Sunday, July 31, 2016

Making a Base for a Little Cardboard House

A reader of my blog asked me how I make the bases for my houses. Here is a brief tutorial on making a base for a house. Most of my houses are Halloween houses so the base doesn't have to be perfect - it can be a little uneven. There are 3 very good tutorials online that talk about making bases in detail:
The way I am making them now is a hybrid version between Howard Lamey's and the Christmas notebook.
Please note - I am kind of messy. I don't make the perfect bases that Howard Lamey does, but my bases are strong and sturdy and fairly easy to do.

Here is the start of a cardboard base - 4 layers of corrugated cardboard glued together. This size is about 4" x 7". Corrugated cardboard doesn't glue together perfectly, that's why I cover it with another piece of cardboard to make it smoother and less lumpy.


Side view of the cardboard. You can see how it's a little uneven. That's why I cover it with another piece of cardboard.

Cardboard base on another piece of smooth cardboard which will form the sides and top of the little cardboard house base.

Tracing around the base

I scored the lines around the base.

Add 1/2 inches for the sides of the base. You have to measure your cardboard base and see how what the thickness is so you can add the appropriate amount. This one was just slightly over 1/2 inches actually.

Cropped around the extra cardboard to form the sides.

Cut out the corners.

Cardboard top scored and folded to fit on the corrugated cardboard base.

I use Mod Podge to glue the pieces together. When I just squirted glue on, it hurt my hands because I used so much but more importantly, it made lumps. The Mod Podge makes a smoother bond. 

Center the base on the cardboard top. 

When I am in a hurry, I use painter's tape to hold down the edges. If I am not in a hurry, I rotate the edges on the table to firmly affix the top to the cardboard base, then maybe use a little bit of tape. I was in a hurry tonight so I used a lot of tape.

Finished base. As I said, I was in a hurry so I got some glue on the painter's tape and made a mess. It pulled the finished layer off of the cardboard. It really doesn't matter because I will paint it with gesso and sometimes I mix sand with the gesso for more texture. But it doesn't look good when you are trying to write a tutorial.

Side view of the base. This is one of the best reasons to cover a corrugated cardboard base as it makes much straighter, even sides with better corners.

That's about it. I need to get to bed now. If you have questions, just leave a question in the comments box. I will be glad to try to answer any questions. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Blossoms and Bookpages Challenge - Blooming Storybook House

As you know sometimes I enter my craft projects in online craft challenges just to try to stretch my wings so to speak. Most of these projects are little houses, but sometimes I do change up what I make. This project is different for me. Of course, there is a house in the project, but it is only a part of the work.



This challenge is the Creative Carte Blanche challenge which is called Blossoms and Bookpages where you combine flowers and book pages, of course. I had recently found some cardboard packaging at work that I thought would make a nice background for a diorama or shadowbox. So it was added to the cardboard stash. I am a cardboard connoisseur and recognize good cardboard when I see it. I figured it would be perfect for this project.


That is the starting base for the project. I copied some pages from an old book called "Wild Flowers of the North Eastern States". The copyright is 1895, but I think my copy was printed in 1904. It's a lovely book and appropriate for this project. The pages were then decoupaged on the background after I reinforced the edges of the cardboard with cardboard strips.

I made a really cute little house out of scraps left over from other houses. It's only 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch deep. I painted the house with the cadmium yellow mixed with sand making the texture look like plaster. The windows are from various dies I have. The door is a punched out from the Tim Holtz Village dwelling, painted brown with a tiny brad as the doorknob. The roof is painted a phthalo blue. I made the hills with cutouts of the copied book pages stained various shades of green from the Ranger line of inks and paints. I painted the background with a light wash of white gesso to cover up the shine from the glue used on the paper, then painted a very light blue to simulate sky. I also painted some clouds with Picket Fence distress paint - probably not my best clouds.

The edge of the box was painted with ochre and burnt umber with a little blue mixed in (accidentally). The house and the hills were glued down, then the flowers bloomed on a vine- a little too exuberantly, I would say. I'm pretty sure from an artistic standpoint the flowers are a bit much. I was so happy to get to use my flowers that I went overboard.

I call this my "Blooming Storybook House". Relatively quick, fun, and happy project for me. You can see more Creative Carte Blanche projects on this link - July 2016 challenge.

I include the smaller photo below because often a non-cropped photo works best for a link-up to a challenge.


I hope you are having a happy, crafty summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clock House with Wings

I just finished this clock house, my last for awhile I think. When I was looking at some of the blogs I routinely read, I noticed that the Wednesday Simon Says Stamp Challenge was for things with wings.
I was a little sad that my "Red, White and Bluebird Clock House" was posted a couple of days too early to be included in that challenge, but I had a backup plan. At the time I only had one thing with wings on this house, but after seeing the theme for the challenge I really decided to "wing it".



So I put bats on the sides of the house, on the wires through the chimney, on the tree, an owl on the tree and there are actually a few tiny birds on the tombstones behind the house though they are hard to see with my photography. This house is kind of like a "find it" children's book - how many winged things can you find?



