Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY Doghouse Photo Prop

This is the type of project that I debate whether or not to share. Not because I don't want to share. I do! I just don't want people to feel like they should be able to make this themselves. (Not that you can't. I'm sure you're very crafty!) You know what I mean, right? This is not the type of easy-peasy kids' craft that I often post here. That said, it really wasn't that hard to make, so it's totally do-able if you are planning a puppy paw-ty of your own.

{Ritzy and I get a turn in the doghouse.}

This photo prop turned out nicely and helped set the theme for Mia's 7th birthday paw-ty. Besides being fairly simple to make, it was virtually free! (My favorite kind of project, in case you didn't know.) All I had to buy was a 59 cent bottle of paint since I ran out after the first coat.

As soon as guests arrived, they received a pair of puppy ears. Once they were ready, I had them pose in the doghouse. The photos will be used in the thank-you cards (more on those later!).

Materials for Making Doghouse:
  • large cardboard box
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • hot glue gun
  • black Sharpie marker
  • red acrylic paint
  • white acrylic paint
  • black acrylic paint
Directions for Making Doghouse:
  1. Deconstruct the box and lay it flat. Using a pair of sharp scissors (or a box cutter, if you are more intrepid -- and less accident-prone than myself), cut along a seam so that you now have 2 pieces of cardboard. Each one is two sides of the box. Trim away the smaller flaps from one piece. (In case you are wondering, my cardboard measured 35 1/2" wide by 43" tall at that point.)
  2. Using a ruler, find the center point of the piece of cardboard. Mark it with a pencil. Next, use the ruler and pencil to make vertical and horizontal lines, dividing the cardboard into quadrants. (This is not necessary, but I found it helpful). Tip: Make all marks on the "outside" of the cardboard: the part that has printing on it. Then, when you flip it over, you will have a perfectly clean piece of cardboard to work with.
  3. This was the point when I decided how the roof line should look. I decided to make a horizontal line about 1/3 from the top, all the way across, because that looked right visually. Then I used my ruler to draw angles from the outside edges of that line, meeting at the top. (Remember, I already had a center line, so this is why it was handy.) I used scissors to cut along the lines and ended up with a triangular point on top of the house.
    {The basic shape}
  4. Next up, I made the doggie door. I decided the top of the door would be my center point. I didn't want it to be very wide, just enough for kids to pop their heads through, otherwise there might be clutter in the background of the photos. I measured 10" for width, 5" on either side of the vertical center line, and then drew lines. To get the curve at the top, I traced around the rim of a large plastic bowl. Then, I cut it all out with my scissors. Tip: Since I wasn't worried about how the part I was cutting away looked, I was free to cut it into smaller chunks. For some reason, I have found small triangles to be easier to work with rather than one large semi-circle.
  5. After getting the basic doghouse shape, I flipped my cardboard over to the "clean" side and laid in on a layer of newspaper. I used a foam paintbrush to apply a coat of red acrylic paint, let it dry, and then added a second coat of paint. 
  6. Once the second coat dried, I took a strip of cardboard (one of my discarded pieces), which was the same width as my doghouse and about 2 inches tall and used this as a straight edge to make lines across the entire house with a black Sharpie. This made it look like wooden boards. I added two "nails" per board along the outside edges. These were just small black hand-drawn circles. I also outlined the rest of the doghouse with black Sharpie for a more finished look.
    {Adding the "boards"}
  7. It didn't look finished, so I took two more strips of cardboard (again about 2 inches wide) and cut each one at a 45 degree angle so that they would meet up to make the roof. These, I painted with black acrylic paint and once they were dry, I adhered them with my hot glue gun. 
  8. To personalize the doghouse, I cut an oval out of some scrap cardboard and painted it with white acrylic paint (two coats). After the paint had dried, I outlined it with black Sharpie and then added another oval set about 1/4" in from the outline. Then I typed "Mia" using this free font and printed it out, trimmed it to size, and glued it the the placard. Lastly, I hot glued the oval to the front of the doghouse.
  9. Before displaying the photo prop, I took two extra scraps of rectangular cardboard and hot glued them to the back of the doghouse on either side of the door. I had noticed it was a bit flimsy (likely because I used more then one side of a box to create it), and this served as a necessary reinforcement. To hang it, I used twine which was not elegant, but it fit with the theme just fine. I cut two lengths and used plenty of masking tape to adhere them "stitches" fashion. Then, I taped both lengths of twine to the mantel with clear packaging tape. It had just enough distance between the prop and the fireplace for the kids to kneel behind it for photos. (Note: I had taped a small section of white plastic table cover behind the opening to the doghouse, and I later wished I had covered the whole area the way I did for the Care Bear photo prop from last year. Despite not thinking of that sooner, it looked pretty good.)

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