Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wilkins House Putz Project for Habitat

Wilkins House putz version
The Wilkins House as the putz version. The trees are not glued on yet because I will probably add snow and glitter to them. I will also put more snow on the roof, the stairs and the base.

Finally, I have finished my most ambitious little cardboard house - the Wilkins House. It is based on a famous house in my hometown that was saved from the destruction by moving it and fully renovating it in its new site. I figured it would be a good project for the next Habitat for Humanity auction which isn't until October. I am glad I finished it now because it basically took me about 2 months to get it done.

Wilkins Putz House conservatory side view
Conservatory side of the Wilkins House

Wilkins putz house porch side view
Wilkins House Porch side view

Wilkins Putz House top porch view
Wilkins House top porch view

Bird's eye view of the Wilkins putz house
Bird's eye view of the house. Definitely needs more snow.

To recap and give you an idea of the challenges in making this house, I've written about 6 blog posts describing the process:

Next Putz House for Habitat

Putz Plan Progress

Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4

Spring Mansion - Evolution of a Putz House

Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a prototype

It's Going to Work

The major challenge for me is always measuring accurately. All the pieces had to fit together or the house would look wonky like some of the elements on the Spring Mansion, the prototype house. I wouldn't say that the pieces are perfect, but they are pretty dang good for me. I am very pleased with how the house has turned out. I am hoping the house will bring a lot of money for Habitat of Greenville during the October auction fundraiser.

Wilkins House Putz Version with real Wilkins House
Comparison of the real Wilkins House with my putz version.

Next? Now I get to make Halloween houses which will be sold (not auctioned) to raise money for Habitat. My favorite houses to make. The first one I am going to make is a simplified Halloween version of the Wilkins House. I hope I can complete it much faster than this one.

Oh, I am going to enter this into an online challenge. I found that the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge is "Add a Die Cut". I have used a number of dies in this project. My favorites are the windows from the Tim Holtz Village Manor and then the rooftop dies. The other die used was the fence die where I used the offcuts to make the balusters and the notching around the top of the house. I'm saving all the fence pieces I cut out for the Halloween houses I will be making.

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's Going to Work!

The pieces for the Wilkins House are going to fit together!

Testing fitting the pieces of the Wilkins House putz house
I think all the pieces are going to fit together and actually work! I am delighted. The paint color is a mixture of Candied Apple and Fired Brick mixed with sand to give it a rough texture.

This view shows how the front porches will go on the Wilkins House. They are not glued on yet. And there is lots of trim that is needed as well. You see some of the trim in the background. The top part of the front tower has been glued down because it has to fit the angle of the roof so it had to go first. The top piece determines where the top porch floor goes. Then the bottom part of the tower determines where the bottom of the porch goes. And amazingly, they all fit!

I am more likely to eyeball how something goes together rather than measure carefully, but because of all the components of this house I had to improve my measuring skills. Fortunately, I've been pretty successful. I will know for sure when I add the side embellishments and the railing for the porches and the conservatory.

Cardboard pieces for the Wilkins Putz House
These are all the pieces that needed to be painted for the Wilkins house. At least I think that was all of them. I painted one extra sheet of cardboard with gesso and sand in case I needed more stone-textured embellishments. 

Still lots of details on this house to come - trim around the roof, roof shingles which I'm going to make to look like slate, 2 chimneys, the details around the conservatory, the front columns, quoins (can't forget the quoins), stone front stairs and then landscaping. The most challenging part is an ornate little princess balcony that is at the top of the tower - haven't really worked that out yet. Probably another week or two before I get the house done. This is a seriously time-consuming house. I am ready to go back to Halloween houses so I can quit worrying about perfect fits and I can paint streaks on the house to distress it and use dark colors that I am more comfortable with and so on.

Previous links to making the Wilkins House from the first to the last one:

Next Putz House for Habitat
Putz Plan Progress
Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4
Spring Mansion - The Evolution of a Putz House
Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a Prototype

That's the brief update for today. Thank you for following me on this Putz house-making journey.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a prototype

Lessons Learned?

Lessons learned with the Spring Mansion, the putz prototype house? Many things:
  1. How to make a tower to fit a hipped roof
  2. How to draw a steeple pattern 
  3. How to make a second story porch or rather how NOT to make a second story porch
  4. How to cut small dowels to length
  5. How to make a solid porch floor
  6. How to make folded cardboard stairs
  7. How to make porch railings
  8. And most important, do the hard things first.


Most of these lessons I learned are really are what not to do. I listed the most important last. If you have challenging details for a project do them FIRST when you are the freshest on your project. The porches are the most challenging for me so that is what I worked on first for the real Wilkins House.

Base for the porch of the Wilkins Putz house
Base for the porch floor of the Wilkins Putz House


This took me awhile to figure out. I couldn't get the angle right because it wasn't what I thought it was. Finally I had to just measure against the roof to get the appropriate angle. That method always works. It's not based on geometry skills, but it works.


