I’d been toying with the idea of DIY miniature dollhouses for a couple of years. And, like everything else on the Internet after you click that one link, my social media channels started showing ads for Rolife’s Miniature dollhouses. The Greenhouse is ostensibly the best selling kit, so I figured I’d try my hand at it.
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail
Before I actually started glueing anything together, I watched quite a few videos. This video by Cris.Crafts speeds up the process of unboxing and building the kit. However, this video by Kixkillradio Miniatures showed me that when it comes to miniatures, you’re only limited by your imagination. This came in handy when a few “happy accidents” occurred.
I also looked at the Amazon reviews to see what extra items were needed when buying this kit. Glue was the top recommendation.
Here are a few more I learned on the way:
- An X-acto knife, box cutter or blade. You want this VERY sharp (so be careful and maybe do the cutting of pieces while sober…)
- Scissors: Fabric scissors, paper scissors and embroidery scissors were all used in the making of my miniatures.
- A self-healing cutting mat. Unless you want new decorative etchings on your table.
- Acrylic paint and assortment of brushes. If you want to change up the colour scheme, acrylics tend to be the cheapest method of getting good, opaque coverage.
- Toothpicks or a needle tool. Because the glue will inevitably bubble over, and a toothpick is a quick way to grab a small gob of it and apply it to small pieces.
- Origami paper, scrapbooking paper, white card stock and black card stock. I prefer using papers with small motifs or patterns so they don’t look out of scope in the 1:24 scale miniature. Or paint my own (watercolours are very forgiving).
Top tip: I didn’t know this until my fourth kit, but it’s a good idea to scan all the pages of the papers you have to cut.In case you have a happy accident. Or several.
ABC, easy as 1, 2,3
I followed the steps in order, building the shelves first, and then the smaller decorative pieces. I only started taking pictures once the decorative pieces were stuck on the floor.
Things I learned with this kit:
- The transparent glue dries relatively quickly. Add as little glue as you can, hold the pieces together for a count of 10. If the pieces aren’t stuck together by then add a LITTLE BIT more glue. I did not. As a result, I see several places where there’s excess glue (no one else seems to see them, or at least no one says anything).
- Add your own touches. This is probably the most important. By the time I was done with all the big shelves and decor items, I had a big brown bag that was supposed to read “Flower.” Being the kind of girl I am, I changed it to a Big Bag o’ Weed, which brought me to add several weed references to the miniature.
- The transparent lid of the greenhouse is the single most evil thing in the kit. Actually, it’s every single transparent acrylic that’s included in the kits as I always get them caked with glue. Anyone have tips for me?
- Double-check the instructions. Ok, that’s not a fair statement. I didn’t learn that (as future miniatures will show), but as a result of speeding by the instructions I glued everything on the wrong side of the floor. I had to carefully remove all the items, doing my best to avoid bending, breaking and otherwise destroying them. Then I ended up painting the floor. Fun times.
Things I improved after this kit
- I became a lot more confident when painting and customizing the kits. In subsequent kits, I wanted to keep Daikoku’s official colour scheme of white with dark accents, and the occasional bright ray of yellow on a backdrop of greenery. After I did the small customizations on the greenhouse, it was less scary to paint the floor or the walls in my next few kits.
- I learned about the differences in sandpaper grit. After this kit, I learned which sandpaper to use to remove paint from the wood, which to use to prep the wood and which to use to smooth out the paint. I’m sure most people know, but just in case I’ll let you in on my secret in the next kit blog post.
- I picked up polymer clay again. While it’s incredibly impressive and satisfying to use odds and ends, recycled materials, leftover craft pieces and the actual pieces they give you in the kits, you just can’t find bongs and pipes at a 1:24 scale. And trying to make them out of leftover craft items didn’t look quite so pretty as the ones I sculpted. But more on that when we talk about Kit 2: Daikoku’s Coffeeshop.
Under the loupe: Reefer References
Big Bag of Weed on the front left shelf
Daikoku Sticker on Easel as artwork (has a bong and bags of weed)
A marijuana leaf on the floor, under the front shelf
The lady in the painting to the left of the door has a joint in her mouth (which is shoddily drawn in)
The marijuana plant in front of the store
The Devil’s Lettuce sign in the bottom bin
Life at 1:24
You’re going to make mistakes. Your hands will be covered in glue. You’re going to notice all the places you mess up. But you’re the only one who will.
When you’re done, no one wil know what you could’ve done better. The ‘mistakes’ that you fix become what make your miniature kit your own.
You also get an incredible high from people complimenting you, looking for reefer references, and from finishing something you created. Actually, just cutting up the monstera plant and having someone recognize it (those plants were really hard to cut!) for what it is is pretty amazing.
Where you can pick up your supplies
Check out these local businesses to see where you can stock up on supplies:
- Get the kits at Treehouse Toys;
- The Gilded Rabbit has all the acrylics, paintbrushes, glue and tools you might need;
- Hobby Wholesale has you covered if you need additional lights, shrink tube or set decor items (like grass or fake rocks).
(Please note that the completed kits at the store are not for for sale.)