miniature plants

How to Make Miniature Natural Cotton Bolls

These miniature natural cotton bolls are a great way to add farmhouse charm to your dollhouse decor because they’re so versatile! Whether you make an arrangement of stems, or use them to decorate a grapevine wreath, the possibilities are endless.

After making the pussy willow branches, the only logical next step was to figure out an uncomplicated way to make natural cotton bolls (the round seed-bearing part of a cotton plant) since they’re everywhere in farmhouse-style decor right now! They use some of the same materials from the pussy willow project, as well, so that’s even better. Let’s get to it!

Learn how to make dollhouse miniature natural cotton bolls

What You Need to Make Miniature Natural Cotton Bolls

These little raw cotton stems are a little more complicated than the pussy willow branches, but they’re still a great project for beginners. Here’s a little more about the materials I used:

Materials to make miniature natural cotton bolls

Cotton Balls

Yep, literally just your drugstore variety of cotton ball. You’ll be tearing off little pieces, so even a single cotton ball will last you a while!

Alcohol Ink Markers

Alcohol ink markers are my favorite choice for coloring paper petals and leaves for a few reasons: they fully saturate the Japanese crepe paper I favor (more on that next) with bold, vibrant color; they dry almost immediately, which wins over waiting for paint to dry in my book; and they can be blended for a natural look with a blender marker.

I use the brand Spectrum Noir, and their markers are a little more budget-friendly than Copic markers. The shades I chose are EB3 and TN9. I used a combination of both to get a slight variation in color, but they’re quite similar so that’s not absolutely necessary.

That being said, you can color your paper however you like: colored pencils, watercolors, acrylics, or whatever else you have on hand! We’re just going for a nice dark brown shade on this project.

Japanese Crepe Paper

This is a special paper I learned about from Mary Kinloch. It is not the same as crepe paper that’s used for streamers. In fact, it’s actually a mulberry fiber paper, so it has a fantastic texture that works great for a lot of flowers and plants. I recommend checking Mary’s shop on eBay because she often sells it in small quantities, which is perfect if you’re just getting started. She also has an awesome selection of laser cut sheets!

Even though the crepe is my favorite, you can use other paper types for this project, as well. Experiment with different types and see what you like best. Even regular copy/printer paper will work, so don’t hesitate to try it!

Paper Punches

For this project, I used two specific punches: the Mini Birch Leaf from The Punch Bunch and the Mini Daisy Hole Puncher from EK Tools. I have a number of punches from both of these brands, and they work really well.

If you decide to use the Japanese crepe paper, I’ve found that I get a cleaner cut with the punches if I sandwich the crepe paper in between a folded sheet of regular copy paper.

Ball Stylus / Needle Tool

These tools are really handy for shaping petals and veining leaves. I found an embossing stylus set by EK Tools on Amazon where one of them has a ball on one side and a needle tip on the other – that is PERFECT for this project! But if you don’t have these, don’t worry. You can actually use tweezers to shape them, too, you just have to be careful not to tear your paper.

Shaping Surface

I bought a foam pad (it’s actually similar to a mouse pad in terms of density and thickness) for shaping paper, but if you don’t have anything like that, you can actually use a rubber art eraser. You just want something with a little bit of give that will allow you to use the stylus and needle tool to shape the paper without tearing holes in it. Gentle pressure is key!

Make a miniature grapevine wreath with your natural cotton bolls

Make sure you visit my pussy willow branches tutorial for more on the glues I like to use along with the floral wire recommended for this project.

Tips for Making Natural Cotton Bolls for Your Dollhouse

If you look at pictures of cotton bolls online, you’ll see that they can range from 3 to 5 segments. As a beginner, I made mine with three, but now that I have a little practice under my belt, I may try some more with five instead. You’ll just need to make your individual cotton balls a little smaller for that to work.

Prepare Your Glue

I like to use a paint palette or a little piece of aluminum foil with a blob of white tacky glue and a small pool of superglue so I can dip the pieces in to adhere them. When you use white tacky glue and superglue together like this, it creates an almost instant bond, but you have to work quickly!

How to Make Miniature Natural Cotton Bolls

How to Make Miniature Natural Cotton Bolls

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner

Learn how to make natural cotton bolls for your dollhouse!

Materials

  • 24 gauge brown floral wire
  • Cotton ball
  • Japanese crepe paper
  • Brown alcohol ink marker
  • White tacky glue
  • Superglue

Tools

  • Wire cutters
  • Tweezers
  • Mini Daisy Hole Puncher by EK Tools
  • Mini Birch Leaf by The Punch Bunch
  • Ball stylus / needle tool
  • Shaping surface
  • Paint palette or aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Cut 2" lengths of brown floral wire with your wire cutters. I like to have a little extra length to hold on to, and you can always trim them down afterwards as needed.
  2. Tear off little bits from the cotton ball and roll them tightly into smaller balls. You'll need 3 for each stem.


  3. Dip the end of your floral wire into the white tacky glue, coating about 1/8" of the way down. Pick up each of your prepared mini cotton balls with tweezers and just barely dip them into the superglue before attaching them to the floral wire.

    Attach the mini cotton ball to the end of the floral wire
  4. Repeat with 2 more cotton balls so that you have a trio attached to the end. Set aside to dry.



  5. Get your paper and punch out 1 daisy and 3 birch leaves, then color them brown with your alcohol ink marker.


  6. Cut off each of the 6 petals from the daisy and lay them on top of your shaping surface. Use the needle tool to score a line directly down the middle so you can fold the petals in half lengthwise.
  7. Pick up a folded petal with your tweezers and dip the folded edge in your tacky glue and then the superglue. Place the glued edge in between two of the cotton balls, pushing it in as deep toward the center as you can. Repeat with 2 more and set aside to dry. You can use your tweezers to open up the petal a little once it's nestled in place.


    Place the folded petal in between the cotton balls
  8. Grab your birch leaves and lay them on top of your shaping surface. Like with the petals, score a line directly down the middle for the vein. Then, use the ball stylus to curve the leaf.
  9. You'll want the curl of the leaf to point downward. Pick it up with your tweezers and dip the stem in your tacky glue and then the superglue. Place it on the floral wire just under the cotton balls. Try to offset the leaf from where the petals were placed in between the balls. Repeat with 2 more and set aside to dry.

    Add the birch leaves to the cotton stem
  10. Trim your wire stems as needed to arrange in a vase or to add to a wreath. Enjoy!

Notes

© 2021 Erika Pitera, The Petite Provisions Co.


This tutorial is for personal use only. Please do not repost it without permission. Sharing a link with attribution is fine!

Please feel free to tag me on Facebook or Instagram @petiteprovisionsco with your version of miniature cotton bolls, and let me know if you have any questions!

The Conservatory

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co.

A little over a month ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and ran across a Pier 1 ad for terrariums. When I saw the Daisy Terrarium, I just knew I needed to get it and transform it into a miniature conservatory!

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Exterior
The Exterior of The Conservatory

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with creating miniature plants and flowers, with the help of laser cut sheets from Tropical Miniatures by Mary Kinloch (the orchids, the split leaf philodendron, the parlor palm and the ruffle fern). Every other plant or flower was created through trial and error, hand cutting and shaping paper as well as floral tape.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Exterior
The Exterior of The Conservatory

The Fountain

My biggest challenges were the fountain and the scarlet macaw. For the fountain, I started with a fairy garden bird bath. I then used polymer clay to sculpt the base of the fountain.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Fountain
The Fountain

I used UV resin and clear kitchen wrap cut into thin strips to create the cascading water effect. I sculpted my koi fish from polymer clay, then painted it with acrylic paint and Pearl Ex powder to give it that fishy shimmer.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Koi Fish and Water Lilies
Koi Fish, Water Lilies and Lily Pads
Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Fountain
The Fountain

Once the koi was complete, I filled the base of the fountain with resin. When it was almost fully cured, I added my water lilies and lily pads. They were all created with paper punches and alcohol ink markers, then shaped and detailed with a ball stylus.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Fountain
The Fountain

The Scarlet Macaw

For the macaw’s perch, I started with wooden dowels painted with a metallic bronze acrylic. I then sculpted my macaw’s feet separately in polymer clay and glued them to the perch.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Scarlet Macaw
The Scarlet Macaw

Next, I sculpted the macaw’s body from red polymer clay. His eyes are 1mm glass eyes, and the area around his eyes and his beak have been painted with acrylics.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - The Scarlet Macaw
The Scarlet Macaw

After I baked the polymer clay, I hand cut every feather and applied tacky glue to affix them. Once the feathers were in place, I used red flock to cover his head and his body. When that was done, I used E6000 glue to affix the parrot to his feet on the perch. This macaw is the first bird I’ve ever sculpted, and I have to say, I’m delighted with the results!

