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…

Strings of Things

Although the leaves have not quite begun changing here in Tokyo, we got a jump start on leaf collecting when we made Electra’s big fat cardboard book booster seat / leaf press. The other day we opened up the book and took a look at our leaves. I happened to be reupholstering our couch at the time, so I had button thread in my sewing machine in addition to settings that made for the longest stitch possible. We ran stitches through the leaves to create a chain to hang in our window. I have a thick denim needle in the machine that created large perforations in the leaves but they seem to be holding up all right. I must admit they are so beautiful to look at that I want to don a fuzzy sweater and sip spiced apple cider all day long. Isis loves to look at them and I often catch her rearing up on her knees like a mongoose sniffing the air for an opportunity to pull them down. I’m sure she fancies them as the perfect floss for her two new baby teeth.

Here’s a picture of our cardboard beads hung from a stick as a mobile. The thin wide beads were an experiment that remind me of Alexander Calder’s work.




Alpha Beads: Learning to read in English or Japanese

My husband just started taking Japanese classes in the evenings after work, so everyone in the house now is learning to speak in one way or another. After stringing cardboard beads onto long strands to make mobiles, I started cutting out letters to make alphabet beads in both English and Japanese. Japanese has two phonetic alphabets called hiragana and katakana in addition to kanji characters (derived from Chinese characters). One of my biggest challenges when learning to read Japanese hiragana was recognizing the slightly different ways of writing the hiragana. I thought this activity of getting all the slightly different looking letters together would be a good exercise in recognizing environmental print (albeit out of context) for both my husband and my 2 1/2 year old.

Most of the flutes in the cardboard run vertically through the letters and create multiple channels for threading.

I have quite an unruly cache of cardboard accumulating in our small apartment and we have rounded up a good little collection of letters and hiragana.

The only materials we used for these picture stand-ups were cardboard boxes from the grocery store, sturdy scissors, (We have chicken boning scissors from my father, who uses them on the farm for their original purpose.) paper tape (more beautiful than plastic tape) and pipe cleaners or wire.

Use a strip of cardboard and some tape to make a little tripod on the back.

You can make mobiles, spell out words, or make strings of letters with needle and thread. How about a rudimentary version of Scrabble or some other kind of game? I served this mekan (pronounced mee-kon) (Japanese for tangerine) for breakfast. Fruit + chopstick + carboard beads. Mmmmmm.