Monday, October 11, 2010


 “Too many good books and not enough time to read them all” is what inspired this wicked little Halloween vignette. 

Note: Items in bold yellow are what are needed for this project.


The base is a simple 5”x7” wood picture frame.  If the frame you choose has an easel on the back piece try to pull if off and if that doesn’t work replace the back piece with a piece of chipboard or matboard.  I aged the dark wood of my frame with a black wash (¼ water to ¾ black acrylic paint).  You may also choose to lightly sand back some of the stain on the frame for a vintage look.
Glue four wooden beads or blocks, which match or compliment the frame, to the fours corners of the bottom. 

Cover over the glass in the frame with a faux, darkish Oriental carpet, using glue stick for adhesion.  Create one of your own or print out the one given here which is 4.5” x 6.5”.  I printed my carpet onto a piece of all-over textured, full-sized wallpaper but you may find a similar paper in scrapbooking supplies.  Print out the carpet given using your best printer settings.


The base for the table is a plastic lid from a spray can of glass cleaner that measures 2-1/8”H with a 2 ½” diam.  Check your spray cans for similar sizes. 

Measure the height and diameter of your lid (or what ever you choose for a base) and using a compass draw a circle on a piece of scrap paper that has the diameter of twice the height plus the diameter. of the lid.  For instance, in my case the lid was 2 1/8”+2 1/8” +2 ½” for diam. total of 6 ¾”.

 Use your pattern to cut a circle of lightweight cotton fabric with a plain or very small print for a table cloth.  Hint: For fine prints on fine fabrics check out baby clothing in 2nd hand stores.  Treat the inside edge of the table cloth with a tacky glue to prevent fraying.  Spread a thin layer of a tacky glue to the top of the lid base and center the table cloth smoothly over it.  Now lift the underside of the cloth up and using a toothpick draw 4 fine lines of glue down the side of the lid base from top to bottom, spaced evenly around the lid base.  Press the cloth down onto the lines of glue.  Reaching up under the tablecloth again, draw four lines down the lid, this time centered between the previous ones and press the cloth into these lines.  Repeat this for eight lines of glue, each between the last glued lines, pressing the fabric neatly into them.  This will result in a neat and tidy gathered table cover.  Cut a piece of cottonlightweight  fabric in a coordinating color 3 1/8” square. Hint:  You may simply paint your table cloth fabric with acrylics in your choice of colors.  Lightly fringe out the four edges.  Glue this table topper centered over the table cloth.  Lightly glue the underside of it here and there to the table cloth.


I choose a very inexpensive upholstered wooden arm chair and ottoman for this project because I wanted to bash it a bit.  I lightly sanded and scraped off the shiny finish on the wood and painted it with a medium black wash (half and half water and black acrylic paint).  The velvet upholstery was painted with black acrylic.


This 5 ½” tall skeleton is part of an 8 piece SCARY SKELETON GARLAND purchased at Michaels Crafts .  I have also seen them sold separately.   The arms, legs and hands have been repositioned to sit in the chair and hold a book.  To do this, simply heat the parts you want to bend/shape with a heat gun, candle, etc. being very careful to hold them away from the heat source and not to burn yourself or melt the plastic.  Snippets were cut from gray faux fur and glued to the back of the head.  After cutting back the toes a bit (ouch) leather slippers were glued to the feet.  You may choose to dress your skeleton a bit more, maybe with a smoking jacket?


Click on the Tombstone pattern sheet to enlarge it and then save to your computer. Make a color copy of the sheet on bright white paper using your printers best setting and setting the size to 3.03”W x 1.59”H or use the Key to Scale given for a 1”+1’ scale.  

Lay pattern sheet over a piece of medium-fine grade sandpaper and using a colored pencil in a shade darker than the gray of the pieces lightly color over the pieces to add texture.

Cut out pattern pieces and using a tombstone and a base as patterns cut out two of each from white matboard or similar board that is approx. 3/32” thick.  

