Cutting egg carton bricks plus links to finishing

by brae  

Many people have asked how I get my bricks so uniform, and I can tell you they are close but not exact.  The bricks I make are 1/4" x 3/4" for most projects.  This is a little off from exact 1:12 scale, but they look spot on when finished.  Whatever size you use, you do want consistency.  Painting and grouting make up for any obvious flaws, and if a brick is too far off from the rest I just don't use that one.

I first learned of egg carton brickwork from two great sites: The China Doll and Victoria Miniland.  I use the method from The China Doll.

I obtain egg cartons from various sources: my own household, mom and a local freecycle group I belong to.  You can post want ads or reply to offers on that site, and it's free!  :D

I use the flat surfaces of the lid and recycle the bottoms with the egg cups.  You could get bricks from the cups, but to me it isn't worth the extra time and effort.  I also use the interior surface as the brick face since it has a nice bumpy texture.  Words and images won't matter after painting.

I cut the pieces into manageable flat sections.  The large, flat top is obviously the best source of bricks, but the smaller pieces yield quite a few.

I mark one edge with a ruler and use scissors to cut along that line.  If you aren't good at keeping scissors on a straight line, you can use a sharp X-Acto knife.

From that clean, straight edge, I mark four 1/4" increments in several places along the edge.

I use my ruler to join those marks and make guidelines.

I cut along those guidelines.  Again, I use scissors since my sewing experience gives me a steady hand at cutting straight lines with them.  You can use an X-Acto blade, too.

After the fourth strip is cut, the edge is usually off a little.  I draw a new line across and clean up the edge before repeating the 1/4" increments until I run out of egg carton.

I square up the ends of each strip with scissors and then mark 3/4" increments along the strip.

If I am bricking around any corners, I also cut 1" long bricks.  These will have approximately 3/4" showing on one side and approximately 1/4" around the bend.  Here's the chimney at Baxter Pointe Villa painted with layers of brown acrylics and grouted in grey.  You can see the 1" long bricks used around the corners.  They are cut to fit, so the length measurements aren't precise.

At the end of each strip, there is usually a piece that is too short.  I mark that with an X and put it in a separate pile.  When you do brickwork, you often need short or angled pieces.  These leftovers are already the right height and can be cut to fit those smaller areas without wasting your full sized bricks.

Once I have a pile of bricks, I cut the corners from each one.  This gives them a more natural appearance in my opinion.

Here are my four new bricks with a bunch I've cut previously.  They are all close in size and shape but they do vary.

I keep a large ziploc bag for my finished bricks.  I keep a smaller bag inside for bricks that have been cut to size but the corners still need to be trimmed.  I also have a bag for scraps.  If I've cut a different sized brick, I use a note inside the bag so I can tell which is which.

For the Heritage chimney, I used guidelines drawn on my underlying structure to plan the exact number of bricked rows I would need and to keep the structure aligned properly.

For herringbone brickwork, I use graph paper as a guide.  You don't really fill in the squares per se, but the grid helps create a more uniform pattern.

However, I usually don't bother with guidelines for straight brickwork.  I am able to eye measurements well, so I just glue the bricks with a little bit of give in between them and check with a ruler every other row to make sure I haven't gotten too far off.

For the Newport foundation, I used larger bricks to mimic stone - 5/16" x 13/16".  I didn't use guidelines but did attempt to use a spacer, but you'll find the bricks aren't uniform and a spacer can actually make things more difficult and result in a lopsided look to the rows.  I haven't used a spacer since.  You can also see that I cut half bricks at the top of the foundation base to finish off the surface.

I use Aleene's Quick Dry glue to apply the bricks.  Once the bricks are in place and the glue has dried, I paint with acrylics in the color of my choice.  I use a stencil brush and stipple the paint on since brushstrokes can ruin the illusion.

Once I have the color I want, I seal the surface for grouting.  The grouting process will change the coloration, so keep that in mind when you paint.  You can touch it up later.  For instructions on painting, sealing and grouting, see my post on finishing the Heritage foundation.

For instructions on aging the brickwork, see my post on adding grime and moss to the Heritage foundation.

21 comments

Comment from: Lucille [Visitor]

Thanks for the tutorial, Brae! I think you’re amazing to take the time for a tutorial when you’re so busy!

