“In the Spring a bunny came down the road. He was going to find a home of his own. A home for a bunny, a home of his own, under a rock, under a stone, under a log, or under the ground. Where would a bunny find a home?” ~Margaret Wise Brown
Before we go any further into this article, you must know that this entire “world in a suitcase fabulousness,” was inspired by the wonderful Anna of The Imagination Tree, and her beautiful small world suitcases .
When you get a minute, pop over there and browse through her ideas…she’s a small world genius.
Okay, now let’s get started on this darling play land. I built this for my 8-year-old old daughter who, quite frankly, is addicted to bunnies. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to build her something really special. This suitcase was just the thing, and it is a WHOLE lot easier to build than it looks, believe me!
In the story, Home For A Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, the little bunny is searching for a home. He asks the frog, the groundhog, and the robin, but none of their homes are suitable for his needs. True to Margaret Wise Brown’s style, the book is simple, yet captivating. Her words have a playful, sing-song lilt, which make it a perfect story book for early readers.
I started gathering the different elements of the story book…the critters, the scenery, and of course, a suitcase. That was the tricky part, and I got REALLY lucky! I found the little blue gingham suitcase at Winner’s HomeSense, but it had a big ol’ message on the front about going to Grandma’s…no problem. We fixed that right up with a bit of artwork and decoupage. But I am getting ahead of myself!
Here are the basics you will need to create a “foresty” bunny playland in a suitcase…I purchased an artificial “grass mat” from Dollarama to create the forest floor…I cut it to fit the suitcase, and cut a hole where I wanted the bunny’s den to be…The hole is important because the bunny’s den is underground. I used the left over pieces of the grass mat by cutting them up and building up the ground around the hole where the bunny’s den would be…I place two big stones over and around the hole, and filled the hole with some of our other foliage, creating a soft bed for the bunnies…Once I had the bunny den in place, I cut up some of our flowers and started decorating the grassy areas…I purchased the little brown log at the pet store because we are under a 3 foot blanket of snow. There would be no scavenging outdoors for twigs!
All was going swimmingly until I started on making the frog pond. What in the heck was I going to use for THAT?
After a few frazzled tweets to Anna, I had a plan. She suggested I use coloured card stock and white glue…brilliant. I cut the blue card stock the size I wanted, and cut a hole in the grass mat to match…I covered the pond with white glue and let it dry. I did this twice, to create a nice thick watery surface… When the second coat was nearly dry, I placed little green buttons in the glue to form lily pads. I built up the pond floor by gluing cotton balls to the suitcase and then I glued the blue, gluey card stock on top…The finished pond…
Now for the robin. This proved to be a bit tricky, only because I couldn’t find an actual miniature robin, or a tiny enough nest! My 13-year-old daughter solved the nest issue by braiding some of our greenery and twisting it up! Smarty pants!I solved the robin issue by adding a little red paint to the breast of a plain brown bird we found at Michaels Craft Superstore…And here he is, all cozy in the nest…Because I didn’t want to paint on the suitcase, but really thought it needed “sky”, I hand-sketched a little backdrop and taped it to the inside of the lid…I never did find a miniature groundhog, so our playland is sadly deficient of that critter, but the finished product is so lovely, I didn’t really mind so much!
But now to do something about that “grandma message” on the front of the suitcase. Oh boy.
Well, I got lucky again. My oldest daughter had drawn a picture for her little sister for Christmas this year. It was a picture of the little brown bunny from the Velveteen Rabbit. I hadn’t framed it yet, so I snatched it up and decoupaged it onto the front of the little suitcase!
I applied Mod Podge to the front of the case…Then I pressed the drawing on the front and applied more Mod Podge on top to protect it. It fit perfectly and looked as though it had always belonged there!
Now it was time for the big reveal! Up until now, we had kept production of the suitcase a secret from Miss Coco. When we got to the hotel for her birthday (her greatest wish was not a big party, but a stay in a hotel with a pool and room service), I let her unwrap her special gift…
She was in love. At first sight.
Thanks for stopping by! And thank you, Anna…for all your lovely inspiration xo
~Arlee, Small Potatoes