Glue the pattern cutouts logically to both sides of their corresponding matboard pieces, using a quality glue stick (Avery’s Permanent Acid-Free preferred).  Cut the long gray strip in half lengthwise and use it to cover the edges (but not the bottom) of the tombstones and to cover the edges of front and side edges (but not the back edge) of the bases; trim to fit.  After the glue has set touch up the edges with the colored pencil if needed.

Glue the back edge of the base evenly to the face of the tombstone, bottom edges flush, making sure the two pieces are squared up.

Leave as is or add a small, approx. 3/8” (9.5mm), skull, pony bead
(  is one source) to the base.

 Click on pattern above to copy and paste to your computer.  Set printer size to 3.03"W x 1.59"H.
Use best printer setting.


Use a 7/8” skull bead or cut a skull free from a skeleton (see skeleton garland above).  Glue the skull to a book (see book instructions below) so that the top of the skull sits upright, using softened candle wax as a “base”.  Cut a yellow birthday candle to approx.
½ “ high with a 1/8” of wick extending out the top.  Carve candle to approx 1/8” thickness.  Light the wick until it darkens and blow out.  Light another yellow birthday candle and use its warm wax to hold your prepared candle on the top of the skull and then to drip down the sides of the prepared candle for a natural used look.  Remember to be safe when “playing with fire”.


Print out copies of book covers and pages, at sizes given, onto bright
white paper (I use Epson brand  ) using your printer’s best setting.  Use glue stick for adhesion (Avery acid-free is a good choice )

Click on photo & copy and save to your printer.  Set your printer to print at 7.44"W x 5.05"H and at its Best setting.

For cover, score on lines and clip the 4 spine lines as marked.  Fold inward on all scored lines and glue in place, making sure none of the white is showing in the corners.  Note: If you wish to age the cover: Before you glue back the sides,
gently but firmly scrunch up the piece several times until it is covered with very fine wrinkles. Open it up and gently flatten the piece as smooth as possible. Glue back the 4 sides.  Set the cover aside.

Cut out the 2 page strips and glue-stick them together, the last page on the 1st  set, evenly over the first page of the 2nd set.  Let glue set.

 You are going to fold the page strip accordion-style.  Start with the first page (the first and last pages of the strips are actually the end papers and will be glued to the inside of the cover) by folding it so the crease is away from you , the next fold will be towards you and so on, until the whole strip is folded.  Make sure all is squared-up and make any adjustments if needed. 

Turn the strip back side up and place on a non-stick surface such as wax paper (Amazon and Costco sell boxes of 500, 10”x10 ¾” Kabnet-Wax paper sheets from Dixie, that are perfect for crafting).  Apply glue stick to all pages except the fist and last ones…keep them free of glue.  Lift up page strip and carefully press the backs of the page sets together.  Make sure all is squared up and be careful not get glue where is shouldn’t be.  Put the pages on a flat surface and press flat with something until the glue sets, checking to see that all pages will still open. 

Apply glue-stick to the backs of the non-glued end pages and carefully and evenly place them over the inside of the book cover while pushing the whole book evenly into cover.  When all is squared up, press the book flat again until the glue has set.  Lightly score across the corners and spine edges to add dimension.  
You now have a miniature book that can be displayed open or closed. 

-You can make a faux page-block from chipboard, using a page as pattern for the correct size. Hint: Covers of full-size wallpaper books, with the covering paper pulled off, are this thickness chipboard and are handy for many projects.

-If you would like your book/s to have actual pages (but blank), use the book pattern to cut your pages from a tablet, with the tablet’s spine becoming the spine of your book.  Glue into cover.

-For an aged/antique look color the edges of the pages with a gold metallic pen.  It is easy to do this after the pages are glued together but before they are glued into the cover.  Simply squeeze them together in your fingertips while coloring.

-If you want a more modern, shiny looking book you can cover the outside of the book with clear packing tape

Copy and paste to your computer and set to print at 7.74" W x 7.84"H.  Use best printer setting.

