Making Miniatures – wooden showcase shelf

Miniature bookshelf for my friend's 2020 Christmas gift

Miniature bookshelf for my friend’s 2020 Christmas gift

Last year, you might remember that I made a few little furniture/decorative pieces for my friend who collects and displays fashion dolls. (Like the Asian inspired shelf, or some of the other Making Miniatures posts)

Well, before covid shut everything down, I used the maker studio’s laser cutter for a few other things as well, and for Christmas 2020 I ended up finishing them off and giving them to my friend as well.  (Her Instagram, @CanadianFashionDoll isn’t really being used currently, but maybe she’ll be up and running again?)

One of the pieces I wanted to make was a mid-century style showcase shelf – the kind of shelf not just for books, but to display artwork, vases, or maybe even to hang favourite clothing?

mid century shelf

mid century shelf – direct link from Pinterest

My inspiration was a shelving unit kind of like this one (though apparently I didn’t save my inspiration, because I’m not able to find it now…) with a totally open back.  However… I had a sneaking suspicion when I designed the cutting pattern in illustrator, that I would totally forget where all the pieces went, so I also cut out a rectangle, with the lines of the shelf engraved into the wood.

When I cut it – I figured I could use the back if I wanted to – but at least if I chose not to – I’d know exactly where all my pieces went.

… well that was my intention…

Of course, when I went to make the shelf – things didn’t line up where I thought they should. I suspect that I may have left a few pieces of wood behind in the laser cutter/maker studio, or perhaps forgot to include everything in the digital file.

Also there was some warping in the wood – which in the small pieces made no difference… but in the long pieces for the sides, and the large back board – there was an impact for sure. A friend told me to dampen the wood, and then let it dry flat under weight – but I didn’t have time for that in time for 2019 Christmas gift-giving.

So… I abandoned the project and make something else for her (which I realized I never blogged about, so I should get on that!) and set the shelf aside.

Fast forward to 2020

Miniature bookshelf for my friend's 2020 Christmas gift

Miniature bookshelf for my friend’s 2020 Christmas gift

Well 2020 was a wretched year, and frankly I had NO money to buy gifts. So, I went back to the shelf project, tried to flatten the wood as directed by a friend, and with possible pieces missing, needed to entirely re-design the project.

I’d run out of wood glue, so opted to use tacky white glue for the assembly instead. I also had some leftover small L-shaped pieces (with both ends the same length) which I installed as ‘brackets’ to the shelves which also served to further enhance the strength of the structure.  I painted the whole thing white with a few coats first of craft-quality paint, and then finally a coat of student grade acrylic art paint. I did put a thin coat of the gloss varnish I had, but it didn’t really have the GLEAM I wanted, so I added to that a coat of self-leveling clear gloss gel which worked perfectly.  I need to remember this for next time to save myself the extra work and drying time!

Miniature bookshelf for my friend's 2020 Christmas gift

Miniature bookshelf for my friend’s 2020 Christmas gift

Although I liked the open design, I wasn’t totally happy with it in function, and had a cute idea about how to ‘explain’ the very large space at the top (where basically I didn’t have the missing horizontal shelves…) – hanging a framed picture. Of course, that means the shelf would need a back.

For the back, I used some mat board (since the wood was still moderately warped, and wasn’t a perfect fit to the new design) and found some beautiful scrapbook paper to fill in as ‘wallpaper’.  Of course, the 12″x12″ scrapbook paper was shorter than the (approx 14″) tall shelf, so it meant some creative piecing, hiding the join behind one of the horizontal shelves so it appears seamless.

Miniature books

As you can see from most of the photos, I also made a bunch of tiny miniature books to go on this shelf too. Some of them are stacks of books, which are good for filling large shelf spaces – especially on low shelves…

These were mostly printables from miniature sites (I will have to go find the URL) but I edited them a lot too – changing colours, but also dropping in different book spines so that it wouldn’t all just look the same. These are just glued to card stock, cut out, scored, folded, and glued into shape – they’re hollow inside (so kinda fragile). After assembly, the fold lines were a little off-colour, so I touched them up with a bit of watercolour pencil, giving the edges a more ‘worn in’ look, rather than “oh look, white paper underneath”.

I also made a number of individual books – again from printable sites, glued onto cardstock, and the ‘pages’ in between are mat board cut to size, and then the edge sort of ruffed up so that the individual fibers would separate. This made it a LOT easier to glue the spines into the spines of the books.



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Miniature bookshelf for my friend's 2020 Christmas gift

Miniature bookshelf for my friend’s 2020 Christmas gift

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