Sunday, July 17, 2011

Guest Blogger - 365 Cat Ladies and Friends - Desktop Dioramas

How To Make A Desktop Diorama

Hello fellow Creative Types! What fun to be a guest blogger on Someday Crafts! I'm Susan Faye, an artist and designer living in the Great Pacific Northwest on the banks of Willamina Creek where I love to create with the help of my studio assistant Buttonwillow (pictured right).

I enjoy drawing and painting whimsical illustrations inspired by mother nature and cats, then I use these images to design hand-crafted giftware and jewelry which can be seen in my Etsy shop
Susan Faye Originals.

My other passion is my illustrated blog,
365 Cat Ladies and Friends, dedicated to feline fanatics, pet lovers, and nature enthusiasts. I hope you'll stop by and say "hi".

Today I'm going to show how I create my fanciful desktop dioramas, like those pictured here.

A diorama is a "three-dimensional miniature or life-size scene in which figures, stuffed wildlife, or other objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background".

For this project you will need to find a small box with a "window" in the lid. I found these stainless steel spice boxes online. Make sure that it is deep enough for several layers of images.

This little box is 3 inches square and 2 inches deep.

You could also use a wooden shadow box like this one that I found at a local craft store.

You can draw and paint your own motifs, use pictures from books or magazines, use rubber stamp art, or clip art from your files. I'm using one of my own illustrations for this project. (It's called "The Garden Shed" and is available as a print in my Etsy shop.)

I've taken motifs from the illustration and reduced them in size on my computer so that they will fit into a 3" square space. Then I printed them on white card stock. If you are using art that is on lightweight paper, such as images from a book or magazine, use a good paper glue and glue them onto card stock or other sturdy, heavyweight paper. I'm going to use that flower patch square that's in the right hand corner for the background, so I made sure it is at least 3" square to cover the back of the box.

Next I place the box on top of the background art and trace around it with pencil.

Then I cut it out just inside of the lines. I cover the back of it with a thin film of glue (I have used both Aleene's Tacky Glue and E6000 Craft Glue and either one works fine) and then place it inside on the back wall of the box, pressing it firmly to make sure it lays flat.

IMPORTANT STEP: Each piece (except for the background square) is going to need a little 1/4" tab at the bottom for gluing. I always draw it in with a pencil so that I don't forget it when I'm cutting out the pieces.

Next I cut out the other pieces that I plan to use. I use small, sharp scissors that make it easy to maneuver around tiny details.

I fold back each tab and crease it really well, then fold it back out half-way so that it is at a 90 degree angle from the front.

I put a nice glob of glue on the bottom of the tab of the first element, a flower, and place it about two-thirds of the way into the box. I tamp it down with my finger to make sure it is firm against the bottom.

I add the wheelbarrow about one-third of the way from the front...

And I add the watering can at the very front of the box.

Next, I round off the edges of the tab on the piece that will decorate the top so that it will have a nice finished look to it.

I place the lid on the box...

...and then glue the top piece right behind the lid and center it. This is where a ruler comes in handy.

And voila! A little 3-D miniature world to enjoy!

I hope this gets those creative juices going and that you'll have fun creating your own diorama with images you might find in a vintage children's book, using rubber stamps, or better yet, using your own drawings!

A big thank you to Mama Michelle for this opportunity to share one of my favorite projects with you. You can see more of my mini dioramas in my Etsy shop:
Susan Faye Originals. Enjoy!

THANKS, Susan. I love your art and all the projects you do with them! Your diorama is adorable! So much cuter than the dinosaur diorama I made in 3rd grade!!!!!

Visit Susan Faye Originals and 365 Cat Ladies and Friends today!


  1. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [18 Jul 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  2. These are just so cute! I absolutely love them!

  3. This was very interesting! Thank you very much for the tut!
    You make very pretty dioramas!

  4. Thank you everyone, glad you enjoyed the tutorial! Haha Michelle--I bet your dinosaur diorama was exquisite. My specialty in the 4th grade was to make dioramas of gold miners. I liked the she boxes that my dad's shoes came in because they were the BIGGEST!

  5. This was really interesting. Thanks a lot.


Thanks for leaving a comment. I always like to know what you think of the projects I highlight!

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