Tips & Tricks

Benzie Basics: Miniatures


Working in miniature tutorial

Over the last two months we have worked on creating a miniature felt creature from a Cynthia Treen kit, adding fun accessories, and the foundation for a miniature room. This month we are going to make all the fun pieces to furnish your room! This will be a general guide to get the juices flowing, but I encourage you to use your creative powers to really make it your own!

Skill Level: All

Time: Varies

Craft supplies


The possibilities are endless but these are things to start with... plus everything in your junk drawer!

Craft Knife
Metal Ruler
Round Nose Pliers
Wire Cutters
Craft Paint
Assorted Sizes of Balsa Wood
Shrinky Dinks
Wooden Dowel
Straight Pins
Polymer Clay
Cyanoacrylate Glue
Double Sided Tape
Hot Glue Gun
Battery Powered LED Fairy Lights*
Rubber Earbud Cover*
Flexible Thin Tubing (such as Heat-Shrink Tubing)*

*Specific to lighting, if desired

General Project Tips

- Avoid perfection! Everything you will be making is so small, that small errors or imperfections will not show! Just enjoy yourself and remember that no one will be looking at it from 6” away, like you will be when you are making the pieces.

- When working with balsa wood, make your cuts with a fresh, sharp blade and metal straight edge. When you are cutting with the grain, be gentle with the blade because the wood will be very easy to cut through. When you are cutting across the grain it will be a little more difficult and require more pressure.

- Balsa wood is easily sanded. If you have a table or chair or other piece that is wobbly, put your sandpaper on a flat surface and carefully rub the piece across the surface until it is flat.

- CA glue is sticky! You will get it on your fingers. Don’t worry too much about it. It will eventually wear off or, if it is really bothering you, you can remove it with acetone. Just don’t stick your fingers together!

- You are going to make a huge mess of your workspace. It is inevitable, so be prepared. Cover any surfaces you don’t want glue or paint on, have a garbage pail nearby, and shut the door when you are done so you don’t have to look at it!


I made a sewing room previously, and I am making a wood shop for this demonstration. Once you have decided what your room will be, think about what kind of furniture you would find in that room. 

Table - Cut a tabletop from the balsa wood. This can be various sizes, but roughly  around 2” x 5”. Cut four legs for the table. Again, the size can vary but, for scale, 2" to 2.5” works well. Using the CA glue, attach the legs to the tabletop. You can add a skirt around the table to really make it look authentic!

Miniature balsa wood table

- If your table is something specific, like a workbench in my case, think about what accessories you can add. I have added a side vice using a metal charm I found in my craft stash, so that the bench looks like a Roubo.

Miniature wooden workbench

Chair - For my sewing room, I purchased a small desk and chair from the clearance section in a craft store. For my wood shop I made Ludwig a stool using a big button covered in Carmine wool blend felt and glued wire to the underside.

Miniature sewing table

Miniature button and wire stool

Material Finishes

One detail that can really make your room pop is to consider the finishes for the pieces in the room. Balsa wood can easily be painted, stained (using the stain markers for floors in a well-ventilated area), or intentionally aged by marking or sanding the edges of the wood.

- For the ladder in the wood shop, I scratched up the wood with my nails and some sandpaper, and then stained and splattered it with a bit of paint so that it looked just like a super old ladder you would find in your grandpa’s garage.

Miniature balsa wood ladder

Decorating the Room

Once you have some furniture for the room, start thinking about what you might want on the walls.

Photographs - Using any photo editing software, import photos into a collage, and shrink it down really small. Each photo should be about 1” max on the long side. Here you can see the collage I made for the workshop, which also includes the covers for some books and bottles (more on that below).

Miniature photo collage

- Have your collage printed and then cut out each individual photo. You can frame them with some wood and hang with a string, double sided tape, or make a little pin board for them!

Miniature framed pictures

Shelves - Wall shelves can hold tools or anything specific to your room. For the sewing room I have some fabric pre-cuts made from scraps, books, a needle book, and quilting rulers made from Shrinky Dinks.

Miniature shelf decorations

Books - Take a photo of the front, back, and spine of the book, and then put these together in a photo collage to make a long cover (back first, then spine, then front cover). Once printed, cut the covers out and also cut out 3-4 pieces of blank white paper the same size. Fold all the pieces together and you have a cute mini book!

Bottles - I also printed labels to make glue and wood stain bottles, which I wrapped around pieces of a cut and painted dowel rod.

Miniature room decorations


If you really want to impress folks, add some lighting! LED fairy lights are inexpensive and very versatile. I am going to show you how to transform a few simple items into a goose neck lamp.

Lighting supplies

- Flip an earbud cover inside out. See how it forms the shade of a lamp? Next, cut your fairy light string so there is just one light on the string.

Miniature lighting parts

- I am going to put the lamp on the bench in the wood shop, because the bench sits along the wall and this will allow me to mount the battery pack on the outside of the room. Punch a hole in the desk/table/bench where you would like your light, and also punch a hole in the wall behind where the bench is going to sit.

- String the light through the wall and the bench. Feed the wire through the washer, the heat shrink tubing, and the inside out earbud so that the light is inside the earbud.

- Put the end of the heat shrink tubing over the skinny end of the earbud. Using a heat gun or hair dryer, shrink the tubing around the wire, bending it into shape as you go. Feed the open end of the tubing into the hole in the washer, pulling the wire tight from the back. Tada! Working light!

However you choose to mount your battery pack, make sure it is accessible to change the batteries.

Installing miniature lighting

Additional Details

Polymer Clay - Clay allows you to make different shapes that would be hard to make out of rigid materials. You can shape cups, food, tools... just about anything! After it is baked per the package directions, you can apply paint, pastels, and glaze. Here are things I have made with polymer clay: tea and coffee, a bundt cake, a glue cup, a dustpan, and a tiny gold thimble. 

Miniature clay accessories

Sewing Room Overview

Miniature details include: a cutting mat made from an old mat of mine, a felt rotary cutter, a pressing pad with an iron from Monopoly, a Shrinky Dink ruler, bolts of fabric and batting, a knitting basket, a partly sewn quilt under the sewing machine, tomato pin cushions, a sewing case with embroidery floss, buttons, and spools of thread, plants, photos of friends, and a hand woven carpet.

Miniature sewing room

Wood Shop Overview

Miniature details include: Assorted tools (handmade and purchased), a log and hatchet, various wood clamps with their own storage, a first aid kit, a fraction to decimal conversion chart, paper towels, a photo of his partner, Dandelion, magnetic bins to store nails and screws, a broom made from a paintbrush, a leather apron and sawdust! (It wouldn’t be authentic without it!)

Miniature wood shop

So what do you think? Are you excited to try making your own mini room? I would love to see photos if you do! Thanks for following along with my miniature series!

Finished miniature wood shop

Thank you to Maker Team member Dani for designing and writing this amazing miniature series! You can follow her on Instagram @knitty34. Check out parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series and stay tuned for more tutorials from the Benzie Design Maker Team!