Friday, November 9, 2012


Early Thanksgiving morning creates a scene familiar to many of us.  Although not as strenuous as it was for our mothers and grandmothers (“back then” turkeys took forever to prepare…imagine plucking pin feather out with pliers and lighting a paper torch to burn off stubborn feathers….and they seemingly took forever to cook, hours more than today) for  many early preparation is still vital to the big day.

The ritual begins with a fortifying cup of coffee or tea and an apron tied around our waist.   A huge turkey waits to be stuffed with a dressing that needs to be prepared.  Families all seem to have their own favorite stuffing/dressing recipes and for many family members, these recipes dare not be changed, year after year. 

A huge bowl is filled with cubes of dried bread, chopped bits of this and that…onions, celery, garlic, apples, chestnuts.   For some, sausage or oysters are a must.  Time honored measurements of a variety of herbs and seasonings are added along with rich broth.  All of the ingredients are mixed well and the turkey gets stuffed and then popped into the oven.  Soon the “perfume” of Thanksgiving fills the kitchen and after hours of basting and such it is time for dinner.

I have a Woman’s Home Companion magazine from the 1940’s and in it is an ad from the H.J. Heinz Co. with a wonderful Thanksgiving picture.  Accompanying the picture are words describing the holiday.  In part it says:  “And the dinner…who but a small and hungry boy could do justice to the marvels of that meal?  To the large bronzed turkey…the stuffing seemingly redolent with chestnuts and sage…boats of deep brown giblet gravy, smooth and heavy as cream….snowy butter-filled mountains of mashed potatoes…golden glazed “sweets” and all the old time fixings”   
So here we have a bit of Thanksgiving in miniature…a vintage work island where the turkey stuffing is being prepared.  This will be a progressive project where I will be adding the instructions, patterns & printies, for most of what you see, over the next week or so… hopefully each day.  The piece itself is free-standing, but you may choose to add a frame base, as I have described in many of my past projects.  And per usual, even if you don’t create the whole scene, I hope you find a piece or two to add to your collection and/or a technique to add to your mini-knowledge.

Wishing you all a bountiful Thanksgiving,


-11/09...The Work Island
-11/10...The Turkey & Rectangular Cutting Board
-11/11...Paddle Cutting Board, Knives, Onion & Celery, Dressing
-11/12...Seasoning Tin, Broth Cans, Recipe Folder & Recipes, Measuring Cup
-11/13...Apron, Dish Towels, Potholders
-11/14...Spice Jars
-11/17...Kitchen Gadgets


From ¼” square stripwood cut four, 3” legs; four, 1 ½” end pieces; four cross pieces, 3” x ¼”; two uprights, 7 ¼” x ¼”.  From 3/8” x 3/32” stripwood cut a top 4-1/8” long and a shelf 3 ½” long.   From 1/16” or 3/32” thick bookboard, matboard or sheetwood cut two tops and two bottoms 3 ½” x 2”.  Cut out ¼” squares from each corner of the bottom piece.  For shelf and top brackets, cut twelve ,¼” thick slices from 13/32”colonial moulding (Lowes) or similar moulding (check with you miniature dealer).  

Set to print at exact/actual size or 8.22"w x 8.78"h
Glue the end of one cross piece between two legs, top edges flush.  Glue the ends of another cross pieces between these legs, set up 5/15” from the bottom of the legs.  Repeat for the other two legs and cross pieces.

Set to print at actual/exact size or 6.61"w x 4.66"h
Join the front and back sections with the side pieces, keeping all squared-up.

Glue a top and a bottom piece in place.

Glue an upright to each side of the island, centered, side to side.

Glue the shelf between the uprights, centered side to side, positioned as desired, keeping in mind the height of something you may choose to display on it…as seen it is approx. 1” down from the top.

Glue the top in place on the tops of the uprights, centered side to side and front to back.

