First of all, here is a link to the awesome Realistic Tree Bark tutorial by Sharon Ojala. Her tutorial was the inspiration for this dollhouse project. This would make an adorable dollhouse or diorama for any doll. You can make it as big or small as you like to fit any size doll. It is an affordable project that can be made with things you probably already have like cardboard, newspaper and glue.
I started off with two plain unfinished cardboard hatboxes from Hobby Lobby. I stacked a medium oval on top of a large round and glued them together. You could use plain cardboard and just curve it into the shape that you want instead of using the hatboxes.
I used an X-acto knife to cut the boxes into the shape I wanted. I decided to leave the top open to make more light for taking pictures. I carved away at the top first.
Then I cut the bottom floor of the dollhouse from the lower box. I cut two round windows in the lower floor to add some extra light in there. I added an extra piece of cardboard with the shape of tree roots and glued it to the bottom. Then I started adding the layers of newspaper. I had never tried paper mache before, but it's pretty simple. I made a solution of one part white glue to two parts water. Dip strips of torn newspaper in the glue/water solution, squeeze off the excess, and apply it to the cardboard. The first layer was applied flat and smooth. I wrapped that first smooth layer around the edges of the box where I had cut it. Let the paper dry completely between layers.
The next layer is where the magic begins. Lay the glue/water newspaper strip on the outside of the house, then scrunch and wrinkle it to make it look like tree bark.
Cover the entire outside including the root area with this wrinkled scrunched up pieces of newspaper.
Once the glue was completely dried, I began painting the outside completely with a base coat of brown craft paint.
Next I covered the outside with a coat of Minwax Wood Stain in Light Oak. This did a good job of soaking into all the tiny crevices of the bark.
At this point the inside is still completely bare.
Once the stain was dry, I came back and started adding other colors to the bark. Black in the deeper creases to add depth, and dry brushed lighter tan, yellow, orange and green colors over some parts to add dimension.
Moving to the inside, the walls and the floors are covered with wooden coffee stir sticks. I followed Sharon's technique from her Wooden Floor Tutorial video. Coffee stir sticks are wonderful to work with. These small lightweight wood strips can be cut to the size and shape you need with regular household scissors. They cut smooth without splintering. These are individually cut to size, dry fitted in place, then glued in with a hot glue gun.
The wooden coffee stir sticks would completely cover the walls and the floor, but this would leave an exposed cardboard edge around the front of the floors.
I used garden cutters to cut a grapevine wreath into small pieces, then cut the pieces in half and glued them along the edge of the floor to give it a nice finished edge. I applied a coat of MinWax Wood Stain to the walls and floors.
I glued tiny grapevine wreaths to the windows.
I got the idea for the wreath window treatments from Disney's Tinker Bell movie.
Here is the dollhouse all done, ready for furniture.
I added metal steps to the side of the dollhouse. These were a thrift store find. I'm not even sure what the item was that these came off of, maybe some kind of candle holder. I should have taken a picture of it before I broke it to get them off.
I added tiny silk flowers to the outside of the tree trunk and around the roots. The moss is from Hobby Lobby's model train section. It is called Lichen, and it had a mix of both light and dark green mosses. I love the look of the Lichen, but I need to find another craft project to use it on because I have a ton left over. I made the little mushrooms from polymer clay.
I love the look of the back of the dollhouse as much as the front.
Here is the front with all of the furnishings.
The stove is a thrift store find. It is made of cast iron.
The chairs are from Hobby Lobby's Garden department. These are fairy garden chairs. They are made of resin, but look like branches. Perfectly sized for RealPuki.
The adorable bed, tables, and stools are all from the Etsy shop, Rustic Miniatures.
Twinkle loves her new fairy house.
The windows are the perfect height for Twinkle.
She's watching for company to come by.
Come by and visit anytime.
And don't forget to take time to stop and smell the flowers.
I just uploaded a video tour of Twinkle's dollhouse. Click the picture below to watch the video tour.