The Great DIY Doll Table Challenge part 4

Continued from part 3

Try inserting the legs into the shelf to see how they fit.  If they’re too snug to go in, carefully trim just a hair from the notch.  If they are too loose, perhaps add a little bit of Dap to tighten them up.  You can now glue the legs into the shelf.  Make sure that the prettiest “feet” are  all eyeballing1pointed in the same direction.  Put some glue into one of the notches and let is sit for a few minutes to firm up a bit.  If you’re using hot glue you have to work very fast.  The Elmer’s didn’t take as long as I thought it might.    Now set a leg into that notch, making sure to match up the marks you make on the leg to the notch.

eyeballing2This photo is very important!!!  While you’re waiting for the glue to firm and you can still adjust it, hold the piece out in front of you and “eye ball” it from this perspective.  You’re looking to see if it’s level in the notch.  You don’t want one end tipping down (which causes the other to tip up).  You want the legs to be very level.  When you see that it looks as perfect as you can get it, let it dry without moving it.  You’ll eyeball each leg in this way.  When you glue in the third leg, have a flat surface near you, like a table top.  At the point where it’s almost dry, but you could still move it if you needed to, set the table base (yes, it’s now a real table base) on the flat surface and check if all three legs are touching the “floor”.  If they’re not really stable and flat on the “floor”, adjust the third one and then let it dry without moving out of position.

The table base can now sit on those three legs without assistance.  Glue in the fourth leg and once again, before it completely sets, put it on a flat surface and adjust it so that all of the feet are solidly on the floor.  Keep eyeballing it from several angles to see how level it sits and if all the legs look like they’re in appropriate positions, mirroring each other.  Let it dry.  Remember: don’t attach the table top yet!

The first coats were in Ecru vinyl paint (available at any craft store).  Then I spent a bit of time practiced my dry painting1brush technique on the bottom of the table top and the legs in an off-white.  Photographing it showed me that I really painting2didn’t want that light a table.  You can see that my legs aren’t perfect….yet.

Finally, I went for a golden brown wood tone effect with Gold Metallic craft paint and Raw Sienna vinyl paint.  Using the dry brush technique, first a paintslayer of Gold and then Raw Sienna, then Gold, then Raw Sienna.  Another photo told me it was too Gold.  You can see that it looks really ruff and awful.  Fear not.  I’ve fallen in love paint3with clear mixing glaze and have been using it on my furniture legs.  It creates lots of depth instead of the flat looking surface that a single color makes.  I got some at Lowe’s.  Many company’s make glaze.  There are YouTube videos showing how artist use it in painting to create depth.

I made a mixture of about half and half Gold Metallic and Raw Sienna, with just a touch of glaze1Red to warm it up and a touch of Ecru to lighten it.  I mix in enough glaze to double that amount.  So that’s half mixed color and half glaze.  This is done in small batches because each layer of glaze has to dry.  I set it outside in the heat to dry and it didn’t take too long.  In this series of photos you can see the gradual change as it smoothed out the glaze3roughness of my amateur dry brushing job, without loosing all the texture.  You want to be able to see what’s underneath through the glaze with each layer.  It slowly builds up a beautiful finish with depth and dimension.


If you decided to cut out that top layer of the table top, here’s what I did with it.  There are several options.  The first is a piece of potealinsert2ster board (to help raise it to the level of the table edge)  with a piece of teal leather glued to it.  The leather came DIY Doll Tablefrom an old purse that was badly faded on one side.  It looks like an expensive piece of leather inlay on a fine table…..well…. I thought so.  Be sure to paint the inside rim at least a little bit of the way down……unlike I did.  ;o)

wallpaperinsert2The second insert is a piece of wallpaper attached to a round wallpaperinsert3piece of poster board.  I used the center, which was cut out earlier, as my template for the inserts.                                    

VARIATIONS:  It may have dawned on you by now that you can just as easily put a 6.5”x 6.5” square top on this base.  It would make a nice dining table or perhaps a card table, if your dolls are inclined to gamble.  You can change the proportions of the table variationshelfto be shorter and wider on the top or very tall and smaller on the top, like a pedestal for a vase of flower or a fern to sit.

Here’s a version of the drawing where I’ve added a new shape to the legs by using a larger template (table top is the same).  A dinner plate made the legs less curved and increased the size of the shelf for a different look.  And of course, once you get really good at this, you can draw legs with different kinds of curves and feet.

COFFEE TABLE & PEDESTAL  You could make a coffee table by simply making the legs shorter.

DOLLHOUSE SIZE FURNITURE:  The same design process works for doll house size, but you’ll only be using a single layer of foam board for the legs and shelf, and perhaps 2 for the top.  Adjust the drawing accordingly.

Always feel free to contact me here or through my Etsy shop if you have further questions…..or fabulous ideas to share!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and had fun!  I feel that I successfully proved that DIY can be as special as a professional wood product.  The richness of the painted surface has already influenced my furniture pieces.  Please let me know what you think and I’d love to see any of your efforts!

I love accessories and what they bring to doll photography…….BUT…….here are a couple of photos, taken by one of my wonderful buyers, which use nothing but what she found at hand for the set decoration.  The richness of the rugs and fabrics used as floor and background worked beautifully in shots of her incredibly artistic Doll Chateau dolls.  The accessories these girls are workin’ would be the fabulous knits and shoes!!!, and of course, my furniture.  The subtle lighting created intimacy and allure.  Great work L.T.!!!  Thanks for sharing these shots.

Ball Jointed Doll Furniture Artist Handmade Doll Furniture


The Great DIY Doll Table Challenge part 3

Continued from Part 2

The pattern for the legs is cut directly from the drawing.  You only have to cut out one.  Cut as precisely as possible.  **Do not cut out the notch created by the shelf, only the leg.**  The shelf is the part that gets the notches.  (Note: Technically, this is not correct.  In woodworking the legs would be notched to support the shelf, but it made the finish work on the legs more difficult.  If your design has a larger shelf that will need more support, consider notching the legs instead and leave the shelf as a circle with no notches…..or use a lot of really good glue or hot glue.)

Our drawing revealed the width of the shelf, which is wouldn’t have been know without the drawing .  We need to make a pattern that’s a circle with a 2 1/4” diameter.  Look around the house for another template that’s as close to that diameter as possible.  I found a little Design5juice glass that was almost perfect.  After marking the circle, it was a little bit small.  In the photo you can see that I cut just outside the line to make it the correct size.  Get as close to a 2 1/4” diameter as possible without making yourself crazy.

Cut out the circle and then fold it in half.  Crease the fold line and then make a mark on that line at the edge of the circle. Bring those two marks together as you fold in the opposite direction.    Crease that fold line and mark it.  Lay it out flat and draw lines on the fold marks.  The four points on the circle will be where the notches where the legs are attached.


Our legs are 1/4” wide (that 2 layers of 1/8″ foam board).  So, our notches need to be 1/4” wide.  Better tDesign6o make it too small and have to trim a bit more, than too large.  If they fit snugly, it’s easier to glue the legs in. Design7

Like you did on the shelf drawing, make marks 1/8” away from the crease lines.  Draw lines through those marks.


Mark a 1/4Design9” depth on each of the four points where they meet the circle to define the notches.  Cut outDesign10 the notches.  You’ve finished the pattern and are ready to use them to cut the foam board.




Here are the final pattern pieces. Cut 4 table pieces.  Use the “shelf” pattern to trace 2 shelf pieces.  Cut the circle first, then cut the notches.

The table top is marked directly on foam board using the paint can as the template.

This is the safest and easiest way to cut the legs.  Trust me on this!!  Mark aLegcut1 line that’s 5 /14” from the bottom edge of the board.  Lay the pattern at the right hand corner and mark all 8 pieces with no separation, as shown in the photo to the right.  If you’re left handed consider reversing this to start in the left corner of the board.

Place your hand above the work to hold it as you cut downward on each curve.  This keeps your fingers away Legcut2from the blade.  Cut all the curves without separating them from the board .  THEN, cut all of them off at one time.  I use a metal ruler to cut the the straight line.  (Or a wood ruler with that little metal edge on it, but you can carefully do it freehand.  Keep your free hand behind the blade for safety.) It usually takes me two or three times to get through the board.  Be sure to have something under it to prevent damage to tables, etc.

