Thursday, March 25, 2010

bringing down the house at craft fairs

I admit it: I have a soft spot for miniatures or anything of small scale. What can I say? I'm a goober. Which means that I probably would have bought this crummy old shadowbox-made-to-look-like-a-dollhouse anyway, but fortunately I had justification! Hooray! I needed a good way to display the "gidgets" (peg people) that I've been making when I take them to craft fairs. And what better way is there than a small wooden house? I CAN'T THINK OF ANY!

So, I plunked out a few bucks for this dollhouse shadowbox from a vintage shop and set to work. The structure itself was sound, it just was dirty and looked shabby because the dollhouse wallpapers were crumbling and flaking off and covered in layers of dust and ick in the corners.

dollhouse display: before
dollhouse display: before

But as you can see, someone at one point had put in the cutest dollhouse wallpapers! Look at what's left of the birdie paper. I wish it was still in tact! But alas, it wasn't salvageable at all, so I covered it.

To start with, I painted the walls of the house.

darling birdie dollhouse wallpaper

I decided to give each room it's own interior color, while keeping all the exterior walls blue. I used all high-gloss paints in hyper vivid 'candy' colors. Mostly because that's what I am really into right now, but also the bright colors give a nice "pop" to the pieces being displayed.

After everything was painted, I also covered all the surfaces in a high-gloss acrylic sealer. This has a few benefits for me, not just that it looks neat being super shiny, but also it increases durability (this is a display piece that will get toted from show to show) and makes the paint more resiliant to wear. For example, I use a small piece of earthquake putty under each peg when they're set into the house -- a lesson learned the hard way, when the first person bumped my table and they all came tumbling down and rolling across the walkway -- and I use small signs taped to the house to denote prices, make caption bubbles, etc. and the gloss paint releases the tack of the putty and tape without lifting the paint.

dollhouse display: partially done

Once the gloss coat was dry, I inserted new pieces of wallpaper. I used scrapbook paper that matched the vivid color scheme I was going for. You can't see it in these pictures, but the papers all have irridescent glitter on them and the blue stars (attic) are raised off the paper. In person, it gives some nice dimension and plus: glitter!

dollhouse with mailbox

Keeping with the house theme, I decided to find a mailbox for my business cards. I found this lime green metal beauty on ebay and snapped it up quick. My standard business cards are just barely too small to fit inside. They fit fine when leaned sideways a bit, but then the mailbox can only hold maybe 25 at a time. This will be fine for smaller craft fairs and such, but at comic conventions, there are thousands of attendees and most of them collect business cards as they go, so it would mean too many "refills" all day long.

new dollhouse mailbox w/business card for scale

new dollhouse mailbox w/business card for scale

What I did instead was had some smaller cards made for big shows, like conventions. Moo cards would fit wonderfully, but were a bit pricey for my needs (I can go through 500 business cards in a day at some of these shows). Instead, I designed half-sized cards. They are printed on standard business card stock and then I cut them in half, lengthwise. Yes, it's a bit extra work for me, BUT the slimmer cards fit in the mailbox.

mailbox of business cards
Last year's Long Beach Comic Con is where it all came together.
our table at Long Beach Comic Con

Just before that show, I came across this little house with shelves in a thrift store. I took the same tact as before -- I painted and papered it, but went with softer colors to offset some of the lighter-colored peg people (like the princesses). This house isn't nearly as large as the other, but it's the perfect neighbor. This particular show was the weekend before Halloween, so I had some Halloween themed peg people, and used the black wire tree next to the small house as sort of my graveyard area. It was also very well received -- now I need a spring tree!

our table at Long Beach Comic Con

It's funny, because I thought these dollhouse shelves would make a great display and never considered that other people would agree. Hands-down they are the most popular thing at the table. I've gotten several requests to buy them, including some bartering and requests for commissions! So if you've got some woodworking skills, you might want to reach out to my customers! They're hungry for hot pink dollhouses!

Below is our table at the Long Beach Comic Con 2009. I shared the space with my husband, who was showing his portfolio, signing autographs, giving out sketches, and selling original artwork. We usually split the space, so I have gotten pretty good at cramming a LOT of stuff on 'my side' of an 8 foot table. TEAMWORK!

our table at Long Beach Comic Con

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