Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oh What Fun Creating Putz Houses & Playing with German Glass Glitter

Well, it's that time of year for me, which means my imagination goes into overdrive, with Christmas ornament and d├ęcor ideas bouncing around in my head.....

I've been creating original ornaments for about 30 years, with new designs every year. While I never run out of ideas, in the end, I only produce to sell that which I am willing to re-produce. I've never been one for assembly line mass-production, because my fulfillment is dictated by quality over quantity. Therefore, I've got to really enjoy the design to repeat it many times.

I did create some new ornaments for this year, but I also did something out of the norm for me. I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I saw a picture of an artificial tiered tree, and each level layer displayed an entire village of Putz houses. Something clicked in my head, and I immediately got a bug in my bonnet to try my hand at making some Putz/Glitter houses. I've admired vintage ones for years, but it just never occurred to me to make them from scratch. 

You creative types understand, that once that epiphany happens, you just can't let it go till you give it a try. I think another reason the Putz idea appealed to me this year is because I have an ample supply of German glass glitter to play with. I've been wanting to incorporate glass glitter into my Christmas creations in a much bigger way, so this totally satisfies that need.  

So without further ado, here is my first Putz house production......


Oh my. Making these completely from scratch does require a great deal of patience. Especially when you're creating them to sell, and not to keep. You can take a lot of shortcuts for personal projects, like using a glue gun. These would've been done in no time flat with hot glue, but when aesthetics are a top priority for perfect tiny details and joining walls, roofs, and chimneys, you need the open time of white glue to get it just right. I also reinforced each structure, making braces from foamcore.


Nothing speaks to your inner child better than glitter, glue, paint, and cardboard.


I've only created 3 of this design, and I kept them small to start with. Each one stands approximately 3-3/8” tall and wide.


I started completely from scratch, sketching out some designs, then cutting them out of chipboard. Since I don't have a die-cutter, and I ditched my printer years ago, everything was done old-school....pencil, cutting blade, and scissors. I used thick chipboard (I think 14ply), which I don't think could've gone through a printer anyway.



I used Snow-Tex for the first time. While I bought it to try it out for snow, in the end, I used it to create stucco walls for the houses. I painted over the stucco texture with rich colors of matte finish Tiffany blue, Red, and Chartreuse paint I had mixed specially for my projects. I chose to leave the matte sheen, to give a velvety contrast to the glitter, and they really complement each other now. 


After visiting many Putz house sites, I decided to make my snow using thick white artist paint mixed with white glue. I love how it came out. It looks much more wispy and creamy, which is the look I was going for. I applied it with a plastic clay knife tool, spreading it like frosting. It also seemed to dry a bit faster than the Snow-Tex.



I really wanted the houses to have seriously elegant twinkle, without the need to cut a hole in the back for a light bulb. Mission accomplished!
I cut the tiny icicle trim and coated it with clear glass glitter. I also added the clear glitter to the tiny black windows to make them look icy.



I have some other house designs swimming in my head, so we'll see what I'm ambitious enough to take on next. This must be said though........a lot of the larger Putz houses I've seen for sale truly deserve to be sold at a higher price than they are listed. These houses require a lot of time, patience and artistry, especially if made from scratch. I can see if they use pre-fab paper mache ones, that might lighten the load of work, but still, creativity is essential. So cheers to all the Putz house designers out there!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Chalk Paint Before & After: From Retro to Renaissance

Earlier this year, I blogged about this retro plastic sewing storage/jewelry box, made by Lerner.

Did I really say it would be a treat to not have to design any graphics on this? Well, what replaced the time-consuming effort of designing, was the time-consuming painting of each and every raised design.....Oy.

Before:


After:


I love how it turned out, but no matter what order it was painted in, it was very labor-intensive.

Before:


After:


The base coat is Tiffany blue chalk paint, and the scrolls were painted a warm Ivory, then topped with Creme. Then to really give it the royal treatment, I accented it with a very high-pigment metallic gold. I then sealed with clear and dark wax.

Before:


After:


I love how the original texture was meant to mimic wood grain, because the dark wax really enhanced that.

Before:


After:


The interior of the drawers was craptastic red velveteen, so I stripped them and added gorgeous Italian art paper. The scrolled design was just made for this piece!


I really don't know for sure if this piece was made for sewing or jewelry, but it's now a beauty for displaying.

Well, Christmas projects are waiting, so I'd better get to it! 

TTFN, Maria

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