Creating & Stocking A Miniature Quilt Shop

Pieces: a miniature polymer clay quilt store

This store was built with the crafty seamstress and quilter in mind–
the 11 1/2 inch tall kind, preferably.

miniature quilt store itemsThe entire thing is done in 1/6, or fashion doll scale. That means that something in human scale that is 6 inches long is one inch in this miniature scale. The scissors on the cutting table shown here are a wee bit over one inch long, and the bolts of polymer clay cloth are the size of business cards. I made all the solid “fabrics” and several dozen prints, but ran out of time while working on the tile floor and needed help with creating lots more bolts.  I supplied the cardboard pieces to help keep the sizes all the same, and Lindly Huanani put out the call for assistance at the National Polymer Clay Guild retreat at Shrinemont in May of 2006.  I was stunned when a box filled with splendid bolts from so many kind contributors came in the mail.

Designers who helped to stock this fabricated fantasy store include Jana Roberts Benzon, whose “remnants” are shown here on the table, Karen Sexton with bright and beautiful blends stacked on the left, Dayle Doroshow, Diane Luftig, Leigh Ross, Sarah Shriver, Carol Simmons, Judith Skinner, myself, and many, many others.

Here’s the set contributed by Nancy Osbahr shown on the left and  a shot of the box of goodies!

Nancy Osbahr polymer bolts polymer clay miniature fabric bolts

 Each bolt was photographed and made into a slideshow, and when the “Pieces” Quilt Store was featured in our book Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay, Judith Skinner and I showed a swatch from each contributor in the book’s credits.

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miniature bags and books

pieceslogoShopping bags, miniature books and all sorts of paper and cardboard bits come into play in putting together the accessories and merchandise shown in the store.Some of the tiny titles were cut from a catalog provided to me by F/W Publications, who gave us permission to use the cutouts in photographs. They publish quilting books–and they were also the  publishers of my first two books on using polymer clay. PolymerCAFE magazine also gave permission for us to use an image to make mini-magazines.

After being glued to more cardboard and cut again, they are just the right size for a fashion doll with a creative side!Using the images as cut-outs in a collage format does not violate copyrights because I don’t make a copy—but the pictures shown here are copies, so its best to ask! They graciously said “Yes”. (Thank you!).

Shopping bags, boxes and all sorts of containers can be made easily with paper print-outs made using templates and your own logo design. Different logos and typeface styles can be tried until you find what you like. You can even print on beautiful papers of your choice.

The design for a quilt store logo calls for different images and fonts than a fashion boutique (and that’s coming next—do stay tuned for more here at the Polyclay Gallery pages). The one used for the quilt block image is a dingbat font called “Amish Quilt”. This is also the design I chose to use when laying the 3/4 inch polymer clay tiles for the floor of the store. Of course, black and white wasn’t enough—it had to be SHADES of black and white faux stone, with the occasional touch of gold. It took a while to get the pattern just right and evenly placed. The floor took more than 2500 tiles, all hand cut using a square Kemper cutter, baked, and glued down with Carpenters Glue.

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Starting from the floor and moving on up, this store is built on a base of Styrofoam(TM) manufactured by Dow Chemicals for use as insulation. Many railroad and other scale model builders use it as a basis because it is lightweight and easily shaped with a hot-wire foam cutter. This should always be done with adequate ventilation and supervision.

Foam can be shaped, glued, painted, plastered or treated with other techniques. I do NOT advise baking pieces of it—it is better to cover them with baked decorative elements instead. Heating styrofoam releases gasses you do not want to breath. Krylon’s new plastic spray paint works well with it if you want to use it as a base that shows.

Other spray paints can melt some of the foam and cause a textured look that mimics stone. The room starts out much like a stage set, with light weight foam board walls duct taped into place. It is cut to fit neatly onto a 2 foot by 4 foot folding table.

bluefoam the beginnings of a miniature store

making miniature display countersThese walls are a soft speckled gray, but white foam board can be painted or papered to fit any style of decor.

The unfinished shelves and counters are positioned to help figure the store layout. You can never have enough display space in a store—especially a little one!

To make the two shelf units, I used sturdy cardboard boxes kept from Kraft Velveeta cheese boxes. My family was very happy to each broccoli cheese soup and other cheesy dishes until I had enough boxes.

I lined the boxes with white paper and painted the outsides brown, then added polymer clay details. The feet were made using wooden beads from a broken car seat cover and more polymer clay.

They were topped with faux marble, also made with polymer clay. The taller shelving units were made using foam board that I spray painted black, and then more polymer clay details were added.

Then, with the addition of well over a hundred “bolts of cloth” from the artists at the Shrinemont retreat and from my friends in local guilds you can see the shelves are filling right up.

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My husband Bryan said to put something in a picture that would show the actual scale, so there’s an Altoid tin on the floor. The bottoms of two tins were used to form the “planter” boxes on the tops of the shelves.

polymer clay miniature spider plantPolymer clay quilts were created by Judith Skinner and me to grace the walls and cutting table. These miniature wall hangings are all cane slices from patterns shown in the new book! It features more than a dozen traditional quilt block designs made using polymer clay in many techniques including the Skinner Blend.

This technique was also used to make a “spider plant” leaf cane, which was used to create the planters above the shelves. Luckily they don’t need watering!

The book shows how to build and reduce traditional quilt blocks in polymer clay, and what can be done with the beautiful results. In addition, we have chapters on creating floral and geometric fabric with millefiore canes and mosaics.

Plus, we have a gorgeous gallery of fabulous work by other contributing artists who work in polymer clay using inspiration from quilt designs.

Here’s the store all decked out for a Christmas display.

Christmas time at Pieces, a miniature quilt shop