Stackable Cardboard Dressers for Kids

Featured

Stackable dressers

My daughters are young and their needs are always changing. They wear a pair of shoes for 6 months then need a new pair.

They use a little chair, or a booster seat for a year or a month or 2 and then we have to replace it and either throw out the old one, find a friend who happens to need the same thing at the same moment we want to get rid of it, or put it on Craig’s List. (We have no charity shops here in Tokyo and limited recycling opportunities for large items.)

I find this kind of turnover exhausting. I wanted to create a dresser system for the girls that accomplished 3 things:

stackable dressers

  1. Recyclable so that we could recycle the whole thing, or just parts of it as the girls’ needs changed. I didn’t want the guilt of throwing away something that was perfectly good and I didn’t want the extra work of finding someone to take on our old stuff.
  2. Facilitates Independence. I wanted a piece of furniture that was easy to use and functional so the girls could easily pick out their own clothes and put them away starting from an early age (about 18 months-2 years ).
  3. Beautiful. I believe that the things in our life should be beautiful and functional. I want my daughters to value beauty, design, the arts, and momma moxie, so we tried to accomplish all of those things when we made the dressers. If you like hot pink and pattern as much as I do I hope you agree on our definition of beautiful….

The Cardboard Collective

To make the dressers, we collected kiwi boxes over the course of a few weeks, as well as beautiful papers; a mix of washi papers, origami paper, paper bags and Gallery Opening flyers.

I then decoupaged the papers onto the fronts of the boxes with water and white glue. I made a door in each box by cutting two sides about a ruler’s width from the edges of the box, and and then scored the bottom to create the door opening.

The doors of the dressers always stay shut and close easily. In a year and a half of using these boxes, the doors have never flopped open or gotten flimsy.

stackable dressers

The girls can easily open and close the drawers. By decorating each box differently they quickly have memorized what kind of clothing each box holds. (Only Dad is still struggling with this.)

Another benefit of these dressers is that they are not a hazard if they fall over in the event of an earthquake – an important consideration living here in Japan.

stackable dressers

If you’re wondering where you can get kiwi boxes, check out your local produce department. This past summer I wrote a post about how to find free cardboard here. We also use these boxes for storing our toys, puzzles, and art supplies. Yes, kiwi boxes are a definite favorite here in our apartment.

 

Cardboard Heart Locket

Cardboard Locket

When my daughter was about 18 months old, we went on a trip to an island off of Tokyo’s coast called Shikinejima. It was the off season, most restaurants were closed and we were sleeping in a tent.

We ended up doing a lot of shopping at convenience stores, eating meals of: apples, Oreos, cans of hot cocoa, and cans of tuna fish, and were even gifted a fresh bag of assorted seafood from a local fisherman, which we hesitantly attempted to cook over a fire… Maybe you’ve had a similarly strange almost-camping experience?

Cardboard Locket

One of the shop keepers, a little old man who was so enamored with our daughter and her blond hair, kindly gave her a red plastic 3D heart pendant which had a light inside that would blink on and off.

It was one of those toys with sticking power, and became well-worn and well-loved over the next year and a half- that is until the battery died.

Cardboard Locket necklace

When I saw this cardboard heart ornament on Pinterest by A Little Learning for 2, it gave me the idea for making a low tech replacement for the blinking heart pendant.

My daughter approved. She loves being able to open and close the locket. We’re now working together to make something similar as a Valentine’s Day present for the grandparents. Definitely not afraid to share the cardboard love….

[vimeo 58239839 w=620&h=400]

Info on adding cardboard beads to your locket here.

Make a Cardboard Locket by The Cardboard Collective

 

A Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Note to readers: Washi tape has since been removed from the toolbox (only to be rein-listed with parental supervision (full focus parental supervision)).

As a family of makers, a kids’ cardboard toolbox was next up on our cardboard making list. I found a smaller box with smaller handholds for the toolbox with real tools, real nuts and bolts and other real stuff, for real cardboard projects…

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Child sized tools: embellishment hammer, round tipped serrated cutting blade, spackling blade, screwdriver and safety scissors

The Cardboard Collective

Assorted screws, bolts, nuts and washers

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Here’s a peek at our first project. I originally saw this idea in what I believe was a February 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine. They used dry wall screws and a rock for pounding, which would work too.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

We enjoyed the opportunity to do some parallel “making”. It was great to all be focused on different cardboard projects while we pounded, sawed and glued to our heart’s content.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

The accordion cardboard drop cloth is a great addition to this ensemble. I blogged about it last fall here.

The Cardboard Collective

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Do you have a cardboard tool kit or set of tools for your kids? I’d love to hear how others are making cardboard construction play accessible for kids of all ages…

 

Make a Cardboard Toolbox

Cardboard Toolbox by the Cardboard Collective

Two years ago I found a beautiful old wooden sheep shearing box at Camberwell Market during a trip to Australia with my family.

It was beautifully worn and even had tiny little strands of wool still caught in some of the corners. I quickly filled it up with my favorite sewing tools and supplies, and have enjoyed toting it around immensely ever since.

Cardboard tool box

I have long thought about trying to replicate the design in cardboard for my cardboard tools. When I started working with banana boxes last year I realized I had found a possible solution.

I spent several weeks in late December and early January creating a variety of designs and assembly techniques that incorporated the pre-made features from the banana box like the pre-punched handholds.

I truly believe that this (essentially paper) toolbox could last a lifetime before being recycled.  It’s easy to build, strong, durable, and functional. Maybe someone will buy mine at a flea market some day. Wouldn’t that be a dream! (Although maybe now that I’ve built about 10 extras, I might get on that sooner than later…)

 

[vimeo 57671007 w=800&h=400]

 

The act of constructing a cardboard toolbox instantly transforms you from a passive Cardboard Aficionado into an energized Cardboard Maker– be prepared for this dynamic life change!

You’ll need:

  • Approx. 30 minutes of your time
  • 1 banana box
  • cutting tool
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • large binder clips or small clamps
  • white glue (I prefer low VOC eco glue

My Materials

Materials- The Cardboard Collective

This is it! A sampler of the things that I use other than post-consumer cardboard, paper bags and tubes that I find on recycling day.

  • Glue: low VOC white glue for cardboard, and homemade wheat paste for decoupage.
  • Origami and chiyogami paper
  • Washi paper (This is a strong handmade Japanese paper that comes in large sheets)
  • Washi tape (watch out for inferior brands that don’t stick!)
  • 100% Recycled paper string and cord
  • Recycled paper tape

Turning straw into gold…

These are the materials that I love for their beauty (Washi paper rivals fabric in my opinion), their recycle-ability (I adhere to one rule: everything that I make must be recycle-able), their effectiveness (Time is precious so why use stuff that doesn’t work?) and their endless possibility (Keep reading the blog for more on that).

Have any insights? Secret recipes? (I’d love to hear them!)

My Tools

My Tools by The Cardboard Collective

One of the things that I love about working with cardboard is that you need very few tools to get started. This is my go-to, can’t live without, get happy just looking at ’em, collection of tools that has evolved over the past two years.

The tree-pruning-looking shears are the most obscure in my kit. They’re a type of Japanese scissor used for cutting corrugated roofing. I love them because I’m more comfortable cutting with scissors than a utility knife and these are tough enough to get through triple wall cardboard without too much effort.

Other notable tools are the screwdriver and leather punch that I use for poking holes in cardboard on play days. The glue brush and glue comb are nice to have; they save on glue and make for a better bonded cardboard project. Oh, and I forgot one! How could I live without a metal ruler?

Do you have an favorite cardboard tool?

I recently read in the fabulous “2012- Celebrating The Year of Cardboard” article at the Maker Education Initiative that there are some great electrical saws that even small children can use with adult supervision. I’d be interested to try them out someday! Have you got a secret tool in your cardboard making arsenal?

Please share!

Cardboard Play Day at Musashino Place

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

A few photos from our first ever, open-to-the-Tokyo-public, cardboard pop-up play day.

We ran the event with just recycled cardboard, a few tools, bike power, and creative spirit.

Neighboring Ito Yokado kindly helped us bring many beautiful boxes over from their store (including the fantastic red stuff which was left over from New Year’s postcard displays) and MakeDo pieces were lent to us by the American School of Japan.

The Cardboard Collective

We assembled these incredible Wind-balls prior to the play day, with Tanaka Satoshi’s design plans that you can get here. Just plain fun. We’ve now got the smaller one up as a lampshade in the girls’ room and it’s gorgeous.

[slideshow_deploy id=’3382′]The Cardboard Collective

The highlight of the day was seeing parents and children building together. Once my Japanese teacher helped me to write a sign in Japanese inviting everyone to play freely, they all started getting to it. Little houses, castles, tunnels, trains and forts….it’s all poetry to me.

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

The same box on wheels that I made about 8 months ago (and flew back and forth from the US with) withstood countless laps on the concrete around the grass patch. I’m thinking we could do a great pop-up based on these alone….where to reclaim some old wheels????

The Cardboard Collective

Thanks to my friends from MIA, my husband (who even made dinner after we got home) and Chris B of a small lab for coming out, bearing the cold, taking pictures (many of which you see here) and wrangling cardboard with us at the end. A true labor of cardboard love! I really appreciate your support.

I’m looking forward to hosting more pop-ups and play days in 2013 so stay tuned for more info on where we’ll be next…

….of course I hope you’ll consider having a few cardboard pop-ups in your own home in the meantime?