Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Making of a Miniature Pyramid Roombox

Earlier this year, I just decided to to do it. You know one of those 'its' you've been thinking about but just hadn't gotten around to for like two years. Well I finally did! The 'it' was an ancient Eyptian Pyramid Roombox in 1:12 scale. Then I had to get around to blogging about it. After an inquiry about the piece, I finally was motivated to write a bit.I've made several Egyptian dolllhouse miniatures ranging from sets of museum crates & archeology desks, to Revival style furniture, and even a tacky gift shop set. The style seems pretty popular maybe because there isn't a lot of it out there in the mini world (hint hint to mini makers) and Egyptian anything is so magical (ok, except the recent riots). Anyway, I always wondered what type of setting my customers put their Egyptian style minis in. I suppose a Victorian house could have such touches because the 'exotic' other was very influential in all of the Revival movments, including those of that period. I kept thinking though, that a fully Egyptian setting would be really interesting. I had been keeping a folder of ideas for awhile. Some of the pics include:I decided on making a pyramid shaped tomb with an open front. For your history buffs out there, my design is purely FANTASY and may have elements from different historical periods... honestly, I just totally made it up based on my own imaginings. I began drawing patterns on newspaper and cardboard and the project just went from there! It was built with a combination of foamcore, styrafoam, paper mache, sculpy clay, paperclay, and my own stucco mix. It's a very lightweight but sturdy piece. It measures 18" square at the base and is nearly 16 1/2" tall.
I made molds using polymer clay of some of my Egyptian trinket boxes and jewelry and then used these to stamp pieces for the decorative elements. I made little lotus bricks, statuary, and carved hieroglyphs on the walls like this.
There is a central ramp leading into the tomb and an upper shelf inside to put additional trinkets on as well as hang the removable curtain rod. I admit that I was inspired a bit by the Mummy movie with all the gold curtains.I wanted the tomb to look very ancient and a bit spooky. I thought someone could really have some fun with a Halloween scene in this. I kept all the colors very dusty and earth toned, like the paint had worn off centuries ago leaving just a bit of the gold. The details were inked in black and soot to bring them out, with a bit of dribbling here and there like some water damage had occured. Yes there is flooding in the deserts of Egypt. In fact, I just saw a show about the water table rising enough to worry Egyptian authorities about the base of the Sphinx. On to the little goodies I made to go inside the tomb. My tomb has not been raided. The female mummy still lies within its wraps and there are jars, tabulets, and a bit of treasure about. I made several things specifically to go with the tomb as a set for sale. I used genuine obsidian and African wood beads, little ankh charms, and a glass scarab bead.
Now, I did do a photoshoot of many of my favorite little Egyptian bits and baubles in the tomb just for my own satisfaction. Unlike the things in the above photos, these are not for sale. Yes I know much of it is not to scale either (someone emailed me about that) but these pics were just for fun... because it was shiny and I like hoards of treasure! I should totally do a pirate cave too on that note.
Anyway, while I mentioned that there are not so many dollhouse scale miniatures in Egyptian themes, I did find a few here and there. Berkpanda on flickr has an amazing Egyptian roombox and set of dolls in their stream of photos. I was unable to provide any pictures here due to copyright issues but definitely go see these!
I also found this ancient Egyptian domestic home- so cool. Not sure of the scale but I think it's a smaller war game piece. It would be pretty easy to make something like this with an open back. Maybe a fountain in the front.
Miniature dealers who do have Egyptian decor can be found with a bit of digging. Here is a selection from The Wild Orchid at Not sure if these are artisan? Some of it looks similiar to the Aztec miniature catalogue but I still like it all. The tiny sphinx bookends available on the site are beautiful.
There is a set of very realistic Egyptian burial scene dioramas by 'hummeline' on flickr, taken at the Field Museum (where?). Go check out the whole stream at: there are a ton of Egyptian miniatures in smaller fantasy gaming scales! Below is a tomb set which has the block set in standard gaming piece movement squares. I really like the details and the paint job. The molds are available from Crocodile games and you can customize with infinite detail. This picture doesn't even do justice to the main website's examples. There are temple columns, fountains, statuary, etc at There are some very unique accessory pieces by Crocodile Games as well. "Their range of miniatures for their Wargods of Ægyptus wargame is based in a egyptian fantasy realm, so there are plenty of sources for inspiration!" I heartily agree.
On ebay, Jason's Collectibles and Comics has a nice selection of resin terrain pieces.


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