Mr. Pumpkin Head

[vimeo 50462470 w=550&h=310]

[stop motion animation: The Cardboard Collective family / music: our friends Lullatone]

I wanted to squeeze one little Halloween decoration project in before we roll up our sleeves for the Cardboard Costume Challenge on October 1st!

SO, here’s a project that is inspired by two of my favorite Japanese artists Tatsuya Kameyama  and Atsuko Nakagawa who go by the collective name tupera tupera.

We got the work x create books by tupera tupera for my daughter when she was about 2 years old, and they were the best sticker books ever. You can still buy them in the US through Muji’s website here. (FYI I have no affiliation with Muji, just a fan)

These sticker books were so beautifully designed, I couldn’t stop looking at them myself, and so I got to thinking about making something that the girls could use to change the faces over and over again.

About a year ago, I came up with a project called the Cardboard Marquee that basically utilizes this same concept for making two pieces of corrugated cardboard “stick” to each other. You might have missed it since I had about 2 followers then (neither of which was my mom BTW)…..

To make this project you’re going to need to secure plenty of pieces of corrugated cardboard that “link up.” You need to test your cardboard pieces for compatibility unless you have cardboard from identical boxes.

Go for the strongest cardboard with the widest corrugations that you can find (and still cut through with the tools that you have on hand.)

This is basically a cardboard version of a felt-board, so don’t expect these pieces to have a death grip. They are perfect for little kids to play with, but sometimes the flutes/corrugations get a little flat, so if that happens, I suggest poking a chopstick or skewer inside them to help reshape the channels.

Get your big piece of cardboard and strip one side of the paper covering the corrugation. This will take a little work, and I usually use a chopstick to help pry up the paper. When you’re done, cut out and paint your pumpkin shape.

To make the facial features, I first cut them out of magazine pages and other recycled papers that I have and then glue them onto the cardboard. It’s very important that you always have everything lined up with your cardboard channels vertically, so you don’t get say, a lazy eye, unless that’s what you’re going for.

Strip the paper off the back of your facial features and you’re ready for a truly dynamic and fun Halloween decoration for young and old!





Best Halloween Costume Ever.

This is it! Our first EVER creative challenge on The Cardboard Collective!

I hope I can energize all of you cardboard creatives out there to come up with a truly fantastic cardboard Halloween costume this year!

Here’s how it works.

2012 Cardboard Costume Contest

1.  Create a cardboard costume that fits into one of 5 categories.

  • Kids
  • DIY (100% kid made)
  • Adults 13 and over
  • Hybrid (50-75% cardboard)
  • Bicycle Costume

2. Starting October 1st, 2012 you can upload your pictures to the Flickr pool. Include in the comments section which category you would like to participate in.  If you don’t use Flickr shoot me an email with permission to upload your photos at

3. The whole point of making a costume is to get all dressed up and parade around, so don’t forget to spread the word on your blog, facebook, instagram, pinterest, tumblr and twitter account by plunking down the #cdbdcc hashtag or link to the Cardboard Costume Challenge and inviting the people you know.

5. Check back on November 1st, 2012 for final results and galleries of the most inspiring costumes and hey, maybe you’ll even win something cool from our sponsor MakeDo Japan!

Ready to get Started?

Head over to check out some truly inspiring cardboard costumes and get lots of ideas here: Cardboard Costumes Pinterest board

I’ll be posting tutorials every week filled with new ideas for working with cardboard as well as give you a glimpse at our own costumes in progress. I’ll also be introducing you to our amazing judges throughout the month.

I’m so honored to be sponsored by the coolest cardboard toy ever!

Don’t forget to grab your badge here:

<a href=”” title=”Cardboard Collective Costume Challenge Button by the Cardboard Collective, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”160″ height=”122″ alt=”Cardboard Collective Costume Challenge Button”></a>

Will You Join Me? A Global Cardboard Challenge

Have you heard the news? The Imagination Foundation, (the people behind the short film, Caine’s Arcade) are hosting a global day of cardboard play!

While I’m busy organizing an event here in Tokyo and getting ready to unleash our first cardboard challenge here on The Cardboard Collective, I wanted to get the word out to all of you so that you can get the ball rolling in your neck of the woods.

The Imagination Foundation has put together organizing kits with resources and ideas for hosting an event in your community.

We would love to publicize your event here on The Cardboard Collective as well, so this is an invitation to all of you cardboard creatives out there….Will you join me?

Celebrating 50 posts! with Cardboard Pom Poms

It’s hard to believe, but nearly a year and 50 posts have passed since the start of The Cardboard Collective!

I’m so thankful to all of you!

The blog has been a space where I have used cardboard to find solutions to all kinds of creative challenges that we face in our little family. You have cheered me on with your comments and kinds words of encouragement to keep innovating and creating.

My home has morphed from a tiny Tokyo apartment into a full-blown cardboard lab!

A place where boxes are stacked in corners to their tipping point, paper bags full of cardboard scraps are stuffed into empty closet spaces, and little paperboard models of future designs wait patiently on my bookshelf.

