Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recycling Waste Cardboard - Making Houses for a Christmas Crib

Project - Building a House for the Christmas Crib

Yes Christmas is still far away. But February is almost over and this month of cold and rain and March too are stay-at-home months and ideal for small projects like this. For me it's fun to sit at the kitchen table listening to the rain pattering on the window panes and employing my time playing with cardboard and glue to create something interesting that I would use later on in the year.

Materials and Tools

I have some thin cardboard handy, a roll of adhesive tape and white carpenter's glue, a stapler, scissors and a sharp knife. I have some colours (see Painting below), one or two small brushes and a small tin of semi-matt varnish. These are all the tools and materials that I need. I am using some cardboard pieces that I cut from a shoe-box.


The house I am making is roughly a cube of side 3 inches. I start by cutting a piece of cd (cardboard) 9 " x 3". Mark it at 3" intervals and draw vertical pencil lines. Hold a ruler on each of the 2 pencil lines and score with a sharp knife with some pressure over them (mind your fingers here). You might have guessed why we do this, to fold back along the knife cuts and we have the three walls of the house that we need, the centre panel being the front. Draw a small door in this panel about 1.25" high x 0 .75" wide and draw a center-line. Again use the knife to score along the 2 sides of the door. Now cut through the top and the middle line of the door so that it we can leave it slightly ajar.

Let's cut a bottom. Just 3.5 " x 3". Fix the bottom with adhesive tape from the inside so that it protrudes 0.25" from each side. Apply some white glue to the underside of both doors to set it permanently ajar. There is no need to make a back wall for the house, but if you like you can cut a 3" x 3" size cd and join it in the same way by adhesive tape; but leave this step until after we have fitted the roof.

For the roof we need a piece of cd of size 4" x 3.5". Draw a pencil line in the middle and score slightly. We are fitting a slanting roof, therefore we fold along the scored pencil line to make the roof slanting to the right and to the left and slightly protruding about 0.25" on both sides and 0.5 at the front. Fix the roof as before either with adhesive tape or you can use strips of paper thinly spread with white glue.

On the front we are left with an open triangle under the ceiling which we will have to close somehow. We cut a very narrow strip of cd 3.5" x 0.25" to resembe a log. Glue and fix about 1" below the peak of the roof or about 2.5" from the floor and let it protrude 0.25" on each side. Again cut strips of cd of various lengths and of width 0.25" and fix them vertically from the roof to the log with small spaces between them. You'll have to measure these vertical logs yourself. Use white glue to fix (see Diagram above).

We can also fit a chimney on one side of the roof. Use a little piece of well-glued rolled cd or paper for this.


For colouring the house, we can use any kind of paint - oil paint, acrylic or powdered colours. Powdered colours are mixed with water and white carpenter's glue. First make a solution by mixing a little water with a few drops of glue.

1. Yellow - First as an undercoat, we paint the whole thing yellow. Again use the saucer or small lid that we used before, put in a little yellow powder add the water-glue solution and mix. If you made the paint too watery you might need to apply a second coat when the first one is almost dry.

2. Brown-Yellow - If you have some yellow paint left, add a little brown powder and mix. If not, pour yellow powder and a tiny amount of brown and mix. Test the colour to see if it is brown enough. It just has to show over the yellow, do not make it too dark. Apply horizontal strokes with a small flat brush randomly here and there on the three walls to make it look as if the house is built of stone.
Paint the logs at the front all brown.

Mix some darker brown and dab the logs here and there. Do not worry too much, we are not painting a canvas. It will look alright in the end.

3. Green - Mix green powder as before, again not too dark. Dab the stonework randomly here and there to make the stones look old and mossy. Also draw some small horizontal and vertical lines to roughly enclose some of the brown stones and make them stand out.

4. Red - Mix red powder or yellow and red if you want and paint the roof and the door to make it reddish.

NB. If you are using oil or acrylic colours just follow the same process.


This is not the House that we are talking about, but similar

When the paint is dry some hours later, apply a thin coat of semi-matt varnish which will make the colours brighter, look wet and shiny. This is the simplest form of Christmas crib house that we could make. You can experiment with more complex forms and use your creativity to make even more arty-looking rustic dwellings to use in your Crib come Christmas.
As children we used to buy these houses/huts during the days preceeding Christmas while in the process of preparing the Crib. We also used to buy clay figurines (pasturi) for pennies from 2 particular shops that I remember.
View my other Page about: Games Children Played in the late 50's
How to build a Christmas Crib. Step by Step directions - - Go Here

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