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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 03/06/15

Friday, March 6, 2015

BUILDING GLITTER HOUSES FOR YOUR TREE OR FOR A CHRISTMAS DISPLAY



  This comes from www.bigindoortrains.com .  Make a few or many, maybee enough for your very own Christmas village.  Enjoy!

Building a Glitterhouse

The house shown in the photo is a good starting product for learning to build "putz" houses.

What You Will Need

If you are going to build vintage-style 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. Please keep some corrogated cardboard on hand, too - it makes the best bases. In addition, for this project you'll need:
  • A sharp mat knife or Xacto knife (or both)
  • A stiff metal ruler
  • Elmer's white Glue-All. A glue stick would also come in handy.
  • Clear glitter. I use the “Sulyn” brand.
  • Several sheets of acid-free white bond paper
  • Flat white paint (flat latex interior wall paint is good) to prime the building (and give it the chalky feel of the original)
  • Acrylic paint in the colors you plan to use for the house.
  • Other accessories, such as bottle brush trees, that you plan to use to finish the house.

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



Double-click on this image to see a higher resolution pattern.Double-click on this image to see a higher resolution pattern.

Double-click on the plans above to see the large versions. You should be able to print the big version at the size you need either of the following ways.

  • If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer, click the following links to see 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.
  • If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer or for some reason that doesn't work, open the big GIF 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." If you CAN choose to NOT scale the picture, do so. This may mean that part of the page gets clipped on your printer, but the plan should sprint to the right size. If they don't you should be able to tweak  the size either in the print program or in any graphic program you have on your printer.

If neither of those work, contact Paul and ask him for help - that's his department. :-)

Building the Base


Click for bigger photo.

The base is a rectangular "box" that is decorated before the house and trees are installed. For this project, it should be about 4 1/4" square, and about 1/2" high.

Note: For this project, Howard cut the base and fence pieces out at the same time. The fence pieces are made from card stock such as posterboard or cereal box cardboard. 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.




Click for bigger photo.Click for bigger photo.



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.




The finish coat of paper is glued down everywhere so it becomes a part of the surface and recreates the pasteboard finish of the original glitterhouses. Click for bigger photo.Click for bigger photo



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 - 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 card stock, prime it, too.

Prepping the Structure Pieces

The house, roof, chimney, and chimney cap need to be cut from thicker cardboard, such as the cardboard from the back of a writing tablet.




Click for bigger photo


  1. Carefully transfer patterns of all pieces to the cardboard building stock. A .05 mm lead mechanical pencil and a “C-Through” brand ruler make this accurate and easy. 
  2. Put new blades in the mat knife or X-acto knife (or both) that you will be using. 
  3. Score the fold lines before you begin cutting out the parts (although you may do the roof later, if you wish, after you've checked the overhang). Use the metal ruler or other steel edge as a guide. 
  4. Still using a steel-edged ruler as a guide, cut out the shapes. Watch your fingers. 
  5. Double-check the roof size. The most important thing is that it has an overhang on all sides just like a real house. After you determine where the peak of the roof should be, score the crease. 
  6. Cut the door and window frames from thinner stock, such as posterboard or cereal box cardboard.

Assembling and Painting the House

  1. Using Elmer's white Glue-All or a similar product, assemble the house, glue on the roof, chimney with chimney cap, trim details plus door and window frames. I would do this in steps so that you are not trying to hold, tape, or clamp a lot of small pieces at one time.

Click for bigger photo.



White glue works best if you apply a thin coat to each mating surface and wait a few moments for the glue to become tacky. Do not glue the house to the base until you have applied the glitter (below).
Note: Sometimes I add a sub-base to the house. This could be in the form of 1/4"-inch square pieces of balsa wood or strips of corrugated cardboard glued around the inside bottom edge of the house wall where it meets the base. This gives you a larger gluing surface for mounting the house to the base.




This sub-base made of corrugated cardboard provides a little more strength to the house and gives a better surface for gluing to the base.  Click for bigger photo.The house and base have now been primed with a flat interior wall paint that provides a consistent surface for the next coat.  Click for bigger photo.




  1. Prime the house, including trim, with flat white wall paint. Don’t skip this step; it gives you a uniform surface for painting. 
  2. Paint the house in your choice of colors. I use acrylics from the Wal-Mart craft department. For anything that is painted gold, silver or bronze, I use “Testors” brand model paint.