I made this house using the exact same simple gable house template that I used for Raven's Crest and the Red, White and Bluebird house. I was trying to be more adventuresome with colors so I used purple paint over my hand drawn random board paper. I didn't really like it. I kept painting over it. My intent was to make the house look like it was in a foggy mist - a difficult artistic concept in a capable artist's hands and not too successful in mine.

I used various dies and punches:

The owl and a few of the bats are from Tim Holtz Halloween die which is more commonly known as the trick or treater die.
The tree is also a Tim Holtz die called Branch Tree. I think it has been retired which makes me sad.
The tombstones are from a Martha Stewart edge punch which has long been retired.
My curious mice in the front are also a retired Martha Stewart edge punch.
Some of the bats are from an EK Success punch.
The windows are from one of the Village Dwelling dies - the church one I believe.
Once again, the roof is from the Tim Holtz Rooftop die. What did I ever do before that came out?

The door was cut freehand as you can probably tell. The pumpkins and the cauldron are made from sculpey clay. The bats are also made from clay, but I used a Martha Stewart silicone mold to make them.



My plan is now to go back to more traditional houses after having explored the cuckoo clock for awhile. I also want to make some more houses in books. That offers a lot of creative possibilities.
All of these houses will be for sale at a fall fundraiser at the hospital where I work. That's why I am so intent on making lots of houses between now and September.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Red, White and Bluebird Clock House

Still caught up in making clock houses - modified cuckoo clocks in a way. I think I am going to make one more after this then back to regular houses for a month or so.

I wanted to make a more summery clock house so this one is the Red, White, and Bluebird Clock House. It's the same base pattern as the Raven's Crest house, just adorned differently.



The walls are covered with a texture paste of stenciled bricks that have been painted white and grey. The roof is the Tim Holtz village dwelling rooftop shakes die - also grey and white. I made a chimney for this one and painted white bricks on top of a dark grey. When I glued it on, I included 2 wires for the flying birds. The wires extend past the base of the chimney onto the roof so they are very well secured. Then I covered that with the roof shakes.

I cut a hole in the front and secured a little red cardinal that was glued to a very thin wire inside that hole. I made a circular cardboard piece to surround the bird, but I cut out a section at the bottom to allow light to penetrate the rest of the house should someone want to insert a light in the back.

I stamped the clock from a Kaisercraft Vintage Clock stamp and glued it to a darker grey base and cut out cardboard stones to go around. The darker grey base looks like mortar between the stones. I did something similar around the cardinal in the center.

The tree is from the Tim Holtz bird branch die. I glued 3 layers of cardboard together to make it stronger and I cut off the bird so I could stand the branch upright. I used the bird shapes to make the bluebirds.

The cardinals are from a Tim Holtz mover and shaper die. Again I glued 3 layers together to make them more substantial and sturdier. Then I painted the birds in cardinal colors.

The white birds are from a Martha Stewart punch. I think I glued 3-4 layers together because these punches will only handle 65# cardstock rather than cardboard. They are more delicate anyway.

More photos below.






I am going to enter this in a craft challenge by Craft Stamper magazine, a British publication. 
I didn't use a lot of stamps for this project but the clock stamp is an integral part of the design.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Newest Halloween House - Raven's Crest Clock House

Here is the house I basically finished tonight. I call it the Raven's Crest Clock House. The only detail remaining is figuring out what to hang from the pendulum on the clock house. I've got some sculpey bats that I haven't baked yet that I think I'm going to use. Like most of my other clock houses, this house can be hung on a wall from the reinforced hole in the back. It's also got a small, lightweight base.

Once again I used the Tim Holtz Rooftop die to make the shingles. I am greatly enjoying this die. I really like the dimension it gives the roofs - as well as how easy it is to cut them out.



You can't really tell, but the roof tiles have been distressed with a little Faded Jeans distress paint. I even put some blue on the raven on the top to try to mimic the blue iridescence you see on black feathers sometimes. 


I haven't glued down the pumpkins yet, but I probably will use them. Still debating about the orange pumpkins.
I am going to enter this in an online challenge on "A Vintage Journey". The theme this month is monochromatic. To my way of thinking, this little house is both vintage in style and monochromatic.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Witch's Lair Halloween House

I have finished 2 other Halloween houses. These 2 are based on a pattern generously shared by Howard Lamey on the Cardboard Christmas forum. It is a wonderful pattern for a Halloween house.





My house is very different from the one Howard did, but that just demonstrates what a great pattern it is. I've also added a Tim Holtz tree to the background, but I don't have a picture of that yet.

Most of the house is cut out by hand, but I do have a few scrapbooking elements:

Martha Stewart Creepy Fence punch - that is the back fence with the crows on it. Again this die is retired, but I cannot understand why. You can still find it online for a reasonable price.
Tim Holtz On the Edge Fence
Tim Holtz Halloween Shadows Die - used the owl on the front circular window.

My next house from this pattern is a Witch's Lair clock which can hang on the wall.





