Introduction: Build a Tiny House of Paper (and Maybe a Village)

What's more fun than a tiny house or village? Nothing! (Except a dog).

Let's make a tiny house out of paper. If you're especially industrious, perhaps you can make a small village as well.

Step 1: Materials

The idea is to keep materials simple

  • paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • clear tape
  • glue
  • a ruler helps
  • a sharp tipped knife if you wish to cut out windows, if desired
  • something to put down on the table for cutting (I used an old newspaper)

Step 2: Get a Plan

The first pic shows my general vision of what I'd like to end up with. I'm not sure if I can make something that looks like that, but I find it helpful to have some sort of a general vision in place first. So, I'm shooting for classic village-on-a-hill with a church at the end of the street.

Pic two is the basis for everything here. It shows the evolution of the simple house-shape. It serves as the basis for all houses, or buildings, or barns, going forward.

In that second picture, you see (1) the simple 2D house that we all drew at age 3. Then, at some point, we figure out that we can (2) draw some diagonal lines up and to the side and generate a 3D look. From there, we go back to 2D with the (3) funky geometric shape at the bottom. The black lines are to cut, the gray lines are for folding.

This basic geometric shape will give you a basic house. All other buildings can be created by adjusting this basic house-shape.

Step 3: Practice (my First House)

This was my first house of paper.You may notice the initial house-shape is slightly different from the design in the prior step. No big deal, either work.

Cut it out, fold it, apply a few pieces of tape, voila.

My first house was not very good. But, it was okay, and I learned a lesson.

I learned that even though things may not turn out as good as hoped, they still have a their place. Keep those not-so-good buildings. I will use that first not-so-good house as a little out building. Everything has a purpose and a place and it will be great in that spot.

Step 4: A Better House

    It's amazing what little thought, preparation, and taking-your-time can do. My first house was hacked together and rushed, and not so good. So, I tried to be a bit more careful for house #2. And, surprise, it came out much better!

    First, I measured.

    • I still used the basic house-shape, but tried to make the sides equal in length. The ratio used was 4:3. That is, the front or house face was 3 cm, and the sides were 4 cm.
    • I made the walls 4 cm high, but they can be adjusted to any ratio you wish.
    • The first house was simply sketched out by hand, so, it was pretty rough. The third pic shows the more accurate house-shape, after measuring

    Secondly, I folded.

    • This is pretty straight-forward. Just fold it.

    Third, I taped.

    • Taping on the outside is easy and holds things in place nicely.
    • But, although a bit tricky, taping on the inside eventually looks better.

    The last pic shows the final house #2.

    That's it for one house. But...

    Step 5: The Next Level - Variety

    ...the possibilities beyond a single house are infinite. Ideas:

    • play around with the design - roof, house shape, windows, columns
    • play around with texture - cardboard has corrugation which can give a log or wood-siding look
    • play around with colors

    I started fiddling around with the designs, somewhat randomly. I liked the randomness because that's kind of how town's develop. Soon my little village started to grow and take on shape.

    Note: for the barn, I formed the roof separate from the walls.

    • You can see the four walls in the bottom-left photo of pic #3.
    • The walls and separate roof are shown in the top-left photo. This was done because a traditional barn has a gambrel roof which as bit trickier.
    • Fun fact: a gambrel roof gets its name from the angle of a horse's back leg--its gambrels.

    Step 6: Accessorize

    I wanted trees.

    1. I saw some photos of paper "Christmas trees" online and tried to replicate them, see pic 1. I simply...
    2. Cut out two tree shapes.
    3. Then slit one from the bottom-up and one from the top-down.
    4. I slid the two pieces together and...
    5. Added a touch of glue to stabilize them.
    1. I came up with a better technique for trees, shown in pic 2.
    2. Fold the paper over and cut half the tree (or one side of it), then unfold it.
    3. Do this for both halves and they should stand up already.
    4. Then I added a bit of glue along the "spine" or trunks of each each and stuck them together.
    5. This technique was both easier and looked better.

    The bigger Christmas tree was more detailed and more work.

    1. I cut out a circle for the base. (I may have done better to choose a dark colored paper for this.)
    2. Then I rolled up a tube for the tree trunk and glued it to the base.
    3. I added three "braces" from the base to the trunk for support. This may have been overkill, but I didn't want my Christmas tree tipping over.
    4. Adding the boughs was simple, but took time. I cut several thin triangular strips, seen in the pic 3. Start at the base of the tree trunk and work around and them up, gluing them on one-by-one.
    5. It's probably very likely to speed this process by cutting a zig-zag shape then rolling it around the tree trunk. But, I'm not sure if it would give the same effect, so, I went one at a time. It's rather easy and is forgiving.
    6. This tree was to be kind of a centerpiece of the village, so I put more time into it.

    I figured a cute little village needs a dog. So, I made one. His name is Woof Woof.

    1. I cut him out, which was difficult because he's so small.
    2. I glued a triangular "kickstand" on his back so he'd stand up (see pic).

    Step 7: Arrange, Photograph, and Finish

    Put your little houses in whatever arrangement suits your fancy. It's neat how different arrangements conjure different feels for the village.

    Play around with backgrounds, lighting, and camera angle to get a photo that pleases you. Next year's Christmas card is set!

    I hope it's enjoyable and that it comes out well.

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