Did you know that these glittery little cardboard houses (putz houses) have been around for 130 years or so? Did you know that the word “putz” is a German word meaning “put” that in the German-American vernacular can mean “putter”, as in “How long are you going to keep “putzing” around with those houses?” And did you know that between 1880 and 1928 most putz houses were actually candy boxes? These facts and a lot of other fascinating history on putz houses can be found at Cardboard Christmas, a wonderful site filled with information about these houses and resources for buying or building your own.
I first started loving these little glitter houses as a child when I saw them under my Aunt Gert’s Christmas tree. Do you have any “magical” Christmas memories? This was one of them for me. I’d forgotten all about them though until their recent resurgence in popularity when I decided that I would like to create a glitter village of my own. You can buy brand new glitter houses in many places (maybe you’ve seen those in the Pottery Barn catalog). Vintage putz houses which are mostly Japanese made can be found online, as well as plans to build your own, or you can buy pre-assembled houses to decorate yourself. That’s what I decided to do.
Some of the close-ups may give you a better idea of what they look like “in person” and I’ll share those with you later in the post, after this little tutorial. If you have no interest in making putz houses yourself then you can fast forward to see them right now.
This was my village as it came in the mail, ordered off a site on Etsy called Little Village Houses. The full village was only $37.00.
The first thing I did was to paint them with white craft paint.
This is the Martha Stewart glitter set I got last Christmas. As I said in my Glittery Nutcracker post, there are less expensive glitters but Martha’s colors are the best!
I did the main part of the house first and let it dry completely before glittering the roof. Here again you can see that I painted one section at a time with glue so the glitter could be applied while the glue was still very wet.
After giving the glittered house a few taps to allow the excess glitter to fall back onto the paper I worked over I scrinched the paper together to make a little crevice so I could poor the excess back into the bottle for another use. This glitter really goes a long way. I think glittered acorns are next!
I cut a rectangular piece of wax paper for one section of the house at a time and for the houses that had peeks I placed the wax paper on top of the front of the house and lightly ran my paint brush handle over the peeks . . .
This is a step that I should have done before putting in the windows but you can learn from my mistakes! After all the houses had dried completely I decided to add some detailing around the windows and doors. I painted glue around one window or door at a time and then shook on the glitter. When I tapped off the excess some glitter still remained on the windows so I used a dry paintbrush to brush off any remaining glitter.
Next . . . I decided I wanted my windows to have panes. Some glitter houses have very fancy window panes made with more glue and glitter or with tiny pieces of wood or paper. I chose the easy route and drew my panes with a white gel pen.
Following are several close-ups of individual houses that I placed along my mantle. I used only white, silvers and blues as I wanted my village to look frozen, here in mild SC.
Each of these houses has a hole in the back where an electric light or battery operated votive can be inserted. I think that would really add to the ambiance. I’ve created a Glitter (putz) House board on Pinterest where I’ve pinned ideas for adding more detail to glitter houses and more tutorials for making your own, including patterns that can be downloaded. Though mine is simple for now I think that my village will most likely evolve over the years into something a bit more extravagant!
Nighttime falls and the spotlight falls on my Putz Village. Again, I wish I could capture in pictures how much it really sparkles.
It has been so much fun decorating for Christmas in preparation for my two daughters and my son-in-law who will be coming (from California and New York) to see our new home for the first time. Though it is so very different than our lake house and living in Washington State I’m praying that they’ll still feel like this is “home”. I’ll be back with one more post before Christmas, showing my Christmas decor, before taking some time off to enjoy my family.
Blessings to you my friends as you prepare your home and your hearts for Christmas,