Glue the 12 brackets in place as shown.
Set to print at actual/exact size or 7.90"w x 9.44"h

Sand the piece smooth with fine sandpaper.

Paint the island as desired.  As seen it is a “Martha” green.  White or pale blue would also be good choices.  You may choose to age/antique for a shabby chic look with sandpaper and/or a very light dry-brush of brown stain. For a more modern look you may choose to paint your island a metallic, stainless steel.

Paint the 2nd set of top and shelf pieces with a raw sienna color acrylic.  When the paint is dry, dry-brush, side to side, over it with a brown acrylic stain using a fairly stiff–bristled, flat paint brush, to achieve a wood, chopping-board-like effect. You may also just paint over the base coat with the stain and then wipe back off, side to side, until you are pleased with the look.  If the stain is too dark use a damp cloth will remove it.  Buff the two pieces to a slight sheen.  Glue the top and bottom in place.  The bottom will slide in sideways.



I highly recommend that you do a “raw turkey” image search and print out a photo or two of one to use as a guide…a picture is worth a 1000 words here.
Form the turkey on a small piece of glass or ceramic tile on which it will be baked. Fimo #43 Flesh was used for modeling the turkey. 

 For the body start with a ¾” diam. ball of Fimo; shape the ball so it is higher in the center and slightly tapered at the ends and flat on the bottom.
For each leg start with a 3/8” diam. ball and with the help of a round toothpick, shape it per diagram.  Lightly press the large part of the legs to the body until secure.  With the aid of a round toothpick, smooth the leg to the body where the skin naturally would be attached.
Each wing starts with a ¼” ball.  Shape them into long, thin triangles.  Slightly pinch & mold one side to a narrower shape and bend to a wing shapes.  Attach the wings to the body.  Smooth wing and body together with a toothpick where they would naturally be attached.  

With a toothpick open up the neck end of the body as much as possible without disturbing the overall shape and create the illusion of a flap of skin hanging out. 
Texture the whole body by pressing a small piece of very coarse sandpaper over it.
Scrape a red or deep pink pastel (chalk) to get some powder.  Use a paint brush to apply, lightly, to the turkey in a dabbing motion, concentrating a deeper color in the open cavity, on the wing & leg ends.  

Bake the turkey on the glass or tile according to Fimo package directions. 
When the piece is cool, add more coloring if necessary.  Glaze lightly with an acrylic semi-gloss varnish that is compatible with the Fimo.

Rectangular Cutting Board

Cut a 1 ½” x 1” piece from 1/16” thick bass sheetwood.  Trim the two short ends with 1” long pieces of 1/16” square stripwood using wood glue.  When glue has set, use fine sandpaper to sand the board very smooth.  Finish the board with a light rubbing of vegetable oil.

Paddle-Shaped Cutting Board

Cut out printie of cutting board and glue-stick it to a piece of 1/16” thick bass sheetwood.  Use a combination of craft knife, round files, and sandpaper to trim the wood to the paper pattern.  Peel off paper and sand whole cutting board smooth.  Finish by rubbing in a light coat of vegetable oil.  

Set to print at exact/actual size or 1.00"w x 2.00"h

Use printies of the patterns as guides to cut out knife blades from tooling aluminum or a disposable, aluminum pie plate.  I find this easiest by cutting out the blade patterns and gluing them to the aluminum with glue stick and then peeling the paper off after cutting out the blades.
Cut and shape the handles from round wooden tooth picks or sandwich picks.  Carefully slit the handle top to open it and insert the blade with a dab of glue.  Clamp together until the glue has set. 
Paint, stain or oil the handles as desired.
Tiny “rivets” may be added to the handles using brass paint & the tip of a round toothpick. 


 For each onion make an approx. 9/32” diam. round of #04 nightglow Fimo.    

