Note: This is an archive of "Papa" Ted Althof's online tribute to cardboard Christmas "putz" houses and their history. At Ted's request, this archive was established in early 2012. Except for critical updates and announcements, it will remain as Ted left it in October, 2012.
For more information, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

by Tom Hull


Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
This house arrived with a badly crushed base. Apparently at some point it had gotten water soaked and then stepped on. When it dried out is was badly squished and of course stayed that way. Here is my remedy for this problem.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base This is pretty much the way it came in: off its base and generally mucked up. Notice the peeling paper due to water soaking. But wait -- it gets worse.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
As you can see this is badly damaged. Probably happened while someone was stepping through the putz to water the tree. In order to restore this it will have to be dismantled and the parts ironed flat with an ordinary household iron. Here, I've got the bottom card off and the internal "U" strips set aside. Save those! They have to go back in. ( One showing at the right in the picture.)
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
The first step was to remove the house, the fence, and of course any other obstructions, as this has to be worked flat. (In this case, I left the other fence in place as that area wasn't crushed.) The next step was to cut the bottom card off with a hobby knife. The water spritzer in picture #4 is to dampen the brittle old cardboard and get it pliable again. You may have to do this repeatedly as you work the piece flat. When opening a base up you may find mold, dust, mouse nests and other muck inside. Clean anything like that out. Then Cut the corners as this will allow the base to be flattened. Through the next two pictures you will see that I work the piece by molding it and ironing it over an ironing board or pad, just like ironing clothes,Folks! I always work it with a paper towel over the ironing pad.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
Here I have pressed the piece and it's sides flat- first having done sufficient mist-dampening to keep the brittle old sides from splitting off at the fold lines.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
In this instance, I am not using a paper towel between the iron and the work because I saw no old glue or paint on the inside, but I always keep one under the work to protect the ironing pad. Looks like the end piece is particularly crushed and will need a bit more water as well as heavy pressure from the iron.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
Now i am working the top surface and using towels between iron and work as well as between the work and ironing pad. I run the iron fairly hot, and don't want to run over any paint and old glue. That old dark-brown animal glue will still melt with heat and smear and stick to the iron and pad and make a mess of things - plus, it smells just AWFUL!The towel will take it up, and Mom will love you for it.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
Here's what we've working toward - ready to re-assemble. The old water stains you see came from the old damage. Don't worry about them. They won't show.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house base
Re-assembly begins with restoring the corners. Paper strips ( I am using white paper, here, but strips cut from brown grocery bags are also good.) and white glue do the job. I use Aileen's Tacky Glue, but Elmer's-type or carpenter glues are fine. They take longer to dry, but are very strong. Note I also had to reinforce a side with a paper patch. It split off. That will happen, sometimes, no matter what you do. This is how you fix it.
Repair of crushed Christmas village house 
Proceeding with corners and paper clips, here. Corners sometimes need spread a bit. For more detail on re-assembly - check out my bit on building a whole new base from scratch. The process is the same, except you are working with old parts:


Repair of crushed Christmas village house 
Finally, the "U" strips have been put back, the bottom card glued back on and everything is being held in place with rubber bands until the glue had dried. Later I will redo the fence and some paint work, but that's another story!

This same ironing technique is also be used to straighten up
crumpled house walls, roofs and church steeples, too.

Have fun! Tom

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Copyright 2000-2012 Theodore H. Althof,Jr.Except where noted, the contents of this website and all it's pages and submissions therein contained are the intellectual property of Theodore H.Althof,Jr. All rights are reserved. (Background musical selections are,of course, excepted.)

This archive was set up at Ted's request in early 2012, and, except for critical updates and
announcements, will remain as Ted left it in October, 2012.
The archive is kept online with the help of volunteers from the following affiliated sites and resources:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit our collection of resources for collecting, restoring, and making your own cardboard Christmas houses. Return to the OldChristmasTreeLights Welcome page Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Visit Papa Ted Althof's extensive history and collection of putz houses, the largest and most complete such resource on the Internet. Craft and collectibles blog with local news of Croton NY.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Visit the Internet's largest resource on choosing and displaying Christmas trains. Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages.
Learn about backyard railroading with Family Garden Trains
Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
Resources for O gauge and On30 model railroading
- Music -
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable.
The struggles and influences of early Jesus Musicians and others who laid the groundwork for the Christian music and worship that is part of our lives today.