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A transitional 'printie,' retaining some printed pattern while gaining a glittered roof and base.

Building Your Own “Printies”

Although most Americans are familiar with the Japanese glittered putz houses, few realize that the earliest cardboard Christmas houses used printed patterns instead of glitter to provide texture.  This was probably a holdover from the German-made cardboard candy box houses that preceded the more familiar Japanese glitter-covered houses.   Collectors call them “printies.”

Howard's stone cottage design done with brick paper instead gives a good example of a hand-made printie project.Putz house designer and builder Howard Lamey has teamed up with writer and graphic designer Paul Race to provide you with the resources for building your own “printies.”  Technically, you can use nearly any of Howard’s plans and many of Paul’s graphic patterns to create printies, but the following articles will help you get off on the right foot.

  • Building a Vintage-Style Cardboard Stone Cottage - Howard’s first printie design, available as a stone or brick cottage.
  • Building a Vintage-Style Cardboard Barn and Silo - Howard’s instructions for using patterned graphics to build a vintage-looking farm scene for your holiday village.
  • Spook Hill Station - A spooky Victorian-inspired “Printy” train station.”  Using the same plans and process, but with other graphics, this little station could be more suitable for Christmas or year-round use.
  • Tinplate Textures - For designing your own structures, this section includes toylike brick, shingle, siding, door and window patterns inspired by the  tinplate buildings that Lionel and other companies made to go with their toy trains a century ago.  From BIGIndoorTrains.com.
  • Building Textures - Photo-based graphic designs that were originally created to help model railroaders build inexpensive buildings.  Many of these patterns are  also useful for building printies.  From BIGIndoorTrains.com.
  • In addition, many of the “Lackie” projects could be built as “printies,” depending on the patterned graphics you choose to use.

If you are aware of any similar resources for helping people build their own putz houses, please let us know and we’ll check it out with a view to providing a link.

Click to trains that commemorate your team!


Visit our Sister Christmas Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Visit Family Christmas Online Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Free plans and instructions for building your own vintage-style cardboard village. Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes Classic O Gauge Trains
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads


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