-Rats are from Lemax Spooky Town Collection # 74683, Rats and Snakes.  I used a Dremel Moto Tool to carefully carve off the bases the rats sit on.
-Goblet is a pewter charm filled with green acrylic craft paint that had been globed onto waxed paper and left to set until sticky but not wet.  It was then piled into the goblet with some “dripped” on to the base. 
-The brass hour glass is from my collection.  It was weathered with a black acrylic wash.
ASSORTED BOOK COVERS TO PLAY WITH:  Copy & paste to computer; set printer to
7.57" W x 3.98"H; set printer to best setting.

 Have fun playing with this project and let me know how everything worked for you.

As always, "let imagination be your guide",




  1. Hi it looks like I will be the first of many to post (DM sent me) I love your 'how to' although I have only just become reacquainted after a lapse. Looking forward to much enjoyment in making new minis Lyn from Australia

  2. Congratulations on your new Blog! Am looking forward to enjoying Joann Swanson projects once again! Yay!!!
    Den Mother from CAMP

  3. Den Mom just posted that you'd started a blog, & I'm really looking forward to see what projects you come up with next! You're such an inspiration!
    Paula, a CAMPER in s. central Ohio

  4. Joann, Thank you! You've been missed. Am passing the good word to as many people as I can think of.
    Maureen H. in St. Albert AB

  5. It is so good to see you here and I like this project. I would never have thought to use the frame that way. I have some frames that have the glass broken and this is a great idea. I hope it is okay if I advertize your blog on mine?

  6. Me ha gustado muchisimo tu escena, es un tema que a mi me gusta mucho, yo he hecho una casa de una bruja y ahora quiero empezar la de un mago, suelo hacer cosas como libros, pergaminos y demas sobre este tema, muchas gracias por compartir tu escena y tus conocimientos. Saludos Yolanda.

  7. Me ha encantado encontrar tu blog y ver que tocas los temas que mas me gustan, yo estoy haciendo el huerto de una bruja "Agatha".
    Me ha encantado tu escena, es maravillosamente fantastica.
    Ademas te agradezco toda la informacion.
    besitos ascension

  8. This is a site I will live on (DM sent me) and your Halloween tutorials are just in time for me while working on my pumpkin scrubber container. I was looking for ideas and I've found them. Thanks so much Joanne.

  9. Ooh great project idea. And great blog, hope you'll be putting up some of your old projects here too.
    Chris V.
    Searching for a Starry Night - #1 Miniatures ebook on Kindle

  10. What a treat!!! Thank you for this, and many other wonderful projects in the past.

  11. Your blog is a wonderful idea Joann. DM sent me. I have always loved your projects in the magazines and refer to them often. Thank you so much for doing this.
    Rita in Maine

  12. Welcome to the blogging world, Joann. I'm just thrilled to see your fabulous projects. Thank you ever so much.
    Anne, Gsolfot

  13. Thanks so much for posting DIY projects!!! Love them! :) Gerry

  14. An incredible details and generous tutorial Joann, thanks so much.

  15. Yippee!!! It's so good to see you in the blogosphere, Joann.

    Cheers --- Larry Marshall

  16. Joann, I am so excited to see you have a blog. I will be checking back often. Thank you for doing this and for all the projects you created in the past. You are a remarkable talent.


  17. oops I forgot to say DM sent me.

  18. Hi Joann! Welcome to blogland! It is so wonderful to see you here! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful creations with everyone. You are such an incredibly talented woman and I have been a huge fan of yours for many, many years. Have a great mini day!

  19. Thank you, Joanne!! You and DM made my day. Can I live here?
    Thank you for all the past projects. But more than that, thank you for giving of yourself, your time, and your talent to enrich our lives! You are an inspiration to each miniaturist. I have sent this link to all of my mini friends.
    Marcie in Montana

  20. Hi, Joann! I'm very excited about your blog (DM from CAMP sent me). Thank you very much for your time, expertise, & willingness to teach us all! I'm looking forward to learning from you. Have a fantastic day! - Corena :0)

  21. DM made my day this morning when I read that you had begun a blog! I have been a major fan of yours since I first got interested in miniatures. I've learned something from every article that you have written, whether or not I wanted to make the particular scene or item. You are one of the treasure of the mini world and it is great to see another article! Thanks so much, Esther, GSOLFOT
    PS: I sent the link to GSOLFOT so the rest of the group could enjoy it too.

