Daily Mini Exclusive: Real Tiny DIY by eHow

Real Tiny DIY Videos by eHow Featuring Mini Materials

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Tell us a bit about the concept behind the eHow series Real Tiny DIY.

Jerri Farris, Senior Director of eHow Content: Like so many people, we’re captivated by the tiny food videos, especially Tastemade’s Tiny Kitchen. Tiny DIY seemed like a natural evolution but every idea we came up with was extremely labor intensive until we discovered Mini Materials. When we saw the miniature concrete blocks and lumber, we knew exactly how we could go tiny. We call the series Real Tiny DIY because, although we produce the projects in miniature scale, the very same methods can be used to create the project in full size.

What were some of your inspirations?

JF: dailymini! And Tastemade’s Tiny Kitchen, of course. We also love MiniFood on YouTube. Their spaghetti carbonara video is one of the cutest things we’ve ever seen.

How did you first learn about the team over at Mini Materials?

JF: A colleague happened to see a link to Mini Materials in a newsletter and forwarded it to me early one morning. My first glance at their website set my brain on fire — I was deep into planning the first Real Tiny DIY video before breakfast that morning. Megan contacted Mini Materials right away, and when they agreed to supply materials and help promote the series, we were off to the races.

How many videos can fans expect on eHow social media?

Megan Beauchamp, eHow Lifestyle Editor: We’ve posted four videos to Facebook so far, but we have four more in the works. We’d consider extending the series indefinitely, if people love it as much as we do!

What goes into the production of one of these miniature videos?

JF: Hours and hours and hours of prep work. We’re lucky because the basic instructions for each project exist in eHow articles. We spend several days thinking about the best way to present the project, and then the fun begins. We find many props in the world of miniatures, but we make most of the tiny tools ourselves.

For example, many people have commented about the working hose in the Concrete Block Planter video. To make that, I prowled the aisles at a hardware store for an hour, searching for something the right size. My sister, who happened to call while I was searching, suggested green electrical wire. Perfect! That night, I spent several hours with tweezers, pulling the copper from longer and longer pieces of wire, figuring out how long we could make the hose before it was impossible to get the copper out. When I hit the limit, the next puzzle was how to make the hose actually deliver water.

After several failed ideas, a colleague suggested using a syringe. My daughter, who’s a Type I diabetic overnighted one of hers to us, which worked but was too small to create much force. In the end, we found that an infant’s medicine syringe delivered just the right flow of water. When we shot the sequence, Megan “watered” the flowers as I crouched under the tabletop — just barely out of frame — pushing the syringe.

Who is the actor featured in these miniature DIY videos?

MB: Those are my giant hands you see in the Real Tiny DIY videos. I feel like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput, but it’s a lot of fun.

JF: Megan does an amazing job of handling the tiny tools and materials. She actually builds these projects on camera — not an easy task.

How do you get the idea for each video?

JF: We start by looking at articles that are popular on eHow — projects that have been pinned or liked thousands of times on Pinterest or Facebook. Then we evaluate the necessary tools and materials to see if we can make or scrounge or buy what we need to accomplish it in miniature.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of shooting these miniature DIY tutorials?

MB: For me, it’s using the tiny tools in a tiny set. I try not to let the challenge make its way onto the camera, but sometimes it sneaks in! You don’t have to look too closely to notice my hands shaking a bit in the concrete planter video while I’m squeezing out glue from the caulk gun.

JF: Working on a tiny set can be a huge disadvantage! Megan has to squeeze into some very small spaces, one camera hovers directly above her, and she often has to work sort of upside-down and backwards so the camera can see the action rather than just the backs of her hands. It’s not as easy as she makes it look, by any means.

Any favorite memories to recount?

JF: This may sound odd, but one of my favorite memories started with a failure. For the first video, the Simple Outdoor Bench, we needed a tiny caulk gun. Amazingly enough, we found a replica in a miniatures store only an hour away and scurried right down there to buy it. When we saw the rough cut of the video, we all knew that pretending with the replica didn’t look real. Over the next week or so, we experimented with ideas for a tiny working caulk gun — dozens of attempts that didn’t work. At one point, we had everything but a way to make the glue squirt out. I carved a pencil eraser to fit inside the “tube,” but that only worked once and the eraser got stuck inside the tube every time we tried it. Finally, at 4AM on the morning of the scheduled reshoot, I was standing in front of a set of shelves in my work room, staring at the dozens of containers and hundreds of items, saying to myself, “Something here will work. It’s here. I just have to see it differently.” My glance landed on three miniature bottles, and I realized the answer had been right in front of me all along — a tiny cork from one of those bottles! Wouldn’t you know, it fit as though it had been made for the purpose. I shaped a paper clip into a handle, and it became the perfect plunger.

MB: Shoot days are always so fun! Adam, our Director of Photography, puts on 80s music and Jerri always has something fun up her sleeve. Perhaps my favorite moment, if I had to choose one, would be when our producer, Kat, hopped behind the tiny set and peered through the window when we were shooting the pallet couch video. The set was so skillfully built to scale that she honestly looked like a giant!

What are some of the most popular DIY projects that people rely on eHow for?

JF: People rely on eHow for simple, inexpensive ideas and inspiration. In our all-time most-viewed video, Debbie Williams shows how to make a temporary “air conditioner” out of a 5-gallon bucket.

MB: As you might expect, a lot of people find us via Pinterest as they’re searching for creative inspiration. Our most pinned projects range from How to Make a Padded Headboard to How to Make Bath Bombs.

