Banana Box Pull-out Drawers

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cardboard drawers

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Do you have a drawer that always stays organized, and another that does not?

I do….. and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make the drawer (or ahem drawers) that do not stay organized behave themselves.

So with many a pre-sleep meditation on a solution, I tackled my cardboard storage (and have many times re-tackled it) to this point of civilization. No stacking and re-stacking, no lids, No plastic, just banana boxes and binder clips.

I had to know my cardboard sources well to find 2 different boxes that would nest inside one another, but once I found the winning combination I was set. I used the top and bottom of a large banana box with one end removed and the bottom of a smaller box for the drawer. No glue, just a few clips to keep the edges in place. The best part is that I can use these on the back of my bike trailer for Cardboard Play Days, and recycle or reuse at the end of the event….. Banana Box, you are a loyal friend.

Cardboard & Cap Peg Rack

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Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard CollectiveNow that my daughters are almost 2 and almost 4 they’ve started borrowing my jewelery. I’m not quite sure what that means about my taste in jewelery, but they are scaling my 4 foot high bookshelf  to get to it. As a compromise, I’ve decided to sacrifice access to some of my sturdier, more sought after necklaces in the hopes of safeguarding some of the more fragile and precious stuff.

Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard Collective

Contraband jewelery stuffed into little boxes, purses and paper bags was popping up all over the house…. as if a colony of Leprechauns had taken up residence. In an effort to deter further looting, I bargained that some kind of necklace depot would distract them….

Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard Collective

I started with just one box, which gave me 6 lengths of cardboard approximately the same length. I then assembled my caps.

Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard Collective

I had a variety of laundry soap and maple syrup caps and some of the caps magically fit together, but some did not. I ended up using Washi tape to secure them. I didn’t have enough caps, so I borrowed a cylindrical block from the block bin. You can use whatever you have on hand for this project, it doesn’t have to be plastic caps. Blocks, corks, tiny plastic or glass bottles; all can do the job. Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard Collective

Next step was arranging the caps and tracing around them. I used a box cutter to carefully cut around the circles on the top layer, and then a serrated knife for the layers below. It’s helpful to try and cut just inside the area that you traced for a snug fit.

Make a Cardboard and Plastic Cap Peg Rack at The Cardboard Collective

Last step was gluing the layers together. I used one layer as a backing and didn’t cut any holes in that layer. I also spread a thin layer of glue slightly diluted  with water over the top piece of cardboard to preserve it and keep it from showing dirt and fingerprints. To hang the rack I threaded paper cord through the corrugated channels and tied it off.

Cardboard and Cap Ped Rack DIY at The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

A truce? Only time will tell…..

Brighten up Your Cardboard

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Winter is grey and cardboard is brown! I’ve been feeling the need to share some of my favorite ideas for bringing energizing color into your cardboard projects…

The Cardboard Collective

Layered columns of boldly colored Origami paper…

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

What I call Amazon Chevron. (Textured cardboard that requires a coat of decoupage glue.)

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

Coloring book pages, kids can decorate them with marker after you’ve decoupaged them. These are from Tokyo Street Art Coloring book by my friend Chris B of a Small Lab. https://gumroad.com/l/tokyo-colour-in

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

Water colors: Add a coat of decoupage glue to preserve the intensity of color.

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

Tiled Chiyogami papers

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

Spliced album covers.

The Cardboard Collective Decoupage

Cheerful graphics from the Produce Department.

And don’t forget all the good old decoupage ideas from around the web!

Cardboard Play Days 4&5

This week was filled with lots of play, lots of cardboard, and lots of discovery. I learned a lot by watching children and parents play and build together during the two events that took place.

The first was a play event for my daughter’s Yoji group, a play group that meets weekly at the local Jidokan (a kind of youth community center). The other was at a local park called Kajino Koen. The Kahjino event hosted lots of local groups that support the park, like Play Park: a local adventure play organization that facilitates weekly play events for children.

Play Park built an amazingly tall and steep wooden slide with wooden handholds, as well as over-sized hammocks, rope walkways, and braided swings. I’m in love with the work that they do and I’m hoping to deepen my relationship with their community in the coming year.

A few things I learned this week:

  • Crayons (bright, waxy pastel ones) play really nicely with cardboard. Markers wander, and paint is a pain to clean up.
  • Parents love to play like children. Children give them a great cover for indulging in the kind of play that they used to do…. and at the same time children fall in love with their parents all over again. There is an amazing playful connection that Is kindled, and when I see parents leave cardboard events smiling, I know an imaginative little fire has been lit and will grow into something more.
  • pre-teen boys like to kick cardboard boxes and stab them with screw drivers. At first I bristle, and then I watch for a while and see the totally therapeutic effect of this activity for them. They calm down, start talking to each other and then start to cooperate and build. Cardboard stabbing boys, I welcome you, and I love to see the amazing things you can build with cardboard.
  • Girls can bring a quiet measured intensity to building with cardboard. I love watching them deliberate while considering all the details like widows and shelving…their excitement is contagious.
  • I love connecting with people through cardboard, seeing parents build something for their children, seeing children build something else for themselves, watching three year olds rip their older brothers around in the back of wheelie cardboard boxes.
  • What can I say? I’m hooked.

Resources: How to put wheels on a box and instructions for Tanaka Satoshi’s Giant Cardboard Windballs

Stackable Cardboard Dressers for Kids

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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.

 

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…)

 

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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

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…

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.

 

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!