DIY Dioramas: Portable Walls!

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When thrift shopping, I never pass up one of these divided shadow boxes. They are usually cheap--and definitely worth the little bit of work to transform.

I've also used them in permanent settings, such as Vickie's Vintage below. The infamous Shoe wall. This one all I did was remove the two covers and then hinge them together. The sparkle is the mirror that backs each of the cubby holes...perfect for maximizing the shoes for viewing! 
Upside, I can use the hinge in the middle to make a corner also, as it is in Vickie's now.

Any of my dioramas that are not in plastic Mattel structures or Vickie's, are set up to be portable. I can break them down and pack the insides away, usually in a small tote. Flat walls are folded and set along my lower walls on the covered concrete block wall bases we have in the craft room. 

I've shared how I use foam core walls to make a 

Storefront Parking Lot


A Vacation Cabin/Hut in Costa Rica-there is another shadow box, which was rough sawn wood with paper cut to fit each cubbyhole.


A huge banquet Party Venue built entirely of covered foam core pieces. I could still set this room up in less than 15 minutes. I used black contact paper for most of the walls. 

I use the same gray/silver poster board for my floors/streets/sidewalks. Bases are done on the thicker foam core  so I can move a set-up if need be, and this gives a firm foundation for pinning the walls to. Half of my doll stand bases are covered in the same silver posterbboard, making wiping the edges out easy in editing my photos. 

Creating that venue--with blank walls and printed additions!


Another historical setting,

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 a background for a speaking engagement, quotes from Pinterest and book covers were pasted on paper that had European architecture on. James Baldwin, though American lived in Paris most of his life! 


A complete pumpkin farm, from upside down painted foam core and a backdrop from a toy box.


My hand-painted Chicago skyline makes a park and used for many more! 

Now back to furniture walls!
 Joe and Vickie's Condo is set up on two shelves, a 10" deep shelf and a 12" deep shelf, one above the other in my craft room. The back walls are actually the white-washed paneling from the craft room. The grid poles are the bracket holders. Often, if I remember I can wipe these out with editing.


Here another shadow box is used as a built-in and focal point in Vickie's living room. Again, this one had mirrors, which can be tricky taking photos, My camera is in there along with the opposite storage wall, LOL.


Another cubby box acts as the kitchen wall and cupboards. This one did not have moveable grids, so I left it the stained finish. I filled it with colorful kitchen ware and food items! 

Now, back to the DIY for the bedroom diorama. This one was particularly clean and cheap---and the upside was the removable grid came out in once piece. I knew I wanted a white unit for the bedroom, so I started dismantling to prepare for painting. I wiped down the entire piece with alcohol to remove oils and dust.

Next thing was to remove all the hardware and hinges!

Luckily these are cheaply made and just prying off the hanger was easy. Many of these pieces are stained with a light sealer. Often the stain will bleed through light colored paints. I used a spray 
stain blocker/primer and then could either hand paint or spray with a satin enamel. Why satin enamel? Because it is a tighter finish; museum wax, tapes, and scratch marks are easily wiped away. 

The cover with glass will probably become a picture window in some future diorama.

Since the grid was removable, I added a piece of scrapbook paper behind. This is just put in with double-faced tape---
so I can change it. 
Here it matches another fake wall--the back-end of a Barbie plastic closet with the same paper. You can see a bit of pink at the top in this photo. After looking at this photo, the look of wallpaper is good and the scale is the proper. I added a strip for wall trim at the bottom and raised it to cover the closet. I've also used wrapping papers for back drops, as well as contact paper. 

Here, Vickie and Joe on the first night they moved into the condo, and using their still unfinished bedroom!  The carpet is a placemat from IKEA, though I bought a set of 6 in a thrift store for $2.00.

Happy DIY Dioramas! 

What do you use for walls? 

Thank you for visiting, I will try and respond to every question and comment. 

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  1. This is all so very interesting. I love "behind the scenes" posts. I'm only doing clothes. But I do have lots of dolls which are posing atop furniture in my bedroom, the guest bedroom and the living/diningroom area. I have a sewing machine in the den, but much of what I do is in my bedroom where most of my FR and Barbie Model Muse dolls also reside along with most of their vast wardrobe. So, it's like I wake up each day in my bedroom/doll room.

    1. Well, that wouldn't be a bad thing, lol. I have bins and bins of fabrics/ antique laces and trims...and scads of bits and pieces I've collected over the years. I have a huge piece of Nottingham lace that's too good to cut up, but I can't part with it. It would make fabulous vintage dresses, lol. I can imagine your dolls' wardrobe is huge. I have had a problem with the FR, as I just think they all look like they need a cookie, lol. But, such is the fashion world. Grins, Sandi


Thanks so much for each and every comment, and I will try and answer any questions you may have.