I love Department 56 and Spooky Town collectables, but I don’t have room for all the different houses and building in the collections. So over the years I’ve bought several pieces that I couldn’t live without, but I couldn’t display them either because of no room and to protect them from my two cats. You know what I mean – small collectables make great cat toys!
The first thing I thought of was to get a display case made for goodies – it would have cost the same as a second mortgage, so that idea was out. Then I went out and priced already made display cabinets, and realized that I couldn’t make my kids go without braces. However, I was determined to find a way to display them so the cats couldn’t get at them and so that me and my guests could see them without breaking the bank.
The Solution – The Craft Store
I ran off to Michaels and found the perfect fix for very little money! They had several different sizes but I chose one that was 7 ½ ” tall x 4 ¾ ” wide. I was shocked to find an unfinished display box with glass for under $5.00! I bought two – one to use for a tall display and the other for a horizontal display.
What To Put Into Your Display
Gather any item you think will fit in the display case and set them in. I’m sure you have lots of little collectables you’ve picked up over the years or you can always add doll house miniatures to your display. Of if you have one larger Halloween statue or collectable – use just that. Arrange and rearrange your items until they fit like you want. They may not fit at all! I was surprised when I got home that some of the Halloween collectables I thought would be perfect for my display case didn’t come close to fitting. Others looked dwarfed in the case and didn‘t look good at all. You just won’t know what will look best until you try them all!
The Gory (and Fantastical) Details
Once you’ve decided what to put in your display – start playing around with what details will make it better than just the item. Do you want to go with true scale of one inch equals a foot? Not bother with scale at all? Perhaps you would like to try for realism or fantasy in your display. All these things are good to consider since they will add lots of interest to you collection. If you decide to showcase you’re best mini tombstones for a mini cemetery add greenery, trees, fences and plants or vines to add to the creepy feel of fantasy cemetery in your head. What about adding a wisp of cotton batting to look like low laying ground fog between the tombstones? No matter what you’re planning to exhibit there are always great details you can add that will set it apart from humdrum to eye popping – perfect for Halloween!
Supplies For a Mini-Fantasy Display
- Unfinished display box
- Access to a color printer and the internet
- Double stick tape
- Several different colors of paper or felt for the flooring
- Paint (optional) I’ve decided to leave mine the natural color of the pine for now but you can paint yours anyway you want.
Gather all your supplies so you won’t have to stop later and look for something – it ruins your creative juju if you have to go cussing around the house scaring small children and pets just to find scissors. See, I know you guys – wait. That’s what I usually do!
Anyway, set up in an area with lots of light and space to work so you can spread your supplies out. Carefully measure the area where you want to put your background and write it down so you won‘t forget. As you can see with mine, (insert pic here) I decided to use a background only on the very back. but there are many ways to install your background. For instance, you may want to not only put it on the back of the case but also around the sides of the display. Just make sure that you can still see the items clearly or you may have people picking it up to see what’s inside – that’s bad for breakable collectables!
The Haunted Background
Once you’ve measured, go online or to your favorite graphics program and select a few different backgrounds to print that will add to the feel of what you‘re displaying. Use the rulers in any program you use to make them the exact size of your display so you won‘t have to trim them later or lose part of your background trying to cut it down to make it fit. Select the best background from all the ones you’ve printed and cut it out. Do the same with either felt, colored paper or a design you’ve printed for the floor of the display.
(Of course, if you’re an artist, draw and paint your scene!)
You have to make a decision at this point if you’re going to want to change the display later or if you want it to be permanent. Me? I’m way too fickle to make the display permanent so I used double stick tape to attach my background and flooring. But if you are good at making decisions – get a glue bottle and a Q-Tip. Careful not to get glue on your print since most pictures done on an ink jet will run or smear if it gets any dampness on it – I suggest that you take the background or flooring out and on a covered surface. Then put a thin layer of glue directly on the wood and smooth the glue all over the surface. Carefully lay the background paper in and watch for glue blobs that’ll bubble up around the edges. Take a Q-Tip and gently wipe it off making sure to not rub it over the picture. Let dry completely before doing anything else.
Populating Your Scene
“Time to make the doughnuts” as an old ad used to say when it was time for the good stuff. You’re now ready to start filling your display! Since you’ve installed your background and flooring you’re ready to put your collectables in the display. Try all kinds of combinations before closing the door and being done. You can always hang a bat from the ceiling, add a last minute skeleton or any other thing that will make your items scream with realism or show great flights of fantasy in your showcase. Enjoy!