Cardboard Creatures & a Pinata too!

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Mask Workshop by The Cardboard Collective in Tokyo, JapanOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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I had a great time with all the kids and parents that came to the mask-making workshop. Their creativity transformed a pile of cardboard and paper recyclables into a fun menagerie of hats, masks, wigs and mythical creatures. I also loved sharing my family’s long time tradition of making pinatas (this time in cardboard) with so many families who had no idea what pinatas were.

Thanks to everyone who helped with clean-up, spreading the word through email, my very kind friends who translated for me, and to everyone who came out on such a beautiful day to enjoy the fun of making and celebrating together.

Cardboard Coin Bank

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The Cardboard Collective:  Taiyaki cardboard coin bank

Steam-y, sweet taiyaki, is a well-loved treat here in Japan. It’s a food that gives everybody a warm, happy thought just dreaming about it. If you’ve never tried it, or even heard of it, I would describe it as something like a stuffed waffle. Typical fillings are cream, custard or sweet bean, but I’ve also seen an ice cream version.

You can use this bank to collect the coins you need to buy taiyaki with 10 and five yen coins, but even if you never do try taiyaki, I hope you use the idea to make a new kind of bank of your own. Think of the possibilities!

This is also the last project for my collaboration with Eco + waza for their Tomorrow Box subscription. It has been an exciting challenge to come up with projects that can be made from product packaging, and I hope to do more of this type of work in the future!

Cardboard Taiyaki Coin Bank by Amber / The Cardboard Collective

To make taiyaki you will need the template, scissors, utility knife, glue, clips and cardboard.

Simple steps:

1. Use the template to trace and cut two fish and one set of fins from the cardboard.

2. Use a utility knife to cut the slits and hole for the eye on one of the fish.

3. Glue the two halves of the fish together, using clips to secure until dry.

4. Attach fin and insert coins.

Our favorite place to get taiyaki in Tokyo is at Takane’s in Mitaka (after we dig seashells, by the seashore, Whew!) They’ve been making taiyaki and traditional Japanese sweets since the 50’s, and they are really really delicious!

Taiyaki from Takane's in Mitaka

Taiyaki at Takane in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

Cardboard Bear Desk Organizer

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The Cardboard Collective / Cardboard Bear Desk Organizer

I’ve been playing around with making templates and shapes from things you find in the kitchen, so here’s a funny little animal that was born out of that process, and was inspired by some similar wood and ceramic pieces I’ve seen on the internet as of late.

You’ll need a cardboard tube, corrugated cardboard, scissors, white glue, a drinking glass and a spoon.

Simple Steps:

THe Cardboard Collective Cardboard Bear Process 2

1. Flatten the toilet paper tube and cut along both creases to cut the tube in half.
2. Layer the two halves of the tube together to make the cradle for the organizer.

The Cardboard Collective

3. Use the mouth of the drinking glass as a form to trace the curves for the front and back  of the bear’s hips and shoulders. Cut.

4. Trim the tube to the desired length and assemble the organizer by gluing the tube to the hip and shoulder pieces. Secure with a rubber band while drying.

The Cardboard Collective Cardboard Bear Process
5. Use the base of the drinking glass as a form to trace the bear face, add ears, cut. Glue face to the front of the organizer.

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6. To make the nose, trace the curve of a teaspoon, cut in half and glue to the cardboard face.

Spoon, glass, plate, spatula…… hmmm. What else can we make?

 

Cardboard Christmas Star

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Cardboard Christmas Star www.thecardboardcollective.com

This has been my first experience decorating a Christmas tree as an adult. After university, I always lived overseas and traveled on my holiday break. Once we moved to Japan and started our family, the girls were always so little and then there was the question of space, storage and living or artificial tree.

I ended up finding a little artificial tree at the recycling center and the girls have fallen in love with it. They made pomanders, threaded glass beads and popcorn, and covered it with the 100 tiny paper cranes that one of my husband’s students gave to him several years ago.

We were missing a star though, and although the one I made for the top is a little serious for our kid- decorated tree, I hope we will grow into it over time.

Cardboard Christmas Star Tree Topper - The Cardboard Collective

Simple Steps:

I used recycled gold cardboard that I’ve collected, but you can use thin cardboard and gold paint to get a similar effect.

  1. Cut out two cardboard circles, a little larger than a spool of thread, and then trace the spool in the center of both circles to use as a guide for gluing the spindles.
  2. Cut spindles to measure: about .25cm x 6.5cm (about 75-100 pieces.)
  3. Glue the pieces onto the circle.
  4. Cut out your stars (2) and score. The original idea for this project came from the tutorial by grey luster girl. I changed the size and shape of my star to fit this project. To make the star, I made a paper template by folding it up like a snowflake and then cutting it until I got the size and shape that I wanted.
  5. Glue your stars onto the spindles.
  6. To make the base of the star, fold a piece of cardboard in half to make an ice-cream cone shape. (Simpler and more effective than the pyramid one I made.) and glue your stars and spindles to both sides.

Cardboard Christmas Star Tree Topper: The Cardboard Collective

 

FLOW=VERALLS

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overalls, productivity, work, home, life,

The other day I had a friend ask me how I’m able to get so many cardboard projects done with two little girls running around.

I told her about my loving and helpful husband and play-focused kids, but I forgot to mention what has previously been a kind of trade secret here at The Cardboard Collective:

FLOW=VERALLS.

Not actually a word, but an equilateral MATH equation whereby overalls = a state of flow.

overalls, productivity, work, home, life,

Here’s how it works.

  1. Find an amazing pair of overalls at your nearest charity, recycling or vintage/thrift shop. Mine are light weight so I can wear them in summer and fit over all my clothes including jeans.
  2. Find a special storage place for your Flow=veralls,  (a special box in your drawer, a hook in your mudroom, or the trap door space under your kitchen floor are all good.)
  3. Take your Flow=veralls out ONLY when you have time and space cleared to do your work, and by work I really mean Play.
  4. When you’re done (or your time is up) immediately remove your Flow=veralls and put them back in their special, designated storage place.

The Cardboard Collective

One thing I realized about Flow=veralls early on is that they send a clear signal of intention. “Hey! I’m ready to work on a project….here I go!” Everyone in your family instantly picks up on this signal and is able to do something that doesn’t require your attention for a while, which feels pretty amazing.

Working from home, there are no shirts and ties, no flight attendant blazers and pill box hats…there are only stretchy pants, jeans, plaid flannels, and the plain colored T-shirts that you try to keep from getting stained.

These clothing items basically only communicate the fact that you exist…

Flow=veralls on the other hand, have kinship with a kind of ancient knowing. Uniforms, monk’s robes, turbans, aprons, house dresses, smocks, scout kerchiefs… These are all costumes that we wear to prepare for the work that we do, and to signal our belonging within a group or our commitment to an idea. That idea could be a clean house, or peace within a spiritual one.

The Cardboard Collective

…..so in effect, I’m letting you in on my secret. I’m also inviting you to join a group of people that love to do work that is actually play, who can’t help but do something that they feel passion about, but are not always clear on where they will find the time to pursue that passion.

Whether you are knitting an afghan, tying fishing fly, or hauling cardboard by bike, Flow=veralls are ready to escort you to that time and space where you can make it happen.

I hope you do.

 

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…

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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 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….

Info on adding cardboard beads to your locket here.

Make a Cardboard Locket by The Cardboard Collective

 

Christmas’ Cardboard Bounty

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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

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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?