|Written by Howard Lamey (with a little help from Paul Race)|
for Big Indoor TrainsTM
Note from Editor: These projects come to us courtesy of Florida 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.Picture Window House project. It represents a small subset of "putz" (Christmas cardboard village) houses that included more complex architectural designs. This structure includes a "bay" window that projects from the front of the house. We have included graphics for the candles in the windows.
What You Will NeedClean cardboard. You can use cardboard from cereal boxes, the backs of writing tablets, anything flat, firm and clean. You'll also probably want to use corrugated cardboard for the base. 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 PlansBecause this house is based on the Picture Window House project, we have included those plans for your reference, as well as a new "front of house" plan that includes the parts for the bay window.
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 BaseThe 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 Pieces - 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.
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
Cut the Fence Pieces - Note: The fence in the photo is not the same fence shown on the plan. For this project, I chose to cut a "picket-fence" pattern, but you may make any sort of fence you want, of course. 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.
Attach the Fence - When the glue on the base has dried, glue the fence pieces to the base.
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.
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]
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:
Other Articles that Discuss Putzes and Christmas Villages of the mid-20th Century:
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