                Bake according to package directions. Using a real onion as a guide, mix an onion-skin color of acrylic paints.   Make a wash of this color by adding water.  Poke a pointed stylus or such into the onion to hold it while painting.  Mark point opposite the stylus lightly with a pencil. Paint the onion with the acrylic wash, using a small, flat bristled brush and stroking the color on from end to end, all the way around.  This should give you a slightly variegated color, with a “striped” effect.  When the wash has dried you may choose to add more lines if need.  Finish with a light coat of a semi-gloss acrylic medium.  Do this for a whole and to the one to be halved onion, leaving one plain to chop up. 

For the whole or halved onion look at the ends of your life-sized onion and from each end cut a smidgen  Holding these bits in your fingertips, add glue to the end to hold them together.  When the glue has set, trim to scaled-size and with scissors fray out the ends.  Adhere the glued end to you onion.  Repeat for other end.
For display, cut one finished onion in half and use just one of the halves.  If desired a whole onion may sit alongside it.
Cut the unpainted onion in half and then chop one of the halves into tiny bits for display on the chopping paddle & to add to the dressing.


Pull a length of light-green floral tape and then twist it tightly.  Using small sharp scissors cut snippets from the twisted tape.  Pile onto cutting paddle and reserve some for the dressing.


Choose a large bowl for your dressing from your collection or just for fun, make one as I did…I used a fine razor saw to slice a round fishing Bobber in half using the two colors as a guide.  Remove whatever is inside and sand any roughness smooth with fine sandpaper.

Peel the paper off both sides of a scrap of foamcore and cut the slices up into tiny square-like pieces for bread cubes.   

Mix a toasty-brown color with acrylics and add a bit of water.  Drop the prepared bread cubes into a disposable container and brush over them with the paint until they look toasted. Let them dry a bit, stirring occasionally until the paint is set.  (I want to mention here what I think are the greatest disposable, water & paint mixing containers…FAGE brand Greek Yogurt containers.  As you can see in the photo there are two parts, a large one and a small one.  They are deep and stable and if your family eats yogurt like mine you will accumulate them quite fast…COSTCO sells it by the case.)

Assemble your dressing components, adding other items if desired, and put them in your bowl.  Pour in a bit of semi-gloss acrylic medium and toss until the mixture looks good
 to you…you may sprinkle on a bit more celery if it is “hiding”.  
Add a large spoon or as I did, a faux spoon (handle only)  shaped from a wooden sandwich pick.

Family Recipe Folder & Recipes

Print the folder onto matte presentation paper.

Cut out, score and fold on all lines…folding bottom tabs in.  Glue a tab, each, to front and back sections of folder.

For ties, use green sewing thread.  Insert thread on a fine needle, knotting end.  From inside poke needle into folder just inside the pocket fold, to hide the knot.  Put a tiny dab of glue on the knot to hold. Leave enough thread extending to allow you to tie a bow and then knot the end, leaving enough length past the knot to allow you to fray out the thread end,, tassel-like.  Repeat for other side.  

Print recipes onto bright white paper.  Cut out and place in folder.  Of course the fun part of this little project is to print out your own family or special recipes to fill the folder.  This could be a darling table-gift for family members on Thanksgiving.
Cans of Broth

Make printie of the broth labels with extending paper.  Starting at the blank end of the printie tightly roll it up forming the can….it should be ¼” across; glue to hold.  

Set to print at actual/exact size or 1.50"H x 8.75"W
Print onto bright white paper at best settings
Using a 1/4” round paper punch, punch out two rounds from aluminum tooling foil   or a disposable pie tin.  Glue one each to the top and bottom of the can.  Coat the label with an acrylic satin/semi-gloss finish.  (I love this sample pack from Amazon...good price too).

Old Bay Seasoning Tin

From wood, stacks of matboard, Fimo/Sculpey, or foamcore, make a can that is the size of the front/back/sides as illustrated.  Lightly round-off the 4 long edges of the sides.
Cut out and fold the label printie.  Use glue stick to adhere the label to the can, side over tab.

