Our little mid-20th century cottage has the original steel cabinets, which means my entire kitchen (not just the fridge) is one huge magnetic board. If you’ve ever been a little kid, you’ll understand how magical and wonderful this is. There’s something so nifty about magnets! And magnetic playsets? Over the top for awesome.
A Cowgirl Playset for a friend, with loads of outfits in the custom-made “playing card” box (enlarged from a Mirkwood Designs template), including some different saddles for the pony!
We like to make our own, for home play and for gifts. It’s a simple process, and easy to personalize. You’ll need:
- Printed images to cut and color; draw your own, print out colored images, or cut figures from used greeting cards. It’s fine for the images to be on regular-weight paper.
- Peel & Stick contact paper, clear. You’ll find it in the housewares section of most Big Box stores, near the canning jars, shelf paper, and that sort of thing. It’s about $4 for a huge roll.
- Sticky-back magnetic tape; a roll is about $5 in the crafting department. It comes in a few different widths, and cuts easily with craft scissors, so you can customize the length and width of individual magnets.
- Scissors, fine point and quite sharp for clean edges.
Cut around your paper figures. If you are making magnetic paper dolls from regular paper dolls, trim close enough to cut off the folding tabs. Otherwise, trim close to the figure’s edge, or skim fairly close to the shape. No need to make yourself crazy with tiny, tiny details!
Lay all your figures out on the uncut contact paper and decide an economical arrangement, allowing about 3/8″ around every figure. This gives you room to cut neatly, and still have a good, enveloping seal around each figure. It is easier to work with smaller pieces of contact paper, so plan your layout in 8″ to 12″ sections. Cut two pieces of contact paper this size.
Peel the paper backing off one contact paper section. Arrange your figures, face up or down (as you please), and smooth them with your fingers.
Carefully smooth the other “peeled” contact paper to the reverse of your figures, smoothing with your fingers as you go to eliminate air bubbles. Go around each figure with your fingertips to make sure you have a good seal around.
Cut out your figures again, leaving about 1/16″ to 1/8″ margin of contact paper “sandwich” around each. This keeps the paper figure entirely enclosed, and gives it a good degree of water-proofing and durability, too.
Cut sections of magnetic tape to fit your figures. Remove the paper backing, and adhere to the back of the figure. The tape likes to curve some. Lay the figures flat on a table and weight them with books overnight, to encourage the magnets to be flat.
You can do so much with these! We have made:
- Kid-friendly Nativity figures (in constant use for the last year!)
- Personalized themed magnets small enough to store in an empty mint tin; we painted and decoupaged the tin to suit our theme, and added magnets to the back of it, too, for magnetic storage and a tidy gift-giving package.
- Travel dollies from vintage paperdoll figures, to use on plane and car trips (with a small magnetic whiteboard).
- Entire playsets with houses, trees, animals, people… these take a bit longer, but think of the fun with a farm playset, or a Noah’s Ark, fairy tales, or Biblical story sets!
- Seasonal magnets for our cabinets and fridge (you could also adhere a contact-paper-laminated figure to a clothespin, then glue a magnet to the back of the pin, for a fridge-clip or cabinet-clip to hold recipes in use, or meal plans, etc)
If you have budding or established artists in your home, the potential for really unique home-use and gift magnets is unlimited. Kids will need some help with the contact paper, and possibly the cutting, but it’s a great way to practice fine motor skills with a real, tangible, nifty thing as an end product.