Note Howard's signature 'Dr. Seuss' color choices and white paint 'globs.'  Having exaggerated colors and patterns is important because the clear glitter actually tones things down a little.  Click for bigger photo.




  1. Paint the base and fence. A white base with random swirls and dabs of very light pastel blue and pink are a good choice. Paint the fence a color that ties in with the rest of the house but is dark enough to contrast with the base. I suggest you not use yellows, beiges or greens in the snow.


    Click for bigger photo.


  1. Add clear glitter to the house and the base. Brush on a thin, but even coat of undiluted white glue and sprinkle on the glitter. 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 dry. 
  2. Glue the window covering material on the inside of the house. I use colored velum or colored “cellophane type” material. Red seems to be the traditional color but you can use any color you like. 
  3. Glue the finished house to the finished base. Fill in any gaps between the house and the base with white glue and sprinkle on more glitter.

For this structure, Howard chose a bottle brush and a small Christmas tree ornament shaped like a snow man. Click for bigger photo.

Adding Additional Scenery


Add yard accessories such as a small figurine and a bottle-brush tree.
I like to use miniature Christmas tree ornaments such as a Santa, deer and snowmen. You may even choose to make you own accessories.
[Editor's note: I have seen cheap party favors and cake decorations that were also suitable - it's okay if your accessories look a little "tacky." 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.


Conclusion

You 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.




If you are paying attention, you'll notice that the snowman from the photo of the finished project house above has traded places with the santa from the house from our title photo (center), and a new plastic snowman is now guarding our project house.  In the meantime, Santa has moved to a house we haven't seen yet in this article. I hope this just means that Howard doesn't have his accessories glued down yet, and that they're not playing 'musical houses' on their own. What this photo is supposed to show is that Howard doesn't exactly build these one at a time.   Click for bigger photo.


Click for bigger photo.

Bonus: Church Conversion Plans


When you're done with your first house, and thinking about the next project, here's an idea. Many glitterhouse sets had seven houses (often identical except for colors and accessories) and a church. If you want your glitterhouse collection to represent that tradition, you can use the plans below in addition to the plans and directions above to convert your next putz house into a church.



Click to see the full-sized plan.

As always you have two options for downloading and printing the plan:
If you do build a church, you'll find a stained glass window pattern you can use on Paul Race's Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics web page.
Also, if you find yourself looking for the old-fashioned celophane with gold windowframes printed on it, you'll find many choices at Papa Ted's Reproduction Parts page.
The following photos show the steps in building a church the same basic way you build the little glitterhouse above. Note that in this version of the project, Howard changed the shape of the windows and added two, but the basic process is the same.

Cut and score the building pieces according to the directions above.
Click for bigger photo.

Assemble the base and other sub-assemblies according to the directions above. Click for bigger photo. Put the sub-assemblies together to check the fit. Once you are satisfied that they will look right together, prime the subassemblies with flat white paint, paint the subassemblies, glue the windows in place, and glue the subassemblies together. Click for bigger photo.Finish with glitter and accessories according to the directions above. Click for bigger photo.

 

PANCAKE DAY, A TAIL OF TWO CITIES FROM DIFFERENT CONTINENTS!!










   Many people are familiar with Mardi Gras celebrations on the day before Lent.  But in Liberal Kansas, the day before Lent means just one thing....it's Pancake Day!
   The friendly little competition between Liberal Kansas and Olney England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes, has been going on for more that 60 years.  It is still the only race of its kind in the world.
   On Shrove Tuesday, at 11:55 p.m. the race begins, with the overall score standing at 33 wins for Liberal and 25 for Olney.  In 1980 the score didn't count because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.










   It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church.  Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Reverand Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal
   In Olney, the Pancake Race traditions date back more than 500 years to 1445.  A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes.  Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron clad.  In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach he church first and collect a "Kiss of Peace" from the verger ( bell ringer).  The kiss is still the traditional prize in both races.











   Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron and the runner must flip her pancake at the starting signal, and again after crossing the finish line, to prove she still has her pancake.
   Winning scores have traded back and forth between the two towns.  The record time was set in 2001 when 3 time winner, Lisa Spillman of Liberal, ran the 415 yard S -shaped course in 58.1 seconds.







