What A Difference A Fence Makes

Cape Cod House #3 aluminum can house

“If the grass on the other side of the fence is greener, try watering your side.” – Ernie J Zelinski, international best selling author

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Until Sizzix released its addition to the Original Tim Holtz Village dies in the spring of 2016, my village was very boring. I could make a house, or I could make a church that looked like the house with a bell tower on top. My friends and family loved them both, and wanted their own, made of their personal favorite cans. That quickly got tedious. At the same time, I was still digging through trash cans trying to find enough aluminum cans to make these two buildings. I was ready to throw in the towel.

Thankfully, the Village Bungalow die was released and changed everything. Although it had only 5 new elements on it, it was a game changer. Suddenly I could add fences and gabled windows to my buildings. I dove into creative research and my buildings went from being merely structures, to creations.

The extended-size Village Brownstone die was also released, which added an entirely new building shape. A third die, the smaller Village Rooftops die, allowed me to add several types of roofing treatments, including shingles. Since all of the Original Tim Holtz Village dies work together, even more new building styles combining these dies became possible. Here are just a few of the ones I created.

With all these new styles, my friends realized they wanted more houses in different colors and started saving their aluminum cans for me. My daughter also took a job where she was able to provide me recycled aluminum cans from her company’s lunchroom. I could finally stop digging through the trash for cans.

Later in 2016, several more Tim Holtz Village dies were added. The first was the Village Surf Shack, which adds a building-wide covered porch, different window frame, palm tree, and small surfboard to the Village Dwelling. I used this, along with several Thinlit dies I bought, to make two of my favorite Putz-style creations, the Surf Shop and the Halloween House.

I think it is important to point out that only two of the Original Tim Holtz Village dies are stand-alone dies, the original Village Dwelling, and the Village Brownstone. Both of these are extended dies and require extended cutting pads for your manual cutting machine. All the other dies add elements to one of these two; they require you to own the base dies.

In October 2016, the Village Manor die was released. This added a second story to the Village Dwelling, including a Mansard Roof with a widow’s walk, and a vestibule. Also included are rickety window frames and an equally dilapidated fence, additions which meant I could make a haunted house. I also found that with a few different Thinlit dies, it can make an elegant Christmas manor.

Right before Christmas 2016, the Tim Holtz Village Gingerbread die was released, a die intended to turn the Village Dwelling into a gingerbread house. I haven’t made a gingerbread house yet, or utilized many of the elements from this die. The only element I have used is the shutters with cutout hearts on the Christmas Manor above.

Later, in 2017 and/or 2018, two more dies were added to the Tim Holz Village collection. The first was the Village Landscape, which includes three trees and two cactus plants. The second was the Village Addition, which adds a side room addition and a vestibule to the Village Brownstone. I believe the Village Addition, in conjunction with the Village Bell Tower, was designed to turn the Village Brownstone into a chapel. I’ve never actually used my Village Addition die as this was right around the time I realized I could cut aluminum cans with my Cricut Maker and started designing my own buildings.

Tim Holtz also released several sets of Thinlit dies that work well with the rest of the Village, including the Village Fixer Upper, Village Graveyard, and the Village Christmastime dies. These add little embellishments like gravestones and Christmas garlands to your cottages.

Now for the bad news. All of the Original Tim Holtz Village dies have been retired. They made a great starter set for your Putz-style village and I am disappointed that they are no longer readily available. I occasionally see the dies available on Etsy or Ebay. Retirement does seem to be common with physical cutting dies. Sizzix/Tim Holtz wasn’t the only company making 3-D house dies, and I will cover some of the others in a future blog post.

Next post, look for the first of my free building patterns!

2 thoughts on “What A Difference A Fence Makes”

  1. Carol Jennings

    I’ve used some of Tim Holtz Sizzix dies also. Mine are kind of boring though. I only put a fence on 1 of them. I need to branch out and realize it doesn’t have to be perfect every time.
    I enjoyed reading everything. Thank you for putting your houses on FB. One of these days I may try aluminum cans.

  2. what a super blog! i came to the holtz village houses after the “village” was complete and all i had to do was find all the dies. what an adventure that was.

    with your can houses i feel inspired to try cutting one or two.


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