Set to print at actual/exact size or 2.50:w x 1.75"h
Print onto bright white paper at best settings.
Broth in Measuring Cup
Look thru your stash for small plastic tubes, the types that may hold seed beads and such.  These can vary in size but for the measuring cup as seen has an approx. ¼” diam.  Use a razor saw in a miter box   to cut a 3/8” high section, starting the cut from the bottom of the tube.  Note: of course the tubes only have one bottom but you can cut more pieces from a tube and add a punched round of clear plastic (think bubble wrap.  Use cyanoacrylate glue or clear nail polish to adhere the bottom. Clean the cut edge with a fine file.

Now the tricky part….you can use a heat gun, as I did, or a hair dryer, which I think may be easier because it is not as hot.  I held the heat gun between my knees to keep my hands free.  Hold the prepared tube section in one hand and a pair of round nose beading pliers in the other.  Hold the tube over the heat for just a second.  Immediately grasp the lip with the pliers and pull down to shape a pouring lip.  You may need to heat it again to get the shape you want.  This is actually a very easy procedure but the amount of heat needed is tricky because too much can almost melt your piece.   I suggest you practice on scrap pieces of plastic  to see how much heat is needed to make your piece pliable. 
From a piece of plastic sheeting…I save blister packs from various items to use for these types of projects…punch out a 3/16” round with a paper punch.  Center a ¼” round paper punch over the punched hole to create a punched ring.  Cut the ring in half and hold it up to your measuring cup to check for fit and size…make any adjustments with scissors.  Holding the handle with tweezers dip the ends into cyanoacrylate glue (Super/Crazy etc.) and apply to side of cup, making sure it is lined-up correctly.  Let glue set.

To fill with broth, mix some bright yellow nail polish into a clear nail polish for a translucent look and carefully fill the cup as desired, drop by drop.


Make copies of the apron & pocket.  You may choose to print them onto bright white paper at best printer settings or printer fabric at regular settings. I have done both and like them equally.  But I love EQ Printables cotton lawn inkjet fabric sheets.  They are pricey but they are 240 thread count and so easy to work with.   Cut out the apron, fabric or paper, cutting away the whole of the green apron strings. Cut out the pocket.  If using paper, glue the two pieces, with fabric glue, to a piece of soft cotton fabric, such as a handkerchief.  Let glue set. 

Put a very thin line of tacky glue on very back edges of the sides & on the bottom edge and on lines between the pocket sections on the separate pocket piece.  Adhere it to the apron, lining everything up.  Let glue set.  
Using about 4 ½” of 1/8” wide green silk ribbon and fabric glue, encase the top edge of the apron, centering it from side to side, and then gluing the ribbon extensions in half.
The apron strings were tied in a knot at the top so they could hang from the island.  Then for a natural look the apron was folded and creased and the pockets were puffed out a bit.
If you are using paper you may choose to coat the apron with an acrylic matte medium.

Dish Towels
Create printies onto bright white paper or printer fabric.  Paper printies should backed with a fine cotton fabric such as a handkerchief. If desired, the ends of the towels may be encased in silk ribbon to match the apron. Fold and crease into thirds and then in half.  Dabs of glue may be used to hold shape if necessary.  Towels of paper may be coated with an acrylic matte medium.
Two towels were hung on the one side of the island from towel bars formed from heavy wire.  Holes were drilled into the island and the ends of the wire were glued in place.
There is also a towel hanging in the front of the island.  It is on a ½” brass ring.  On the top of the ring I glued on a thin piece of copper tape.  The towel was draped over the ring and the ring was glued to the island by the copper tape.

