My brother always loved Winnie the Pooh and my sister adored Eeyore. The quick wit and sincere stories were a constant source of enjoyment in our family. As my brother grew up and was moving away from us he had to go through his childhood belongings Winnie the Pooh and all. I sat with him as he sorted what to keep and sell and what I should steal for myself when we found him; a little Winnie the Pooh about two inches tall. My brother was kind enough to bestow him upon me even though I could see in his eyes the desire to have his little friend, but I knew from that moment on that Pooh bear would be returned to his rightful owner soon. I just needed some time to secretly make tiny furniture. And this mundane opening is how my adventure began with the silly old bear.
I wanted to do right not only by the Disney Winnie-the-Pooh but also by the A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh. I wanted to do research and so watched a few old Hundred Acre Woods stories and bought the original storybook. Not only would this storybook fascinate me, but I would use it as the backdrop of my scene. The use of the book took me straight back to the opening of every Winnie-the-Pooh movie where the narrator breaks away from the page and the story truly unfolds. I had never read the original book and I recommend it beyond anything else for all ages. The wholesome and funny play on words had me laughing. The overall concept design for my miniature then took shape after all this research. I would do the party at the end of the original book where Christopher Robin has called everyone together to celebrate Pooh after he rescued Piglet during the great flood. I was going to make it a wonderful party, yet I only had one tiny figure to work with and I wanted to represent the whole gang: Christopher Robin, Owl, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Tiger even though he was not in A. A. Milne’s original book. I decided I would work around the missing characters and set the scene as if everyone ran off to see something like a butterfly but Pooh did not even notice while he was eating all his honey, but don’t worry, they are all coming back for cake.
The first step in the process besides collecting materials was picking the page to display as the background. I wanted a quote that celebrated Pooh or featured a Pooh-ism and I needed it to be placed high enough that it would not be blocked by the table. After reading through all the stories, I decided on a quote that came from the chapter “Kanga and Baby Roo” where Rabbit, Piglet, and Pooh are trying to steal Roo to scare their new neighbor Kanga away. It was one of the funniest chapters with Rabbits “Plan to Capture Baby Roo.” I pulled out the quote from Rabbit’s text saying, “Without Pooh, the adventure would be impossible.” I felt it truly applied to my brother and his love of Pooh.
When I had the page picked, I could modge podge the edges of the pages together to create a single unit. It took about three layers of modge podge and to make sure I didn’t get any on the display pages I put a piece of wax paper in between. When it was really stiff and could stand nearly on its own, I knew it was ready. I then used an old wooden plaque you can get at any big-name crafting store for a few dollars as my base. I painted the top a grassy green blend and the sides a brown to represent dirt. All I had to do to secure my book in place was to use a lot of glue. Hot glue or gorilla glue should work. Also, I used a hardback book to make sure the book was strong enough to stand on its own. The hardcover was a little larger than the pages which made a weird lip at the bottom, but I was able to cover this with some moss greenery.
The next large step was to make the table for everyone to sit around. I decided to go for a dining room table look instead of a picnic so I could make unique dining room chairs to help differentiate the different characters. For the table, I used a piece of balsa wood, one of my first times working with balsa. I cut out a large top and for the legs, I found long wooden dowels in a bag in the wood aisle in Hobby Lobby that I cut down to the accurate height. I then used brown paint and water to create a stained look which is mostly covered by the white table cloth which is just a 90 cent bandana that I sewed the edges to prevent fraying, folded, and glued in place.
Probably the longest and hardest part about this miniature build would be the individual chairs. There are 8 different ones with unique designs for each. I wanted a very eclectic feel as if Christopher Robin and everyone pulled together the whole party from things that were just lying around. I don’t usually build a lot of miniature furniture and when I do it is maybe only two pieces for a whole miniature scene, though this build was largely an only furniture build, so it was a real change of pace.
To figure out what chairs to create and what furnishings to add to the table, I had to plot out my seating arrangement for all the characters. I made a rough seating chart and then decided on different aspects of the character I could highlight to make their spot special.
Pooh was easy since I had the figure. I made the chair shorter and wider to fit the plushie and decorated his spot with Hunny pots. The honey pots can be found in the wood section at crafting stores in little bags. I just painted them, added the classic backward “N” and use yellow clay to represent honey spilling out.
I knew Piglet would be seated right next to Pooh. I made sure to denote Piglet by creating a high chair since he is so small. I mainly used popsicle sticks and dowels for each chair. I also found that chairs are stronger and look more natural if you add chair supports at the bottom connecting the legs. I strongly recommend taking the time to do this to achieve the best accuracy of the design.
Next to Piglet, I decided to place Eeyore. I made a high stool for Eeyore for no special size reason but to make sure every chair was different. I also used a lighter paint on this stool and tried to use a different type of stain or paint on each chair. To denote Eeyore’s seat I place his classic tail that fell off again. I used different colors felt to create the tail and bow. The actual tail I improvised and cut up an old useless paintbrush that was fraying.
