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What You Need to Build Glitterhouses. This is how Howard Lamey arranges his tools before he starts cutting out his next project.  Click for bigger photo.Return to Big Indoor Trains(tm) primer pageOn30 Display Trains
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Written by Howard Lamey
(with a little help from Paul Race) for Big Indoor TrainsTM

Note from Editor: Howard Lamey, in Jacksonville, Florida, designs and builds vintage-style cardboard buildings for his family and friends. When I saw his Halloween house, I begged him to tell us how he did it. He not only gave us instructions for that project, he has also agreed to write a series of articles about building "glitterhouses." If you build your glitterhouses according to Howard's instructions, you will have, not only a classic decoration for this year, but a potential family heirloom - his houses are that good. Howard will be sharing his projects with us as time permits, so stay tuned.

Glitterhouses: What You Need to Build Vintage-Style Glittered Pasteboard Houses

This is a comprehensive list of what you have to have and what would be nice to have. If you are considering building more than one or two glitterhouses, you may want to pick up some of the "extras."

Also, If you are going to build cardboard houses, stop throwing away used, clean cardboard yesterday. Save cereal boxes, the backs of writing tablets, anything flat, firm and clean, that you can save. More details are below, but I wanted you to see this part up front. In addition, for this project you'll need:

Basic Tools

These are the core tools that every glitterhouse builder should keep on hand:

  • Mat knife (Change blades often)
  • X-acto knife (With # 11 blades)
  • Pencil (Get a 0.5mm lead mechanical pencil)
  • Eraser
  • Ruler (Try the “C Through” brand)
  • Steel ruler
  • Small steel square
  • Scissors
  • Elmer’s Glue-All
  • Glue stick
  • Cutting mat
  • 1/4-inch hole punch

“Nice to Have” Tools:

These are tools that you should consider adding to your tool box if you are going to build more than one or two glitterhouses.
  • Magnifying visor
  • Speciality scissors
    • Decorative cut scrapbook type
    • Small cuticle type
  • Large round hole punches - Sometimes referred to as “gasket punches“. Tandy Leather also sells punches. I made my own by sharpening the edge of short pieces of pipe. Grommet hole punches also work well.

Building Materials

As I mentioned before, you should collect these on a continuing basis - otherwise you could wind up making a trip to the store for posterboard when that Cheerios box you threw away last week would have worked just as well:

  • Cereal box cardboard
  • White poster board
  • Chipboard (Writing tablet backs)
  • Corrugated cardboard (Also try the thinner pizza box cardboard)
  • Ordinary copy paper
  • Colored velum (For window and door openings)
  • Colored “cellophane type” material (For window and door openings. I use bags from the craft store. They are sold as "treat bags")

Finishing Material:

  • Assorted paint brushes
  • Acrylic paints (I get mine at Wal-Mart)
  • White flat interior wall paint (Use as a primer)
  • Glitter (I use the “Sulyn” brand clear glitter)


Now that I'm in "retirement," this hobby has become a sort of avocation for me. Several folks have commissioned me to build specific houses for them. So if you'd like me to "bid" on a cardboard house for you, or if you have any questions at all, please use this link, and Paul will forward your information to me.

Also, if you have a similar project you'd like to share with your fellow readers and hobbyists, we'd love to add it to our site, and we'll be sure to give you full credit for your contribution.

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