You now have 4 tops, 2 shelves & 8 legs.  Use Elmers GluePrep1 or Hot glue to bond the four tops, the 2 shelves, and 4 legs together.  You can leave your table Prep4top plain OR you can get crazy like me and cut another hole in the top one for a decorative element.  I left a 3/4” rim on the top piece.Prep2

Next, we want to hide the ruff edges of the cut foam board.  I wore gloves because working with Dap vinyl spackling can be a bit of a mess to get off your hands, but not too bad.  Try to wash it off before it dries too much.    You want it to fill the inconsistencies in the surface.  Don’t put it on the paper part of the board, only on the foam part.  If a little bit gets on the paper, wipe most of it off and you can easily sand off the rest after it dries, with 220 grit sand paper. Spread it on like icing a cupcake.

spakeling1You can see how gloppy it looked.  Dap is not hard to sand off.  I use 80 grit to get the big glop’s off and finish it with 220 grit.  Do it over a trash can or outside!  Let it dry for at least half an hour before sanding.  After my first layer it still had a few gaps, so I applied a little more, let it dry and used the 220 grit again.  It looked pretty good.  The paper can start to fuzz a little, but can be snipped with scissors if necessary.  Don’t try to sand all the way down to the foam and paper.  You’re trying to “float” the surface out, so leave a little bit to fill out the groove where the foam is.   ***Do not put Dap inside the notches of the shelf ***  I did put spackling on the “feet”, but not on the top of the legs that will glue to the table top.

On the edge of the table top, I intentionally left enough spackling to give it a slight curve.  You can see that it was cracking and separating slightly after drying.  I squirted Elmer’s spakling3down into the crack to seal it.  I also used the Elmer’s glue to further refine all the spackled surfaces by smearing a nice layer over the edges of all the pieces (not so tspakling4hick it drips, you can always add more layers after it dries).  It helped to float out the paper ridges even more.  Work on the pieces until you’re satisfied with the finish.  Let it dry for a few hours or over night.

Now is a good time to mark the center point of the legs.  Take each of the four legs and lay your pattern on them.   Use a pencil to mark where the notch for the shelf is located.  The markleg3photo shows it on the oak table legs, but it’s all the same process.  You’re marking on the flat side.  I make sure that I can see the marks from the curved side also (the outer part of the curve).  Then use a ruler to mark all of them together.markleg4  You might have to put small rubber bands around the ends to keep them even with each other while you mark them precisely on the middle of the curve of the leg.  Now you can see exactly where the leg goes into the shelf when you glue them.

Continued in Part 4 of The Challenge


The Great DIY Doll Table Challenge part 2

In my last post I challenged myself to create a table design with DIY doll owners in mind (DIY = Do It Yourself).  The idea is to make a fabulous design, not a dumbed down one.  For the challenge, the design would first be used to make an oak table, for comparison.  Then, the same pattern would be used to make the DIY version and tutorial without the need for power tools, just stuff you probably have around the house.  The whole world would then get to see a side by side comparison of the two.  I said GAME ON!!!

This isn’t one of my “how I made…..” something or other.  This is an actual tutorial.  That means details.  The first section is on the design and drawing.  If you’re looking for something ordinary… the internet.  When you come to MyLittleBigChair,  you get something special.  It’s not as hard as it might look at first.  This tutorial is best followed from a lap top or desk top computer.  Photo’s are repositioned by smaller devices.  Read through the whole tutorial and you’ll get the idea.  And here they are….Ta Daaaaaaa!

The Oak VersionDIY Doll Table

On the left is my oak version.  On the right is the DIY version made from foam board.  Click on any photo to enlarge. Click on each name to get the tools and materials list.  OAK  DIY

First we have to design it and make a pattern.  The design starts on paper, always.  This is how everyone from furniture makers to architects to designers of any sort start the process.

I looked around the web for a table shape that was pleasing.  We’ll be making an elegant round top table with a shelf for nicknacks (which stabilizes the legs).  No down stream square table for this project.  I’m determined to show you how to make something amazing.  Rooms are usually squares or rectangles, flat and linear.  It’s nice to have round or oval elements to provide contrast.  After you do this once (or even just understand the instructions), you’ll be able to draw similar tables/coffee tables/desks/and who knows what, for any size doll including dollhouse size, very quickly.