From Eeyore, I went to Rabbit and Tiger who I put together on the same seat. I thought this was a humorous choice since this would aggravate Rabbit quite a lot. I made the chair a long wooden bench with a high back. For the actual seat part, I used a wooden piece that comes with the canvas you buy. It just goes to show how lots of items can be used differently. Rabbit’s spot was shown through a plate in front of his chair that had carrots instead of cake. Tiger’s spot is more found through the process of elimination. But I did decorate the chair more with a little red cushion and a tiny flag made out of skewer and washi tape.
At the other head of the table, across from Pooh, I sat Christopher Robin. I tried to make his chair the most normal and fancy. I added a pillow to his chair. On the floor hidden by the table, I have a pink present with a tag labeled for Pooh. This is a call back to the chapter I am representing when Christopher Robin gives Pooh a present for the bravery he showed. On the cover of the book I bought and displayed, the present is pink so I focused on the wonderfulness of consistency. I used string to tie up the package because that truly is one of my favorite things.
On the other side of the table, next to Christopher Robin, I placed Owl. Owl is quite clear almost instantly as I made his seat a bird perch. I didn’t give Owl cake because he is much too high and mighty, so I just stuck to tea with an absurd amount of sugar because Owl is nothing if he isn’t a hypocrite.
Next to Owl, Kanga sits in a yellow-orange chair angled towards Roo right next to her. Kanga has a piece of cake and a nice cushion to keep the wonderful lady comfortable. Roo’s spot is a very small stool with two books stacked up so he can see everyone. The bigger red book is titled The Dictionary of Big and Little Words while the smaller book is How to Make Your Own Boat. A call back to why the party is being held to celebrate Pooh for his genius boat creations that saved Piglet. I made the book by cutting up a magazine with a thick binding that is fully glued together not just stapled. I cut them out with an Exacto knife and then covered then with colorful cardstock. Roo also has cake and another one of the flags.
Some other items I made to decorate the table would be cake and party hats. For the cake, I started by making the whole thing rounded out of brown clay. Then when I had the shape and height I preferred, I but it into pieces. I used a toothpick and the bumpiness of my crafting room table to scratch the sides of the pieces and leftover cake. Adding texture is one of the best ways to add to clay creations as I have learned. I made sure when texturing the cake that I left a stripe in the middle of the piece without any texture to be the icing and a think layer on the top of the sides and down the back to also be the icing that you would normally see on the outside of a cake. I then painted these places pink after they were baked and hardened. Another good tip is texturing different sides of all sides so not all your cake pieces are laying the same way. You are creating a world that usually has some chaos and individuality. So treat each item uniquely. For the cake pieces, I put them on a variety of plates. Some of them were actually miniature plates you could buy for dollhouses and others were buttons. I also used different utensils. For the leftover cake, I made an elevated cake stand out of a tiny semi-circle bead, skewer, and rounded wood piece.
I added two more teacups to the table to add clutter for Christopher Robin and Piglet. Finally, I also added tiny party hats. These were a breeze to make when I got the hang of it. I looked up patterns to print and cut out for real party hats and went off of that to cut out tiny ones from paper. I glued them together and used Washi tape to wrap around the hat to create a design that would pop. Otherwise, you could try just coloring on the design or maybe make the hats out of more interesting paper. I then used string to add a chin strap which just added a sense of realism. I put one in Piglet’s chair, one by Pooh, and one hanging upside down on Owl’s perch.
The only other items I added to my design to add different height elements to balance the height of the book were a balloon, banner, and beehive. The balloon was made out of a small styrofoam ball and a water balloon. It was a hard choice to make about the color of the ballon. The Disney movies had made the red balloon the most famous while the original book referenced the balloon to be a blue so Pooh would blend in with the sky and the bees would not see him coming. I went with the ascetically pleasing red. It was a stretch fitting the styrofoam in the water balloon, obviously too much of a stretch as it tore in transportation, but most of the color is still there. To have the balloon stick up, I dipped a piece of string in modge podge but this did not bear strong enough results. So I added a piece of white covered wire that I had from charm sets I buy for miniatures. The wire is used just to adhere the charm to the backboard, but once again you never know when something will come in hand with miniature making. I then twisted that around the chair and added protective glue.
For the banner, I tried two different techniques. At first, I felt triangles I had cut out and tried to glue on but it was tedious and the glue was sticky. I gave up and tried wrapping washi tape around the string which took no time and tied in beautifully with my tiny flags. The last big element I added was the beehive I had gotten a long time ago at a plant nursery. It is technically upside down because it is supposed to be stuck into a pot, but I twisted the top and glued the rest of the pole to the book and plaque. It is incredibly sturdy. The only other secret item I added to this design that Is hard to see in pictures is two tiny sticks on the moss by the beehive. I thought of these as Pooh sticks since Pooh and Christopher Robin were probably going to go play on the bridge afterward.
And there it is. Winnie the Pooh and his great party with all his great friends for my wonderful older brother. I think I will use this type of book backdrop again. I dream of The Hobbit with a hobbit hole built-in and a wonderful garden, or even another Disney childhood classic to bring to miniature life. Who knows? And who cares as long as it brings me and my one reader joy.
Without Pooh, the adventure would be impossible.