The Tropical Flowers, Trees and Plants

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Cymbidium Orchid Arrangement and Butterfly
Cymbidium Orchids and Butterfly

I created several cymbidium orchid arrangements in different colors with help from Mary Kinloch’s laser cut sheets. I also hand cut the butterflies, which were printed out on my inkjet printer.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Cymbidium Orchid Arrangement and Butterfly
Cymbidium Orchids and Butterfly

I mainly used alcohol ink markers to color the orchids, and I love the vibrant hues I achieved.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Cymbidium Orchid Arrangement
Cymbidium Orchids

In my quest to make more tropical-styles of plants and flowers, I spent a lot of time looking at photos online and decided to try anthurium, aka flamingo flowers. I hand cut each and every flower and leaf on these plants, and I used a high gloss varnish to give them that shiny, waxy look.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Anthurium Arrangement
Anthurium (Flamingo Flowers)

To this arrangement, I added some bromeliads, a butterfly and ferns to fill it out.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Anthurium Arrangement
Anthurium, Bromeliads, Ferns and Butterfly

The bird of paradise was tricky, but I finally figured out the shapes I needed to achieve the right look. I hand cut each component and used floral tape over wire for the leaves.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise and Butterfly

I also made a parlor palm from Mary Kinloch’s laser sheets, but the large potted double palm was a happy-go-lucky accident that turned out great!

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Parlor Palm
Parlor Palm

I stumbled upon a feathery-looking floral pick at Michael’s and thought that it might make amazing palm fronds, so I bought a few, brought them home and painted them with green acrylic. Lo and behold, they do look awesome! To make the palm trunks, I wrapped brown pipe cleaners with brown floral tape until I got the diameter I wanted. Then, I painted over the trunks with matte gel medium, followed by various shades of brown and gray acrylic paints. I added coconut fiber just under the fronds to cover up the floral tape that holds the separate fronds together, and it worked out perfectly.

Dollhouse Miniature Conservatory by The Petite Provisions Co. - Draecana
Draecana (Cane Plant)

Lastly, I made the draecana with twigs I had in my craft stash and floral tape over wire. When I had a grouping of several leaves ready, I wrapped the stems in more floral tape and painted over that with matte gel medium tinted with green acrylic.

What’s Next?

As you can tell, this was a real labor of love. It was also my first major “roombox-type” project, and I’m so proud of how it turned out.

Because I had so much fun with this, I ordered a smaller size Daisy Terrarium from Pier 1. So what’s next? Maybe an aviary? Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

In addition to the succulents I made, I also created some flowers, including lavender, chrysanthemums, tulips, daffodils and hydrangea. I also have some anemones and peonies in the works.

What other flowers would you like to see? I hope you like them!

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

More Flowers for Spring

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

In a little over a week, I’ll be participating in my first ever miniatures show! I will have a table at the Orlando Miniatures Festival, February 18th and 19th at the Hilton Garden Inn! I’m very excited (and a bit nervous) to share my creations with fellow mini lovers! Hope to see you there!

In other news, I’ve been working on some plants and flowers for springtime! I’ll be bringing them to the show, and I’ll also list some on Etsy. Today, I wanted to share my handmade succulents. They’re made from hand-painted paper in painted wooden pots. They’re super cute, aren’t they?

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

Orlando Miniatures Festival and Succulents Aplenty

SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NEWS TO GET COUPONS, NEW PRODUCT UPDATES & MORE!

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST FOR AN EXCLUSIVE COUPON!

Plus be the first to know about new products, sales and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!