  22. Welcome to blogland, so good to see you here. If I did scary stuff I'd surely do this project, it is so beautifully detailed. I'm a sad case, I can't even touch those skellys!

  23. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tutorial and for the printies...Looking forward to see more of your wonderful creations...

  24. Congrats on your new blog, Joanne. Am so happy you will be sharing projects with us again; missed you in the mini mags.
    Linda Grady

  25. Hi Joanne,
    I am so excited to see your blog. I thought we might never hear from you again. Thank you very much for the fun tutorial. Detailed as always. What a pleasure. You will be at the top of my favorites list.

  26. Hi Joann,
    I am so happy you started this blog. I am doing the one form the Seattle House party and what fun is. I happened to have everything here to make this one. I will check back often you are at the top of my bookmarks. Keep up the great work!

  27. DM sent me too Joann. Great to see your new blog. Charlene in Canberra, Australia.

  28. I too am thrilled that you now have a blog. I loved all your magazine articles. Your creativity is so inspirational. I have bookmarked your blog for regular viewing. Cathy in Auckland, New Zealand

  29. What an incredible project, Joann. Thank you so much for starting this blog and being such an inspiration! I look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

    Marie in Alaska

  30. So happy to see your blog, Joanne. Your work was what sold the magazines to me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  31. I forgot to mention that I am a 'Camper'.

  32. Thank you so much for this project! I love the inspiration for it and the idea. :)
    I look forward to following this wonderful blog!

  33. This is wonderful Joann!! As a follower for more years than both of us would probably care to admit, I am thrilled to have a "Joann project connection" again...many, many thanks!!
    Deb H in CT

  34. What a delight! I have loved your projects for well over 20 years and am thrilled to see you online. I especially want to mention a couple things that are very important to me: 1) Your photographs are excellent & sharp. And when I poke them they are even larger (and I can magnify them even more if I want)! Please continue doing your photos this way! 2) I appreciate your giving the precise dimensions for my printer settings! You truly exemplify the motto of N.A.M.E.: "Only through sharing can we really enjoy our treasures." You and your generosity are most definitely treasures that are greatly appreciated!

  35. What a wonderful surprise! (I saw the mention on SmallStuffDigest). I've been a fan of yours for so long and can't thank you enough for being so generous in sharing your tips. I love your diys and hope to see many more. Thanks again :D

  36. Hi Joann,
    As always, wonderful tutorial. I don't make very many things but love to know how they are made. I have always been awed by your creativity and talent over the years. Thank you for sharing it with everyone. I look forward to what you come up with for future projects.
    Helen (writing from Portugal)
    Ps. DM sent me

  37. Hi Joann,
    DM sent me here! I am so looking forward to lots of great projects and tips. What fun!
    Judy in Southern Oregon, USA

    Took me a while to get to where I could post a comment and I do not know how this finally happened... just kept plunking away.
    Congrats on your blog.

  38. Found the blog from the NAME email list. But I have loved your projects for a few years now (I am pretty new to minis compared to many people). Please keep the projects coming! By the way, I love the Halloween projects, despite what some people have said in the mags in the last few years, some of us do like creeptastic stuff!


  39. This is the best blog I have ever seen for miniatures. I have already bookmarked it so I can get back to it regularly. DM sent me too. That is what is so great about Camp - lots of heads up info. Gloria

  40. Hi Joann, Thank you for creating this wonderful blog and sharing your awesome talents with other miniaturists. And yes, DM sent me!

