I love miniatures. You might have noticed that from my first fairy garden post. I also love collectible figures. Whether Funko Pops or random mystery packs found all over stores these days. I love them all and my room is “spotted” with their happy faces. Therefore I wanted to combine them, but I also found once when perusing through Pinterest that people have made something called a travel buddy. These are usually little plush animals that travel around in Altoids tins transformed into beds. Absolutely adorable is another great way to describe them and I decided in a very daring fashion that I am not too old to have a travel buddy and that I would make myself one. In this revolutionary moment, I am sure I have changed the course of history and can’t wait for my name to be immortalized and my faced carved right next to dear Washington’s in that mountain of men, for I have made something that I couldn’t find a nearly exact replica of on the internet. Maybe I haven’t searched well enough and maybe someone out there is shaking their fists and cursing my name for this claim, and for that, I apologize, but nevertheless here is my creation and here’s your guide to making her for yourself and maybe for a wonderful child in your life who would love a travel buddy for the upcoming spring break and summer vacations.
To start off, the Altoids tin I mentioned before is far too small: 1. It will only fit fabricated buddies and not small toys or collectibles and 2. It will only fit a bed and your buddy needs space for all the cool items they packed for your adventures. Therefore, to solve this problem I thought big in the form of a small wooden box found anywhere there are cheap crafting supplies. The box was a mere 3 and a half feet long, 2 and a half feet wide, and about a 1 and a half feet deep when opened. My box, of course, was closable with a little latch and it had a nicely engraved look of a flower on top. This little box when standing up tall would be the home for my travel buddy who was going to fit snuggly inside with a bed and trunk full of travel supplies and it would all be in this lightweight and inconspicuous box.
To start off the decorating process you would need to pick a buddy that would fit perfectly in the box, or you would need to pick a box that would fit perfectly around your buddy. Either way, the goal is for your friend to be able to have some privacy when they are travailing so everything needs to fit together. For my friend, I bought myself a $4 Funko Pint Sized Heros mystery pack that was Disney themed. I’ll be perfectly honest, my sister and I sat on the floor of our local Books-A-Million and felt around blindly in those bagged minis to figure out which ones were Buzz Lightyear or Baloo so we could put them aside in the reject pile and keep searching for Ariel or Belle. When it came down to it we luckily felt and picked out Belle from Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite Disney Princesses and I couldn’t have been happier. Of course, your mini buddy doesn’t have to be a Pint Sized Hero or a Disney character. I do know that Pint Size Heros have many mystery packs from Avengers movies to video games so there is a lot of range if you need to go out and buy a figure, but you could also use Tsum Tsum figures, Lego people, or any toy tiny enough, so get creative in who you house in the box and make sure the toy applies to you or whoever you are making the craft
Now the tedious part begins and that comes in the form of a paintbrush and patience, and I have neither good paintbrushes nor much patience when it comes to painting. For the box, I wanted to really compliment the wood but I didn’t want to go out and buy stain for such a small project so I just used watered down brown paint to give the stain effect. It worked wonderfully and really added a natural look to the box. For the legs, I wanted a bright pop of color, so I picked red which would be carried throughout my design. On the inside, I decided to go for white on the walls to keep the cramped space nice and airy and continued the stained look on the outside edges, the floor made out of chopped up popsicle sticks and the frame of the bed. This usage of the brown inside really marrys the whole color scheme and kept everything coherent inside and out.
Luckily the painting did not take too long on such a smallholder as compared to some of my other miniature houses in fairy gardens. That means it’s time to decorate. When designing Belle’s box I went for a pretty travel theme with pops of red, pink, and blue all over in the furnishings. Continuing on, I split the box into three different areas. In the actual part of the box that had depth, I zoned the top to be the bed for Belle and the bottom to be a sort of storage area for all her items she brought on the trip. The final area is the surface found at the back of the lid that became a gallery wall. The living quarters inside the box are separated by a floating frame I made out of popsicle sticks to hold up the bed. To do this I just put two popsicle sticks together to make a flat surface for the mattress and then added a lip sticking upwards to have a buffer so Belle doesn’t fall out of bed. The whole frame is held in place by hot glue on the edges. One important thing to keep in mind when deciding how high up to put the bed and how much room to leave for the storage below is how wide your buddy will be when laying down. Belle’s head and I mean this nicely, is large. In her famous dress, she has her hair up in a bun and this adds a lot of height to her when she is laying down and actually causes her to have to lay on her tummy to fit, but she fits and that’s what matters. If you are going to use a lego figure which sounds like a wonderful idea if I do say so to praise myself, you will not have such a large problem with headspace and may be able to allow more breathing room in the storage area which will be great for being able to see all your decorations.
