To my way of thinking, the greatest buy in quarter scale miniatures is the famous BPF, or Brown Plastic Furniture. It is available for less than $5.00 in most miniature stores, often in places like Wal Mart, Hobby Lobby and Michaels, and online at sources like minikitz. com and other small scale dealers; also ebay.
Here are pictures of the furniture.
Set 1 - Toilet, Tub, Lavatory, Medicine Cabinet, Scales, Toilet Tissue Holder, Towel Rack, Stool.
Set 2 - Grandfather Clock, 3 Chairs, Hutch, Desk, Round Table, Table Lamp.
Set 3 - Chest of Drawers, Dresser, Night Stand, Bed, 1 Chair, Table Lamp, Pitcher and Bowl.
Set 4 - Kitchen Stove, Ice Box, Dry Sink, Table, 2 Chairs, Pitcher, Bowl, Sink Pump.
Set 5 - Grandfather Clock, Table, Desk, 3 Chairs, Phone, Table Lamp, Mirror.
There was an article in the NAME Gazette on bashing this furniture, but I don't recall the exact issue, at this moment.
The most famous ideas on bashing BPF originated with the late Joe Hermes, one of the founding members of NAME, who pioneered making miniature wallpaper. He also used to sell kits for a small open front foamcore quarter scale house, including one shaped like a shoe. At one of my first miniature shows in the 80s, I bought both kits, as well as several sheets of his wallpapers, and he gave me a sheet on reworking the small plastic furniture.
There is no telling how many people have seen and used that famous little sheet over the years. I think it was even handed out at NAME Conventions. His ideas are so creative, yet so simple. I have tried them all, as well as using them as a springboard for further bashing.
His original sheet was too big for my website page; if I had reduced it, it would have been too difficult to read his handwritten notations. So, for my purposes here, I have separated it into sections; enlarged, cleaned up and straightened the drawings and replaced his handwritten notations with type. Unless otherwise indicated, all the sketched ideas are original with him, Barbara Happ and Glendale CA NAME Club, The Min-U-Ettes, as listed on his handout.
It is with the greatest admiration and gratitude that I am reproducing Joe's famous bashing. Thank you, Joe, for all you did for us in the miniatures world.
I love this clock; have finished it in many different ways.
The cut off top piece when glued to the back of the side table bottom gives an interesting look, too.
I used the cut off clock, decorative top still in place, for fairy tale gift wall clocks once. I cut the heads off model railroad deer, pigs, cats, etc., and then glued the heads to that, repainting it all, of course. They were so cute, if I do say so. Unfortunately, I gave them all away and don't have any photos. Maybe I will make another one.
I have also added a larger top to this table, both round and square, and cut it down to make a coffee table. This table looks good with a laser cut doily on it. Lots of people have painted it in Mary Engelbreit and other folk art styles, too. (I used one as a bedside table in Mother Goose's halfscale cottage.)
I have also cut off the two extending tips of the chair backs and rounded the corners. In addition, I have made a full padded back and cushion for the chair; "slipcovered" it entirely, as well. With a bit of pressure and/or heat, the back can be curved backward slightly, too.
I glued two together to make an upholstered sofa, which you can see in a tutorial on using paper for upholstery here. I learned in that process that if you are going to make a sofa, the legs will need to be cut down. Also, be aware that you will need very thin padding, if any, and very thin fabric or paper and card to cover the ends, etc.
NOTE July 2012:
Dawn Weaver, of Cary, NC, who was a professional miniaturist for many years, wrote in to an online group, CAMP, recently, "I made bunk beds by kit bashing the 1/4" plastic furniture. They are in the hanging up on my wall in the cabinet dollhouse I made my mother many years ago."
I then asked her for a picture to include here, and she added, "Also, there were canopy beds in the BPF line, but they disappeared shortly after I found miniatures. The bed posts did break easily and most of the plastic canopies didn't fit on all that well."
She created these bunk beds using two canopy beds, about which she commented, "The canopy posts were broken so took advantage of that. I made the ladder, which surprised me, cause I don't remember making it. Note the tiny dollhouse on the table. Have no idea where I got it, but it was perfect for this 1/4 scale "house."
