How to Make Cardboard Books

The first cardboard book I ever made was for Electra’s first birthday. It was filled with photos of her learning to walk and of places we had seen on day trips around Tokyo. Electra loved the book so much that she pulled off most of the pictures and peek-a-boo flaps I had pasted in. The beauty of the book was that we could easily add new pictures and tape to make any repairs. A second book ensued filled with photos of Electra helping out around the house doing things like sweeping, peeling garlic, putting groceries away and watering plants. It was a wordless book that opened up an incredible amount of dialogue (for a 1 1/2 year old) about our day to day life. We still love to look at our cardboard books together now, 1 year later and we have added many many more cardboard books to our library.

How to Make Cardboard Books:

In addition to cardboard, you will need washi tape or masking tape to make a book.

Cut your cardboard pages and cover.

Tape two pieces of cardboard together.

Tape four pieces of cardboard together.

Trim up any washi tape that is hanging over the edges.

Start layering tape across the spine of the book to bind it.

Cover the entire spine with washi tape.

When you are done it will look like this.

Now add washi tape in the other direction along the spine of the book.

Now add washi tape in the other direction along the spine of the book.

Add your own personal flair.


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We found a new cardboard tube to play with today. Thanks to a butter shortage, we tried Koiwai Raisin & Butter for a test run of a new Christmas pudding recipe. The inside of this box is white cardboard with a shiny plastic laminate coating. When you look through it you get a fantastic kaleidoscope effect.  We stuck the tube on the end of our digital point and shoot camera and took about 30 pictures. From those 30 we got about 5 or 6 shots that I really loved. If you don’t have a box like this you could try making a tube by gluing anything reflective like foil or plastic onto a piece of cardboard, and folding it into a triangular or rectangular tube. This technique also makes for fun video footage. Dozo! ( “Please try it” in Japanese.)

These photos are definitely channeling some kind of photographic Shibori effect.

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We had a great time playing around with cardboard toilet paper tubes today. I put the cardboard tube on the end of my camera and started taking pictures of the girls. The cardboard tube really made Electra interact with the camera in a more playful way. It’s surprisingly easy to maintain clear, focused shots. Try it!

cardboard tube photos

cardboard tube photoscardboard tube photos

Cardboard is the new macaroni…

Cardboard Beads
While working on some cardboard projects with Electra and Isis I was intrigued by all the great colors and patterns that were ending up in my scrap pile. Electra has been really into stringing beads this past month and it dawned on me that cardboard would be great for stringing. The corrugated inner core of the cardboard means you can choose any hole to thread the bead through. You can customize the size and shape. You can decorate it. It can be glossy or matte… The possibilities are endless.

So after reconsidering the scraps, we ended up with some really fun beads. I really liked the natural color of the cardboard playing off the primary tones, but you could glue two beads together for color on both sides. I loved the ones with Japanese kanji, but my favorite bead of all was one made by cutting around the oval-shaped handle hole in the side of a vegetable box. It created a giant “O” bead.

We also made hair clips by pushing the cardboard squares onto metal hair clips. We didn’t attempt rings and bracelets because, well, we’ve got a lot of work to do and we don’t want our accessories to slow us down.