Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christmas Shrines, Putz Style

I love the sparkle and simplicity of Putz houses. They are such wonderful retro Christmas decorations. Alpha Stamps has just started carrying mini masonite circus shrines, and I received a couple to work with. Leslie, owner of Alpha Stamps, asked me if I was going to decorate them as Christmas or circus, and as we talked, the idea of "Christmas circus" took hold. Measuring in at just 3" wide, the shrines were the perfect size for a tiny village. Thus, I present to you a "Christmas Circus Putz Shrine". Here's Santa, a tree, and a festive Christmas elephant, all in a little tent, sparkled up with Micro Beads.

This was my first go-round using Micro Beads, and I really love the way they look. It makes me want to glitter all the things! However, while I really like the way this turned out, there were a few things I wanted to improve on. For example, the beads distort any pattern a bit, so the tiny letters spelling out "Christmas" in the banner are fairly illegible. Also, I did not cover the sides of the facade, so the seams are dark, which I think distracts from the light snowy effect I was going for.

Here's my next, more successful shrine, along with some in progress photos and some tips I learned, in case you want to make your own:

As you can see, the sides of the facade have painted red to coordinate with the paper I used on the front. Much better! I used gesso first to have a good light base to paint on. Here are the steps I took to make this project:

1. If you're planning on painting any surfaces, cover them with gesso first. For this putz, I painted the base, the flag, and the banner (not shown in this photo). I originally planned to paint the outside solid as well, so in this photo, it's white with the gesso coat. I did not like the way the joints showed when the putz was put together, so ended up covering the back and sides with paper. Notice on the two parts with the stars on them, which will be the inside of the shrine, that the decorative paper doesn't overlap the tabs. That's so things will fit together properly when it's time for gluing.

2. Cover all the inside surfaces with Incredi-Sheets, which are large sized sheets of double stick tape. Trim the tape to fit only the area covered with paper: keep those tabs clean! Once adhered, peal off the top protective layer of the tape, and cover with the micro beads. I find it useful to keep my beads in a flat Tupperwear bowl; it keep them from rolling around and getting loose, and later, you can pop the lid on for storage. I held the piece to be covered, sticky side down, and pressed it into the beads until it was fully coated. Once you pull it out, use your fingers to press all the beads down firmly, and then brush any excess beads back into your bowl.

3. Once all your interior pieces have been beaded, assemble the outer walls and base of the shrine. Hold firmly while the glue sets.

4. Here's how I treated the back of the tent shaped facade. Since only the top part shows, I covered and beaded only that part. Doing so assures that none of the joints that will be glued have any extra layers on them. I used one strip of paper to cover the top and sides of the exterior of the shrine. In the first example I made, I covered the top and sides separately before assembly, which made the seams too dark. Using one piece of paper to cover the top and sides made for a much cleaner look.

Once the front is attached, decorate the inside to your heart's content! I had fun using a mixture of Alpha Stamps products, and some little vintage Santas I had. Here's a list of products I used, plus links of where to get them.
Mixed Star Sequins (first shrine)
Tiny Red Tree Garland (first shrine)
Red Adhesive Pearls  (second shrine)
White Plastic Pearls (second shrine)


  1. I don't know why you're called Junk & Stuff. It should be more like Totally Cute & Stuff!

  2. any ideas on finding a santa? Love this!

  3. Thanks, everyone.

    @Cindy, I got my Santas from etsy. If you do a search for "Vintage Plastic Santas" you'll find several to pick from. :)


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