Sylvanian Family houses are adorable, but one simple addition can often add so much – window boxes! For this craft you’ll need some basic crafting items such as thin cardboard from packaging, craft popsicle sticks, acrylic paints, simple white everyday ‘school’ glue, easily bendable thin wire (I had 0,3 mm on hand) and then a couple items that you may want to be collecting ahead of time – plastic plants and tea for ‘dirt’.
Finding plastic plants that are the right size can be tricky, but not impossible. Keep your eyes open and look more toward bouquet ‘filler’ than larger specific flowers. You can also add bits of paint to create blossoms on otherwise all greenery that’s a good size. I use dried, leftover, non-sweetened black tea leaves for the ‘dirt’ on top of my flowerbeds and window boxes. I set my teabags to dry, then cut them open and collect the used tea in an open container, transferring it to a closed container only after a few weeks so I’m sure it’s fully dry and won’t mildew (I live in a region susceptible to mold & mildew, you may not).
To begin decide which windows you will be making the window boxes for – many of the houses have some similar size windows, but there can also be longer picture windows or smaller windows. My first round of window boxes I decided to stick with a 6.5 centimeter (2.5 inches) size, as that was the width of some shorter popsicle sticks I have and I didn’t want to deal with cutting them to size. That size also, nicely, worked well with a multitude of windows on houses I have. I later created some smaller window boxes and used new miter shears to cut the sticks down to 3.5 cen./ 1.75″, as well as making some longer ones using a full traditional popsicle stick size. It all depends on what you need and the tools you have on hand for cutting. I have technically used just basic scissors to cut popsicle sticks in the past, but don’t recommend it. Still, it can work if you have nothing else and need shorter sticks.
To begin find some thin cardboard, this is a great chance to up-cycle something you’d otherwise be throwing into the recycle bin – cereal boxes or the like. You’ll need some rectangles the width plus extra on each side for the depth of the box folded in. For example, for the basic 6.5 cen ones, you need the cardboard to be 8.5 centimeters long, as it includes a centimeter on each side for the depth, and then it’s 3 centimeters deep, one centimeter for each side, plus one for the bottom. The best picture I have is for the shorter ones I made, just notice how you’ll be cutting and folding in the corners to made a box. Below is a handy guide I made, this is not to scale but simply to illustrate how to figure the measurements plus where to cut and fold. Fold along the solid lines, cut along the dotted.
Fold each side of your box, measure a centimeter in, draw that line. Fold up along that line and cut just to the fold on each line. Fold your box ends in and you can glue them into place. I recently discovered ‘Express Glue’ and love it for things like this, a step above school glue in speed, but still being water based it’s not as ‘dangerous’ as Super Glue. After gluing the cardboard into it’s box shape, you can glue on the wood pieces for the front and back of your window box. It can be helpful to use some clothes pins or other clasping items to hold the side together with the stick until the glue holds – just don’t glue the pins to your boxes! Set aside and wait for the glue to fully dry.
At this point you need to insert your wires, that will be holding the boxes onto your house. I had very thin, basic craft wire for jewelry making on hand, it’s package says it’s 0,3mm wide – something a tad wider could be better for these, but I just folded my wire double and it’s working just fine. You need these to hook over the window or railing and then down and under your boxes. I poked holes into the bottom cardboard near the ends of each box, pushed the wire in and folded it down. Play around with your wire and find the size that works best for you – I think mine were about 10 cen., but I folded them in half to double the width, so five could work for thicker wire.
It’s now time to paint! Look at your house and consider the look you want. White, brown and green would all be classic window box colors, but you can also have fun and pick a bold or contrasting coloring. There are no limits or rules here, but I do think sticking with one color for all the window boxes on the same house gives it a unified and themed look. I painted over the wires where they’re along the box, but left them alone where they came up to go over the window – totally up to you. I use acrylic paints for all my Littles’ related crafts, they work well on the plastic houses, and also do fine on the wood and paper here. But as this is not a plastic craft, you can use other paints, I just don’t own any.
Okay, our boxes are made – now it’s time to fill them! I tried various methods when I first began, and have settled on the oldest and most basic floral craft method – floral foam. I bought a basic block of it, and considering how little I use for each project don’t except to ever need to buy more. I cut off a centimeter thick section at a time and then cut that into strips that fit inside each window box. I do all of this over the big piece of paper it came wrapped in, it is messy.
It’s now time to design and create your flower arrangements in your window boxes. I hope to eventually make my own tiny flowers, I’ve just not had the time or inclination just yet – and with some searching, you can find a lot of plastic plant bits that work really well and look fitting in the 1:16 sale of Sylvanian Families houses. As this is an aspect of these crafts that I especially enjoy, I splurged and bought a new pair of thin pointed scissors to help in clipping off tiny bits from bigger sections of plastic plants – any scissors will work. As in regular flower arrangements, aim for an odd, not even, number of flowers or leaves. These window boxes are fairly narrow, so you won’t need to worry about centering the taller plants in the middle or back, but it will help to consider how they will be viewed – from just one side, against a house, or from both sides along a railing. I’ve not yet found a plastic bit that works well for a trailing, hanging plant that are often in window boxes – so that may end up the first flower/plant I create from scratch. Consider too the colors, if you have a color theme you want and also which colors play off each well. And don’t be afraid to add a bit of color with paints, I may highlight how I’ve done that with some of my plants in another post.
Aren’t they looking pretty? Just one thing is missing – dirt isn’t grey (or whatever color your floral foam ends up), so…. I like to add a thin layer of dried tea mixed with basic white school glue. I began saving all my used tea last year, and soon realized I drink a lot of tea! This can get a bit messy. Toothpicks or similar tiny tools can be helpful to get all the bits covered that you want. Happy floral arranging and miniature gardening!
Here are a few photos of the window boxes in place on some houses: