Christmas’ Cardboard Bounty

The Cardboard Collective

Unbelievably, Christmas Day and Cardboard Recycling Day (capitalized on purpose) happened simultaneously this year. It was an amazing day.

After a beautiful morning together opening gifts and sitting in the warm winter sun drinking tea on our living room floor, we headed out to blow bubbles and examine the recycling piles for sturdy and colorful cardboard…we were not disappointed. The beautiful leftover boxes I collected, as well as metallic and wood grain(!) cardboard scraps were definitely highlights.

The Cardboard Collective

These days between Christmas and New Year’s have been a wonderful mash up of cleaning and organizing the house for the New Year, sewing, cardboard crafting, and reflecting on what a great year 2012 has been.

These are a few of the cardboard projects I’ve put together in the last few days:

  • Gift tags: made from tracing tags we received on our packages this year.
  • Gift bags and boxes: decorated with saved paper scraps.
  • Holiday ribbon organizer: ribbons we’ll be using for Valentine’s Day.
  • Mismatched Cardboard Portfolio: I took apart and traced an old folder to make this.

Goodbye 2012 and thank you! See you all next year…

Cardboard Finger Puppet Book

The Cardboard Collective

This Christmas present  was a team project. I got lots of guidance while I was sewing the facial features on “wiggle worm.” My daughter also wrote the story for the book, which strangely enough changes every time you read it… you can catch the “text” below.

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

Stitch your wiggle worm together from a fabric scrap.

The Cardboard Collective

Cut holes in the middle of the pages of a cardboard book. Cardboard book how to here. Tape your worm in place.

The Cardboard Collective

Glue a cardboard page over top, to secure the “wiggle worm.”

The Cardboard CollectiveMERA

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

Looking a little smug after the photo shoot isn’t he?

Cardboard Books for Christmas: #1 Lift the Flap

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

I hope the rest of you are organized and ready for Christmas!  We’ve just returned from a week-long pre-holiday adventure which involved a broken laptop, so I’ll be doing what I can to catch up with you now that we’re back in Tokyo.



I wanted to start by sharing with you some of the cardboard gifts I’ll be giving the girls this year, including a batch of cardboard books. If you haven’t seen the 2011 post (one of my very first on The Cardboard Collective) about making cardboard books, you can get the step by step instructions here.

I used some of my favorite summer photos of the girls and printed them out in black and white and then added flaps cut from toddler magazines. (You can use cereal boxes or other kinds of lightweight cardboard or card-stock to accomplish the same thing.)

The Cardboard Collective

This book just adds a few more details which includes a cover that I measured out and cut to size after making a basic cardboard book. I then just slathered the glue on and placed it over the top, weighing it down with a few books to dry overnight. It definitely gives the book a more polished look and makes it more durable too.

I’m really looking forward to reading these books with the girls! They really enjoy it when we make books that include them in some way, whether through pictures or text, and it’s always lovely to revisit our beautiful memories together while they’re nestled in our laps.


MakeDo Cardboard Igloos

On Saturday we were excited to host another Cardboard Play Day at the American School in Japan with an enthusiastic group of young builders.

Kids living in dense urban areas like Tokyo usually don’t have a backyard or nearby place where they can muck around.

Providing the space and materials for cardboard tinkering is akin to tree house building for city kids (as well as a beefy upgrade from blanket and sofa cushion forts.)

We had the most gorgeous day of pre-winter weather that you could hope for and a great turn out of kids and parents.

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I really enjoyed working side by side with the kids this time, holding pieces of cardboard together for them and taking their direction as they figured out how to attach shelving, install “TVs” and keep intruders out of their igloos.


The kids faced the perils of dome collapse and near exhaustion from sawing cardboard doors and windows all day, but we still we had to kick them out by 2:00 so we could cleanup and go home…

Looking forward to putting on another cardboard play day again really soon!

Tokyo Maker Faire 2012

Sunday was the last day of Tokyo’s first ever Maker Faire.

It’s safe to say I was pretty blown away by the whole event. Imagine squeezing shoulder to shoulder step by step through a space as big as a football field, chock a bloc with little tables, thousands of people, and tons of blinking, flashing, gyrating electronic gizmos.

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I came knowing nothing about Arduinos, Rasberry piis, and flying drones, and left knowing nothing more … sadly, I was way too intimidated to ask a programmer to explain basic coding and circuitry to me in Japanese.

I did however, do a lot of googling when I got home, and learned enough to have a semi intelligent conversation (in English) with someone next time I need to, which could be quite soon considering I’m now planning on building one these to do my grocery shopping for me…

This is a giant cardboard giraffe robot that was designed and built by kids using a program developed by MIT called Scratch.

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The folks at a design group here in Tokyo called Otomo held a series of workshops for kids earlier this year where this noble beast was conceived and built.

The giraffe has a camera in it’s head and a controller in it’s tail. As the giraffe’s head “looks” around, video streams to an old school, Wizard of Oz-style monitor nearby.

I don’t think I could have dreamed of something that would have captured my imagination more than this amazing cardboard safari creature.

I basically had to pick my jaw up off the floor, and embarrassingly said “This is so cool” way too many times while talking to the couple from Otomo. I had one of those moments when a tiny little seed gets planted…..