Thanks, Dawn! Wouldn't it be cool to find one of those canopy beds these days?
I have also used this idea to make a bench, with just a cushion on the seat. Also tried it with a pillow or pillows at the back. Put arms on the sofa ....
The late Rosa Linnerborn from Sweden used the table base and a chair back
to form a very realistic office chair!
Isn't that neat?
With her permission, I am sharing an ingenious creation by Diane of Guelph, Ontario, who used two chairs to make a comfy recliner.
She used one full chair and the back of another. The second back is glued upside down at an angle just below the seat to create the leg rest.
3/8 inch cardstock is used to enclose the chair backs and cover the entire seat surface.
The sides are made from card stock by laying the chair on its side and drawing to the size and configuration wanted. Then they are glued in place.
Covered with very thin leather (any thin stretchy fabric would do), Diane now has a La-Z-Boy recliner!. A double recliner could be created by gluing two chairs together, she adds.
Hmm; let's look at those pictures again ....
The one on the right with a blanket tossed on it and a life buoy hanging nearby could be a deck chair on some fancy ocean liner. The chair on the left with a colorful print over the long seat, and a needlepoint fabric with matching thread trim on the arms, could be a wicker poolside or sun porch chair. Oh, the possibilities!
I made the hall trees as gifts one year, and added hooks for hats and umbrellas. I enclosed the legs with cardboard and used decorative trim from a paper doily for carving, then painted and gave it a wash.
The mirror can be used alone; with a shelf added at the bottom; with sconces on either side.
For a less ornate mirror, the top section can be cut away. With a piece of wood or card added, the cut section can become a wall shelf. I have used it as a shelf turned upside down, too.
With permission, here are the directions for making Marilyn Parke's Litchfield fireplace:
One 1/4" brown plastic desk
One sheet of Jim Collins' 1/4" brick printie
Card stock or light weight cardboard
Coarse emery board
Grey, white, black acrylic paint
Small paint brush
Clear acrylic water base varnish
1. Using a coarse emery board, sand off the drawers of the desk.
2. Paint the top of the desk and the hearth with medium grey acrylic paint; allow to dry.
3. Marbleizing top and hearth: Using a small paint brush, dip tip into black paint and using a light touch make squiggly lines (not too many) to represent marble.
4. After allowing black paint to dry completely, coat the top and hearth with varnish. Allow to dry.
5. Repeat step 3 using white paint.
6. Repeat step 4.
7. Paint firebox with black paint.
8. Using cardstock make a box to fit under the fireplace to lift it to a proper height. Glue 1/4" brick paper on box.
9. Glue 1/4" brick paper on front and sides of fireplace.
Thanks for the directions, Marilyn!
By the way, the great quarter scaler Luci Hansen uses the bathroom stools as counter stools in her kitchens; they look great with chrome paint for the legs, or done up in various treatments. I have also made a back for the stool by gluing fabric to a business card. And, incidentally, old business cards are excellent weight for using with this furniture.
I have also cut the desk into three sections. The end pieces with new tops and bottoms make nice small side chests. (If the shape seems odd to you, call it a tabouret and people will go Oh, Aha! lol)
... or filing cabinets. I use business cards to add new sides where necessary on these cut apart sections, as well.
The center section with new ends and legs makes a nice little console table or small desk. Depending on how it's finished and what handles or knobs are added, you can get a very different look.
Here the "console table" is combined with the top of the hutch for a different look. (Looks better in real life than it does here. lol)
When I made my wash stand, I added beads on the top pieces and gave them a dot-and-dash paint treatment. One of my aunts had a similar washstand where she hung embroidered starched hand towels. I have also seen this made as a wash stand using carved toothpicks.
Here it is with doors removed. And by the way, if you do remove those doors, try using them as window shutters.
Here I have used the upper part of the hutch as a corner cabinet for bathroom storage. (The stool holds a bath oils tray).