  41. Una excelente explicación de tu trabajo. Gracias por explicarlo así de bien, me servirán muchos de tus trucos.
    Besos Clara

  42. Hey, Joann,
    thank you so much for this! I love it!!
    Thanks, Petra

  43. Thank you so much for this wonderful Halloween project! I love it and can't wait to get started. It's very nice of you.
    Dawn Bauer

  44. Joann! I am so happy to have found you! I have missed you and soo pleased you have a blog.
    Congratulations and a HUGE thank you! You have always been an inspiration. When you first left I bought a lot of your books and you gave me a little bag of bits..all of which I treasure.

    Looking forward t seeing your wonderful posts!
    Judy Keefe

  45. Thank you for this wonderful project for the season.
    It is terrific to see your creativity at work and be able to
    learn from it. What a treat!
    You are the best of the best. I will follow your blog with
    eager eyes.
    Jackie Williams in Ga.

  46. Congratulations on the start of what i know will be a wonderful blog. This is such a great tutorial and i cant wait to see more.

  47. I was really happy to see that you've started to blog. I've begun "following" you and have forwarded a link to your blog to my mini groups. Great first project!

  48. Wonderful website! I have been following you and your great projects for many years! Thank you so much! I am one of the Campers and happy to be a Camper too! Norma B. from Florida

  49. Joann it's great to see you've started your own blog. I've been an avid fan for many many years. Love your projects. Thanks for sharing

  50. Joann, you have inspired many miniaturists for many years. Your projects are always easy enough to do but give great results. Great to see you here! Thanks.


  51. Congratulations!! Joanne, This is fantastic!!
    To me you are an Encyclopedia of the mini world. You have been and will forever be a wonderful inspiration in my life. I have been a fan of yours for many years and will continue being a fan.
    Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic talent and making it possible for miniature lovers like myself learn from you. I would love to see older tuts of yours on here as well.

    Again, thank you so much Joanne!! looking forward to your next tutorial.

    I am so glad I got on here today. I just got home from another hospital stay this time due to Asthma and you have made my day! Thank you!!

    WOOHOO!! Joanne is here!!

  52. Forgot to say I read about your blog on Doreen P's blog. Thank you for posting it Doreen.

  53. Sorry for the e on your name Joann, a typing error.

  54. Well, DM sent me, too. What a delight to have you back with us! You always have the ability to turn the most fumble fingered klutz into a full fledged miniaturist. Wowser, wowser!
    Thanks so very much!

  55. a huge thanks for both oof the amazing diy you share with us

  56. Do you have a template that is editable so that I can use it to create my own mini book and add my own photos?

  57. I just love what you did here. Now that Halloween isn't far away I think I might have to give this a try with the kids... they'll love it!

  58. I love your tutorials and I will start working on this one right away! Thank you so much for sharing your great talent! :)

  59. Joann, your projects are fantastic. I have been working on my dollhouse for the past few years - first since I was 10, over 50 years ago. I LUV!!! your style - projects and writing!!! I've pinned several of your images on Pinterest for inspiration - hope they generate lots of traffic to your site.

  60. Love, Love, Love this! You are so inspiring!

  61. So cool - but I can't read the words in yellow! I want to make this, can you possibly make the words a darker color. please? Thanks in advance.

  62. Cool! Will you have a Christmas theme?

  63. Wow, you are amazing! I've stumbled onto your blog for the second time today (first time was to pin your witch room), but I've had more time this time to really scope your things out :) Thank you so much for sharing so freely your incredible ideas, graphics and know how! I'm not sure if you will get this (I realize this is a very old post), but I will try emailing you too, to thank you for all these gifts you've given us. It came at a funny time: I have four very special friends that I am already trying to think up appropriate Christmas gifts for (It's August lol). Just today I have decided that I'd like to give them a miniature room, maybe with a braided rug or tiny quilt, perhaps one piece of furniture and then let them finish it to their own style. Your posts here will show me exactly how to do that, and usually very inexpensively :) I'm an extra chatty person, but I was so overwhelmed when I saw all you had produced and shared and that you took the pains to write such terrific instructions and include the graphics needed. Just an amazing find :) I wanted to thank you!!

  64. We miss you on this blog, but suspect there is a very good reason you have been silent Wishing you well and hoping you are happy healthy and enjoying all your endeavors. E