Sunday, April 29, 2012

Calico Critter Play Room

This Christmas, I found one of the cutest toys ever at Toys R Us: Calico Critters.  Each Calico Critter family consists of different animals with adorable names like the Furbanks Squirrel Family and the Hopscotch Rabbit Family.  Like My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake, this is a come-back toy from the nineties.  I was mad jealous of the girls that smuggled their animal families out during recess.  Back in the day, they were called Sylvanian Families.

The current toys and accessories look just like the originals: fuzzy animals with quaint, Country Living style houses and furniture.  Last week at Goodwill I happened to stumble across a very new looking Caramel Cat family which I promptly scooped up and brought home.  Finally, after twenty years, I have my own!  At least for a week or two...until I come to my senses and give them away to some unexpecting child that will actually play with them.
Here's the Caramel Cat Family posing with Meatball, I couldn't resist doing this:
As you know, I love miniature things, so I don't think you'll be surprised that I made a mini play room by recycling random odds & ends from my studio.  Because Sylvanian means forest related, I decided to give the little toys a woodsy theme.  I'm going to tell you how to make these little accessories for your kids...or if you're a weirdo like me that loves tiny things, you can make them just for the hell of it.

Tiny Art Easel

I used two clothes pins for the base along with a popsicle stick and tooth pick for the support bars.  Everything was hot glued together and painted a happy shade of sky blue.

The boards are made from two tile samples.  I painted the textured back side red and attached them to the base. If you cant find tile samples, use thin pieces of wood or cardboard scraps.

 The little paint tray is the lid from a container of dental floss.  Pony beads make messy little jars of paint, and sections of a toothpick work well as paint brushes.

Table, Stools, and Tea Set

The table was very simple to build. A large wooden bead acts as a base with a button underneath for balance. The tabletop is made from the three legged plastic thing from a pizza box.
After snipping off the legs with wire cutters, I sanded down the bumps using a nail file and topped it with a circle of wood grain contact paper.  You can also use a wooden disk from the craft store or cardboard for the surface of your table.

The stools are made from two wooden rings (old game pieces from Goodwill), two wooden wheels, red t shirt material, and a cotton ball.  In place of the wooden rings, use plastic water bottle caps or large, flat wooden beads.

 First, I set a bit of cotton on the cloth, then a wheel on top of it.  I pulled the fabric and glued it underneath to create a toadstool cushion.  The rings were painted white and hot glued underneath the cushions.  The last step was adding white dots with acrylic paint.

The tea set is made with a collection of random beads and buttons.  For the tea pot, I painted a large wooden bead blue and snipped apart smaller beads for the handle and spout.

Tiny Wagon

(ignore the text on this photo.  I gave this wagon away as a free gift)

A little Altoid tin makes the perfect base for a mini wagon.  After drilling four holes in the bottom of the tin, I painted it with several coats of red.

The black tires are made from buttons.  I drilled holes in them as well and glued them to the ends of a segment of wire.  Two sections of wire were pushed through the holes in the tin, allowing the tiny wheels to spin.

The handle is a black zip-tie.  Before painting the tin, I glued a sewing pin (bent into a rectangle) to the front of the wagon creating a small ring.  The zip-tie was glued to the ring.

To cover the axles, I cut a section of red fabric to fit inside the wagon.

The tiny bear is from a craft store.

Aren't they so cute?
What will my next project be?
Little beach toys or a mini play house? The possibilities are endless!  If I'm still excited about them next week, maybe I'll make little costumes.  The toys are cute, but the clothes could use some help....


  1. Love this! I was just looking on Ebay last week for the old Sylvanian house I had when I was a kid!

  2. I hope you find it, that would be such a cool thing to have again!

  3. Oh, my! Adorable post! Thanks for sharing this tutorial. ;)

  4. were do you get all your art Supplies

    could you send me a list of all the stuff you used and were you got them?

    1. Hi there, to be honest: most, if not all of these supplies were scavenged from thrift stores. Usually, I collect little trinkets that catch my eye (such as tile samples, buttons, beads, etc.) when I see them. When I get inspired to make something, I just dig through my collection for inspiration.
      Everything for this post came from thrift stores or flea markets with the exception of the miniature Altoid tin and dental floss (from the grocery store) and the wooden clothes pins (from the dollar store). This post is several years old and since writing this, I have tried to be more specific when writing about my materials and how how to find them. I hope this helps, I'm sorry that I can't provide more information.

  5. I love your ideas. Thank you for sharing and showing us how you made them.

  6. Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing your photos and details!