If you love tiny things, odds are you’re clamoring to start some new miniature hobbies. There are tons of ways to scratch that itch, and the great news is that most of them are very easy to start!
We’re all about creative hobbies here at Tiny Workshops, so to help you get going on your mini journey, we put together this list of miniature hobbies for all ages, with some tips on how to get started!
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Metal model building
If you want a truly intricate miniature hobby, check out metal models. These come in pre-cut sheets of metal, sometimes even with colors, and they’re surprisingly affordable, too!
There are tons of styles and designs, but most are designed for teens and adults. Check out our picks for the best metal model kits to see what’s out there.
Lego and alternatives
Everyone is familiar with Lego blocks from their youth, but what you might not know is that nowadays there are a lot of Lego sets for adults. There’s even a term for this: AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego).
Some of our favorites are the Lego Botanical Collection and Lego Architecture sets, although there are more specific options like Harry Potter sets or Minecraft sets. Once you’re more comfortable you can also make your own original designs!
If Lego sets are too expensive, remember that there are a lot of cheaper Lego alternatives, too. For example, Nanoblock Pokemon sets are gorgeous, and they’re even smaller than Lego for fans of miniatures!
Painting figures is one of those classic miniature hobbies that’s absolutely timeless. But now, your options when it comes to designs are much more interesting than porcelain rabbits.
Resin miniatures come in all shapes and sizes (well, they’re always small), but you’ll need a steady hand with a paintbrush. You’ll also want to use paint made for miniatures, and probably a good airbrush kit for the best results.
Wargaming is one of the most popular applications of painted minis, with the goal being to pit your army of painted soldiers, robots, aliens, etc. against another player’s on a tabletop battlefield.
Games Workshop and Warhammer 40k are the elephants in the room for this miniature hobby, but there are plenty of other games to explore. Most are significantly cheaper, often containing everything you need to start playing in a single box.
If you really want to get into it, you can also create the miniature terrain for your battlefield!
Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons and Dragons is another game that’s been around for decades, and although it’s mostly about role playing, there’s a strong element of painting minis, preparing dungeons, and more that will appeal to anyone interested in miniature hobbies.
There is a wide range of models available on both the official D&D website and third-party retailers. However, you’ll have to find a group to play with on your own.
Gunpla, short for Gundam plastic models, is exactly what it sounds like: using injection-mold plastic on sprues to recreate (in miniature) the giant robots found in various Gundam anime shows. It’s an extremely popular hobby in Japan, and has been well-known in the US and elsewhere since the 90s.
What’s great about Gunpla is that it has a low barrier of entry, with the cheapest models costing less than $20. Typically they use decals so you can skip the painting, and they’re fully movable and posable once complete.
3D printing is one of those miniature hobbies that gives back as much as you put into it. With some design skills and creativity, you can print just about anything your heart desires.
There are different types of commercially available 3D printers, with simple FDM printers being the cheapest and resin printers offering the best detail. There’s a significant initial investment of time and money, but it can pay off big time if you stick with it.
If you like to make things with your hands, dollhouses are a great option. You can design your dream house or create a furniture hellscape, whatever you’re into.
There’s a lot you can accomplish with things you already have around your house, but you can also buy kits online if you’re short on ideas. Other miniature hobbies can also be applied directly to your dollhouse in various ways, so you can think of this as more of a gateway hobby!
Plant parents will love this hobby since it allows you to recreate your beloved houseplants in miniature. Check out the work of Hannah Lemon to see what’s possible.
The best materials for this are resin or polymer clay, and you don’t need any specialized tools or supplies. They can be displayed on your desk or used in other miniatures like dioramas or dollhouses. I do recommend taking a polymer clay class to learn some basic techniques though.
You’ve probably made a shoebox diorama for school at some point in your life, but with the right skills, you can recreate your favorite scenes from movies, books, or the real world.
You can start with just paper and cardboard, but really the sky’s the limit when it comes to materials. You will probably want to invest in a hot wire foam cutter for larger pieces, but they’re still relatively affordable.
Model railroads might be one of those miniature hobbies you associate with retired grandpas, but the truth is it’s a rich hobby with a lot to give.
Unlike some of the other options on the list, you often don’t make or even paint the train itself, but rather the surrounding landscape. If you have enough space, you can create a whole town or mountainscape in your very own home.
You don’t need access to professional metalworking tools to create your own jewelry. In fact, it can easily be DIY’d with a few simple supplies. Polymer clay is a big one, as is resin. Both allow you to create shapes that would be very difficult in metal, and the results can be worn, gifted, or even sold.
Bonkei is a Japanese hobby and craft that involves creating miniature landscapes entirely contained in a tray. It uses rock, sand, cement, and other non-living materials to create a self-contained tableau.
Saikei is very similar, but it also contains living vegetation like trees or moss. Both are cheap to start and can mostly be done with things you find outside. If you don’t have a green thumb, stick to bonkei since rocks can’t die.
You’ve probably already heard of it, but bonsai is the art of maintaining miniature trees in a self-contained pot or tray. It’s similar to saikei above, but doesn’t typically include other vegetation, just a tree.
Growing and shaping bonsai can be a complicated and consuming task, but they can also be purchased in most home centers. Pruning and caring for your bonsai can be a very relaxing and rewarding hobby!
Continuing with plant-themed miniature hobbies, fairy gardens give a fantasy twist to miniature gardening. The goal is to create a place where fairies would live, with mini furniture, moss, miniature trees, soil, rocks, succulent plants, and more.
This is different from traditional dollhouses because the results are more natural. Often they use naturally occurring structures like mushrooms or trees as a base. Kids in particular love this hobby, and there’s a lot of room for creativity!
For the religious crowd, nativity scenes are a great way to celebrate the holiday season with a miniature craft spin. As the name implies, the main thing being depicted is the birth of Jesus, but you can bring in a lot of other gospel characters to liven up the scene.
Since the goal is typically to recreate Palestine roughly 2000 years ago, you’ll want to include shepherds, sheep, barns, fishermen, and other period-specific miniatures. You’ll probably want to buy the miniatures, but the rest of the scene can be DIY’d pretty cheaply.
Putz houses are another holiday-themed miniature hobby, and in fact, they’re a bit of a spin-off of nativity scenes. They were originally the little houses placed around a nativity scene, but now they’re a craft in their own right.
You can make these using household materials like cardboard and markers. Although they traditionally depict winter landscapes, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a beach house that you can display all year round!
That’s it for our list of miniature hobbies. If you have any more recommendations, feel free to reach out in the comments below!