Piles of cardboard sheets have been sitting on my shelves for some time, and I was wondering what I could do with them.
Then I was thinking about making Christmas decorations, and I remembered the old vintage Putz houses we had under the Christmas tree when I was a kid, and I thought - what a great craft idea!
So I decided to use those cardboards to make my own Christmas village this year, and to share my crafting journey in this blog.
I have already made a fun list and sketches of different glitter houses I want to create, but I thought I should begin with a simple one first - hence this "Simple Cottage" tutorial.
This is the very first of a series of step-by-step tutorials that will show you how to create cute glitter houses - and as time goes by and more new tutorials are added, to eventually build your own Christmas village set!
So let's begin our project...
Materials you will need:
• Free printable template (+ letter size paper & printer to print it)
• Cardboard sheets
• X-acto knife / utility knife
• Cutting mat
• Metallic ruler
• Masking tape
• Vellum / tracing paper (translucent paper)
• Glue stick
• White craft glue
• Glue brush (or old or cheap brush)
• Acrylic paint
• Cup of water (to wash your brushes)
• Plate or palette (to mix / pour the mediums)
• Fake snow - you can buy it (Snow-Tex, True Snow, etc.), or you can make it
• Palette knife or stick
• Shaker or spoon (to sprinkle the glitter)
• Mod Podge (UPDATE: I am now using Liquitex Acrylic Fluid Gloss Medium instead of Mod Podge, as I found that Mod Podge was yellowing. Liquitex Medium is non-yellowing. You may also use any non-yellowing medium or finish.)
• Plate to collect the glitter leftovers
• Cotton ball
• Paper edger / decorative scissors or punch
• Miniature accessories (sisal trees, etc.)
• Flicker light (battery operated LED tea light candle)
• Christmas music (to get you in the mood :)
Step 1 - Cut + Fold the Pieces
First, you will need to download and print my free printable template here.
The template is for a 3.5 x 2.5 inches house, on a 6 x 4.5 inches base.
Then, using masking tape, fix the first page of the template to a cardboard.
Make sure that the page is fixed flat and leveled with the cardboard. I like to put masking tape at all four corners, then on all four edges, to make sure it won't move when cutting the individual pieces.
Now it's time to begin the cutting. You'll need an x-acto or utility knife (whichever you are most comfortable with), a metallic ruler and a cutting mat. Make sure that your blade is new, to provide the sharpest and cleanest cut possible. The cut lines are the solid lines.
Start with all the holes (windows, light hole, etc.). Then, continue cutting along all the other cut lines. Don't forget the cut lines between the glue tabs!
TIP: If you plan to make several houses based on the current template, use the cut cardboards as patterns to trace all your houses before proceeding to the folding steps. This will save you time (and paper!)
Once all the cutting is completed, take the first cut cardboard piece and its cut paper template. Fold the paper template along the fold lines (dotted lines). Then place and align the folded paper template on the cut cardboard piece, with the folded paper tabs on top (upward), like on the picture below.
Yes, this means that you are now working on the BACK of the cardboard piece - this is what we want for now, because we are going to make some light scoring on the back. This will help us make an easier and cleaner fold.
Keeping the paper template well aligned with the cardboard, trace the fold lines with a pencil.
We now have the back of our cardboard piece with all fold guides visible.
Using an x-acto and metallic ruler, make a light score line along the fold lines. Do not press down too hard with the x-acto - you only want to slightly and gently slice a thin layer of the cardboard fibers.
Once all scoring is done, gently and slightly fold along the score lines towards the opposite side of the cardboard (towards the front of the piece).
Now make the "real" fold, toward the back of the piece. Press firmly all along the fold. We now have a clean and crisp fold when looking at the front of the piece!
Complete all the folds - you now have the first piece of the house done!
Repeat the required cutting/folding steps for each piece until you have all of the pieces done.
You are now ready to proceed to the next step!
Step 2 - Frost the Windows
For this step, you will need vellum / tracing paper (or any translucent paper of your choice), a pencil, scissors and glue stick.
Working on the back side of the pieces (the side that will be inside the house once assembled), cut a piece of vellum paper about the size the piece, and place it on the piece in order to be able to see the window holes through the vellum.
With a pencil, trace a contour line around the window holes of each side/wall of the house.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the light hole on the back wall should NOT be covered with vellum paper - it must remain an open hole in order for you to be able to insert a LED flicker light later.
Cut all pieces of vellum paper and carefully glue to the cardboard with glue stick. Make sure that the vellum is glued flat and without any wrinkles.
Step 3 - Assemble the House
Now it's time to put the house together! You will need: good white craft glue (I personally love Crafter's Pick The Ultimate, or Aleene's Original Tacky Glue), and a glue brush (or an old or cheap brush).
