Here are more Tiny Houses made while I was taking another session of Build a Tiny House at the Smithsonian in July, 2022.
The three are the smallest houses I have yet made. And they are done a little differently. Let me tell you how.
All my previous houses have been based on a cardboard box form with surface decoration added. I kind of did my own thing, following what came easiest to me. During the class, however, our instructor Marcie Wolf-Hubbard used a method that involved covering the house with papier mâché. At the time of the first class I took, my eyesight was impaired and I didn’t have the patience to take in the information. And, it didn’t really matter, as the idea was to work with your own skills as you liked.
In this class, though, I wanted to try the method. So, I started small. I used cardboard boxes of the type teabags come in (think Yogi Ginger tea, for instance). I took off the lid and used it to create a floor, resulting in a simple two-story interior.
Here are the houses I made, and then I’ll tell you more about how I created them. Here is a view of their interiors.
And here are the houses from the back.
Here are views of Tiny House 10:
Here are views of Tiny House 11:
And here is Tiny House 12.
In constructing these houses, it’s first necessary to put together the structure. It needs to be sturdy enough to take the wet paper mâché, but it doesn’t have to look great. When I make houses in my other style, I have to make sure that tape and other construction items can be integrated into the decoration techniques. In these houses I am discussing here, all these things will be covered up.
Next step is to get the materials together for the papier mâché. I used newspaper and magazines, and my glue was something I first tried out in making paste papers (look here for a post where I discuss this process), Elmer’s Art Paste.
Our instructor uses the traditional flour and water paste, but I had a quantity of this art paste already made up, and I thought I’d try it. I was pleased with the results and intend to continue using it in the future.
Well, all you do then is dip your paper into the paste and apply it to the house. You can lay it on flat or you can crumple and squish it to build up wrinkles or relief area. The house does become quite wet, and I needed to be careful to support it at time or let it dry a bit (that is where working on more than one house at a time helps out, I could skip around).
I covered every surface, finding that the wet gluey paper slid on very easily and could be maneuvered around corners and into crannies as needed. Once I was finished, I let the houses dry for about three days. They were significantly stronger than the cardboard boxes that they’d started out as and were ready for paint.
I painted directly on to the surface but many people gesso first, to even out the surface and reduce show-through of the papers.
I also could have applied decorative or painted papers to my house in the papier mâché process and skipped or reduced the painting part, if I had papers I felt would do the job.
OK! That’s where we are. I really enjoyed using this technique and I am full of ideas of ways to use it. Thank you to our teacher Marcie Wolf-Hubbard and to my classmates for a great experience.