All About Putz Houses

All About Putz Houses

All About Putz Houses

Jun 14th 2024 - by Stephen O'Farrell

All About Putz Houses

At The Christmas Loft, we have fallen in love with the charm and nostalgia of Putz houses and are happy to see their rise in popularity again, thanks to companies like Cody Foster, who has created some whimsical takes on the Putz paper house. These houses have a deep and meaningful history. But what exactly is a Putz house? In this article, we'll explore the enchanting history behind these miniature marvels, from their origins in early 20th-century Germany to their evolution into beloved holiday collectibles.

The process of how Putz houses are made is fascinating and showcases the craftsmanship and creativity involved. You'll also discover the unique creations by Cody Foster, a modern artist whose work has breathed new life into this cherished tradition

Plus, we'll share tips on incorporating Putz houses into your holiday décor, answer frequently asked questions, and celebrate the enduring appeal of these festive treasures. Like many Christmas traditions, we'll discuss why Putz houses are here to stay and how younger generations are renewing this passion. You can see our fabulous selection of Putz houses for sale showcased here..

What is a Putz House? Understanding the Basics

Putz houses are charming miniature holiday decorations that have captivated people for generations. Traditionally made from cardboard paper, these little houses are carefully crafted and often come in various sizes, each featuring intricate details that bring a festive touch to any holiday display. One of the defining features of Putz houses is their delicate construction, with windows that can be illuminated from within, casting a warm, inviting glow.

Often designed with pitched roofs and a charmingly European look, these little cardboard houses were carefully placed atop the cotton-batting snow, creating enchanting winter village scenes that evoke nostalgia and holiday cheer. While most Putz houses range from 5 to 10 inches tall, we've seen some impressive designs that stand up to 15 inches tall.

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. These early versions, known as "printies" among collectors, were likely inspired by German-made cardboard candy box houses that preceded the more familiar Japanese glitter-covered houses. The printed patterns added a layer of depth and charm, making each house a unique piece of holiday art. Putz houses are easily recognizable due to these printed patterns, with many of the ones we see now in the glitterhouse form.

A Brief History of Putz Houses

The Putz tradition began in Central Europe, particularly in Bohemia and Moravia, regions that are now part of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Moravians, part of an older Protestant church, faced persecution and dwindling numbers due to religious wars. This led them to immigrate to America, where they founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Eve in 1742. Celebrating Christmas was a crucial part of their culture, and one beloved tradition was the creation of elaborate Christmas scenes known as putzes, which have been traced back to the late 1700s in America.

The term “putz” has its roots in the German word “putzen,” which means to decorate. German-speaking Americans incorporated this tradition into their Christmas celebrations by setting up intricate village scenes around their nativities and sometimes their Christmas trees. The word “putz” has a literal meaning of “put,” but in German-American culture, it can also mean “putter,” reflecting the careful, detailed work involved in creating these displays.

The original putzes were made with natural materials collected by family members, mostly children, in late autumn. Large stones became mountains, small branches of cedar and pine became trees, and pieces of tinfoil represented waterfalls. Over time, the Moravians began adding villages and hand-carved figures to their scenes, with the nativity creche at the center. The Industrial Revolution added new dimensions to the putz scene, with Germans introducing cardboard houses adorned with printed patterns and hand-painted details. But cardboard Christmas houses have only been around for about 130 years. And cardboard Christmas houses made to glow from electric light bulbs have only been around since about 1928, when electric light strands became affordable for the average family.

World War I shifted the production of Christmas decorations away from Germany. American companies like the Butler Brothers and F.W. Woolworth turned to Japan for manufacturing. The Japanese, known for their ingenuity, began producing glitter-covered cardboard houses in the late 1920s, featuring holes for electric lights. These houses became immensely popular in America, sold alongside other Christmas decorations in “Five and Dime” stores.

World War II interrupted the import of Japanese putz houses, leading American companies like Dolly Toys to create their own versions. Although these American-made houses lacked some of the prewar charm, they kept the tradition alive. After the war, Japan resumed production, and the original charm of the putz houses persisted until the early 1950s.

How Are Putz Houses Made?

Putz houses, those charming miniature Christmas decorations, have evolved significantly over time. Traditionally, they were made using natural materials and simple handcrafted techniques. Today, the process involves more refined materials and tools, but the core essence remains the same. Here's a brief overview of the materials used and the steps involved in making a Putz house.

Materials Used in Traditional Putz House

1. Cardboard: Modern Putz houses are primarily made from cardboard, a practice that started around 130 years ago. Cardboard is sturdy, easy to work with, and can be intricately cut and shaped.

2. Glue: White PVA glue, like Aleene’s Fast Grab Glue, is commonly used for assembling the houses. It's strong and dries quickly, making it ideal for detailed work.

3. Paint: Acrylic paint is preferred for its durability and vibrant colors. It helps to prime the cardboard and provides a good base for glitter.

4. Glitter: Traditional Putz houses often feature glitter for a festive sparkle. Glitter can be applied using a mixture of glue and water.

5. Lights: Since about 1928, electric light bulbs have been used to illuminate Putz houses, adding a warm glow to the decorations.

