Cardboard Costume Challenge 2014

Although it’s already Mid November, I just wanted to say thanks again to all of you who took the Cardboard Costume Challenge this year.

Whether you sent in pictures or just got thinking about the idea for the future, thanks for following us on this year’s Halloween adventure. I had so much fun working on our insect family costumes as well as the other costume tutorials.

I hope to see you again next year, and please visit the Pinterest Board now and then as you start scheming and dreaming for 2014. (I already have a request for a Humback Whale costume from the littlest one and a year might be just enough time to figure it out!)

Cardboard Costume Challenge 2013!


CCC 2013 the cardboard collective

YYYYEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!  Today is the Kick-off  for The 2nd Annual Cardboard Costume Challenge!

The Mission? to inspire the making of awesome handmade cardboard costumes.

My secret agenda? Help parents reconnect with their kids (and themselves) through making…. and my even more secret agenda, rid the earth of flimsy, flame-retardant Halloween costumes destined for the landfill.

I decided that this year I wanted to adopt a non-commercial, non-competitive approach (less contest, more spirit tunnel) AND I wanted to make the event more kid-centered (it’s such a valuable design opportunity for kids.) I also wanted to encourage adults, who maybe don’t own a sewing machine, or don’t think of themselves as “creative” to branch out and try dabbling in cardboard.

Cardboard Cowboys by Leelada via Flickr

My own creative mother found the costumes entered last year so amazing she said she was too intimidated to attempt a cardboard costume! This year there won’t be any categories, sponsors, or prizes…..just an event for sharing cardboard enthusiasm and the love of making!

So what do you think? Sound interesting? You can follow posts and tutorials throughout the month of October centered around topics like cardboard hats, masks, accessories, and other costume extras plus info about tools, tips for working with cardboard, and moving from idea to finished costume.

Upload pictures of your costume in progress (as well as completed) HERE in the Flickr community and access past tutorials HERE.


There are a few prize related contests and opportunities out there that you should know about if you would like to enter a competition (with some pretty substantial loot.) We’ll definitely be rooting for you!

Inhabitat Green Halloween Costume Contest (adults)

Inhabitot Green Halloween Costume Contest (kids)

DIY’s Cardboarder Badge

See you soon!


Cardboard Mermaid Costume

There wasn’t much time during the frenetic week leading up to Halloween to share the details of the cardboard mermaid costume with you, so those of you who have been wondering what happened to the pile of brown cardboard fish scales, well here they are in technicolor:

The mermaid costume was my favorite of the cardboard costumes I made for my family and myself because it involved a whole different approach to working with cardboard- threading together many cardboard pieces to create a kind of flexible cardboard skin. The costume is very securely held together, so one of the problems, in fact, was that is was a little hard for my daughter to move around in.

Remember the sage advice I passed on to you at the beginning of the challenge about creating a costume that you could sit down in? Well, we had a few problems in that department….

You can see the back of the costume here, which was covered with a cape for warmth, as well as to hide the paper cords. It’s possible to create a costume that is seamless, but because we had to take my daughter in and out of the costume a lot, I didn’t work too hard to make it all fit together perfectly. I’m thinking of adapting this costume into a downloadable PDF someday, so I’m going to keep expanding on some of the new ideas I tried while making the cardboard mermaid gown.

We painted the scales with regular watercolors, which worked beautifully and gave the costume soft, romantic coloring. I loved the fact that every scale was a little bit different because of the blending of the blues,  greens and yellows.

The great thing was that the costume was well loved, and my daughter just beamed on Halloween night, scooting carefully around from house to house with her sister Little Red Riding Hood.

Cardboard Costume Challenge Results

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(Notes: Because all of the costumes were essentially made of cardboard elements mixed with other media, I eliminated the “hybrid” category. There were no bicycle costume entries.)


Edward Westerhuis: I am the Ram!
Cardboardia: Cardboard Jack-o-lantern
(Special Mention) Leelada via Flickr: Cardboard Cowboys


wrnking via Flickr: Cardboard Knight
Rachel and Tom Morgan: Archery Knight

Kid Made:

Leo: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
Sid: Star Wars Storm Trooper
(Special Mention) Lego Block


You all have me pondering the many new ideas you put out there with your incredible costumes!
I’m thinking about metallic cardboard, felt on cardboard, fringed cardboard, cardboard horns, and wearable cardboard houses and cars.

So much inspiration! I hope you feel the same way! The level of creativity that turned out for the challenge was so overwhelming, I hope everyone feels a great sense of accomplishment from the costumes they created. Tomorrow I’ll be posting some reflections about the challenge and welcome your suggestions for next year.

Deep bows to all our judges and to MakeDo Japan for donating MakeDo kits to all the winners of the contest!

Wow!!!!!!! & I Need your Help!

1. Cardboard Contest 2012, 2. IMG_7213, 3. Cardboard, 4. Accessory 1 ~ Photo 7 (made from cardboard cereal boxes), 5. Cardboard gargoyle mask, 6. Skull Mask, 7. African buffalo mask, painted, 8. Supernatural Habitat, 9. Made in Cardboardia. Workshop in Moscow., 10. Made in Cardboardia. Workshop in Moscow., 11. Minister of Culture, 12. Day of Giant Tyran’s Creatures, 13. Sea creatures, 14. Costume, 15. Cardboard Ishkabibble costume by Anandamayi Arnold, 16. картонная маска Бкнганга3

Wow!!!! I am in awe of the fantastic costumes that have been entered so far………… but I know we can get more people involved!

We want as many people to enter the Cardboard Costume Challenge and show their creations as possible! This is our chance to inspire a movement of incredible cardboard costumes full of creativity and craftsmanship!

Maybe you weren’t able to enter the contest but you have a friend that made an incredible costume out of cardboard, or another student at your child’s school? Help them to enter! I’m extending the submission deadline to Nov. 2 to allow for entries from various time zones.


You can copy and paste this message into your email or smart phone:

I saw your amazing cardboard Halloween costume today, and wanted to tell you that you should enter this cardboard costume challenge online http://thecardboardcollective.com/cardboard-costume-challenge/ There are prizes from Make-Do (a cardboard construction kit) and several different categories to enter. Check it out and hey, great job on your costume!


MakeDo Japan kindly donated the best prizes ever! One of the most imagination-inducing, creativity-boosting, cardboard-affirming toys on the planet! Thanks so much MakeDo Japan!

Live in Japan and want to buy MakeDo so you can tinker with cardboard throughout the year? click here. If you are an English speaker and need language help to purchase MakeDo, email me at thecardboardcollectiveblog@gmail.com

If you live elsewhere, MakeDo is available via Amazon.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Cardboard Wolf

I finished the wolf mask!

Just in time for some shopping and a little adventure to the Kawasaki Halloween event!

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Sadly, we had to come home early and didn’t get to see the parade, just the costume contest. We thought our costumes were pretty clever until we saw the Rocky Horror Christmas group costume. Amazing!

Halloween may be a relatively new holiday in Japan, but in the land of anime and cosplay, dressing up is taken pretty seriously.

Cardboard Karma Chameleon

A few more tweaks and this guy’s ready to dance!

How are your costumes coming?

We have a little less than a week left!

Can’t wait to see YOUR creation! Upload to Flickr or just shoot me an email with your costume photo attached to thecardboardcollectiveblog@gmail.com

Cardboard Mermaid Costume: Sneak Peak

I finally started my daughter’s mermaid costume after lots of mental gymnastics thinking about how to get started. I’m not going to give it all away, but you can see the beginning here:

And a little of the inspiration here:


I’m also thinking about how I can keep a mermaid warm during colder Halloween temperatures. Hmm….