|Written by Howard Lamey (with a little help from Paul Race)|
for Big Indoor TrainsTM
Note from Editor: Howard Lamey, in Jacksonville, Florida, has retired from a full-time job in advertising that included designing window displays for a major retailer. Now he has turned those artistic talents to designing and building vintage-style cardboard buildings for his family and friends. (We have a brief introduction to glitterhouses and "putzes" in the article "What is a Glitterhouse?") Howard has started his own site, but he has graciously agreed to share his craft knowledge with our readers.
Spook HillTM #1 - Stately Pane ManorThough I've been making little vintage-style cardboard houses and castles for Christmas for some time, I tried something new last fall. I designed a Halloween house for my grown children's families' halloween decorations. It was such a hit that this year we plan to offer a whole community of Halloween building projects. The house shown in the photo is the first one we designed specifically for this community, now designated "Spook HillTM." (The TM is there to keep ten other people from doing the same thing under the same name - if you have similar projects, let us know, and we may be able to share links or something - just don't call it "Spook HillTM," or I'll send my town's denizens after you.)
This structure is based on forms typically used in some of the more elaborate cardboard Christmas houses that were made in Japan between 1920 and 1930. It's the first one I've ever seen with a Halloween theme, though.
What You Will NeedClean cardboard of every thickness. Cereal boxes, the backs of writing tablets - anything flat, firm, and clean, that you can save. Please keep some corrogated cardboard on hand, too - it makes the best bases.
The 3-window section, back section and clock tower are cardboard cut-outs with cardboard “parapet” trim around the top edge.
The round tower is cardboard tube from a roll of gift wrap. Add a spire cut from 3 cone shaped paper water cups which have been glued together, one inside the other for strength. In addition, for this project you'll need:
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
You should be able to print the big version at the size you need either of the following ways.
If neither of those work, contact Paul and ask him for help - that's his department. :-)
Building the BaseThe base is a rectangular "box" that is decorated before the house and trees are installed. For this project, it should be about 7" wide and 5" deep, built up from four layers of corrugated cardboard, wrapped with acid-free bond paper. (See our article on Building Glitterhouse Bases for more information.)
Note: For this project, Howard cut the base and fence pieces out at the same time. (See Sheet #4 above). The fence pieces are made from the thin kind of corrugated cardboard that they use for Express Mail boxes, although thick cardboard from the back of a legal pad would do as well. If you wish, you may use different materials for the fence, including miniature wooden snow fence from the craft store or a rustic rail fence you make from twigs.
Cut And Glue The Base - Usually the best method is to make a base 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 camouflage the rough edges of the corrugated cardboard.
Wrap the Base - When the base is built, you then cover it with white bond paper just like you would wrap a gift, except that all surfaces of the paper cover must be glued down to the box. A glue stick works great for this.
Attach the Fence - When the glue on the base has dried, glue the fence pieces to the base.
Prime the Base - 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 is made of cardboard, prime it, too. If you used corrugated cardboard for the fence, dab a little extra into the openings on the top to help seal them. By the time you've added the final coat, the openings shouldn't even be noticeable.
Prepping the Structure PiecesThe 3-window section, back section and clock tower are cardboard cut outs with cardboard “parapet” trim around the top edge. For this I prefer to use thicker noncorrugated cardboard, such as the cardboard from the back of a legal pad.
Assembling and Painting the Manor
Adding Final Touches
If you wish to add frost, brush a very thin coat of white glue several places and sprinkle a light coat of clear glitter over the glue. Don’t try to do the entire house or base at once. White glue starts to film-over and dry quickly so just do a wall or a section at a time. The glue dries clear, so don’t judge the final look until the glue is completely dry.
I also gave the entire project several coats of clear satin spray to protect the finish and to help the ground cover adhere to the base.
Add a few “dead trees” made from craft store floral picks. These are glued in holes in the base.
Download and print the full moon graphic on yellow paper and glue it a round cardboard disc with a bamboo skewer attached. Paint the back of the disk and skewer black.
If you want, add yard accessories such as a small figurine (cheap party favors and cake decorations are often suitable - it's okay if your accessories look a little "tacky").
Concluding IdeasYou 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.
Using With Trains - While I was building this, Paul sent me a Hawthorne Village "Nightmare Before ChristmasTM" locomotive and a few cars. He wanted to give readers a sense of how this and the other Spook HillTM buildings would look with a commercial Halloween train. (This train and others are described on Paul's Halloween Trains web pages. Except for the holiday paint job, this train is actually an On30 model compatible with Bachmann's On30 trains, which were designed to look good with Christmas villages. Most HO trains would be a little smaller, and most Lionel trains would be a little bigger, so this should give you a pretty good idea of whether it will work with your train set.
Other Ideas For Decorations - I actually based part of this structure on a bigger structure I made for a Christmas village, so there's no reason you can't use other colors and make a Christmas version.
Or download some of Paul Race's printable brick and stone papers and make an all-season building.
Of course you'll probably want a "normal" clock face for either of those projects. Click on the clock face to the right to get a downloadable "normal" clock face.
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 help you design and 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.
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 sites or to our links, and we'll be sure to give you full credit for your contribution.
Other Resources for Putz Houses and Related Information
Note: Spook HillTM and LittleGlitterhousesTM are trademarks of Howard Lamey, North Jacksonville, Florida.
Big Indoor TrainsTM, Big Train StoreTM, Family Garden TrainsTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, and Trains and TownsTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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