MAKE YOUR OWN STRESS-FREE ROYAL ICING!

  This diy comes from www.mykitchenaddiction.com .  If you're a baker, you will probably use alot of  royal icing to decorate your cookies, cupcakes and misc. other sweet treats.  Nothing is worse than not having the right consistency of your icing while in the middle of decorating a couple dozen cookies (let alone ruin a tasty cookie with a subpar icing).  Good luck!

Stress Free Royal Icing



Last week, as I was decorating cookies for Halloween, I was reminded of the fact that I’ve been meaning to share my tips for making royal icing with no stress. After all, everyone wants to decorate beautiful cookies during the holiday season, but no one wants to fight with the royal icing. Between shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and lots of friends and family dropping in, there’s enough stress already!
This is one of those blog posts that has been writing itself in the back of my mind for quite a while. Almost every time I post about cookies that I have decorated, I get a few emails or comments asking me about my royal icing. I usually either give a quick reply with the ratio of meringue powder, powdered sugar, and water that I use… Or I direct the question to these posts from Bridget and Gail. They are both brilliant when it comes to cookies… And, they have taught me most of what I know. Want to see where their two worlds collide? Check out this fantastic video about royal icing over at the University of Cookie. They are the masters, and I cannot even begin to pretend that I know more about cookies or royal icing than they do.
But, here’s the thing… When it comes to royal icing, I think you have to do what works for you. I’ve made royal using Bridget’s method and meringue powder. I have also gone the egg white powder route and followed Gail’s thorough instructions. My problem is that no matter what I do, I end up with clumpy bits in my royal icing. And, those clumpy bits always end up getting stuck in my pastry tips and causing me quite a bit of stress. And, believe me, when you have a big batch of cookies sitting on the counter just waiting to be decorated, you don’t want the royal icing acting up.
I am pretty sure the problem lies with me 100%. I take full responsibility for the lumps in my royal icing. But, after having the same problem time and time again, I developed a new method that works for me. And, so far it has been 100% clump free.

My Stress Free Method…

Eventually, I realized that I was introducing all of the clumps into my icing when I was reconstituting either the meringue powder or the egg whites. I had issues both ways. I would always have gooey little clumps that just would wreak havoc on my icing and poor pastry tips. I tried pouring the mixtures through a strainer before adding them to the powdered sugar, but then I’d have a sticky strainer to deal with. No fun.






So, the one day, I had some extra time, and I decided to attempt making a batch of icing without reconstituting the meringue powder (I usually use meringue powder for no great reason other than that’s what I like to do). Instead, I whisked the dry meringue powder into the powdered sugar. Then, I added the water, popped the bowl into the mixer and went about my way. No. Clumps. I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried it again the next time I made royal icing, and sure enough, it turned out perfectly smooth with no clumps.
It’s been almost a year that I’ve been making my royal this way, and I don’t think I’ve had any issues with clumpy royal icing since then. Coincidence? I think not!





The Royal Recipe…

My recipe for royal icing certainly isn’t unique to me. I’ve referenced plenty of blogs, cookbooks, and even packages of meringue powder… And, this is the one I’ve kind of settled into. As I mentioned before, I do typically use meringue powder, so that’s what is included in my recipe. Just be sure to use a good tasting, good quality meringue powder for your royal!
This recipe for royal icing uses only one pound of powdered sugar. The number of cookies that it will cover will certainly depend on the type of decorating you are doing and the size of the cookies. It’s easy to double or triple, though… And, it’s usually better to err on the side of too much royal vs. not enough. I typically end up making a double batch.





Royal Icing
  • 1 pound powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of meringue powder
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or clear vanilla extract (optional)


In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar and the meringue powder. Whisk the two together by hand. Add 6 tablespoons of water to the mixture and add the lemon juice or vanilla extract, if desired.
Fit the mixer with the beater blade/paddle, and start mixing on the slowest speed until everything comes together and there are no visible pockets of dry powdered sugar. Gradually turn the mixer up to medium/medium-high speed and beat until the icing is fluffy. Adjust the amount of water, as necessary, adding just a few drops at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container to avoid the icing crusting over before you use it.

Happy decorating!