As in other crafting and artistic projects, each crafter has a personal style that marks the Putz (little glitter houses) he/she makes. The details and embellishments added to your own creations, as well as the level of craftsmanship you develop, will mark your work as yours.
Vintage Putz houses, as well as modern interpretations of those houses, come in many styles and degrees of detail. Some are on bases made of a single layer of cardboard. Some are on bases built up to as much as half an inch high. Some new houses are glued on boxes that can be opened or jars are used as bases. Some will have fences (with or without posts). Some will have a plain piece of cardboard as a fence, while others have fences punched or cut with holes and designs. Some fences run just along the front of the base, while others continue along the sides or all the way around the back of the building.
When crafting your own Putz houses, you are free to do as little or as much detail and embellishment as you like. I think fencing is a beautiful detail and enjoy adding it to my creations. Here’s how I make fencing, with a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
The fence height I use most often is 1/2″, so I mark the cardboard into 1/2″ strips. I do use other sizes, depending on the size of the Putz house and the desired size of the fence. When crafting your own fencing, keep proportion (scale) in mind. Think about how big the fence should be, relative to the size of the building.
A medium weight cardboard (chipboard) is a good place to start. Cereal/cracker box weight, at least. Maybe a little heavier. But too heavy and decorative scissors or punches won’t cut through it. The cardboard I used below came out of a package of bed linens. I haven’t used corrugated cardboard for fencing. The cut edge would have to be treated in some way to fill the holes. Sounds like time-consuming trouble to me…
Decorative scissors can be used to make a fence pattern. I have a stash of these for scrapbooking and the wavy one (stamp border pattern) and the zigzag are both good candidates for fencing.
Two strips of decorative fencing can be made with one decorative cut down the middle and one straight cut to separate the fence from the rest of the cardboard piece.
Hand-held punches can also be used to make decorative fencing. These fence strips (from top to bottom) were made with a diamond-shaped hand punch, a circle punch, tear drop punch, rectangular punch, diamond-shaped punch again, and a wavy scissor.
In this example, I used a rectangular-shaped punch to construct a picket fence.
To make this fence, use a 1/2″ strip of cardboard. Mark a guide line 1/8″ from one long edge of the cardboard strip.
The spacing from the top of the fence (long side of the cardboard that is marked with the guide line) and the spacing between each hole should be as uniform as possible. Hold the punch so the bottom is toward you, allowing you to watch the position of the punch in relation to the line on the cardboard. Choose a position for the side of the punch in relation to the last punched hole and use that as a guide also, as each hole is punched. Keep the hand-held punch as vertical as possible. The first few times I used this particular punch, the finished holes had a distinct lean to the right. It may take a little practice and a little fudging to get it just right.
If you want the punched holes centered on the strip, measure the size of hole your punch makes. Calculate from that, and the width of your cardboard strip, to decide where the guideline should be placed.
When the strip is finished, give it at least a base coat of paint at this point. A toothpick is a good tool for cleaning paint out of the punched holes. Make sure all the edges get a coat of paint, but do clean out excess paint. Paint left in the punched holes makes those little holes even smaller and also blurs the sharpness of the design.
I like to paint and glitter the fencing before attaching it to the base. That’s a personal call. It may be easier for others to completely assemble and glue the fencing (and posts, if used) to the base before painting/glittering. Do what seems most comfortable to you.
If you paint the fence after it is glued to the base, the cardboard will absorb moisture from the paint, and may warp or bow. If this happens, don’t worry. Just place a few pins to hold the fence in a straight line. With the pins in place, the cardboard will dry straight and the fence will look great. If the pins have been placed into wet paint, twist them as they are removed rather than pulling them straight out. If pulled straight out, they may pull up a chunk of paint that will require a touch up.
Fencing can be glued to the base without posts. Consider where the entrance should be. This particular base was made for a church with a door set to the right side of the building, so I made the entrance in the fence to the right side of the base.
Pinning the fence helps keep it in place while the glue dries. You can use a glue gun or white glue for this step.
This fence was glued with a glue gun.
This fence was glued with white glue. I glob it on. Those piles of glue are future snow drifts!
Hot glue sets up quickly. White glue has a longer dry time, so it leaves some wiggle room for moving things around till you like it. As I said, lumps and clumps of dried glue can be disguised as drifts of snow when the fence is painted, so don’t worry about leaving lumpy glue.
This is a completed base, with fencing and posts, painted and glittered. Ready for the addition of a Putz house or church and any other embellishments you choose to use.
The fence can be made with or without posts. Here’s a fence I made using decorative scissors to cut the top and a punch to add a design. This fence is on a single layer of cardboard and has two posts at the entrance.
This is the finished house on the base shown above. I used the pattern for the Bay Window House, on the Little Glitter House web site. I modified the bay window just a bit. The web site has patterns for other houses and a lot of helpful information about the hobby of constructing little glitter houses.
I was planning to include making fence posts in this tutorial, but it’s getting too long. I’ll post about that in a few days. If you are making Putz houses, I’d love to see what you’re doing.