Scrap Happy in Miniature

What’s a ScrapHappy post?

It’s an opportunity, or an excuse, to make something entirely out of scraps. Our host Kate, of Tall Tales from Chiconia, encourages the use of scraps to make something useful or beautiful or both.

If you would like to join us, please see the details at the end of this post.

Several years ago, I bought a beautiful felted wool birdhouse, hung it in a tree, and patiently waited for a nesting bird to make it home. How could they resist something so appealing?

The wooly nest has a small opening, soft, felted wool for warmth, and it’s even perchless to avoid predators.

I hung the cozy nest in different trees and at different heights. Year after year, nothing, and eventually, I gave up. I forgot about it, mostly. Earlier this year, I removed it from the tree, inspected it for insects, and brought it inside.

The wool was dirty and crusty from years outdoors. Even the paper wasps were indifferent. I rinsed the nest in warm water and watched years of dirt and grime fall away. My wooly nest came clean almost immediately.

In honor of ScrapHappy June, I turned the wooly nest into a fairy house.

woolen bird house

Felted wool birdhouse converted into a home for visiting fairies.

Once washed and dried, I removed the bottom stitching and inserted a glass sauce jar.

Glass jar viewed through nesting hole.

Now it can stand up on its own.

Jar inserted inside the birdhouse.

I tucked the wool leaves into the opening and added a piece of broken jewelry to make a window that a woodland faerie might enjoy.

glass jewel faerie garden window

An old piece of glass jewelry makes a superb window

The faerie house sits nestled under our Little Free Library.

Woolen faerie house sitting at the base of the faux tree.

My second scrappy project this month involved revitalizing a miniature version of a Little Free Library. The little, LFL is made from a cardboard box, with matchbook covers and toothpicks inside to form books. Twice, the heavy winds sent the miniature library tumbling through the yard. I knew sturdier measures were in order.

I employed a pair of joined wooden chopsticks that could be plunged deep into the soil, but they looked too new and shiny. I rubbed the sticks with the contents of my morning Roobios, and that did the trick.

chopstick legs

I used chopsticks to make legs for the miniature LFL.

chopsticks stained with tea

My morning tea leaves made a lovely stain.

The wee Little Free Library is in the shadow of the larger one, staked firmly into the ground. If your line of vision is in sync with your imagination, you can spot it from the sidewalk.

Refurbished miniature LFL.

Faerie’s can grab a book from the miniature LFL nearby.

As seen from the walkway.

I love repurposing items into something fun and whimsical. Creating from scraps is both challenging and rewarding, not to mention relaxing. I highly recommend it.

Check out the links below on June 15, 2020, to see the other scrap-happy posts.

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, and Vera

The Making of The Miniature Little Free Library

mac approved mini little free library

Photo shoot in the fairy garden before mailing the LFL

This is a follow on post to It’s the Little Things (Even Libraries) published last week. You can catch up with part one here.

It took me years to realize that everyone creates differently. I admire designers that can sketch an idea, and then make it come to life. I tend to work in reverse. Ideas rattle around in my head where they’re examined and discarded. These ideas simmer in my brain before a usable plan comes together.

My first fairy garden miniature library started with a small box. I thought I would do the same with this one, but none of the boxes in my stash seemed right. I visited a craft store, put a couple of items in my cart, then put them all back. Eventually I left the store with a small container of blue paint and a receipt for seventy-five cents.

Back home, using a photo of Carrie’s library as a guide, I cut pieces from a thin piece of cardboard. I wanted the library to have a working door, so I cut a small rectangle in the body of the library. I cut a cardboard frame for the door, and backed it with clear packaging from a packet of batteries.

Carries library with miniature

Carrie’s full-sized library on the left, the miniature version on the right

mini little free library construction

Constructing the miniature library

It took three coats of paint to cover the glossy white cardboard, but after two days the color looked even.

If I had it to do over again, I would install the door first, and then assemble the library. It would have been handy to have fairy-sized hands that day. I persevered.

After taping the plastic to the door, I glued a tiny hinge in place. On the library itself, I poked two small holes into the opening, then used tiny brads to hold the hinge in place.

mini little free library door hardware

Door hardware

On the opposite side of the door I attached a “doodad” from my stash, holding that in place with another brad. This allows the door to open and close.

mini little free library open door

Miniature LFL with a working door

Since the opening is small, I made a removable roof so adding books is a breeze.

