Like any real town or city, a miniature village is always evolving -- you can keep adding to it every year. Why not start your own village with this simple, charming basswood cottage featuring a thatched roof of pinecone scales?
- Template A
- Template B
- 5 pieces 3/32-inch-thick basswood, cut to 6-by-24-inch rectangles
- Carbon tracing paper
- Utility and mat knife (with extra blades)
- Self-healing cutting board
- Hot-glue gun (with extra glue sticks)
- Wood glue
- Masking tape
- Sandpaper (#220)
- Oil-based wood stain (walnut or mahogany)
- White latex paint
- Small paintbrushes
- Plate or palette for mixing paint
- 24 pinecones (white pine, white spruce, ponderosa)
- Thin birch twigs
- Parchment paper
- Battery-operated Christmas lights
- Heavy-duty plastic bag or drop cloth
- Moss or pine needles
- Evergreen tips
- Dark plastic covering for tabletop
Download Template A
Download Template B
Place carbon paper facedown on basswood. Lay template for each piece of house on top. Using a ruler as a guide, trace the outlines of the house with a pencil.
Cut out tracing on the wood with a mat knife (follow the edge of the design), and sand edges.
To erect walls of the house, apply wood glue to the edges of two adjoining walls. Stand the walls upright so that they abut each other at a right angle. Hold in place with masking tape. Continue with remaining walls.
Glue longer roof panel in place, slightly overlapping the peak. Make sure that the eaves are equal on each side.
Glue the remaining roof panel in place so it abuts the underside of the first panel, once again making sure that the roof overhangs are equal. Tape to hold. Let glue dry for at least 1 hour.
Remove masking tape.
Use a dry brush to apply wood stain and paint, mixing them together on small palette as you work. Let dry for 1/2 hour.
Lightly sand paint to give house a weathered look.
To shingle, take a small pinecone by its base, and split it down its core with your hands. One by one, pull off scales. You will need approximately 24 pinecones to complete one roof.
Apply a small amount of hot glue to narrow end of pinecone scale on its concave side. Starting at the bottom edge of one roof panel, lay down scale shingles, side by side, slightly overhanging side edges and bottom edge. Hold each scale in place for a few seconds while glue dries. Continue laying down scales in rows, overlapping each row slightly. Repeat on other side.
To finish off the peak of the roof, work from its center out to each edge, placing the scales horizontally along roof peak. With wider ends of scales facing outer edge, working from the center of peak out to both sides, glue scales in a row.
To make window frame, use a utility knife to cut four lengths of thin twigs (Hannah uses birch) slightly longer than the window measurements. Shave or sand each twig lengthwise along one side to get a flat surface, and miter the ends.
To make the window crossbars, measure inner width and height of window. Cut a thin twig to each of the dimensions. Use a utility knife to carve a groove in the middle of each. Place a dab of glue into one groove, and place the horizontal bar over the vertical one. Place a dab of wood glue onto each end of the crossbars, and place them into the window. Glue frame into window piece by piece.
To make the door frame, cut two pieces of thin birch twigs slightly longer then the height of the door and one piece slightly longer then the door width. (Hannah's door is 1 by 1 3/4 inches.) Shave down each twig lengthwise to obtain flat surface. Miter ends. One by one, glue in place to wall of house, flat side down.
Shave off small bud, or cut small cross section from a branch for a doorknob; glue in place on door.
Cut a piece of parchment paper for each window, slightly larger than window dimensions. Glue one over each window from inside the house.
Place a heavy-duty plastic bag or drop cloth on your table surface.
Cover the surface with dried or fresh moss.
Use a string of battery-operated Christmas lights to illuminate the village homes. Alternatively, you can have a lighting store make a harness set of lights with sockets positioned several inches apart, one socket for each house. Screw 6-watt light bulbs into the sockets. Lay the strand in place where the houses will be situated. Tuck the cord under the moss.
Use additional pieces of moss to fill in holes in the ground cover. Cut the tips of evergreen branches for trees. Poke them upright in the moss.
Place one house over each light. Fill in any gaps where light seeps out from under the house with bits of moss.
Add small decorating details (for example, a pink-granite path leading downhill from the church, logs, wreathes, trees, etc.).