Where will another year take us?

Hopefully to better control of the cardboard stash, and new ideas! But in the mean time…

Are you ready to Celebrate?????

cardboard pompom

Aren’t these little cardboard fireworks the perfect symbol for all of the dynamo qualities of cardboard?

cardboard pom poms

cardboard pom poms

These cardboard pom-poms are a prime example of what can come of fiddling around with beautiful colors and textures that might be hiding in even your recycling bin.

I love that they look like little bursts of cardboard energy strung neatly in a row. cardboard pompom

The tools I used for this project include needle nose pliers, wire (I used large paperclips), and a cardboard cutting tool like a utility knife or these corrugated roofing sheers that I like to use for heavier cardboard projects.

I cut the cardboard kiwi boxes into 1 cm strips and bundled about 30 together with a piece of wire.

After I tightened the wire as much as I could, I started gently bending and fanning the cardboard pieces out, exactly the same way that you would if you were making a pom pom from yarn. As you bend the cardboard you will want to tighten the wire more to help the pom pom maintain it’s shape.

Lastly I threaded a piece of paper cording through the middle of the pom pom and just kept adding to my string.

Where are the cardboard hats and kazoos? Well I haven’t gotten that far yet, but in the meantime…

Happy 50th everybody!

Here’s to another year of making cool cardboard stuff.





Cardboard Office Supplies Holder

Can you tell I’m on an organizing bend? Why shouldn’t MOM get a cardboard thing-a-ma-jig every now and then?

Well, here’s my newest treasure – a place to stick some of the sharp pointy tools I use so I can keep them away from little, “I know what scissors can do” hands.

It’s also a way to use up a lot of scrap cardboard bits that you (or I) might have lying around.

I’d love to show you my gigantic pile of cardboard scrap that I keep moving around to different corners of my apartment, but I’m just not there yet…I know it’s become very vogue these days to blog about the imperfections in your life and prove that everything doesn’t always look like a well curated Pinterest board. But honestly, isn’t that the best part about blogging? The fact that I’m typing with a towel on my head right now, but your seeing all this great cardboard stuff?

I pulled a yellow kiwi box out of my stash for this project and then cut it down to size, carving out two little handles on the sides. I find that a serrated knife does the best job for rounding corners, as I’ve never been able to cut circles in heavy corrugated cardboard with a utility knife.

You can mash up the cardboard on the inside anyway you like. We’ve got a random kind of Keith Haring thing going on in there, but it would be cool to make a more structured zig-zag or circular pattern too.

If you do something with this idea, I’d love to see your work! I think there are a lot of places to go with this compressed cardboard in a frame concept. It’s super strong! Please send me your photos so we can feature you here on The Cardboard Collective!

OK, today is recycling day so I’ve GOT to get out there and see what else I can haul back and stuff into that empty space in my closet!


Using Cardboard to Make Easy Toddler Art Stations

cardboard art

When it comes to making art, there are a few challenges we face in our home:

1. We share a small living space.

2. We have a baby in our midst who is prone to trouble and spilling.

3. We want to protect our furniture, favorite stuff, and floors from damage.

4. We want to devote as much time to fun and interesting experiences as we can. (and as little to clean-up, and maintenance as we can)

5. We want to try to solve our problems in frugal, creative and kind-to-the-planet ways.

So, I want to share these two methods that we use in our home for making art projects more spontaneous, less of a chore to cleanup, very versatile, and 100% recyclable!

The first item we use is a kind of art caddy that keeps brushes, paints and water cups organized and spill-safe. They are really quick to make, and very adaptable.

First just gather your supplies: a small cardboard box, pencil, serrated knife, and all of the items that you want to organize in the caddy.

Arrange the items as you would like them, and then just trace around each piece.

Use the serrated knife to cut just inside the area you traced. I left about a 1 mm gap for this project.

Fit your items into the caddy and you’re ready to go!

The second item we use is a fold-up cardboard work mat which can double as an easel.

If something spills on the cardboard I can easily wipe up the excess and let the mat dry. We can also let some of our spills decorate the mat to create a whole new piece of art in the process! That’s why I think this cardboard mat is a really great solution. It’s easy to store and you can recycle it or make a new one when your kids outgrow it. It’s also costs only pennies to make. Let’s get started!

You’ll want to customize this project to the dimensions of the table where your child (or children) works. I originally made my pieces about 8.5 in. in width, but after using the mat, I added two pieces that were about 12 in. in width so that we could incorporate two easel panels that would accommodate a piece of computer paper that was oriented vertically.

When you put the panels together, tape every other seam, then flip the while thing over and tape the remaining seams. This makes the work mat easy to fold up in an accordion – style.

To affix the paper to the easel you have a few options. Here I just used tacks, but you can also use strong magnets on the front and back or a little bit of washi tape.

You could also punch holes in the cardboard and string some elastic through, which would still allow you to fold up the mat without added bulk.

Electra is hard at work on her first homemade gift for grandma’s upcoming birthday! A set of hand-painted (+ other interesting stuff she found and glued-on) note cards.

Happy Creating!