I needed an end table for dolls in the 21”-24” range.  Decide on the best height for you and your dolls needs.  My Challenge tables are both 6 1/2” wide and 5 3/4” tall (6.5 x 5.75”).

First, you are simply going to draw a perfectly square rectangular box” that is the height and width of the finished project. Then we add the top, legs and shelf.  Start with a square or rectangular piece of thick paper, not scraps with edges that aren’t square, and is at least 8 1/2 x 11”.  We want to get our drawing as square and precise as possible so the pattern will fit together well and sit level.  I use Strathmore Bristle Board, but anything with some stiffness/thickness will do.

Place your ruler in the bottom left hand corner and line it up with the bodrawing1ttom of tdrawing2he page and draw line (A).  Leaving the ruler in place,  make a pencil mark at the 2” point of the ruler and again at the 8 1/2” point.



Keeping the ruler as parallel to line (A) as you can, slide up the page about 4-5” and make another mark at 2” and again at 8 1/2”.

drawing5Place your ruler on line (A) and on both of the marks at 2″. drawing6 Draw vertical line (B).  Leaving the ruler in place, make a pencil mark on that line at 2 5/8”,       5 1/4” and at 5 3/4”.


drawing11Place your ruler on line (A) and on both of the two marks at 6 1/2″ (on the right) and repeat the last step by drawing a vertical line, now referred to as  (C).  With the ruler still in that position, make a pencil mark on that line at 2 3/8”, 5 1/4” and at 5 3/4”, just like you did on the left side.


Draw horizontal lines between lines (B) & (C) at the 5 1/4” mark and at the 5 3/4” mark.  These lines define the table top and are called lines (D) & (E).


Next, we’ll draw in the legs.  I decided my table top would be 6 1/2” in diameter because that is approximately the size I wanted and it just happens to be the diameter of a standard gallon can of paint!  If you want to make a smaller table just find a round template the size you want.  It can be anything from a plastic food container lid, to a plate or glass, or use a Bow Pencil Drafting Compass if you have one to get exactly the size you want.  Adjust the size of the “box” you draw, accordingly.

The legs will not extend all the way to the tables edge. They’ll be slightly “under” the table. drawing13 We’ll mark where the “feet” sit on line (A) first.   Place your ruler as shown in the photo to the right, exactly where line (B) hits line (A).  Make pencil marks at 3/8”, 1 1/8”, 5 3/8” and  drawing14  6 1/8”.     Then, slide up to line (E) and repeat as shown in the photo to the left.



The paint can is also the curve used to make the legs.  In the next photo, you’ll see the can of drawing15paint has been placeddrawing16 on the marks which are 3/8” from lines (A) & (E) and again on the next two, which are 1 1/8” from  line (B).  Repeat on the other side.  You’ve got legs!


Last, but not least, is the shelf.  Locate the two marks you made earlier on lines (B) & (C) at 2 5/8”.  Draw a light line across, which will create a center line going through the middle of the arc of the legs.drawing17

Place the ruler on the center line as shown below and leaving the ruler in place, make a short verticaldrawing18 mark 1/4” inside of each leg.  Place your ruler vertically on those two marks and make a small line.  Since it’s so small, I just eyeball this line and make it as vertical as possible.                                littlemarks


The shelf is created from two layers of foam board.  Each layer is 1/8” thick, so two layers will be 1/4” thick.  Place the ruler on the center line and make one mark 1/8” above the    drawing21center line and another below. Repeat on the other side.  Draw horizontal lines on those marks that extend to the  little lines which are  1/4” inside the legs.  That’s the shelf!  If you’ve done all these steps correctly, the shelf should be



2 1/4” x 1/4”.   Our drawing has revealed the width of the shelf, which is why it’s invaluable in the design process.  See “Variations” at the end of the tutorial to further understand how this will help you design other items.











The Great DIY Doll Table Challenge! part 1

I’ve been making end tables lately.  That’s doll sized end tables.  They make great accessories for doll photography.  Today you’ll see the first one I created.  After finishing, it occurred to me that it was fairly complex and required quite a few tools to accomplish.  This created THE GREAT DIY DOLL TABLE CHALLENGE!  I decided to make two tables out of the same pattern – one out of oak – and one out of foam board.

