Note from Editor: This is an index to a collection of tips for making the scenery of your holiday and display villages come alive.
Most of these projects come to us courtesy of Florida designer Howard Lamey. Howard loves collecting and designing glitter houses, or as collectors call them, "putz" houses, from a German-American word related to "putter." He also enjoys creating original accessories and settings to make his houses look "at home" in his display.s
This page is an index to articles that will help you create charming and appropriate settings for your Christmas Village houses, whether they're "putz" houses, ceramic sculptures, or something else altogether. Some of them were created by Howard, though they're on other sites - I'll be moving those to "Howard's How-To's" for easier
navigation, but we wanted to give you access to them now.
- Free Scenery Set Pieces - Make scenic accessories from scraps. New, November, 2008!
Easy Sea Grass - An inexpensive way to add color and texture to any seaside setting. New, January, 2009!
- Winter Trees from Floral Picks - A quick and inexpensive way to add interesting textures to your winter railroad or Christmas village.
- Modeling Palm Trees - Here's an easy way to model palm trees, for your seaside village, or for your nativity scene.
- Portable (Foam-Based) Indoor Displays - Using a foam-based portable scenic foundation to display your trains and towns to their best advantage.
- Easy Indoor Lakes and Rivers - How to get the effect of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and streams on both temporary and permanent indoor railroads and display villages.
- Easy Homemade Trees - How to make realistic and inexpensive trees using (mostly) natural materials.
- Desert Accessories from Playmobil Products - How repainting carefully-chosen toys can add fun details to a Large Scale desert landscape
- Bringing Autumn to Your Railroad or Display Village - How two easy crafts can make your model railroad or display village look like it is enjoying the fall season.
- Add Spring Color to Your Village or Indoor Railroad - How to use "Easy Homemade Trees" to brighten your railroad or display village for spring.
Commission Your Own Project!
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 something 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.
Return to Howard's How-To's
Other Resources for Putz Houses and Related Information
Other Putz House Articles:
Other Putz House Resources:
- LittleGlitterHouses.com - Putz house builder Howard Lamey now has his own site, begun in December, 2007. You can get ideas for your own project, commission your own custom-built glitterhouse, or buy a precut kit and finish it yourself.
- "Papa Ted's Place" Ted Althof's extensive resource about vintage pasteboard houses. Includes some history, many photos from other people's collections, and resources to help you build your own. The links below will take you right to the appropriate page on "Papa" Ted's site. You'll find lots of other pages to look at while you're there, though.
- Antoinette Stockenberg's photographs and comments on putz houses and life in general. - This is an entirely different kind of site from Ted's, but first class in every way. Antoinette is a published novelist who started decorating her home with putz houses some years back, started learning about the hobby, and the rest is history. She populates her putz with period-appropriate accessories, including "flats," inexpensive vintage figures made like tin soldiers. She also writes some nice articles about her putz villages and other subjects. The above link takes you to her home page, which usually has great photographs of her mantle-top putz. Be sure to look at previous years' pages to see other buildings, accessories, and arrangements.
Other Articles that Discuss Putzes and Christmas Villages of the mid-20th Century:
- About Nativities - Describes how German-American Nativity displays (the original "putzes") grew into communities and landscapes that included pastboard, glittered houses and even electric trains.
- What Do Trains Have to Do With Christmas - Describes how electric trains contributed to the communities many families set up at Christmas, with some details about the elaborate "Christmas Gardens" of the Baltimore/DC area.