Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quick Christmas village

I've always wanted a Christmas village. Unfortunately I also have small children who like to break things. I'm jealous of those of you who have small children who do not like to break things--you lucky ducks. So since my kids are whirling dervishes of destruction, even a Dollar Tree village was out since, really, why spend money when you know that thing is going to get broken?

Enter the Hobby Lobby paper mache house.

I didn't buy the set of three; at my Hobby Lobby they're also sold separately so I just went with the big one. Obviously one house does not a village make, but I happened to find a cute paper mache house in the Christmas crafts aisle. The first time I passed it by since it was 50% off of $10. The big house was cheaper than that (I think) and I wasn't sure. However, there was only one left, so when it was still there the next time I was in the store I decided to grab it.

First, paint your houses. I had B spraypaint these, and if you look closely you can see a few drips but I don't really care. They're not exactly meant to be scrutinized, and if you do notice a drip we can just pretend it's melting snow.

Next, I needed doors and windows for the big house. The little house had a built-in door, but the big one didn't. So I used a scrap of pink posterboard left over from last year's felt food Christmas gifts, cutting it a little bigger than the door opening on the top and sides.

For the windows I made a template the same way, except making it larger on all sides. I wanted the windows to be frosty (or at least not transparent) so I ironed two sheets of waxed paper together.

I tried to do three sheets, but failed to note that if both sides of the paper being ironed together didn't have wax on them they wouldn't stick. At least that's the way mine worked. If I had thought the two layers weren't enough I would have just glued the third on. Anyway, once you have your waxed paper ironed, just trace the template onto it for however many windows you have.

Now the problem is how to glue the paper onto the windows in the small house. The large house had a roof that came off, but the small house didn't. This would also be an issue when putting lights in. Soooo...

I cut a hole at the bottom center for the plug (you'll actually need to do this on both houses), then cut the back open on three sides so that I could glue on the window paper. Also, see the melting snow on the edge there? So wintry.

Glue your windows in, then glue the back shut with a small bead of glue on the edge of the door flap. The paper mache is reasonably thick so it shouldn't be too hard. If it's not perfect, oh well. It's the back of the house.

And the final product.

For the lights, I just split a strand between the two houses, then plugged the cord into an extension cord and ran that over to the outlet. For these pictures I put in an extra strand of pearl lights, but those types of lights tend to get hot. I figured small enclosed cardboard box plus hot lights would equal trouble, so I went out and got a strand of LED lights. They're not nearly as pretty, but I figure that's the price I have to pay to not have the house burn down.

I haven't painted the front door of the smaller house yet because I have a specific color in mind and want to buy that specific color rather than mixing it, so for now the door is white. I still think it looks good. Right now it's more of a settlement than a village, but I've heard that there is a paper mache church in existence somewhere. I plan on hunting one of those down, and if I could also find a paper mache general store, or something to pass as such, I think I might be set. Next year--or maybe even later this week--I'll make some cardboard trees for the landscape.

So there you have it. This might take up a little more room than a standard ceramic Christmas village, but it's not breakable, and after opening the roof a few times to stare at the lights Mr. Man has decided to leave it alone (although he does make sure it's always plugged in).

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