls

  • chairs (see video below)
  • wishing well
  • hot water heater in basement - see roombox by Chris P on laundry page
  • furniture cabinet  - from Small House, Little World (Finnish)






Inspiring pages

Beauties with Paper - Pinterest board by Vilmus

Paper - Part 1, Pinterest board by Gary B Sokol

Pret-a-papier - Daily Mail article, AMAZING!

Printable Paper Dolls - Pinterest board by Corona Holland


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