Start with the walls of the house. Working one glue tab at a time, apply a thin layer of glue on the tab with the brush.
Then carefully align both parts together and firmly press down all along the tab and hold until you feel that both parts are well bonded. I found that when working with a thin layer of good glue (rather than putting a thick coat), the bond gets secured rather quickly.
Once the walls are bonded together, glue the flaps that will support the roof. Glue the triangular flaps over the rectangular ones.
Take the piece that will be used as the base, place the house where you want it to sit on the base, and trace the house contour on the base with a pencil. I left more space in front of the house than on the back, because my "yard decor" will be placed on the front, so I want more space there.
Apply a thin layer of glue on the glue tabs at the bottom of the house, then put the house on the base and press down firmly. I use a stick or the handle of a brush to apply pressure on all corners and along the tabs from the inside of the house (through the hole in the roof and the light hole).
Now it's time to glue the roof!
Assemble the chimney, then put it aside and let it dry and bond.
Cut a pretty border on the two pieces of the fence. I like to use a decorative punch or decorative scissors to have a cute fence in no time, but it is optional. You can use regular scissors to cut the pattern of your choice - or you can simply leave it as is if you prefer a straight fence.
For this house, I used the decorative punch on the left:
Glue the fence to the bottom of the base. Make sure that the fence is well aligned with the base and press down the edges and corners of the base to make it bond with the glue tabs of the fence.
Glue the chimney to the roof.
Yay! Your house is now assembled. Do not glue the cutouts for the door and windows yet - we will need to paint them first, this will make our job a lot easier.
Let the glue dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
In the meantime, you can choose your paint colors and cute accessories (optional) - I selected 3 small sisal trees for mine. You can also set up your work station for the painting step.
Step 4 - Paint the House
For this step, you will need: acrylic paint, paint brushes, palette and a cup of water to wash your brushes.
I painted the ground white (snow!) and the house in two shades of aqua blue, but of course you can use any color you want.
I also painted the stand of the sisal trees in white.
Tip for the roof - I find it much easier to paint the underside of the roof in the same color as the walls.
Painting the cutouts can be messy, so I worked on a piece of paper for that part - just make sure to move the pieces to a clean spot quickly after painting them, so they do not stick to the paper when the paint dries.
Let the paint dry completely.
Step 5 - Add the Accessories
Glue the cutouts for the window frames and the door to the house. I personally prefer to use a thin layer of white glue for this, but you can use glue stick if you prefer. Then, glue the sisal trees to the base with white glue.
Step 6 - Add the Snow
For this step, you will need synthetic snow. You can either buy it - DecoArt Snow-Tex, Aleene's True Snow, etc. - or you can make it yourself.
I personally make my own fake snow, since it is quick and easy - and a cheaper option.
If you want to make your own snow, you can find the recipe here.
I use a small palette knife to spread the snow, but you can use a stick, brush or other tool. The homemade snow dries rather quickly, so make sure to work with a small amount at a time and to keep the rest in a well-sealed container.
Begin spreading the snow on the ground, on the feet of the trees, and around the house at the foot of the walls.
Add fake snow to the edges of the windows.
Add snow to the roof and around the chimney.
I also like to add more snow to the sisal trees, to make them more snowy.
Let the snow dry completely.
Step 7 - Add the Glitter
Now it's time to make your house sparkle!
For this, you will need glitter - I use Hemway Ultra Fine Craft Glitter, Iridescent White. But you can use any glitter you want. I prefer white glitter since I think it is more "snowy", but you can use colored glitter if you prefer.
You will also need: non-yellowing medium*, paint brushes, a shaker or spoon to sprinkle the glitter, and a plate to collect the glitter leftovers.
•UPDATE: Instead of Mod Podge, I am now using Liquitex Acrylic Fluid Gloss Medium, as I found that Mod Podge was yellowing. Liquitex Medium is non-yellowing. You may also use any non-yellowing medium or finish.
Begin applying the medium with a brush on the ground. Work one small area at a time.
Then, sprinkle glitter on the medium, and shake excess glitter into the plate.
Continue applying a coat of the medium/glitter mix on the rest of the yard and on the house (walls, roof, door, etc.). Don't forget the fence, and the snow on the trees and the window edges. Be careful not to apply medium on the vellum windows, as it will wet the vellum and make it wrinkle.
Collect the glitter leftovers (I use a funnel to put them back in my shaker, but it is optional).
Our house is now all glittery, sparkly and frosty!
Step 8 - Add the Final Touches
Use a cotton ball to add a smoke effect to the chimney.
Insert a battery operated LED tea light candle in the house - do NOT use a real candle!
And voilà! We now have our first glitter house ready to be placed under the Christmas tree :)
Ready to make your next house? Go to my tutorial #2: