A blog about Sylvanian Families, toy photography, collection, miniatures and crafts.

28 October 2017

Making a DIY mole house

I've always liked the idea of an underground house for the mole family but I really can't afford an official one at this time! Also, making a mole house has been in my mind for some time now so I took the decision to build one! There are some instructions in a issue of the sylvanian magazine but it didn't really appeal to me! I decided I want something to have both the inside of a mole house but also a front side with a yard and door that I could use for photos! I searched online an I found many beautiful pictures of fairy and hobbit underground houses so I made a draft drawing of what I want. It is supposed to be under a hill but it also has a nice front yard, window and front door!
I started two days ago,I decided it would be fun if I share the procedure with all you in the forum, however long it takes to finish it!

 Sorry I didn't take more detailed pics of the procedure so far but I will try to explain what i did. I used air drying clay to make the front of the house! I made a thin layer ( I actually rolled a bottle on the clay to make it thin enough). I cut the door and window on paper first and then used them as guides to cut on the clay.

 With a sharp object (a small knife or toothpick) I curved some bricks on the wall and smaller bricks around the door and window. Also made some wood effect on the door.

 I let the clay dry and then I found a shoe box and a thin OSB wooden board to use for the base. I drew the outline of the front piece on the box and I cut the door and window.

 I cut the sides and upper part of the box (left it only in the part above the door) so it follows the shape of the clay part and stapled the free sides to the stable sides of the box to make it sturdy( this took me sometime to achieve but it's important for the sturdiness of the construction)

 Then I glued the clay on the shoe box, and I glued the box on the wooden board.

 I glued a bamboo placemat on the box to use it as a roof.

 Then I placed a piece of cardboard paper from a packaging box on top. I stapled it on the bamboo placemat and on the wooden board at the edges. Now I am ready to apply polyurethane foam spray to form the roof of the underground house. When I do it I will post pics!

 I also made some front steps and stones for the front yard!

 I applied the PU foam and I am quite pleased with the result. This is supposed to be the ground over the house. It was the first time to use it and I made a bit of a mess especially on my clothes! I left it dry overnight and now its quite hard and sturdy!

 I left a piece of the placemat uncovered so it looks like a wooden roof.

 I also glued down the stone pieces. Next phase is painting...!

I did the painting with acrylics. I experimented with the wall( tried to paint every brick stone separaletly) but I don't like the result as I see it now... :think: The embossed surface is hidden behind the pattern, it looks more like a plain drawn paper. So I will repaint the wall with an even, more uniform, color. On the other hand I am pleased with the color of the stone path!

 The foam and the board are painted green and I will cover them with dry moss . I did try on a small surface just to see how it looks!

I repainted the wall with a light pale yellow color and I highlighted some of the brick stones - short of drybrushing - and I am satisfied with the result now because the carved details on the wall are more visual!
I also covered the green areas with dry moss. That was quite a task but I think it looks nice! I also made a chimney out of clay. I painted it and glued it on the foam. The pipe in the chimney is a piece of a pen cap!

This is how it looks from the inside.

I removed most of the shoebox to open more space inside. I only left one part as a side wall. If I knew better I wouldn't glue the placemat on the box but I would just staple it. Now I will need to attach a new placemat as a ceiling because there is too much dry glue and torn paper on the old one. I also made a cross on the window with wooden sticks.

 I fixed the door to the wall with a hinge. I used a small piece of wood (same width with door) to screw one side of it and then glued it on the wall. Then I glued the other part of the hinge on the door with superglue. I didn't fasten it on the door because the clay would crack. The screws are cut and only glued in place just for the effect!

 I made a new tree...

...and also made a window box with flowers (using fimo clay)and two small pots with the remaining clay. 

Finally I attached a clear plastic as a glass on the window from the inside.

I worked some more on the interior. I made a pattern of the wall using plain paper...

... and I used this to cut the wallpaper.

 I also made a pattern of the floor. I cut it on a hard paper and then I used adhesive paper with a wooden printed surface to cover it. 

I also used a new placemat for the ceiling...and here's the result...

 Now I only have to place the furniture!

I found some time to finish the little well and also made some fence pieces

Thanks a lot guys! I had a great time with this project! I am posting some final photos just to complete this thread!

Final from the front
Decorated inside


The Mole family!