6. Decorative Elements: These include miniature trees, animals, and other details that bring the scene to life.

Steps to Make a Putz House

1. Design and Cut:
  • Choose a design or pattern for your house. This can be a simple gable house or something more elaborate.
  • Cut out the pattern pieces from cardboard. A craft knife or an electronic cutting machine like a Cricut can be used for precision.
2. Prime and Paint:
  • Prime the cardboard pieces with gesso to prepare them for painting.
  • Paint the pieces with acrylic paint, allowing them to dry completely.
3. Assemble the House:
  • Use PVA glue to assemble the house pieces, starting with the main body and then adding the roof, chimney, and other structural elements.
  • Use painter’s tape or binder clips to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
4. Add Windows and Doors:
  • Cut out windows and doors from the cardboard pieces using dies or an arbor press.
  • Attach plastic sheets behind the window openings to create a glass effect
5. Decorate:
  • Apply glue to the surface of the house and sprinkle glitter for a festive look.
  • Add miniature trees, figures, and other decorative elements to enhance the scene.
6. Install Lighting:
  • Cut a hole in the back or base of the house for an electric light bulb.
  • Insert the bulb to illuminate the house, giving it a warm, inviting glow.
7. Final Touches:
  • Assemble any additional decorative pieces like fences or pathways.
  • Ensure all elements are securely glued and dried before displaying.

By following these steps, you can create your own enchanting Putz house, capturing the nostalgic charm of this traditional holiday decoration.

Putz Houses by Cody Foster

Cody Foster has breathed new life into the traditional Putz house, infusing them with modern imagination and a touch of whimsy. Known for his vibrant designs and innovative themes, Foster's Putz houses stand out with their bold colors and sparkling glitter. Each piece he creates is not just a decoration but a work of art that tells a unique story, transporting us into a miniature world of festive magic. Cody has really let his imagination run wild, and we are there for the ride. These Putz houses look so good we could move into one.

One of the highlights of Cody Foster's collection is the diverse range of themes. From the fashionable Pink Fashion House to the sleek, modernist angles of the Palm Springs House, there's something for every taste. His glistening magical versions of beautiful townhouses bring an elegant touch to holiday displays. The Snowman Cottages, complete with a gleeful snowman out front, evoke a cozy winter wonderland. The over-the-top Merry Merry House dazzles with pink frosting and a candy cane doorway. These imaginative designs not only capture the essence of holiday cheer but also offer a playful twist that makes them stand out from traditional Putz houses.

Incorporating Putz Houses in Holiday Decor

Putz houses add a touch of nostalgia and whimsy to any holiday decorating scheme. Whether you're creating an intricate miniature village or using them as charming standalone pieces, these delightful houses can transform your holiday décor. Here are some creative ideas to inspire you:

  • Create a Miniature Village: Arrange a collection of Putz houses on a mantel, side table, or under the Christmas tree. Add miniature trees, figurines, and faux snow to create a cozy winter scene.
  • Centerpiece Display: Use a Putz house as the focal point of your holiday table centerpiece. Surround it with greenery, candles, and ornaments for a festive look.
  • Mantel Decoration: Place a row of Putz houses along your mantel, interspersed with twinkling string lights and garlands for a magical display.
  • Windowsill Arrangement: Decorate your windowsills with a few Putz houses, adding battery-operated tea lights inside to illuminate them at night.
  • Bookshelf Charm: Integrate Putz houses into your bookshelf décor, placing them among books and other holiday accents to create a whimsical touch.
  • Under the Tree: Add Putz houses to your tree skirt area, creating a delightful village that complements your Christmas tree.
  • Gift Toppers: Use small Putz houses as unique gift toppers. They add a personal touch and can be kept as a keepsake ornament.

These ideas can help you incorporate Putz houses into your holiday decorations, bringing a nostalgic and festive spirit to your home.

Putz House FAQs

Are Putz houses considered collectibles? Yes, Putz houses are highly regarded as collectibles, especially vintage ones from the early 20th century and those with unique designs or historical significance.

How can I preserve and maintain my Putz houses over time?To preserve Putz houses, store them in a cool, dry place and avoid direct sunlight. Handle them with care and consider using acid-free tissue paper for wrapping.

Can I create my own Putz house, and what materials would I need?Yes, you can create your own Putz house using materials like cardboard, glue, paint, glitter, and small decorative elements. Templates and patterns are available online for various designs.

Are there any notable collections of Putz houses to explore for inspiration?Yes, there are some notable collections of Putz houses. Cody Foster has become a well-known leader in the collectible, as has Bethany Lowe Designs.

The Enduring Appeal of Putz Houses

At The Christmas Loft, we are delighted to see younger generations coming into our stores, interested in buying and collecting all types of village pieces, including Putz houses. Many share wonderful cherished memories of growing up with miniature villages being built, and how it made their homes feel like Christmas. Now, as those children grow up, they want to recreate that joy in their own homes and pass that sense of magic and wonder onto their children.

The sentimental value and joy that Putz houses bring to the holiday season underscore their timeless appeal. These miniature marvels, with their intricate designs and enchanting glow, have a unique ability to transform any space into a festive wonderland. The enduring mystique of Putz houses ensures that this tradition will continue for many decades to come. Embrace the charm and beauty of Putz houses, and let them bring joy and warmth to your home for many Christmases ahead.

Jun 14th 2024 - by Stephen O'Farrell