Pot Holders
Make either paper or fabric prints of the potholders.  For the backing on mine I used a scrap of green cross stitch fabric, Aida 18 count.   A piece of fine felt would also work. Cut the backing to size and in the upper corner glue a small thread loop for hanging.  Glue the potholder printie over the backing and press flat.  If you are so inclined you may choose to add some top-stitching.
Spice Jars

Create printies of spice labels onto bright white paper and cut out strips.  Paint the top of a length of ¼” dowel with white acrylic craft paint.  Using a quality glue-stick, adhere a label to the dowel, top edges flush.  Use a razor saw in a miter box to cut the dowel off at the bottom of the label….this makes the job so easy because you don’t have to measure anything.  Paint the bottom of the spice jar white.  You can also work on two jars at a time by gluing a label on each end of the dowel at the same time.  Oh, and use fine sandpaper as needed on ends of dowel before adding the labels

For lids, use a ¼” round paper punch to punch out rounds from matte board.  Color the lids in your choice of colors, I have some of these jars in full size and some have black lids and others a jadeite green.  I used a black Sharpie Pen to color mine..  Glue the lid on top of the jar.  Finish the jar and lid with a couple of coats of clear nail enamel or a semi-gloss acrylic medium…whichever is more compatible with your printer ink.

PS....I hope you set your jars on your shelf straighter than I did...close-up photos can kill you, lol.

Cut a 6” length of size #24 wire and, with the help of needle nose pliers, shape the whip frame as shown. Use wire cutters to snip off the excess wire. 
Cut a 3/8” length of 3/32”sq. bass stripwood or a round toothpick, (slightly up from the a pointed end).  Drill a hole in one end of the wood, deep and wide enough to take the wire ends. A pin vise works well here.
Use sandpaper to shape and smooth the handle.
Use a needle or pin to insert some tacky glue into the hole – not enough glue to plug the hole up but rather to seal the wood in the hole.  When the glue has set, dip the wire ends into cyanoacrylate glue (Super/Crazy, etc.) and then insert into the prepared handle.  Let glue set.
Cut lengths of #34 beading wire and glue to one side of the frame as shown.  When the glue has set, use wire cutters to nip of excess wire.  Paint the handle as desired.

Cut a 6” length of #24 galvanized wire, and starting at its center, shape masher using needlenose pliers.  Bend wire ends up and twist 3 times, pig-tail style.  Cut off one wire close to twist and leave the other wire slightly longer.
For the handle, cut a 3/8” of round toothpick or dowel of similar diam.  Drill a hole in ine end deep enough to take the projecting wire end on the masher.  Sand ends of handle smooth with sandpaper
Use a needle or pin to insert some tacky glue into the whole – not enough to plug it up but rather to seal the wood in the hole.  When the glue has set, dip the wire ends into cyanoacrylate glue(Super/Crazy, etc.) and then insert into the prepared handle.  Let glue set.  Paint handle as desired.


Cut Spatula of thin tin or aluminum (a disposable pie-plate works well).
For handle, cut a 3/8” length of round tooth pick or dowel of approx. the same diam.  Using fine sandpaper, round off the ends and slightly flatten two sides. Carefully cut a slit in one end of the handle with a razor blade, deep enough to take the tab of the spatula.  Note: be careful and don’t cut your fingers!
Insert some tacky glue into the slit to seal the wood.  When the glue has set, dip the tab end of the spatula into cyanoacrylate glue (Super/Crazy, etc.) and then insert it into the prepared handle.  Let glue set.  Paint the handle as desired.
 (from my 1983 booklet, Granny’s Kitchen…oh my, where have the years gone?)
Materials:  3/16” doweling (7/8” long)  +  round toothpick + straight pin + Pin vise (small hand-held drill) and .035 drill bit  +  flat file  +  medium and finishing grades sandpaper  +  Tacky type glue  +  Cyanoacrylate glue (super/Crazy, etc.) +  Linseed or vegetable oil
Plain Handle-
For roller, sand the dowel very smooth with sandpapers.  Drill a 1/8” deep hole in the center of each end of the dowel.  For handles, push a pointed end of a toothpick into a drilled hole & mark where toothpick meets dowel.  Remove toothpick and measure up ¼” from mark. Cut off at this point.  Round off cut end with sandpaper.  Repeat for other end of roller.  Paint handles as desired.  Glue pointed ends into roller.  Rub roller with oil.