See the post on how to draw a steeple pattern. I wouldn't have figured this out if I didn't have to try out so many sizes of steeples for my various prototypes. And drawing the pattern is so easy. I am so glad I figured it out (not that I invented this method, it's really simple geometry).

Steeple roof for the Putz Wilkins House
I am so happy about how nicely my steeples work out now. I'm not afraid to make them anymore.


I made the second story porch on the Spring Mansion with just one thin layer of cardboard which was not sufficient. It looked flimsy and would not support the visual weight of the porch railing. I glued an additional layer of cardboard which helped but didn't completely solve the problem. Next time on the real Wilkins Putz House? I've glued 2 pieces of heavy duty cardboard together for the second story porch floor. The heavy duty cardboard was the backing board from a watercolor paper pad - very substantial cardboard.


Lesson number 4 was learning to cut small dowels to length. On my Halloween houses, the dowels can be wonky and it doesn't matter, but if you are trying to make a pretty house the dowels need to be the same length and the porch supported by the dowels needs to be level. That didn't happen on the Spring Mansion. I had been cutting the dowels with my garden clippers but that doesn't leave a smooth end. Now I am cutting them with a dremel tool and then sanding the edge to make a nice flat end.

Porch progress for the Putz house, Wilkins house
I cut these dowels with the garden clippers which you can see leaves a really messy edge. I just cut them to see how they would fit in the porch floor after I drilled holes. They fit nicely and will be very strong. I was going to push them through the top porch piece but I don't think that will be necessary. I think everything is going to be sturdy enough without that extra fiddly work. The final cut will be done with the dremel tool.


Part of the problem with the dowels was related to lesson number 5 - how to make a solid porch floor. I made the porch floor from folded cardboard which means that it flexed so the height at one end of the porch was different from the other end. This time I made it with layers of corrugated cardboard covered with thinner cardboard. I drilled holes the size of the dowels to make sure they are well anchored on the floor.

Side view of porch floor layers for the Wilkins Putz house
Porch floor made of about 5 layers of corrugated cardboard. I added another thinner, smoother layer of cardboard on top. I used painter's tape to hold all the layers together while the glue dried. It peels off fairly easily.


I haven't made these yet so I have to experiment some more. I will write a separate post about making stairs. The stairs on the Spring Mansion were made from a complicated folded design that leaves folded edges in prominent places which I don't want on the Wilkins House.

Cardstock prototype for stair on putz house
Cardboard prototype for stairs on the Spring Mansion. It is unnecessarily complicated and leaves a folded edge on the front sides of the stairs.
Stairs on Spring Mansion Putz House
Close-up view of the stairs on the Spring Mansion - kind of wonky with seams showing in the front. 


Porch railings are not really hard; they just take time. For the Wilkins house I  measured out 5/8 of an inch and glued the railings onto the balusters so that the entire piece was 5/8" high. Much, much nicer and it will be so much nicer to work with when I put the railings on the house.

Wilkins Putz House Porch Railings in progress
Porch railings that were measured to 5/8 inch. They aren't perfect but they are close and will look so much better than  on the Spring Mansion. 

Those are major lessons that I can think of right now. There are probably other subtle things I learned that I'm not even aware of.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you have a happy creative day today.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Spring Mansion - Evolution of a Putz House

I've been working making a little cardboard Putz house based on the Wilkins House, a dramatic example of the Italianate style in my hometown. The goal is to make 2 versions (one Christmas and one Halloween) that will be auctioned off at the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in October. Last year my little house that was auctioned was sold for $80. I am hoping that these houses will sell for much more. In other words, I want these Wilkins House putz houses to be spectacular. (By the way, the sale of all of the other Halloween houses brought in an additional $1300 for Habitat.)

I've talked about this project in 3 previous blogposts:
Next Putz House for Habitat
Putz Plan Progress
Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4

I finally realized that in order to make such a complicated house in miniature I needed to do a mock-up. That mock-up evolved into the Spring Mansion. The design ended up being so different from the inspiration that it took on a life of its own. I decided to call it Spring mansion because it's not spooky like my Halloween houses, the lawn is a spring green, the house colors are nice and crisp like springtime, so the house became the Spring mansion.

This article is not about the Wilkins House, but about a new house - the Spring Mansion.

Spring Mansion cardboard putz house
Spring Mansion on a sunny day

I am very happy about a number of things with this house. I love the colors - the house itself is painted with a Tim Holtz Distress Hickory Smoke; the chimneys, porch and stairs are painted with Distress Pumice Stone paint. The roof shingle color is Faded Jeans in the same line of Distress paint, distressed on the edges with some Black Soot Ink.  Mowed Lawn, of course, is the color of the green base. The trim is painted with a thick white gesso. And always, I love these windows. They are die cuts from the Village Manor by Tim Holtz and Sizzix. I just think they are so cool. Most importantly is that they are so cool and I don't have to cut them by hand.