  1. Helly Beaman wrote:
    it looks really good so far !! cant wait to see the results :)

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    This is an amazing project! I have also always wanted a mole house, but the pricetag makes me think twice. :lol:
    I love how your house looks so much like a hobbit house!!! That really is adorable, because I think the hobbit homes are just adorable - I would like to live in one myself...
    It is impressive to see that your clay did not crack or warp - that seems to be my problem with air drying clay that I used to try and make planters with for my town. I love the expanding foam trick. It works so well and is easy to carve up later on. It is a bit messy, but the results are really worth it. So far, the results look even better than the drawing and I cannot wait to see the end results. :love:Yes I was surprised to see that the clay has dried so neatly and strongly even in a thin layer! I use the DAS clay, i have used others with really bad results!

    Suvenkorento wrote:
    Awesome Sylvanako! I can't wait to see what it will turn out to be :)

    Jim wrote:
    What a FANTASTIC project!! This is going to be so cool when completed!! YOU never cease to amaze and inspire me!! I can't wait to see the finished house!!!

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    That is great to know, Sylvanako! I just got the exact same brand of clay recently, only in white:
    https://www.takealot.com/das-air-harden ... ID28113887
    But after my last attempts, I have not yet opened the packet. :lol:

    The mole house is cool and all, but I have to be honest and say that the thing that I am most looking forward to, is seeing the amazing photos that you come up with when this little hobbit-house is finished. They are going to be super epic!

    Buchiu wrote:
    it's looking awesome! In the future I would love to do a mole house too (I don't even have the moles yet though??)
    You did a wonderful job with the DAS. The front is looking great :) I look forward to the finish result!

    Amaia wrote:
    It is amazing Sylvanako!!!!You :shock: :shock: :shock: are very talented.
    I can not wait to see the finished house. :happy: :happy: :happy: :happy: :happy: :happy:

    Terra wrote:
    Wow, great idea and I love the clay technique! Thanks for the sharing, I'm very much looking forward to watching this project progress.

    tenchibaka wrote:
    same, i really want to see how this comes out<3

    Whirlwindsparkle wrote:
    Amazing work so far! Looking forward to seeing the finished product

    Piffle wrote:
    Very awesome!! :clap: Will be following closely, can't wait to see your next step. I'm also really impressed with the airdry clay, the one I've got always shrinks and warps and cracks horribly. I'll keep an eye out for the DAS brand.

    Webbedflipper wrote:
    Watching this space eagerly!

    Xara wrote:
    I'm in awe! That looks really good so far, can't wait to see your progress. The clay parts turned out so well! :clap:

    Eleonora wrote:
    Your project is AMAZING and so inspiring!! I can't wait to see it finished :-)


  2. Piffle wrote:
    Once again.... so exciting!!! :lol: You make it look so easy. It's looking fantastic.

    pattysminiatures wrote:
    Fantastic all ready ...can't wait to see it finished!

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    This is looking very interesting. This foam is impossible to get off of anything, but it does not stick to wax paper if you ever need to do it again.
    I like the little bit of wood sticking out in front. Now that the "gound" layer is on, this house is really starting to look like a mole hill!
    This is very exciting!

    Terra wrote:
    This is going to be an amazing mole house! The foam "earth" is great. It's already looking very cosy. :love:

    nzemily wrote:
    It is looking really good! I cannot wait to see the final result!

    Mrs. Apple wrote:
    This is so cute, I cannot wait to see more!

    cutata wrote:
    What an AMAZING project, Sylvanako! :clap: :clap:
    It looks fantastic.
    Your house is going to look much better than the official mole house, that´s for sure.
    Can´t wait to see it finished!


  3. LadyLollipop wrote:
    That stone path looks very nice, but I see what you mean about the wall. From far away, it doesn't show your hard work! Can't wait to see what the next step looks like in this experiment.

    Terra wrote:
    The first photo (of the wall) isn't showing on my screen, which probably means that I need to restart my browser or switch to Chrome or Safari. But, yes, if you are not completely happy with it, re-do it, otherwise it may frustrate you every time you use the house.

    The path is going to be gorgeous!

    tenchibaka wrote:
    it still looks really neat regardless but then again i am a sucker for crafts XD

    Chill82 wrote:
    That looks great!

    Piffle wrote:
    Looking awesome! :thumbup: :mrgreen:

    maria1976 wrote:
    Wonderful project, thanks for sharing!
    The wall doesn't look bad, maybe a bit too 'even' colour, but maybe just a 'wash' layer of paint could suffice? ( You know- like they do 'white wash' or ' black wash' you could do a ' dark brown wash' or something? I am not an expert , though, I repainted my white tiled stove a couple of times and still I am not super happy with the results.
    I think the stones look great,but they were also looking great in plain orange-clay colour to me.Anyway, it's fantastic, I can't wait to see the final effect!

    tenchibaka wrote:
    a drybrushing would be better than a wash since it is much less uniform and a bit more natural


  4. wrote:
    Fun to see your progress. It looks much better with the moss on! What are you planning to put inside the house? You're right that the light wall colour brings out the details better.

    Terra wrote:
    Cosy and adorable! I very much like the color change. Well done!I think I will remove most parts of the shoebox because the foam is very sturdy! I want to paint or wallpaper the inside and put some furniture!
    Thanks Terra! Glad you like it better now!

    Eleonora wrote:
    It looks beautiful :-) I bought some moss too but I still have not used it as I am afraid it could stain the feet of my Critters. Watching you used it I feel more confident it is okay to use it.
    I can't wait to see the family inside.

    Piffle wrote:
    This is looking amazing. :)

    pattysminiatures wrote:
    Fantastic work!

    nzemily wrote:
    This looks great!

    maria1976 wrote:
    Looks good. I love the purple chimney! I am sure the interior will be cosy as well.

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    I like the new paint job so much! This project is looking lovely so far with the moss on top.

    tenchibaka wrote:
    elenora- if the moss is fresh moist and springy it might stain(though it is unlikely) but if it is dry, brittle and flaky you are safe, if the cells dry out then rupturing them wont cause a lot of discouloration

    1. Thank you guys, your feedback is reassuring for me! The moss looks great, the only thing is that it leaves small parts if you manipulate it. I had to turn it all upside down and give it a nice shake so all the extra moss falls off! But it won't stain the critters for sure!


  5. bloem wrote:
    Superpretty. When can I move in :lol: can't wait to see it photographed with critters

    Mrs. Apple wrote:

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    Sylvanako, how about if you make a glue and water mixture to spray over the moss? Would that perhaps prevent the shedding?That's a nice idea, but how would I spray it? I was thinking about maybe applying hairspay instead? :think:

    maria1976 wrote:

    sylvanako wrote:
    That's a nice idea, but how would I spray it? I was thinking about maybe applying hairspay instead? :think:Again I have never done this, but I've read on model-trains forum that one guy used to finish his grass diorama with water diluted white glue ( capenters glue, polivinyl) and spraying it with old perfume hand-atomizer.

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    I would suggest using a bottle like these ones: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Spray-250ML-Ha ... xyBvZTT5In

    We have them here at our local plastics shops and they are not even expensive.

    Eleonora wrote:

    tenchibaka wrote:
    elenora- if the moss is fresh moist and springy it might stain(though it is unlikely) but if it is dry, brittle and flaky you are safe, if the cells dry out then rupturing them wont cause a lot of discoulorationThanks! The moss I have is dry and flaky :-)

    Ayrell wrote:
    Wonderful and impressive project! It's looking great! Can't wait to see the finished result.

    Piffle wrote:
    I used a little spray bottle like LadyLollipop linked to with white glue diluted 50:50 with water to secure the moss on my secret island diorama. It worked really well (although if I sprayed too hard it displaces some of the moss) and now it's solid as a rock to touch. Just make sure you cover the areas you don't want the glue to get on. :)

    Albi wrote:
    I love your mole house Sylvanako! You made me want to make one myself :love:

    tenchibaka wrote:
    if you use a spray-bottle please cut the straw inside so it is not super close to the bottom, pva tends to sink no matter how well you shake it or how well you dilute it XD it will keep the bottle from gumming up

    1. will try to find a bottle like that, it reminds me of the one my wife has to spray the clothes before ironing. Thanks for the ideas and advice everyone ! :love: Next I will be working on details like fixing the door and the window, making a tree in the yard, making a flower pot for the window and maybe a fence and a well too? Of course I must also work οn the inside of the house...so many things to be done!


  6. tenchibaka wrote:
    a regular fine-spray bottle will work too if that one is too hard to find XD

    Cecelia wrote:
    If you can't find a good even spray bottle you can also mix the glue and water together and dab it on with a paintbrush. I did this with my pond and used a bit more water than glue so I could see the big drops sink in. I did a few coats. It takes longer but you know the glue mix is really penetrating the moss/foliage/grass and the end result is VERY sturdy and not flaky.

    Easy spray bottle sources you can "upcycle" in case you need a bottle though... :clap:

    - Old perfume/cologne
    - Old air fresheners
    - Old makeup "mist" products
    - Old skincare products

    Of course clean these out thoroughly unless you want Mr. Mole's house smelling like Chanel No. 5 :lol:

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    OOoh, yes please a well! That would be super cute. I have wondered about how you are going to do the door though. But I will wait patiently to find out. I also think a flower garden of some sort is in order, since mother mole needs somewhere to curb her digging urge to relax from all that cleaning. :lol:
    Haha, yes, maybe there will be a corner with flowers for them to do their diggind and I am making plans for a well too! As for the door I made a new, a bit bigger one, because I decided it would look better if it's not at the same level with the wall but a level behind it but this will give me more trouble to fix it. I found a hinge from a wooden gift box (witch I was sorry to destroy but... :razz: ) and at the time I am trying different methods to make it work... :think:

    cutata wrote:
    It looks amazing! :clap: :clap:
    Hope you can find a way to prevent the moss shedding.
    Can´t wait to see the well,the flowers and the door! What a great project!


