There's a section in most U.S. craft stores that carry unfinished wooden items in many varieties. If you're building miniatures, this section's definitely worth a look because there are items that can fit perfectly in a doll house. One of these are Lara's Crafts Finial Dowel Caps. I suppose you could use them to cap your finial dowels, whatever that means, but all I see are mini vases. The ones I used for this post are the 3/2in with 1/4in hole ($0.99 for a pack of 6, item #11042). When you get them, they look like this:
Just like little vases, right?!
You can use almost any method to finish: paint, stain, decoupage, etc. But I've found that an interesting trick is to use permanent marker. The marker soaks through the wood and acts kind of like a stain, thereby letting some of the original wood grain show through, giving it depth. Plus it dries almost instantly and, like a baby chick, it's cheap-cheap. Haha, I kill me (and you may want to too after that joke).
The first thing is to color the top and some of the interior of the vase. If you're going to put flowers inside, you don't need to color the inside too much, but I always do a little just because:
After the top is colored, I stick a pencil with a dull or no point into the vase. If you use a pencil with a sharp point, it won't fit all the way in. After you jab the pencil in enough to stop the vase from moving around on you, color in the rest.
The final step (yes, it's that easy), is to seal it with a high-gloss, oil-based sealer. Time for my spiel on sealer. I seal almost EVERYTHING I make to the point of insanity. Most of the time I use matte, water-based sealer or matte, spray sealer. For this project, I highly recommend an oil-based sealer in high gloss because, let's be honest, the oil-based makes it shiner than a greasy baby's bottom. You need to seal in a ventilated area and be careful of breathing it in, but it's worth it: