Tutorial: How to make a miniature vintage suitcase
I enjoy making props for my art dolls, I sometimes feel I go overboard because I tend to give them a lot of props! I imagined the Puppeteer, as a street performer. He lugs his suitcase around, looking for a decent spot to set-up. Once he finds one, he takes out his puppets and his mug, which doubles as a collection bowl, and performs for the public.
When I first made him, I also gave him two suitcases, one for each puppet. Which brings me to the inspiration for this Puppeteer. I patterned his face, but did not mean it to be an exact match, to artist Brian Froud, conceptual designer for "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth". He met his just-as-amazing wife Wendy Froud while working on "The Dark Crystal" and that movie is where these two puppets come from – the gelfings Kira and Jen.
At first I made him a couple of suitcases which were altoid tins covered in fabric. However, I made the Puppeteer more tools, and props, I even made a tiny shard which went in a special box to go in his suitcase, so he definitely needed a bigger suitcase!
To make a bigger suitcase, I had to create the base from scratch. I reused a clean, food carboard box and cut out my pieces to make the top and bottom part of the suitcase. We only need five pieces in four sizes. I have a diagram in the video that shows the sizes and where they go.
If you want to follow along, here's a full list of what we'll need:
- cardboard (I reused a food box. To make the same size I made, cut two pieces of 3 x 4.25" this will be our front and back panels, and cut strips in three sizes: widths of 1.5", 1.25" and 0.7", each long enough to go around the panels). You'll see in the diagram in the video where each piece goes. We are basically making a new box as our base.
- fabric - I used faux leather (black for the cover and brown for the corner accents), and a floral beige fabric for the inner lining but you can use any fabric you want. It does not have to be leather.
- aluminum foil tape (optional, you can simply skip this step or use fabric instead)
- leather - we're making miniature belts from this. If you don't have leather, you can also fashion this out of fabric
- glue gun
- fabric glue
- super glue
- printout of scaled down photos
- some paint or coffee and paint brush
And follow along the video. You can change the size of the suitcase by simply scaling down or scaling up the sizes I used.
Designing it is fun, you can play with different colors and fabric combination. It can also be used for a lot of other thing like a keepsake holder, jewelry box or gift box.