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by Tom Hull
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
NEW HOUSES FROM SCRATCH
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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