Beach and Nautical Themed Miniature Projects

The beach or nautical themed miniatures on this list of tutorials can be used to add to  your scale scenes or summer keepsake boxes and scrapbook pages. Several of these projects, including the boat signal cushions or the nautical knot rug can be made in full scale, to add a nautical theme to a house or cottage. As a back to school project, these miniatures add a new twist to "How I spent my summer vacation'.
  • 01 of 13
    Dollhouse doll with a 1:12 scale miniature air mattress made from plastic drinking straws.
    Scale miniature dollhouse air mattress or lilo made from plastic drinking straws. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd
    These little air mattresses are fairly simple to make from plastic straws. They look great in miniature pool settings, or laid out with sleeping bags on top.  One enterprising miniaturist used them to decorate a retirement cake, along with the palm trees below.


  • 02 of 13
    Miniature conch, mussel, scallop and clam shells made from polymer clay in dollhouse sized scales.
    Group of miniature seashells made from polymer clay, shown with a metric / imperial ruler for reference. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd
    You can use air dry clay or polymer clay to make shells in popular miniature scales, or you can use 3D nail art molds which give you a range of common shell shapes. The nail art molds can be used to cast seashells from pva glue, epoxy putty, polymer clay or other materials


  • 03 of 13
    Finished scale model palm tree made from fabric leaves and kraft paper.
    Finished scale model palm tree made from fabric leaves and kraft paper. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Use these miniature palm trees for tropical beach scenes. They are easily made from painted paper, and wire, or fabric leaves. You can build them to a range of sizes and scales and they work equally well for cake decorations, desert gaming terrains or nativity scenes, depending on which size you make them. If you need a particular type of palm tree, just pay attention to the style of the fronds, and the way the fronds are arranged.

  • 04 of 13
    A 1:48 scale miniature beach scene with a beach shop and pier, all set into a teacup and saucer.
    A quarter scale miniature beach scene with shop and pier set into a teacup and saucer. The shop can be decorated for a range of uses, and there is also a beach to fill with activity. Photo © 2013 Lesley Shepherd

    This quarter scale teacup scene with a pier and beachfront shop is made from free printables, with a bit of floral foam and sand. You can use the storefront to display beach food including ice cream or fish and chips, or use the space for toy boats, air mattresses and other popular beach shop items.>

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  • 05 of 13
    A dolls house scale miniature seagull made from air dry clay and bits of wire is perched on a log.
    A dolls house scale miniature seagull made from air dry clay and bits of wire. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Made from air dry or polymer clay, these seagulls are easy to sculpt to add to a miniature scene. You can perch them on pilings, rocks or add them to the roof of a house or boat.

    Seagulls are an easy shape to sculpt, even in the small scales used for dollhouse displays. This is a good bird to practise with, and an easy project if you make it with air dry clay. Once you work out how to make them, you can make them larger for home decor, or make them out of fondant icing to add to summer cakes or...MORE cupcakes. The process of sculpting them remains the same, regardless of which material you use.

  • 06 of 13

    Make Miniature Sailboats

    Toy sailboat in dollhouse scale carved from scrap craft wood
    Miniature toy sailboat carved from a scrap of craft wood. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    These sailboats can be made in a range of scales and are easy to make with paper or fabric sails and simply carved hulls. If you don't want to make them from carved craft wood, shape the hulls from floral arrangement foam, and give them a good protective coating of paint.

  • 07 of 13
    Doormat made from a 60 metre length of retired climbing rope.
    Diane made this 21 by 33 inch doormat from a retired 60 metre climbing rope. Photo Courtesy Dianne - Gjetost Blog Copyright 2009 Used With Permission

    Tie an Ocean Plait Rug from a length of string or decorative cord for a miniature rug, or use regular rope, or a retired climbing rope to tie a rug in full size as a welcome mat for your home. The step by step photo instructions make this an easy project, regardless of what size you want your rug to be.

    Try tying a few of these using different weights of rope and cord. The knot can be used to make placemats or coasters as well as rugs.

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    This type of miniature water feature allows you to add fish, plants or other items into a scene built below the surface of the 'water' without worrying about bubbles or seals to hold in epoxy resin or other materials as they dry. You can make a swimming pool, a child's paddling pool, or a lake using this method. All you need is a sheet of plastic which is stiff enough not to bow across the width of your water feature.

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  • 09 of 13
    A miniature two inch high lighthouse built from an LED and beads.
    A working two inch high miniature light house built with a flashing LED and beads. Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Make a flashing or steady beam working miniature lighthouse lamp for a scale scene. These lamps are easy to make using LED bulbs and wooden beads, along with scraps of wood for the keeper's cottage. The lamps can be made to run off the transformer for a dolls house, or made from LED lamps that run from watch batteries so they can be set in roomboxes or other locations which aren't wired for power.

  • 10 of 13
    Miniature pillows for a nautical theme design in a dollhouse, based on naval signal flag designs.
    Miniature nautical theme pillows for a dolls house based on naval signal flags. Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    These bright pillows are based on standard nautical signal flags. Their simple bold designs can be used in a cottage or on a boat, in full size or miniature scale. A list of the flag meanings is included in the instructions, in case you want to spell something out in particular for someone who knows their flags!

    In miniature, the signal flags are made from bias binding tape. In full scale, you can make the patterns using cotton quilting fabric.

  • 11 of 13
    A tiny cockade made from paper decorates a dolls house scale tricorne hat.
    A cockade folded from striped paper decorates the button fastening on this miniature dolls house tricorne. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    If you need a hat for a pirate, the standard felt tricorne is fairly easy to shape from a scrap of wool felt. Also worn by revolutionaries and naval officers, the tricorne can be made for men or women, in a range of colors. The one shown here is fairly standard, you can make more elaborate tricorne's with larger brims, or brighter trims.

  • 12 of 13
    Interior of a dolls house scale wooden tack trunk with moveable drawers and space for a scale saddle
    Interior of a dolls house scale wooden tack trunk with moveable drawers or trays and space for a scale saddle. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    This trunk is modelled on one owned by a sea captain in the late 1880's. The chest has a movable tray and can be used as a travelling trunk, captain's chest, or tack trunk.

    Sea man's chests were rarely the round topped boxes seen in Hollywood movies. In tight quarters, everything must be made to do double duty, or at least stow away efficiently. Round topped chests were designed for coach travel, where their round top design prevented other chests from being stored above them.

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  • 13 of 13
    Beginning the landscape around a dollhouse scale pond made from E-Z water.
    Beginning the landscape around a cast E-Z Water pond for a dolls house garden using pebbles, sand, artificial 'ferns' and dried coffee grounds. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    If you need a water feature to suggest a beach theme, you can use a range of materials to suggest fresh or salt water. These instructions show you how to determine the shape you want, and how to cast and landscape simple water pools for miniature scenes in any scale.