Introduction: Dwarf House Book With Tree- a Story Coming to Life

Snow White and the seven dwarfs is a well-known story, and we took the dwarves' cottage as the inspiration for this project. We wanted to create a 3D model that could transport anyone into this magic world. However, where there is one there are many. We wanted to help you with your next project. If you want to build this house or use only the basics, this instructable is for you.

Mediums Used: Digital fabrication, Sculpting, and Painting

*Note: some of these steps can be done out of order.



  • MDF
  • Paint (Black, gold, green, blue, and brown)
  • Hot Tea (optional)
  • Paper Clay or paper mache
  • Old Book (you will ruin it)
  • Modge Podge
  • Clear tape
  • Study Wire (base for clay)
  • Straw or Hay (you could substitute this with shingles)
  • Tissue Paper
  • Tinfoil
  • Copy paper
  • Markers (preferable permanent)
  • Cardboard
  • Decorative moss
  • Hot glue
  • Gemstones or jewels


  • Carvy or Shopbot (for larger model), or another method of cutting MDF
  • Box Cutter or X-Acto knife
  • Old paint brushes
  • Printer- preferably colored ink
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun

Step 1: Book Base

This will be the platform of the house and tree. The idea behind the book is that the story is "coming to life".

Step 2: Paint the Cover

Once the tape is in place and you have your desired colors, paint over the book cover. Make sure the paint is evenly dispersed without globs and all the strokes flow the same way. Next, peel off the tape before the paint fully dries to ensure the edges are smooth and do not rip unevenly. Let the book dry before the next step.

Step 3: Prepare the Book

When preparing to paint the cover of the book, we wanted to preserve the details on the spine of the cover. Tape the spine or any other parts of the cover you don't want to be painted over.

Step 4: Modge Podge the Pages

As the book is the base of the piece, you want the pages to be sturdy. To harden them, we used modge podge. Decide which pages you want the book to lay open on and mark them. Apply the modge podge with a sponge or brush in between and on top of the pages. We took several pages at a time, and modge podged them together, smoothing it out across the surface of the pages for a clean finish. Make sure the modge podge does not drip down the sides of the book. Sit the book aside to dry.

Step 5: Apple Image (Optional)

The book we chose has a hole in the front of the cover. As our theme was based off Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, we wanted to incorporate the poisoned apple from the story. To give the image a weathered look, we tea stained the image. For the tea staining, you need a hot cup of tea. Take the printed image of a piece of paper and dip the paper until it is fully submerged into the tea. Pull it out and set the photo on a flat surface where it can air out and dry. Repeat this process several times until the image obtains the desired look.

Once the tea staining is complete, take the dried image and tape it under the cover, in front of the hole.

Step 6: The Dwarf House

The dwarf house is the focal point of the piece and primarily made by digital fabrication, paper mache, and painting.

Step 7: Design Your House

We used a Carvey to cut out the base of our house in MDF through the Easel website. Measure and design your house shape (We used easel which is found through based on the measurements of your book. Our book was 13.5" by 9", so we made our house 5" by 4.5" and 6" at its tallest point. Our house was a simple 4- side design with 2 rectangles 4" by 5" and two sides with slants for the roof 4" by 4.5" by 6".

Step 8: Cut Out Your Design

Upload your design through Easel and cut it out on a Carvey/ShopBot. Once the design is cut, pop the house base out of the material. Optional: Sand the MDF until the edges are smooth.

Step 9: Build the Base

Assemble the pieces of MDF by hot gluing them together.

Step 10: Decorate the House

To decorate your house, start with molding the base with paper mache. Set it aside to dry.

Next paint the house. We painted our house based off the dwarfs' cottage with light yellow and brown.

For the roof, paint the MDF yellow and hot glue hay or straw on top.

We wanted the widows to appear similar to stained glass, so we drew black permanent marker designs on blue tissue paper.

Step 11: Make the Tree

The tree is made of paper mache and stands next to the house on the book.

Step 12: Construct the Frame

To make the base of the tree, we used a wireframe.

Cut a small base out of cardboard with room for what will appear to be roots. Take the wire and twist it up in the form of the tree's trunk and branches. Hot glue these wires to the cardboard base.

Step 13: Mold the Base

Take the wire base and several sheets of tinfoil and/or thin cardboard.

Use the sheets of tinfoil and cardboard to mold around the wires and resemble the trunk and branches of a tree with a few roots.

Step 14: Add Paper Mache

Take the Tinfoil and wire base of the tree and lots of paper mache or paper clay.

Mold the paper mache over the tinfoil and cardboard until the whole tree is covered. Set aside to dry completely.

Step 15: Paint the Tree

Once the paper mache has dried, set out your desired acrylic paint colors and brushes. Our group used several shades of brown. Paint the tree, ensuring to cover all of the paper mache until none is visible. If you are using multiple shades(and/or colors), you will need to add multiple coats in order to give the tree the desired texture. Set the tree aside to dry.

Step 16: Add Foliage

Once the tree's paint has dried, you can begin to add the foliage. We used decorative moss, green acrylic paint, and cardboard for the leaves. We molded pieces of cardboard into arc shapes to be the support of the moss. Once they meet your desired shape, paint the cardboard green and let it dry. Once the paint dries, hot glue the cardboard on top of the tree branches. To finish the tree, hot glue the decorative moss onto the cardboard, making sure all the cardboard on top is not visible.

Step 17: Final Touches

Once the book, house, and tree are complete, the entire piece can be assembled. Hot glue the house and tree to the book (We angled our house slightly, facing the book to the viewer reading the page left to right and the tree to the right of the house). Once the glue dries, hot glue any gemstones or jewels around the base of the house and tree. To add the cottage aesthetic, we also added leftover decorative moss around the edges of the tree, house, and gems.

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