Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Glitter Houses

Last year I fell in love with little paper Christmas houses. You know the ones. I had big dreams of folding and gluing together my own tiny sparkling metropolis, to lay on cloud puff cotton spreads with brush trees dotting the artificial landscape. There was only one problem.

I was terrible at making them. Just awful. 15 minutes in and everything in reach was covered in glue and I had little doors stuck all over my big dumb hands. OH, DESPAIR. Throw in the fact that I was 6 months pregnant, and you had the perfect recipe for an afternoon curled into a (large) ball on the couch with a good cry.

(ALTERNATE DIY PROJECT: AN AFTERNOON CURLED INTO A BALL ON THE COUCH WITH A GOOD CRY. YOU'RE WELCOME).

This year I was determined not to let those little houses defeat me again. I was ready to overcome, I was prepared to endure--because I planned to cheat.

Back in October, I saw a great idea on Pinterest (naturally). Someone had taken dollar store Christmas village houses, spray painted them black, covered them in cobwebs, and viola, awesomeness. I thought to myself, "I wonder if anyone--" and by then I had typed a Christmas search for "dollar store glitter houses" and YUP. Someone had. In fact, several people had. Check out their tutorials first, if you like their houses better! (I won't be offended, this is the Internet and damn gurl, those houses are super cute!)

So this year, I armed myself with a bunch of $1 ceramic houses from the dollar store, some paint, and a whole lot of glitter. This is what I made:

Glitter village!

A snow monster looms in the distance....

Someday, I'll even write something on that tiny chalk sign.

I bought many little houses (okay, too many little houses) and definitely bit off way more than I could chew. Still, I forged ahead. At least there was no paper folding involved.

(If you DO want to try the paper ones, there's a great tutorial on Martha Stewart.com)

LORD BLESS THIS MESS. Please excuse my work table, and
see if you can pick out the tiny houses from the wreckage.

I started with a dollar store house.

Woof. This one got dressed in the dark.

And I painted it white, using two coats of paint. As I painted, I sprinkled white glitter here and there. I did this with each step that follows! Keep that white glitter handy! I used Martha Stewart's, because the bottles were made for clumsy idiots like me with fingers like hammers.

Two thin coats allow details to come through, without
making it too chunky. This is the first coat of paint on the red glitter house.

Next, I painted each of the roofs and shingle-type details with glitter paint. And sprinkled more white glitter, to make everything look "frosty".

(Okay, if I'm being honest, first I tried to paint them and dump glitter on the wet paint but that turned into a sparkletastrophe. I'm still covered in glitter. So are the cats, Ryan, Luke, and everything we own. So, we made a trip to the craft store and got some glitter paints. You can skip that step, and just start off with the glitter paints. Trust me).

I like to think about the tiny people who live in these houses
and what their little itty bitty lives are like.

I continued to coat the rooftops with glitter paint, and this step took the longest. Each house has 5-6 coats because: glitter paint. During spare moments I would pick up a house and add another layer. I left them on my work table with the paints and brushes ready for me whenever I had a chance to sneak in some painting. (Every surface in my studio is covered in a project mid-completion these days... That's how I've continued to get anything done, I pretty much devote 10 minutes here or there until Luke's nap times and bed time). This step took 3-4 days.

My sister would live in this house, if she were an inch and a half tall.

Eventually I faced the realization: Gurl, are you crazy? You're never going to finish all these houses this year. And so I picked 3, two houses and the church, and concentrated on them. I set the rest aside, glittered and ready for Christmases to come. Maybe I can finish 1-2 a year.

Honing in on a few....

I added a few light layers of paint here and there for some simple details. The trick is a LIGHT layer of paint. Water it down a wee bit, and the pigment will pool into the crevices and do most of the work for you.

HELLO TINY HOUSE. YOU ARE ONE OF MANY
INSIDE A MUCH LARGER HOUSE YOU CAN NEVER COMPREHEND.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Then I went back in with more white paint to touch up little spots I had messed up on. And that was it!

Quick version: paint a dollar store house white, paint the rooftops
with different colors of glitter paint, add any details you want, and
liberal sprinklings of white glitter.

These were fun, and I'm glad I didn't kill myself trying to finish them all. I've found that balancing caring for Luke, working on paintings, and all the crafty things I like to do is mostly about pacing myself and being honest when a project is just too much. These three houses were really fun to make, because I set the other eight or so aside for another time. And now I get to add to the village every year, which I'm psyched about!

December is in full swing! All of my print orders have shipped (thank you SO much, everyone who ordered from me this season!) and my shop is officially on vacation until the day after Christmas. Packages have been arriving daily from our loved ones living on the east coast. There was a light snow two nights ago. The tree is up and Lupin has perfected climbing to the top through the middle and throwing only the most expensive and especially fragile ornaments across the living room.

We've been wrapping presents, watching Christmas specials, and baking cookies.

Like Nana's Santa cookies!

These are not really DIY, they're more "learn from someone who made them for 20+ years, take 3-4 years to get them right, and even then there's a lot of room for improvement next Christmas." I hope to have these right by the time Luke is 5 or 6. In the meantime, I'm really proud of how they came out this year, and I take some honor in carrying on their tradition. They're a bit of an undertaking, and I really enjoy the process involved in baking them. It's probably that I get to paint on cookies.

I'LL SLEEP IN JANUARY, OKAY?

My father sent us a new camera for Christmas, and in free moments Ryan and I have been re-teaching ourselves some of the basics of actual, real deal photography. We've both used cameras quite a bit, but neither of us have ever photographed babies--and obviously, 90% of what we want to photograph is Luke! Between reading manuals, watching YouTube tutorials, and of course snapping shot after shot, we're having a lot of fun learning together.

Almost this much fun.

Finally, Puck has fur and a face and is not just a shadow in a collar.

Brace yourselves: the other 10% are artsy shots of cats. 

I think we all like to have quick, fun projects and involved, challenging projects. This December has been a mix!



3 comments:

  1. These are so adorable!!! I especially love the second picture, the one with the little green house and Lupin in the background. He makes a good bumble. :D

    Perhaps I will try this someday, when I have space to have something like a Christmas village. I love doing crafty things, especially things that involve glitter and paint. AND GLITTER.

    Merry Christmas Georgia. I loved your card, by the way! You have such a lovely family!

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    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you and the Destroyer too, Jaime! Thank you!! You should, they're very fun! (And that was my favorite photo too).

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  2. Well hello to you all! First time of visiting since Luke's arrival - congratulations and my hasn't he grown into a lovely lad!
    Have a great Christmas and look forward to seeing those spot on pics with the new equipment!

    All the bets - as usual: Isobel - www.ColdhamCuddliescalling.blogspot.com

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