05/17/12 @ 18:31
Comment from: Betsy (Daydreamer) [Visitor]

Awesome, Brae!!!! Thanks a Million! I will now make Much Better Bricks! :) :) I admire your precision and the details you include (like cutting the corners)…. doesn’t that sound funny… cutting the corners makes for more precise!!! Lol!

05/17/12 @ 18:44
Comment from: Lori [Visitor]

What a great tutorial! On the hunt for egg cartons :)

05/17/12 @ 19:35
Comment from: Natalia [Visitor]  

Brae, thank you for the neat tutorial! Natalia

05/18/12 @ 00:23
Comment from: Zilda Fonseca [Visitor]

Thank you so much for sharing all your expertise! These are small details that make all the difference in time to run our projects.
Zilda

05/18/12 @ 05:11
Comment from: brae [Member]

You’re welcome and thank you for the encouragement! &#59;D

05/18/12 @ 07:55
Comment from: Plushpussycat [Visitor]

Thanks for the nice tutorial, Brae. You make this look very doable and fun! I’ll refer back to this post when I’m ready to go! :-) Jennifer

05/18/12 @ 10:54
Comment from: Carole [Visitor]  

Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed!
So much more intersting and better explained than most of the tutorials I have seen on the net so far!
My colleagues and friends have started gathering egg boxes for me…can’t wait to have enough to give it a try!
Have you already done other tutorials, about flooring, tiling, etc…?
Thank you again for sharing your skills.
Carole
http://www.Carolesminiatureworld.blogspot.com

05/18/12 @ 12:46
Comment from: 17-17 [Visitor]

Thank you Brae for the tutorial
hugs
Magda

05/18/12 @ 23:23
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]

Awesome, tutorial Your bricks look much better than the vinyl sheets I’ve used in the past. Just wanted to say that I have recently discovered those take-out cartons at Whole Foods Market (in the hot food bar section) and they’re made out of the same material as the egg cartons. So if egg cartons are hard to find, the take-out cartons will likely work also. I’m hoarding a bunch right now for an upcoming project.

05/20/12 @ 04:22
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thank you! :D

I’ve also seen people use those seedling plant cups…same material only light tan in color.

05/21/12 @ 17:05
Comment from: Mindy [Visitor]

Excellent tutorial. Thank you!

05/25/12 @ 22:36
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]

Brea, i was just reviewing your tutorials on the egg-carton brick process. You have also shared your use of builders’ foam to create stone. Which method do you prefer–egg-carton or foam? I am about to “lay” brick with stone accents on my Atlanta-style suburban home, and I was wondering which method is best. I know both will be time-consuming, and that’s okay. Thanks much!

01/04/13 @ 16:14
Comment from: brae [Member]

I prefer the look and texture of egg carton though it is by far more time consuming. I used the builders foam because I wanted thickness in addition to stone. I used the Cellfoam for the tower, because I needed the texture to match the builders foam while being pliable enough to bend around a tube. :)

01/04/13 @ 18:00
Comment from: super3 [Visitor]  

hola he visto tus ladrillos y me gusta como los haces me parecen faciles, gracias por el tutorial.

01/31/13 @ 00:41
Comment from: Cheri Hite B [Visitor]

WOW! Nicely done and very complete. I will try this as I have been saving the egg cartons in a box in the top of my craft closet. Tha ks for the nice job!

03/24/13 @ 10:21
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thank you!!! :D

03/27/13 @ 17:01
Comment from: ginger [Visitor]

WOW that is amazing, thank you so much for sharing, I am definitely going to do this for my next dollhouse.

03/23/14 @ 21:42
Comment from: Robyn [Visitor]  

Many thanks for sharing. I’m building a hobbit house for a bonsai and was going crazy trying to figure out how to make bricks for the door and window surrounds - the egg carton method looks like the solution!

08/02/14 @ 01:07
Comment from: James o [Visitor]  

Amazing work.thank you.

08/23/14 @ 17:34
Comment from: Amber [Visitor]

Thank you for posting this!! I am just getting started on my first dollhouse and these bricks worked great for the fireplace and chimney!

11/20/16 @ 14:35


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