Revolving Handle-
Cut, sand and finish roller as for plain style. Drill a hole completely thru center of dowel (end to end).  You may find it easier to drill halfway thru one end and halfway thru the other.
 Cut a round toothpick in half and cut two ¼” long pieces, one from each cut end. Round one end each with sandpaper.   Handles may be painted or left as is.
Use a straight pin to poke a 1/16” deep hole in each unrounded end of the handles.  Use wire cutters to nip the head off of a straight pin, leaving a 1” length.  File the cut end to a point. 
Treat holes in the handles with a bit of tacky glue to seal wood without clogging the holes.  Dip one end of the prepared pin into cyanoacrylate glue and push it into one handle.  Insert pin thru the dowel roller and then glue on the 2nd handle to the extending pin in the same manner as the other one.  Be careful not to glue the handles to the end of the roller.
Finish roller with oil.


  1. Love it Joann, This free standing island will be useful in many projects! Keep them coming :)

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for the project.
    Bye Faby

  3. Thanks, it's a very good and original idea!

  4. Hi Joann. Thanks for the work island. Looking forward to all the details. I'm sure to find some great ideas to use.Yesterday I revisited your blog to check out your Christmas
    projects again. Love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  5. Fantastic project I cant wait to see more of it.
    Hugs Maria

  6. I have two hints that might be useful for this project. I collect up the wood tile "holders" that are in Scrabble games...the ones you stand your tiles in...and slice these up for shelf supports and brackets. The wood is very fine grained, so it works great for miniatures. Older Scrabble games have larger, more ornate curves, while the newer games have smaller holders with less dramatic curves. Once you start watching for them, you'll be surprised how many of these holders you find at thrift shops, rummage sales, garage sales and flea markets. Lots of people collect the tiles for craft projects, leaving the holders. The Scrabble tile holders are larger than the moulding you've specified, but live in an area with no Lowe's or Home Depot or miniature shops, these can make do. My other hint is to use walnut oil...found on the salad oil aisle of grocery stores and places like Big Lots...for finishing wood. Walnut Oil is one of the few vegetable oils that actually dries to a hard finish (it polymerizes). You can even use it on metal pieces to prevent rusting, or over paint. It dries to a soft lustre. I first read about using Walnut Oil years ago in an article about finishing wood toys for children, and I've been using ever since. A bottle or can goes a LONG way.

  7. Thanks for your tutorial!!! Your work is perfect

  8. Wow! Thank you so much for these amazing and inspiring projects. This one is awesome. :-)


  9. Thank you for this tutorial. I love your kitchen island.
    Hugs, Drora

  10. I have just found your blog and I think it is wonderful. I love reading the tutorials....

  11. Wow very comprehensive tutorial, Joann! Thanks for sharing this just in time for Thanksgiving.

  12. Thank you for sharing this great tutorial, Joan!
    Hugs, Magda

  13. Thank you so much for this AWESOME project.

  14. This is amazing! I want to start making foods, but had no idea where to start, and your tutorial is really clear.

  15. I'm just discovering this one and think it's fabulous and so kind of you to explain how to do it.

  16. Joann, do you have a tutorial to build a European Christmas Market stall/stand? And the contents too? Thank you for all of your wonderful articles and help!

  17. Hi Joann, I am big fan of yours since Nutshell News days! I love this blog of yours because I really enjoy the do it yourself approach to miniatures! You have such a knack for making things easy to understand which give the reader confidence enough to give it a try! This has got to be one of my favorite tutorials because I love mini kitchen stuff. The 'how- to's' on making the utensils is just what I needed to know 'how to' do! Thank you so much.