While I have access to saws and such, I wanted to make this fast and easy. Here’s how to build a miniature gallery with no tools at all. All you need is the pre-cut wood, wood glue, and paint.

A photo shows four pieces of wood, viewed from the top, or edge, so that you can see the relative thickness of all the parts.

The base of the gallery is a cradled board from the art supply store. It’s 12″ x 12″ and about 2″ deep. A cradled board is one that has a wood side pieces around the whole thing, this prevents warping as you paint, and gives an art piece more presence. You can find them at Blick or your favorite local art store.

The side walls are 1/4″ thick plywood, pre-cut. The back wall is 1/8″ thick plywood, pre-cut. These are also sold at art supply stores. When I built the first gallery, I used 1/4″ for all the walls and the back wall hung off of the base by the tiniest bit. For this one, my second build, I decided to use 1/8″ for the back wall and it fits perfectly.

Materials List for Building a 12″ x 12″ x 12″ Miniature Gallery

  • 12″ x 12″ cradled wood board
  • 12″ x 12″ boards, quantity 2 being 1/4″ thick and 1 being 1/8″ thick
  • Wood glue, I use Titebond
  • Painters tape
  • Damp paper towels, for wiping down the boards
  • Paper towel, cut into little pieces, at hand and ready to use to wipe away the excess glue
  • Cotton swabs, optional, also for wiping away excess glue
  • Interior latex paint, not flat finish, your choice, for the walls
  • Your choice of finish for the floors, paint, stain, or other
  • Boxes or other objects to support the walls as the glue dries

Before you start, take some wet paper towels and wipe down all the sides and edges of all your wood pieces. They arrive basically ready to use, but they tend to have a little bit of sawdust on them.

This photo shows the masking tape placed in position before attaching one of the walls to the mini gallery.

Place the painter’s tape in position before attaching one of the walls to the mini gallery.

Place the tape in position before you attach a wall. Do this for each wall in turn. This image is showing the back wall about to be attached. I put two pieces of painter’s tape under the base piece, the cradled board, and carefully unstuck my fingers from it. Then I applied wood glue to the bottom edge of my backing board, and to the backs of the two sidewalls, already attached. (I had waited a bit to allow the glue to dry on the side walls, before adding the back wall, so that nothing would shift.)

Image shows painter's tape holding the back wall of the miniature gallery in place while the glue dries.

Painters tape holding a wall in place for a tiny gallery as the glue dries.

The tape helps immensely. But I also like to use some boxes or something to hold the walls upright as the glue dries.

Building a Miniature Gallery; supporting the side walls as the glue dries.

Supporting the side walls as the glue dries.

How to Attach the Side Walls of Your Miniature Gallery

To attach the side walls: run a thin line of wood glue along the bottom edge of on of your 1/4″ boards, place the board down and align it with the front edge of the cradled board. (all the edges are the same, you’re just choosing the front of your gallery.) Press down a bit, gently. You’ve got your painters tape in place, but before you raise up the tape, take a piece of paper towel and wipe off any excess glue from the outside of the box. Now, slide the tape up. And, without letting go of your wall that you’ve just set in place, slide those boxes into place, to support the wall from inside and out. Also remove any excess glue from the inside seam in the box.

Repeat with the second side. Allow glue to dry. How long? Whatever it says on the side of your bottle of glue, probably at least 15 minutes. I had other work to do, so I came back later that same day. Add the back wall, as described above. The back wall can be either 1/8″ thick or 1/4″ thick, not a big deal.

Building a Miniature Gallery; supporting the side walls as the glue dries.

Ta-da! The completed miniature gallery build, before being painted.

And it’s done! So easy!

Painting Your Miniature Gallery

I painted the first one using interior house paint for cabinets and shelves, partly because I already had some in the basement. Also, I wanted a good strong finish that could stand up to art being repeatedly hung up and taken down.

For the first one, I decided to paint the floor gray, for a concrete floor look. I came to regret this decision, as it took four coats and the edges were much more difficult than they should have been.

Here’s what it looked like before I took the painters tape off, and before many additional layers of paint on the floor.

The Angelica Kauffman Gallery by Elaine Luther, a 12" x 12" x 12" white box gallery for very small art.

For the second one I built, I’m going to try just staining the floor, before I paint the walls. Other options include adding vinyl flooring that has a very small pattern, or overall effect that works; buying dollhouse miniature flooring tiles and installing that; actually applying a skim coat of cement on the floor; whatever else strikes you!

Why didn’t I paint the floor gray before I assembled the miniature gallery? Because wood glue sticks best to bare wood.  I suppose I could paint the floor first, if I left 1/4″ bare around the edges, to allow for gluing.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it!

Now fill it with art!  You can see my miniature gallery on Instagram: Angelica Kauffman Gallery.

Want to participate in my gallery? The call for art is here: https://www.elainelutherart.com/call-for-art-very-small-art