I have been experimenting with some of the trim. The balusters on the Wilkins House are vase-shaped which I know I cannot cut by hand and I don't have a die to cut this shape. As a result I had to look around for something that might be interesting and function as a baluster. The fence was my first attempt. It's made from Tim Holtz Thinlet called Lace. I was going to use it on the porch to form the balusters, but the scale is too big. 

Next, I found some offcuts from a fence on the Tim Holtz Village Bungalow that I thought my work. So what you see on the porch is the upside down offcut from the top of the fence. The trim around the house is the bottom of the fence. Here is a photo from the Sizzix website to help you visualize what I am talking about. I neglected to take photos when I was making these pieces.

Sizzix Village Bungalow
Sizzix Village Bungalow - Offcuts from the fence to make the trim around the house and to make the balusters  for the porch
I think the offcuts work pretty well. The problem - I didn't glue on the railing evenly. You will see in the upcoming photos. 

Spring Mansion putz glitterhouse
Spring Mansion angled side view

Notice the wonky fence lines. Usually I do a better job matching up edges and gluing them together. My cabinetmaker brother suggested that I miter the edges. Miter cardboard? I think he was joking for the most part.

Spring Mansion putz glitterhouse
Spring Mansion side view which shows the fencing pattern better
The photo above shows how the lace was modified to make a fence, but you can also see that I didn't glue the railing pieces on evenly where the front of the fencing on this side is shorter than the back of the fencing. That will be rectified on the next house.

Spring Mansion top view rooflines putz house
View of the rooflines on the Spring Mansion

Spring Mansion putz house roof view
Bird's eye view of roof on the Spring Mansion

I do love the rooflines on this house. This part worked out well because the edges of the hipped roofs came together so nicely. It doesn't always happen so easily. I also like the grey chimneys. I drew the mortar lines by hand. 

Roofline overview of Spring Mansion putz glitterhouse
Looking down on the house where the rooflines come together 

Despite the wonkiness of the fence and the porch, I still love this house. I like the colors and the overall design of the house. It's a good starting point for the real Wilkins house, don't you think?
I'll go over lessons learned and improvements in the next post. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4

Prototype number FOUR for the Wilkins House

Progress on the Wilkins House as a Putz House
The FOURTH prototype for the Wilkins House, not the final project but a prototype that I will turn into a Putz house, but it is still only a prototype.

I continue to work on the Wilkins House as the putz house that I talked about here and here. I have a couple of other crafty projects I am working on as well that distract me a little from the Wilkins House, but no matter what, I find that on a complicated project I have to ruminate and ponder what to do next so it will turn out the way I see it in my mind.

Wilkins House from the Greenville Daily Photo
Photo of the Wilkins House from the Greenville Daily Photo

I finally realized that I could not envision adding the important details to the Wilkins House unless I made a cardboard Putz model to play around with. The first 3 prototypes were made of cardstock. This is the first cardboard prototype. I will turn it into a house that I will sell to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, but not as the actual house to be auctioned off. The details I am debating about are the double windows, the molding around the edges of the house, the quoins (love quoins, those stones on the side of the house), the balusters, and all the columns supporting the porches. In this model I decided just to use single windows and only one porch just to get a feel for scale. This house is 4.5 inches across and has a depth of 2.5 inches.

Putz Pattern Wilkins House Prototype
Pattern for Wilkins House Putz Prototype #4

Lots of erasures on the pattern, aren't there? I tried to fit in the double windows but I just don't think they will fit with this size pattern. One reason I want my windows to be this size is because I have a window frame die from the Village Manor that will look so perfect for this house. It's the same one I used on my Stone Stenciled Clock House which is one of my most popular houses.

Stone Stenciled Clock House Window view
Windows from the Tim Holtz Village Manor on the Stone Stenciled Clock House. I just think these will be perfect for the Wilkins House though I will have to trim them a little to make double windows.

I am including a few progress photos so you can see some of the steps involved in making this little cardboard house.

Taping the hipped roof together while glue sets
Tape holding the hipped roof together while the glue sets. The cutout in the roof is to allow light into the uppermost window. 

Basic structure of the putz house
Basic structure of the cardboard house
Porch roof of cardboard house supporting tower
Porch roof added to support the front tower
The single layer of cardboard for the porch roof was too thin so I duplicated it and glued the additional layer on. It looks a little more substantial now. I should have made it thicker to begin with.
All this brings us to the photo below where the little house is ready for primer. I am planning on painting the house with a layer of dark grey paint mixed with sand. I may draw mortar to mimic brick, but I haven't decided on that yet. The trim will be a lighter grey paint that is also sanded. 

Little cardboard putz house ready for primer
Ready for gesso. Porch roof and floor added. Chimneys made. Columns need to be cut to size and the base is done. 
That's the progress so far. What I have learned is that the house has be slightly wider to accommodate double windows and quoins. I think I will add an additional 1 inch in width and 1/2 inch in height for the foundation. Also the tower on the front is too tall. It needs to come down about 1/4 inch. I think the silhouette will match the real Wilkins house better with these changes. 

Thank you for stopping by and reading about my crafty projects. I do appreciate your comments. Let me know what you think.