Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Little Amsterdam in a Suitcase

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Corinne and I love Altoids tins and we could probably devote a blog just to reusing the useful tins. Actually, there we are not alone in our creative repurposing. I am always finding really adorable projects like first aid kits and speakers designed by fellow mint fans.
For this project we decided to get even tinier and use an Altoid Mini tin. You can make this project without the tin, it just holds the pieces very conveniently and makes a good suitcase. If you have a small box or pouch you want to use in its place that will be just fine.
We have both been reading a lot about the Grand Tour lately. This was the trip to major European cities that Victorians made after they went to college. We love all old European architecture and the canal houses found in Amsterdam really struck us being unique and charming. When we came up with the idea of making some tiny cities that would fit into tins we decided to work on it together. I cleared off half of my craft table so we could both get to work on a Friday morning while our children were at school and we had a lot of fun with this project.We decided to make the Amsterdam canal houses and some accessories as our first tiny city and to decorate the tin like a suitcase to hold the pieces.

We used plain Shrinky Dink paper, a mini Altoids tin, and some scraps of Velcro and felt. We printed out some pictures of Amsterdam canals, bridges and buildings. The canal houses are all tall and thin and tend to be earth tones. Remember that your pieces will shrink down to nearly half their size when they are baked in the oven so try to size them accordingly. Any scale will do as long as the finished pieces fit in the tin. We traced some of the buildings from photos and also made our own. We drew the outline using black ink pen, then filled in the colors with colored pencils. We also made some house boats, trees, simple bridges and of course, bicycles.  When we cut out the pieces we saved the scraps and cut them into squares and rectangles and baked them too. These pieces will help the canal houses stand after they have shrunk.
You can visit Google images for some adorable photos of canal houses if you need help getting inspired.
Anyway, we cut out our little Amsterdam pieces and baked them carefully. These tiny pieces will shrink in under a minute so you need to be very vigilant. I like to use a spatula and snack the pieces down after they have shrunk just to get them even flatter but we still wound up with a concave bicycle and some crooked houses. When everything cooled we used super glue to attach some of our tiny scrap pieces to the backs of our items so they would be steadier. Then we glued on a tiny piece of Velcro to each. Some people say that you can use sand paper to hold things to felt but this was not our experience. Maybe you need really coarse sandpaper.

Then we made a tiny mat using felt scraps glued onto a piece of leather. We used green for the river because bright blue just did not look very realistic. If you look at photos of Amsterdam the narrow canals tend to be dark, not bright.  We opted for a very simple mat that consists of a canal going down the middle and two gray sides glued on to it. You could dream up a lot of different types of mat to display your pieces, possibly way better than this one.
Finally we made the tin suitcase.  This also could be accomplished in many different ways. you could simply paint the tin brown and add a handle. We wrapped the edge of the lid with brown felt and glued it flat then stuck an oval pice of leather on top. We added a leather handle with 2 pieces of gold paper to hold it down and look like hardware. The bottom half of the tin is also covered with brown felt. We put an oval of felt inside the tin as well so you can stand the pieces up in the tin or on the mat.

Everything rolls up into the suitcase for easy transport...perhaps on an airplane ride to Holland!

If you like little games and toys, our latest post is a Tiny Magnetic Tintin Game.

You can also check out some of our other projects using larger Altoids tins.


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