House 2.0

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A few posts back, Marion pointed me to the work of Amanda White, who makes wonderful collages of writers’ houses. (You can see some nice, large versions at Brown Paper Bag.)


I love the way creative communities work. If Marion hadn’t done that, I might never have gone down the road I have with that initial impulse I had to make something about houses. I love White’s work so much. (Collages, houses, writers? All in one? Yes, please.) It sent me on a Google search for collage houses, and oh, the things I found! (Rather than linking to them all here, I’ll just send you to the Pinterest board I created to store them in.)

Once I discovered these, I lost interest in the  map houses I was working on (which is part of the reason I just finished that project, even though I thought it was crappy). I wanted to create houses with more detail.

A bit about process

The first thing I did was head out with my phone to take pictures of houses I like:

house collage 1

house collage 2

I was looking for houses that reminded me of my grandmothers’ houses, and I was looking for houses that I thought I might be able to re-create. (As  you can see, I didn’t focus on taking great photos. I really just wanted to snap as many as I could as quickly as I could. After making one house, I now know that I need to take the shot as level and straight-on as I can. Maybe later I’ll want to try making houses from different angles/perspectives, but not yet.)

The next thing I did was attempt to sketch some of the houses, because I knew I’d  have to draw the parts on the paper I would use to make the collage. I remembered my lessons from Ed Emberley, and I focused on breaking each house down into its shapes. When I do this, drawing isn’t quite so daunting.

house sketches

Nonetheless, I’m thinking about trying to find a drawing class to take this summer.

I started with the simplest house I could find, and as I started to figure some things out, I moved on to more complex ones. I found it was really helpful to have the photos to help me. I would measure the dimensions of the shape in the photo, and I used that to get scale correct(ish).

Then it was on to making a house. Again, I chose the simplest one to start with (top left in the photo collage above, which is from the house in the bottom left of the first house images photo collage).

For materials, I decided to use paper from old books I have. I thought about not coloring them in any way and trying to use varying fonts and type sizes to create color and texture, but I decided I’m not that good yet. I used watercolor pencils instead. I cut out blocks of text, and then used layers of pencil color that I rubbed together with my fingers.

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When I went looking for text to use, I found I didn’t want to use just any old random text. I have two books for cutting with information about the industrial revolution and the horrible living conditions that most working-class people lived in during that time. That seemed like fitting text (more on that later), so that’s what I used.

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Then it was a matter of cutting out my pieces and gluing them together.

I say that like it was a simple undertaking, but in truth it was hard and very slow-going. I learned that I have to build the houses in component parts (doors, windows, etc.). I’m careful about when I glue something down–because if I mess up and have to discard something, it might mean discarding several components if they are already glued together. (Ask me how I learned that!)


This was not the only roof I made.

I can’t believe it took me two weeks to make this simple house, but it did. The chimney alone probably took an hour.

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So many teeny-tiny bricks…

I will be combining this house with some words and with some other elements, but this is what I have for now:

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It’s not perfect, but I’m much happier with this than I was with my first draft houses. And I can’t wait to start house 3.0.


Doesn’t a new set of pencils make you feel like you could create amazing things?



16 thoughts on “House 2.0

  1. Kathy says:

    Wow! It’s so cool to see you putting all the stuff together that you’ve learned in the past with what you learn as you go.
    Wow. 10,000 hours and all that, huh? This has really inspired me. Thanks for sharing your progress/process.

    I love house.2.0!

  2. Marian says:

    I’m so happy I was able to point you in a useful direction, Rita! House 2.0 is really lovely 🙂 . I’m a huge fan of creative works which include subtle or nearly-hidden details which only the creator (or the very discerning observer) would pick up on — so I absolutely love the way you selected the text for your house. Well done, and I’m so looking forward to seeing how this project continues to evolve 🙂 .
    Marian recently posted…—ingMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      Thanks, Marian! Truly would not be here without you! I have been studying White’s works–so much amazing detail. I do want to finish the piece this house is intended for, but I’m already looking forward to the next one.

    • Rita says:

      Shannon! I just remembered earlier today that I never answered your email. I’ve been in migraine and work hell the past few weeks, and things just keep dropping through the cracks. I owe you a proper response. This weekend, I hope. I love new art supplies, too. I’m not much of an artist and I don’t really know what to do with them, but they are so pretty and packed with so much potential.

      • Shannon says:

        Oh golly gee moses, never worry about email response time with me! I’m a very easy going gal. When I don’t hear back from someone right away, I always assume something logical like migraines or alien abduction got in the way. Ha! Besides, it took me like 8 weeks to get up the energy to email you first, so believe me, I get it. Seriously, do not sweat it. 😉 I just accidentally fell asleep in front of the tv, woke up, stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth still groggy, narrowly missing by inches walking into a giant spider mountaineering down from the ceiling on its web rope. I quickly managed to grab a magazine from the hall and swat the spider out of the air, away from my face, all while only able to see only 6 inches in front of me without my glasses on. I wish you that kind of luck and unconscious mental and physical dexterity this week, Rita. And I remind you not to go into the bathroom without your glasses on. 🙂
        Shannon recently posted…Ghost Of Information Enjoyment PastMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      After my car broke down for the millionth time yesterday on a stupidly hot afternoon while the cold that my family members gave me decided to descend with full force, I felt just a bit ragey myself. Shut myself up in my art room with my pencils and…yeah. It really did help. Go get yourself some colors to play with, stat.

  3. Kate says:

    New pens, pencils, paper are on my go to list of little (not always cheap – but little) purchases that bring me sunshine.

    And your house is lovely. The chimney is probably my favorite too. I had to pin it because I think the kids and I may have to attempt (a less sophisticated) version of this for one of our craft days this summer. 🙂
    Kate recently posted…BitsMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I love that chimney, too. It’s so weird, the things we love. And it is the chimney that makes me want to make another house.

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