Yep.  Foam board.  You know, the big box craft store kind of foam board.  I challenged myself to make a simple but totally cool table that the average DIY doll owner could accomplish without a workshop full of tools and expensive materials.  That’s what you have to look forward to next week since they still need a few final touches.  I think you’ll be surprised with their look and ease of construction.  Today, you’ll see how the first table turned out.

Classic Doll Furniture by My Little Big Chair

Doll Furniture by My Little Big Chair

Pretty cool, huh?!  I love to decorate the table with personal items of my own and the personal items of my dolls. That’s me and my Dad in the photo.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

The whole process starts with a pattern.  Searching the web for designs is fun with tons of creative ideas.  Feel free to combine elements from different pieces that you love.  The legs on my final choice are made from two parts.  I know I know, more complex than was necessary, but that’s just the way I am.  The style of THE GREAT DIY DOLL TABLE CHALLENGE! tables will be sleek and simple.  (Love to write that in all caps and hear a booming baritone voice saying it.)

Drawing the design so that it fits the size of your dolls is important.  I use heavy drawing paper which is sturdy enough to cut out and use as the pattern.  Here you can see the pattern pieces and the finished cutouts.

DIY Doll Furniture The bottom leg sections have been glued together and the table top cut out.

BJD furnitureYou can see what the table will look like at this point in the process.  However, don’t actually attach the top to the bottom, because painting or staining is much easier with the top and bottom still separate.

Classic Handmade Doll FurnitureI liked the table top but remembered my old router, which was gathering dust on a shelf in the garage, would enable me to add some detail to the edge of the top.  With dolls…..more is always better.

My Little Big Chair Handmade Doll FurnitureA bit of extra shaping was added to the bottom.  Then a coat of primer and some vinyl spackling is applied and sanded to cover the joints.

DIY doll tableOn top of the primer, a couple of coats of black went on first.  Then a couple of a teal, both of which were water based wall paints.  I like the small jars of “test” paint you can purchase for $3.00 at Lowe’s.  You have to be careful to keep the paint off the rim of the lid, or they can be almost impossible to re-open.  Once you know to be careful with that, these inexpensive little pots of color will last a long time over many projects and can be combined with other colors to get beautiful blends.

You can see the last of the black being covered in the photo below.  My intention was to paint the bottom since I had to cover the joints of the plywood legs. The top was intended to be stained and left natural.  Cutting on curves is cutting against the grain at some point and that area will take stain at different rates, usually much darker.  The edge was dark and uneven and more importantly didn’t photograph well.  So, masking tape was applied top and bottom to protect the stain on my beautiful routed edges and a coat of primer applied to seal the stain before being painted to match the bottom.

Most sophisticated handmade bjd furnitureHere’s the finished product.  If you look closely (click to enlarge first photo in post for even closer view) you’ll see the black paint has been exposed along the edges of the legs and at the “toes” by very lightly sanding away the teal color.  Tiny little dots of black paint were “spattered” all over the for a vintage look.

DIY Doll Furniture

Of course, this idea is intended to inspire DIY doll owners from 24 inches plus all the way down to dollhouse size.  Use these ideas to make coffee tables, dining tables, desks, etc.   I hope my process will stimulate your thinking and creativity around the possibilities for your photography & accessories for your dolls.  It’s a lot of fun!


Lampshade Adornment

A ten inch strip of tape with crystals hanging from it had occupied space in my workshop for a couple of decades.  It was one of those items you’re certain would come in really handy a few weeks after you threw it away…..ten measly little inches of bling.

Then came the world of dolls and ten inches of sparkle suddenly seemed like a wealth of adornment for…..something?   If you’ve read my posts on lamp making, you know that the shades rest on a circle of clear plastic.  I glued the strip of crystals to a 1/2 inch wide circular piece of cardboard.

Of course, I could have permanently glued it to the bottom edge of a lampshade.  That’s the way it’s usually done in the Big World, but that would be so unalterable, so singularly useful, instead of a multitasking light catching eye grabbing delectably gaudy adornment!  I can see that you can see where this is going.

Versatility is a good thing.  No telling where it will show up next.  Hummm…a hat for Angie?