24 April 2020
Learn how to make miniature books for dolls houses, with a fascinating insight into the history of miniature books.
We're of the firm belief here at DHMS that you can never have too many miniature books. No matter the era or style of your miniature scene or dolls house, there's always a place for these minuscule delights.
Read on to learn how to make miniature books to adorn your most marvellous miniature scene and enjoy learning more about the history of miniature books.
What are miniature books?
This might seem like an obvious question, but there's actually a surprisingly long answer to it!
A miniature book is generally measured as between one and three inches in height. A book that is between three to four inches in height is known as a 'macrominiature' book. However, some miniature books that were created before the 20th century are considered 'miniature' if they're between one to four inches tall. Complicated stuff!
You can also get even smaller books, with books less than one inch in all dimensions known as 'microminiature' books and ones less than 1/4 inch in all dimensions are called 'ultra-microminiature' books.
While you can create or purchase miniature books to read (with a magnifying glass), the general purpose of these minuscule marvels isn't to read them. Rather than for literary purposes, miniature books generally exist nowadays as pieces of art.
The history of miniature books
Julie Jackson's Featherstone Hall dolls house library
This history behind miniature books is just as rich and ancient as regular books, with some experts believing that Sumerian clay tablets (like this one) from as early as 3500 BCE and featuring cuneiform (wedge-shaped) writing are the earliest examples of miniature books.
The earliest examples of classic 'bound' miniature books appeared in medieval times, with the creation of printing technology in the 16th century leading to the creation of many printed, bound miniature books.
The following centuries saw the creation of miniature books flourish, with the 19th century seen as a 'golden age' as it became cheaper and easier to create them during the Industrial Revolution.
Miniature books were produced for both artistic and practical reasons during this time. For example, young Victorian women would often carry miniature books on etiquette to discreetly check and monks would carry tiny bibles that fit into their pockets.
Queen Mary's dolls house featured an incredible array of miniature books in its library, with 200 miniature books commissioned and donated to fill the bookshelves. Authors of these mini marvels included A. A. Milne, Edith Wharton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Queen Mary's dolls house is still on display at the Royal Collection Trust.
How to make miniature books
By Carol Clarke.
Now you know all about the history of miniature books, it's time to make your own for your dolls house or miniature scene.
You will need
- 4 Sheets of A4 paper
- Silk or very thin leather
- Thin card
- Thin cord
- Tissue paper or similar
- PVA glue
- Craft knife
1. Cut your sheets of printer paper in half and repeat twice more giving you a small pile of 32 sheets. Tap the long edge on your work surface to make the edge level. Spread the edge with glue and hold together with clips until the glue has dried.
2. With your craft knife, cut a 5/8” (16mm) strip from the glued edge of the pad.
3. Cut the strip into 3/4” (19mm) sections. You will get five out of the strip with a narrow piece left over.
Top tip: you could just wrap a cover around the pads at this stage, but adding details makes the books look more realistic.
4. Using one of your book sections as a guide, draw around it and cut two pieces for the covers and a thin strip for the spine from your thin card.
5. Add some detailing to the spine of the book by gluing small pieces of thin cord across the cardboard spine. When the glue is dry trim the cord to fit the spine.
6. Prepare your silk fabric by brushing it with glue, then fix the cardboard cover sections in place.
7. Trim the fabric around the book and clip the corners.
8. Glue and fold the edges around the cover, then using some tissue, cut pieces to fit the inside of the cover.
9. Glue the book pad inside, pushing hard on the spine to show the detailing. Finish by highlighting the detailing with some gold (or any colour of your choice) paint.
Want to check out more from our A-Z series? Why not start with our fascinating insight into the process of antiquing in miniatures? You can learn how to antique your own miniature furniture while you're there. Or enjoy the next tutorial in the series – 'C for crochet', where you'll learn how to make a miniature crochet rug.
Plus, don't forget to check out the DHMS online shop if you like books about miniatures as well as miniature books!