I had a difficult time with my photos on this house, partly because I don't have a light set-up to take photos when something is hanging on the wall. I also painted this house with glow-in-the-dark paint which gave it a shine and actually dissolved some of the detailed drawn on the stonework around the window and the clock. I have since gone over that with a permanent marker and it looks better.

I neglected to take a good photo of the roof which I made out of a thick egg carton cardboard which looks like slate. It is really cool.

Some of the embellishments on this house are:
Tim Holtz Sizzix Crescent Shaped Moon Die
LaLa Land Frightful Fence Die
Fiskars Flying Owl Punch 2012

The cat is made from a small Halloween cat cookie cutter in Sculpey clay. The ghosts were also made from a Halloween cutter and clay. I've talked about making Sculpey pumpkins in one of the recent blog posts.

I think both of these houses look better in person than in my photos. I am working on that.

I'm making 3 more clock houses now. More later. Take care.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Tutorial - How to Build a Halloween Cardboard House - Part Two

Yesterday's post finished with the cutout cardboard front and sides. I did not take a photo of the back piece when I cut it out, but I do have a photo of the template for the back. I added 1/2 wide flaps on each side that allowed me to glue the back to the front/side piece.

Back piece without the side flaps for gluing to the main body of the house
Here is the house glued together with the random board paper on top. You can see how I score the roof and tried to gently curve the roof to make the arches at the top. If you are making a house for the first time, I would recommend that you just make a standard gable roof rather than an arched roof like this. This is a bit of a pain and you can see that I really couldn't make the arches match up too well. I covered the gaps with a bit of cardstock, then the roofing "tiles". 


This view demonstrates how the top flap fits over the side flaps. Remember I neglected to draw the top flap on my pattern should you decide to make this house. I use easily removed painter's tape to hold the house together while the glue sets. 


I didn't take too many pictures after this because the house was basically done except for embellishments like the roof and the porch.

The porch consists of a fold piece of cardboard glued to the front of the house about halfway (hence the line on the pattern). I put this roof down just a little bit too low. It detracts from the details on the porch. The edge of the porch is supported by 2 pieces of balsa wood I buy at my local craft store and cut to size. The porch base is a piece of wood I salvaged from my brother's shop, but you can buy similar stuff at the craft store as well. I distress the wood with white gesso then black soot distress paint.



Brief overview of finishing items:

Martha Stewart Iron Gate Edge Punch - I used this punch to make the metal railing on the widow's walk. Even though it is retired you can find it online. It is a wonderful, versatile punch - perfect for making all sorts of fences and embellishments for little cardboard houses.

Tim Holtz Village Rooftops - used to make the tiles on the roof. I edged each row with white paint to make the tiles more visible. I also tried to stagger the roof tiles as I like the pattern it forms. I also used 2 tile pairs folded in the middle to edge the curves on the sides of the roof. The toothlike projections on the edge of the roof are the offcuts of the tiled cutouts. Just a little scary touch.

Papertrey Inn Tiny Town Basics Die - for the shuttered window cutouts. It was so nice to cut these windows out 4 at a time. I really like this set of dies.

Tim Holtz Branch Tree is now retired, I think. What a shame. It is such a great addition to any Halloween House. I punched out 2 extra trunks and cut slots in the tree and the trunk to make the tree stand up. It is not glued down. I also shaded it with Black soot distress paint on one side and picket fence on the other side of the tree - spooky.

The coffin door is cut out by hand. My favorite way to make cardboard look like wood is to paint it with ochre then burnt sienna and burnt umber.  The hinges are just some black offcuts of cardstock. The doorknob is a tiny brad. I punch a hole with my smallest hole punch and then insert the brad and glue it down.

The pumpkins are from sculpey and are so easy. I just make a little orange ball from the softened clay. Put it the refrigerator to get the clay firm again, then use a cutting tool to make the indentations on the pumpkin and insert a little green stem. When the house is all done, then I coat the pumpkins with sculpey glaze to give them a little shine. The photo above was done before that though.

Tim Holtz On the Edge Fence - this is a great fence die. I use it a lot for my Halloween houses. It is simply painted with white gesso then distressed Black Soot and Ground Espresso distress paints. Sometimes I put the fence all around the edge of the cardboard base. That is the easiest way to glue on a fence. Sometimes I attach them to posts on top of the base. I'll show you that on my next house.

Since I had to fly (on a plane) with this little house, I didn't glue the bat in place until I made it to my destination. I used a bunch of hot glue in the chimney to attach the bat's wire to the house.  The bat is from EK success. Please ignore the tipped over witch on the widow's walk roof. I didn't glue her down so she can be moved about wherever desired.




I think that's enough detail for now. This is a little bit complicated house to make. If you are new to making cardboard houses, I would go to the Cardboard Christmas forum or Howard Lamey's Little Glitterhouses and make one of Howard's simpler houses. When you put his patterns together you learn little details that make the houses stronger and more long lasting. After all, if you go through all this trouble you really want the little house to bring joy to someone for a long time, right?