I don't think the latest version of this cabinet has "glass" doors; what a shame. I believe some people have tried cutting out the window openings, although I haven't.
This marvelous kitchen work table in a cookie cutter is the creation of Betty Turmon.
This is the original dry sink she started with.
Betty has indicated here the section to be cut out.
Here the section has been cut away with a sharp Exacto blade.
Next step is to sand the cut edges.
A small wooden piece is cut the same size as the little top piece....
... and glued in place with Crafter's Pick Glue.
She has now turned the dry sink bottom-side up and added a new table top. Notice that the original top pieces now form the feet.
The table top can be any size you want.
This version has a card stock trim piece cut with decorative scissors.
I don't think you can make the oriental table with the new bed, unfortunately.
The bed shortened, with a second headboard at the foot, makes a nice day bed. Plump pillows, a tufted cushion and a dust ruffle give a traditional look, whereas boxed cushions make it more tailored.
The shortened bed with only the foot piece can make a chaise. You can add a side piece using cardboard, as well. I have made day beds and chaises with padded upholstered pieces slightly smaller than the head- and foot boards; this gives the look of wood framing.
That piece cut out when the bed is shortened also makes a cute breakfast tray. Turned upside down, it makes something, too, but I forget now what I did - maybe a book shelf of some sort.
For cutting this I think you probably need a small craft saw. Frankly, I don't remember for sure how I cut it.
NOTE: July 2012 - Dawn Weaver wrote me,
"Also, there were canopy beds in the BPF line, but they disappeared shortly after I found miniatures. The bed posts did break easily and most of the plastic canopies didn't fit on all that well."
I never knew this! How cool to find one of those beds somewhere. Best bet would probably be in one of those lots you find occasionally on sale on Ebay. I ordered a good size batch and found some pieces I had never seen before.
This "oil lamp" is so handy. I have experimented with several by painting the globe with a pearl finish, tried adding dot-and-dash flowers, added a shade, painted the base gold, silver, or black, etc.
The top part can become a jar or small bottle. The middle section can be a vase or a globe in another lamp; the bottom section can become a planter, etc. I used that bottom section as a the base for a bird figurine that I made once.
Obviously all the variations I have shown here have probably already been thought of by hundreds of miniaturists. I don't claim to have invented them; they just occurred to me as I experimented.
Thanks also, to Rosa L, Diane G, Marilyn P, and Betty T for their great BPF bashing techniques.
NOTE: July 2012 - A few months ago I purchased a big batch of this furniture on Ebay and it contained several pieces I had never seen before. I need to get pictures of these pieces. I am wondering now if perhaps there were other sets, perhaps by other manufacturers ....
NOTES ON FINISHING:
Emery boards can shape and smooth rough edges and/or round off corners; for the most part I've used my craft knife with a new blade to cut apart sections, sort of rocking it slowly back and forth. A small hobby saw can be useful, as well as fingernail cutters at various stages.
Before finishing this furniture, I attach it with double-sided tape to a paint can stir stick and spray with gesso or white or beige paint. Then I apply my paint or finishes over that. I definitely prefer spray painting for the base coat, but others do well with hand painting. Most of my decorative painting is done with the tip of a toothpick or with my pick; rarely, a fine tip brush. I have used a cork-backed steel 6-inch ruler and a sharp felt-tipped pen to draw lines. Small bits of makeup sponges can be useful for certain paint treatments or aging.
Adding a drop or two of white paint to any of your acrylics will soften the look, which I prefer for this small scale. I use a golden oak stain on anything that I want to give a patina. Washes work well for aging.
Printies can be glued on to give a hand painted look, and tiny jewelry findings and pieces of paper doilies can add dimension and a carved look.
This stuff is really fun to work with, especially if you are like me - a basher rather than a builder.
Quarter scalers have been doing wonderful things with this furniture for many years. It is definitely worth picking up several packages anywhere you come across it. The BPF has been "improved" since Joe prepared his handout and some of the ideas may not work with the newer version. I feel very fortunate that I still have several of the older versions in my stash. You can see some of these variations and treatments here.