|Written by Howard Lamey (with a little help from Paul Race)|
for Big Indoor Trains™
Note from Editor: This is a followup to our 2007 article on Building a Glitterhouse. We really do recommend that you start with that project, as that description is step-by-step.
These projects come to us courtesy of Floriday designer Howard Lamey. Howard loves collecting and designing replicas of those little cardboard houses that became popular Christmas decorations between World Wars. Collectors call the "putz" houses, from a German-American word related to "putter." Howard calls his creations "glitterhouses," because that's the specific kind of putz houses he likes the best.
Update for 2009 - Halloween Graphics added! If you have started your own Halloween village, you'll be glad to see that it's easy to make a Halloween version of this by making some very minor changes and using Halloween-themed graphics like the ones we've provided. For more information on this option, simply scroll down the page.
The main differences between this project and the starter project are the picture window and that we have added a textured finish using sand.
Note: Our article on What You Need to Build Glitterhouses lists many other materials and tools that will help you work more quickly and effectively.
Printing the Plans
If you want to see the plans before you print them, you can see a bigger version by clicking on the graphics above. But the best way to print them is to click the following links to download the PDF versions:
Select the print option, tell it to "auto rotate and center" or whatever else you need to make it go to Landscape mode. Don't select the "scale to page" or "shrink to fit" option. Print.
Note: On most printers, a small portion of the first image will disappear at the outside edge of the page. But you can easily "fill in the details" by looking at the jpg version - if you allow your printer to reduce the size of the drawing to fit the "printable" page, your plans will be about 5% too small.
If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer or for some reason that doesn't work, you can open the big JPG versions by clicking on the reduced plans above. Choose the "file, page setup" from your browser. When the page setup menu comes up, select "landscape mode." Choose the "scale to fit" option (sometimes "print as large as possible" or something like that. You may have to tweak the sizes a little to get them just right, though - that's why the PDF versions are more likely to work for you.
If neither of those work, contact Paul and ask him for help - that's his department. :-)
Building the Base and FenceThe base is a rectangular "box" that is decorated before the house and trees are installed. For this project, it should be about 4" x 5" and about 1/2" high.
Cut the Base and Fence - For this project, I cut the base and fence out at the same time. The base is made from heavy corrugated cardbard, the kind they use in big boxes. The fence pieces are made from fine corrugated stock, like that from the small express mail boxes you get at the post office. The same kind of fence can also be cut from heavy card stock such as back of a writing tablet. If you wish, you may use different materials for the fence, such as a miniature wooden snow fence from the craft store or a rustic rail fence you make from twigs.
To cut the inside part of the fence, use a hole punch as shown in the plans. Then use a straightedge and Xacto knife to connect some of the holes to get the open oval shapes.
Glue The Base - Build the base up from layers of corrugated cardboard glued together in a sandwich. You then wrap and glue a strip of thin poster-board or cereal-box cardboard all around it to smooth over the rough edges of the corrugated cardboard.
Wrap the Base - When the base is built and the glue is dry, you cover it with white bond paper just like you would wrap a gift, except that all surfaces of the paper cover must be completely glued down to the box. A glue stick works great for this.
Note: More details about building bases are provided in our article: Building Glitterhouse Bases
Attach the Fence - When the glue on the base has dried, glue the fence pieces to the base.
Prime the Base and Fence - When all the glue has dried, paint the base with the flat white paint. This provides an even finish that will hold the acrylic paint and glitter. If the fence has cardboard in it, prime it, too.
Cutting Out the Structure Pieces
Assembling and Painting the HouseNote: You'll notice that there is some "hurry up and wait" involved with this portion of the project. That's one reason I often work on more than one building at a time.
Make your Picture WindowsDecide on and print a graphic the size you need it. We've put a few here, but you can get more by scanning old Christmas cards or "googling" Christmas images on the Internet.
For your convenience, we've provided a .pdf version of each that is prescaled to go with the building plans on this page. We've also provided a .jpg version that you can resize if you need it in another scale.
When you have your graphic ready to install, build the "picture window" as shown below. I've used two basic approaches. Good - There are two ways to do this. The easiest is to find a graphic you like, print it the right size on your color printer, stick it onto a piece of clear packing tape, and glue it into place inside the building.
[Note from editor: I believe Howard turns the "unprinted" side of the graphic toward the packing tape. You may be tempted to put the tape on the printed side of the graphic, which would give a shiny surface and protect the graphic from handling damage, but I'd be afraid the tape would yellow faster than the "non-yellowing" paper you printed the graphic on. Also, depending on the printer and upon the kind of "vellum" you have access to, you may also be able to print the graphic on vellum and use that with or without the packing tape. Experiment as much as you want - this is a relatively inexpensive hobby. - Paul]
Better - If you have access to clear, thin plastic or some similar material that you can use as a "windowpane," consider making a "sandwich" picture window. This version provides more sense of depth, and the clear plastic "windowpane" protects your graphic.
Assemble the House
Adding Additional Scenery
Add yard accessories such as bottle-brush trees, as desired.
[Editor's note: For trees, some folks cut apart a loofah sponge and dip it into deep blue-green paint, wring it out, and let it dry to simulate the lichen-like organic material used on some of the original houses. - Paul]
When everything is glued together and the glue has dried, touch up any place that the glitter hasn't covered evenly.
If you wish, you can use several light coats of clear satin acrylic spray to protect the paint, glitter, sand, and graphic from handling and light.
ConclusionYou can see that, when you get to the gluing, painting, and glittering stages, there's a lot of "hurry up and wait." That's one reason many people who build modern putz house recreations work on two or three houses at the same time - you can work on the second house while the glue is setting on the first one, and so on.
[Editor's note: Howard has three grown children with families and Christmas villages of their own, which is why he often makes four buildings at the same time, so he gets to keep one. - Paul]
Here's an example that shows just how flexible these designs are. The version to the right doesn't use the sand finish, uses sawdust instead of glitter on the base, and it uses a different kind of cardboard for the roof (taken from a Starbuck's-style coffee cup). You can see that by using colors suitable for Halloween and substituting a Halloween-themed graphic in the "picture window," you can have a nice Halloween-themed structure.
Commercial "Plug" - 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. I often provide an "artist's conception" such as the one at the right to make certain I understand what they want. Sometimes the "artist's conception" needs to be tempered by adjustments to make the house fit in better with the other houses it will be joining, as well as color and accessory changes. But it all starts, quite literally, at the drawing board.
Perhaps you had a pasteboard house collection when you were young and would like to have a replica made. Or you have an idea for somthing that's never been done. If you can find a photo or hash out a drawing or anything else to give me some idea of what you're looking for, that can be enough to get started.
If you'd like me to help you design and/or build a special vintage pasteboard house for you, or if you have any questions at all, please see my site, LittleGlitterHouses.com for more information.
Looking for Your Ideas, Projects, or Photos - Also, if you have similar project, ideas, or photos that you'd like to share with your fellow readers and hobbyists, we'd love to add them to our sites, and we'll be sure to give you full credit for your contribution.
Other Resources for Putz Houses and Related InformationOther Putz House Articles:
Other Putz House Resources:
Note: Big Indoor Trains™, Big Train Store™, Family Garden Trains™, Big Christmas Trains™, Garden Train Store™, and Trains and Towns™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). Spook Hill™ and LittleGlitterhouses.com™ are trademarks of Howard Lamey. All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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