Sunday, November 25, 2007

Magnetic Doll Theatre DIY Instructions


See Original Article and More Photos of this Theatre at
Many Shades of Shabby by Devonia


When designing this theatre, I kept in mind that it must meet the criteria for a child's room - it must be interesting, fun, it would be nice if it could offer learning experiences and it must be practical (as in child-proof and safe).

I wanted something that would encourage creativity in children. An assortment of paper dolls is fun to display but real play might include putting on a show. How about a magnetized doll presentation of Camelot or Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs? A theatre lends itself to more variety than a doll house and I'm excited about the possibilities. If one opted for a neutral background, scenes could include magnetized landscape details, trees, clouds, birds,butterflys, etc. With a theatre, imagination is the only limit.

My plan below will include the supplies I used (all in bold) that I hope you might find helpful.

Magnetic Stage: Temporarily hang the pediment and the shutters. Open the shutter doors and mark the area left on the wall with a pencil. This is the area that will need to be painted with magnetic primer.

Use masking tape to mask over the pencil marks (
remove the pediment and the shutters) and use either Krylon Spray On or Rust-o-leum Specialty Magnetic Primer to magnetize this area.

You will need to apply several light coats, with throw-away applicators, testing as the coats dry for magnetic pull. I used a full sheet of
magnetic paper (for later printing of the dolls) to test the pull, knowing this primer is made with non-toxic particles of iron, the surface would not be smooth, and according to my spread - the magnetized areas would be skip and miss. I used three coats and followed manufacturer's directions for drying time.

Once it was dry, I painted medium pink and white vertical stripes, masked off with masking tape, with acrylic craft paint. I added a wider horizontal stripe across the bottom and painted this stripe in deep rose acrylic craft paint. Then for a touch of real pzazz, I secured a row of footlights ( large round acrylic rhinestones) across this bottom stripe with hot glue.


Shutters: On hand, I already had a couple of small, vintage, interior shutters, already white, in very good condition. I was most lucky because these shutters, with the kind of blinds that may be flipped back and forth, still had little bars of wood on each side with hardware, meant to attach the shutters to the either side inside the window. I knew the little bars would come in handy allowing easy attachment to the wall while also allowing me a little over an inch of clearance from the wall when closed. I cleaned the shutters carefully. No sanding was necessary. Then I painted the shutters with the palest pink acrylic craft paint I could find with a paint sponge - both sides.

Pediment - Header: I also had a rather nice pediment that I hoped would work for the header of the theatre. To decide if it would, indeed, work - I placed the two shutters together, as they would appear both when closed and opened - and simply looked to see if it appeared balanced. It did. The pediment was rather old, with chippy paint , so with sand paper, I sanded (taking particular care to smooth out the area where the lettering would be) and sprayed the header with a couple of layers of Krylon Clear Matte Sealer. I allowed the sealer to dry. I painted the header with the same paint I used for the shutters. Once dry, it was ready to be personalized.

Lettering: There are so many ways to accomplish nice lettering; but, in the interest of time and so I wouldn't have to measure and draw lines with a pencil and fret over text styles - I decided to create a quick rub-on transfer. With small strips of scotch tape, I taped a clear half of a large zip-lock bag to a sheet of typewriting paper. I selected a print and size for the text on my computer and printed it mirror-image with my inkjet printer in a deep rose . You might prefer to print the lettering in black, and that's fine, because you can paint over it in the color of your choice.

I allowed the ink to set up for about ten minutes, and then trimmed the section of lettering I wanted to trace with scissors. Because the zip-lock bag is clear, I was able to flip it and see exactly where I was placing the lettering by holding it slightly above the pediment - not allowing it to touch because I didn't want to smear it. Once centered and straight, I secured the lettering to the pediment (printing down) with a touch of tape, and rubbed it with a credit card to transfer it. I checked, lifting one corner as I rubbed to make sure my rubbing was producing a faint transfer.

I removed the hand-made transfer and allowed the ink to dry, then sprayed with a light coat of Krylon clear matte sealer. Once dry, I went over the lettering with two coats of acrylic craft paint in a deep rose. Dry and a final spray with Krylon clear matte sealer. Last, I attached three heavy-duty hangers with screws because this time when it was hung, it would be permanently, and I wanted it to be very secure and safe.

Fabric Covered Doll Holder: Measure and cut foamcore board to fit just inside the inner framework of the shutters. Cover with fabric ( I used hot glue). Criss cross ribbons ( more hot glue) Attach to inside edges of frame with glue.

Stage Curtains: Though I used fabric curtains and ribbon tie-backs ( one split, tiny rose print, pillowcase gathered on elastic and secured with hot glue) the curtains could have been created with paint. I decided bows might end up crushed so I didn't make bow tiebacks (though I wanted to!) .

Magnetic Dolls: Your child may find participating in selection of dolls fun. There are many, many free printable dolls available online. Use these, and print out the ones that are suitable on the magnetic paper, or create your own. Drawings may be attached to magnetic sheets with spray adhesive.

Our free, printable, dolls were found at the United States Historical Doll House.

1 comment:

ThriftShopRomantic said...

This is a really lovely and brilliant idea... The idea of combining something that's shabby and decorative, with something that stimulates the imagination (and reuses) is incredibly clever.