JF: One of our creators, Beth Huntington, does sewing tutorials that draw me in every time. She made a bucket bag out of a thrifted leather jacket that you’d swear came from a high-end boutique.

We all love the videos created by Trisha Sprouse and Maya Marin, former colleagues who now produce content for us as freelancers. It’s a joy to see their talents come to life and find such large audiences.

MB: Anything Jonathan Fong creates is inspired. From time to time, we’re lucky enough to have him come into the studio for Facebook Live video shoots, or Fun Fong Fridays as they’re known around the office. For St. Patrick’s Day, he made matcha milkshakes that were surprisingly delicious. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

How did your work on the Real Tiny DIY campaign reframe your thinking about the world of miniatures?

JF: I’d always thought of miniatures as being the province of true artists. Working on this series proved to me that, while I’m always going to admire those artists enormously, there’s also room for crafters like myself in the world of miniatures. With enough inspiration and the right materials, everyone can enjoy making and/or working with miniatures.

What did you learn about miniatures in the process of creating these miniature DIY videos?

JF: Almost anything you can think of is available! When we first started looking for a miniature caulk gun, I didn’t really think it would exist. But lo and behold! It not only existed, we could find one at a local miniatures store.

Favorite mini material you’ve worked with?

JF: I’m partial to the lumber. Anything you can build with full-size lumber, you can build with mini lumber. When we first found Mini Materials, it took about 5 minutes to make a list of fifteen eHow projects that were completely doable for Real Tiny DIY. Since then, our list has expanded to dozens of ideas.

MB: The pallets are so charming, and I love how the set looked for the pallet couch video, so I’d have to go with the mini pallets.

Favorite mini makers or miniacs you’d like to mention?

JF: One of the first miniature artists to reach out to us after the first Real Tiny DIY was posted was Darren Scala from D. Thomas Fine Miniatures and SquintBox. Our whole team lost its collective mind over the Easter vignette Darren put together.

What would you like to see replicated in miniature?

JF: So far, I’ve found wonderful examples of everything I’ve searched for in miniature. The talent and ingenuity of miniature artists leaves me in absolute awe.

What can miniature fans expect in the forthcoming Real Tiny DIY videos?

JF: All the projects we’ve posted so far have been outdoor projects, and we continue to expand our tiny patio set. In the next couple weeks, we’ll post some indoor projects built in the cutest possible tiny workshop — complete with a tiny work bench and tiny working power tools.

What inspires you?

JF: I’m inspired by the incredible creativity of the people around me. One of the things that keeps me creating is that, in some ways, crafting is a problem solving exercise. I’ve been making things since I was 6 or 7 years old, but the thrill of solving a creative problem never gets old. For example, we needed a BBQ grill that could withstand an actual flame long enough to shoot several minutes of video. After at least a dozen failures, when we got it to work I screeched and danced around like a wild person. Anyone watching might have thought I’d invented fire rather than a tiny grill to hold it.

MB: Working with creative people every day is incredibly inspiring and motivates me to push myself creatively every day. Spending time perusing Pinterest doesn’t hurt either!

What advice would you give to someone about to tackle their first DIY project of the season?

JF: Perfectionism kills inspiration. And joy. To all of you out there criticizing or doubting yourselves, we say, “Let go. Have fun. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can do.”

What’s to come from eHow?

MB: We have some really exciting project ideas for summer that are affordable and are so easy even I can do them, like this concrete fire bowl (which already has over 10 million views on Facebook!). If you want to see what we’re up to next, like eHow on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter.

Favorite quote about getting your hands dirty or the DIY movement?

MB: Maya Angelou’s quote about creativity comes to mind: “You can’t use up creativity, The more you use, the more you have.”

JF: In my family we say, “Done is better than perfect.” That’s not to say we don’t set high standards, but we try not to let those standards paralyze us. It’s a universal truth: perfectionism kills creativity if you let it.

Words or motto you live by? 

MB: It’s not a motto per say, but I strive to learn something new each day.

JF: My personal motto is, “Say Yes to the Universe.” Inspiration is the world, asking us to dance with beauty. Say yes. Try something new. Take a risk.

What do you want miniature fans to know about this collaboration?

MB: Most people (ourselves included) watch Facebook video without sound, but we commissioned special music for Real Tiny DIY. The composer, Jonathan Grossman of Night Shift Audio, used all tiny instruments and there’s a special surprise at the end. So, turn the sound on for these! You won’t regret it.

JF: We post a new Real Tiny DIY video each Tuesday at 12PM EST. Then, at about 2 PM EST, we do a Facebook Live, “Behind the Tiny,” to show how we made some of the tools or props in that day’s video.

Would you like to share a dailymini exclusive with readers?

JF: Another caulk gun story: When we showed the working caulk gun to the Leaf Group COO, he teased us that it would only last through one video. As we were prepping to shoot the second video, I tested it. When it worked, I thought, “Ha! Still works!” At that very moment, the paper clip broke through the cork, stranding the plunger inside the tube, which meant I had to take it apart and start over. Hubris. Gets you every time.

Tune in Tuesdays for more Real Tiny DIY tutorials from the Leaf Group team over at eHow! To follow along, check out the latest on Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and YouTube. For more information on DIY tutorials or to start your own project, check out the eHow siteTo make your own miniature DIY scenes, shop the Mini Materials site today! Massive mini thanks to eHow, Jerri Farris, and Megan Beauchamp for sharing their story here on dailymini.