Carrie’s library sits on a wooden post surrounded by a circle of stones. To replicate the look, I used a cinnamon stick, a small metal lid and a handful of pebbles from my fairy garden stash. I hot-glued the cinnamon stick to the inside of the lid, and then glued rocks into and around it. This gives it weight and stability. I downloaded a copy of Carrie’s library, and photo-copy reduced the two signs to scale. Then I headed to the kitchen, tore off a corner of a box of cat food cans, and used the cardboard to mount the signs.

mini little free library take a book sign

Miniature library stand made from a cinnamon stick, a candle lid, pebbles and hot glue

Then on to the books. Again, lots of ideas tried and discarded before I came up with a plan. I used the binding from a couple of paper sample books passed on to me years ago. I cut through all the layers of the sample booklets, and then cut sections down to size.

mini little free library book making supplies

Sourcing supplies for the miniature books. Upper left, clockwise: sample books used for structure, book covers made from a recycled Humane Society calendar, one of my dad’s vintage stamps, floral Washi tape, Graphic 45 printed paper

Each tiny book has a unique cover with a small story to go with it. (The actual books are blank inside, so you have to use your imagination.)

I wrote a six-word story to go with each book, something meaningful to me or to Carrie. Here they are:

Trust, betrayed. Rescued dog’s love, restored.

Flowers. Achingly beautiful. Harbingers of spring.

Magic. How we see the world.

Wanted child. Your new family awaits.

The Wonderland of Alys in miniature.**

Daddy’s stamps lovingly travel the world.

Dragon Folklore. Escape inside a book.

mini little free library collage

Can you match the books with the six-word stories?

**The Wonderland of Alys is a collage art piece by Pauline King, a friend and fellow blogger. The original hangs in our home. The tiny replica of this piece is a sticker, sent to me at Christmas by Julia of Defeat Despair. I couldn’t resist turning one of those art stickers in to a tiny, make-believe book.

Pauline King art the wonderland of alys

Not Your Grandmother’s Bird Bath

Last summer, a friend of mine passed on this charming, child-sized table and chairs. They sat in the front garden for a while, available to our neighbor’s daycare kids. Small children don’t do much sitting, as you know, so they didn’t get much action.

child's table and chairs white mosaic

Child-sized mosaic table and chairs

At one point I planned to use the pint-sized furniture to hold potted plants. Eventually that plan morphed out of necessity: The table and one of the chairs is now a bird bath, and a source of water for bees, butterflies and squirrels.

squirrel and bird bath from chair

MacGyvered Bird Bath and Watering Hole

We’ve had a wonderful series of storms passing through all month, but last summer was a different story. When I spotted a squirrel drinking the morning dew off of our garden umbrella, it spurred me into action. I bought a pair of heavy-duty dog food bowls, and filled them with water for all the thirsty critters that pass through our garden.

squirrel closeup on umbrella

California Grey Squirrel looking for a drink

Finding a good spot in the back garden was easy: one of the bowls sits elevated on a gardening bench out of harm’s way.

 squirrel drinking from bowl

Dog food bowl + water = happy squirrel

It was trickier in the front garden, since the planting bed at the curb is only a few inches tall.

Short term, I grabbed the small table, turned it upside down, and rested the bowl between the table legs. It worked perfectly. It was tacky, but effective.

In order to improve the look, I bought a can of Forged Hammered Spray Paint, masked off the butterfly mosaic, then painted the rest. It looks earthier than the original white paint and I really like the hammered effect. It’s also a nice match for the bowl.

DIY bird bath collage steps

Table and chairs, before and after painting, forged hammered spray paint and a large dog food bowl

I put the chair in the center of the planting bed, added the upside-down table to the chair, then wedged the bowl between the chair legs. It’s now accessible, but harder to negotiate if you’re a cat. The table After removing a drowned bee, I added a small ceramic bird so the bees and butterflies have a shallower place to drink.

Do you know the expression, necessity is the mother of invention? It would never have dawned on me to turn this charming furniture into a bird bath, but I’m so glad I did.

bird bath bowl in the rain

Rain-filled bird bath