Once you’ve figured out where your divider will go for the two levels, then you can really start working on the more exciting details. For the actual bed, I took some thin upholstery foam and covered it in the flowery fabric material. I also used the same technique to make the little pillow propped up against the wall. I got the fabric in small scrapes from a craft show along with quilting pieces that I used to make the blue wool blanket over Belle. The blanket I glued to the upper lip of the bed frame and nowhere else so it could be uplifted and laid over Belle or tucked down when she was out and about. To decorate the blank walls of the space I printed out on photo paper at home a distressed map of the world and used hot glue to apply it, but also added in the top corners small pieces of tape to imply that Belle had hung it herself. On the small wall opposite the pillow, I added a heart painted the pink used in the design and detailed in red dots with a sharpie. I also put up a little bronze Peter Pan that had fallen off of an old bracelet to continue the Disney feel. In retrospect, the top bunk was a really easy design and didn’t take much time to fully construct, but it’s very important that you get all your proportions right before gluing in the dividers and items or you might have a homeless buddy who can’t fit in your creation.
For the storage section under the bunk, I started by making a wooden floor out of Popsicle sticks. I almost always make a floor even though you cannot really see it because I’m obsessive like that, but you could skip that step for such a small and cramped space. On one side I have a pink trunk and the other I put a corner table. The corner table is made out of a wooden spool I got from Hobby Lobby that I painted silver, and the tabletop is red sea glass. Sea glass items are wonderful for fairy gardens and come in such unique shapes and colors that I recommend you get yourself a bag. On top of the table, and it is a little hard to see because of the low ceiling from the bed, I made Belle a journal to keep all her notes in and a pencil. The journal is made out of two cut up Popsicle sticks connected in the middle. The journal pages
On the other side, I made a pink trunk that just injected color into the whole place. The trunk is made out of… Popsicle sticks. I can’t help it that’s all I know in life. I didn’t make a bottom because I was too lazy and yet I made a floor for the whole place. Anyway, the box was filled with a few pieces of fabric to
The last area to decorate is the back of the door as the gallery wall. I started by putting an old key leaning against the wall in place and worked from there. The key fit perfectly not only because it gave me a travel and home feel, but it was also able to fit on a little ledge that jutted out in the framing of the box. At the top, I then added a string of white beads that reminded me as fairy lights and below that a small compass. One thing to keep in mind when adding items to the door is the fact that they need to be able to fit into your house when the door is closed. In the middle area, I printed out on photo paper postcards from some of my favorite places I’ve been including New York City, North Carolina, Colorado, Niagra Falls, and Walt Disney World. I strongly recommend buying yourself a pack of photo paper for your home printer because it is great for any projects whether or not crafting related. To finish the whole design I hand drew some details with the red Sharpie.
The whole of this project took me about two days over the weekend to finish, but keep in mind I took about five to six hours a day. Everything I made is glued down so there are no rattling or breakage when taking it on vacation. Therefore, this home is more of a display than a playset. I really don’t see though why you couldn’t leave some of the items not glued down like the ones in the storage area if you are giving this to a child who wants to take it apart and play. I do recommend maybe not making so many handmade delicate items but just using plastic toys like my Polly Pockets ones. I absolutely adore this creation and I’m going to make at least one more for me and probably a few for my friends so I’ll share those along the way. I’m also going to Disney soon and of course, taking Belle with me so make sure to check for some upcoming vacation pictures. Have fun finding your adventure in the great wide somewhere with your great small someone.