  7. tenchibaka wrote:
    this is becoming quite adorable! (it also would match the garden i am nearly finished building quite well)

    Terra wrote:
    The mole house is looking amazing! This is a very exciting project. The hinge is a great touch. :clap: :love:

    LadyLollipop wrote:
    I like that flower box.

    Amaia wrote:
    Wow!!!Itis great. I love it!!! :<3: :<3: :<3: :<3:

    Terra wrote:
    The mole house keeps getting better and better! I love it, it's beautiful and cosy. Amazing work. :)

    cutata wrote:
    :<3: The interior looks so cozy! Perfect choice of wallpaper.
    The door looks fabulous!
    I´m looking forward to seeing it furnished.

    MosswoodFells wrote:
    It's so exciting to see how you're doing it! It's really coming together! :D

    Cecelia wrote:
    Perfect choice of wallpaper and great flooring! I have seen that adhesive wood paper online but have never seen it actually used. Looks amazing!!

    Terra wrote:
    Loving the interior! I've been wanting to find some flooring like that. This is such a sweet house! Can't wait to see some moles moving in.

    That's adorable! You make it look so easy.

    Terra wrote:
    The well is a great touch! Very detailed and realistic. You've gotten very adept with the clay.

    Simply stunning! :dance:

    JoJoCrafts wrote:
    :) Wow! This is amazing. You did a great job

    CandyMulberry wrote:
    Just gorgeous! :love:

    bloem wrote:
    Love the inside too so much!! Love it!

    Terra wrote:
    Thanks! I very much enjoyed watching this project. The results are amazing. Hope your daughter has lots of fun with it!

    tenchibaka wrote:
    absolutely adorable all around<3

    Ayrell wrote:
    Amazing project, looks like a lot of work but it must be very satisfying to have it finished! It looks just perfect, and the interior is so cozy! Well done!

    Suvenkorento wrote:
    That is such a sweet house! Excellent work Sylvanako ^^ Much roomier than the original mole house ;)

    IcePixie wrote:
    Wow, Sylvanako! Just... wow! This is a fabulous amazing gorgeous house and setting for Sylvanian moles! There are so many photo possibilities with the diorama layout you have designed, and the detailing/painting shows how much you notice how Sylvanian Families toys look (the woodgrain, the paint colors, the shapes etc).

    I saw a photo of this lovely setting on Instagram in the past few days (I can’t browse Flickr on my iPad, which is why I’m still not back there) and when I noticed this thread this morning I realized you MADE this yourself. I love that you’ve shared all the project progress here, including the problem solving moments. I’ve had a wonderful half hour reading this thread by the kitchen window, coffee in hand and the sun rising over the winter snow outside. Thanks! :love:

    Kaz wrote:
    Truly amazing work - what an inspiration! I keep finding little details that I love - the tiny toadstools outside, the full store-room (what a great idea for the corner), the perfect wallpaper. It's all just so wonderful and happy (and I love how happy the mole family is with their new home - their smiling faces always make me smile.)Thank you for all the wonderful words, you make me really happy! :dance: This project started as an experiment I didn't know how it would look in the end and maybe there were some details I would do better now. It was great I had the inspiration and mainly the time to do it because free time is luxury for me at this very moment! :)

    tenchibaka wrote:
    a luxury you turned into a luxurious home<3

    meliscellany wrote:
    Fantastic! <3 <3 <3

    Nex wrote:
    Oh, simply breathtaking! It just goes to show what you can create with just a wooden box and a lot of imagination! Loved seeing the whole process! I would never guess that there is a shoebox in there :-D
    And I absolutely love how you thought of using polyurethane foam for building up the ground!! It's genius! Also, I could have missed the answer, but did you manage to find a way to prevent the moss from shedding?
    Truly a fantastic job!


    1. Thank you very much! I have tried to apply some watered glue with a paintbrush in a small area and it worked! I have now to complete the whole house! :) But still I think it will not be suitable for a small child to play with! :D

  8. It's simple AMAZING and the cutest Mole house I've ever seen

  9. Just out of curiosity I went to look at an original sylvanian families mole house, and yours is superior by far!