Pop-Up Cardboard Play Day #7



Global, cardboard, play, day, pop, up, Caine's, Arcade, Challenge

Another cardboard adventure out in the park!

This time I learned something important.

I love DEconstruction,


not destruction.

The kids that came out to play built a fun labyrinth of houses/caves and then slowly took the whole thing apart. It was really great just watching them. I saw a two year old saw cardboard for about an hour straight. In the same groove. I loved it.

Later in the week I took just the Windballs to another park to play, and a few teenage boys kicked them around a bit. It was good, I was glad to see them enjoying them, but then they just stomped on them, shattering the MakeDos to bits before running off.  I didn’t love it. My teacher voice came out.

Did you see the adorable pink cardboard kitchen that I found at the grocery store where I sourced all the cardboard?

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 Play Days 4&5

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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

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

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.

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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!

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.

Meet the judges: Tanaka Satoshi

Tanaka Satoshi is an artist and maker who works on projects ranging from web design to architecture. He is known widely as a MakeDo Master, but I consider him to be an all around cardboard contemporary. Tanaka has created eye-catching, larger-than-life cardboard sculptures as well as projects for kids. The wind-ball pictured above as well as an adorable koi made from a tissue box are among my favorites.

Tanaka is the creator behind the Japan MakeDo blog, and will be joining our “collective” of judges for the Cardboard Costume Challenge 2012. I also share the pleasure of working with Tanaka at the Global Cardboard Challenge event on October 13th here in Tokyo. Thanks for joining us Satoshi san, we look forward to seeing more of your incredible cardboard creations in the future!





Will You Join Me? A Global Cardboard Challenge

Have you heard the news? The Imagination Foundation, (the people behind the short film, Caine’s Arcade) are hosting a global day of cardboard play!

While I’m busy organizing an event here in Tokyo and getting ready to unleash our first cardboard challenge here on The Cardboard Collective, I wanted to get the word out to all of you so that you can get the ball rolling in your neck of the woods.

The Imagination Foundation has put together organizing kits with resources and ideas for hosting an event in your community.

We would love to publicize your event here on The Cardboard Collective as well, so this is an invitation to all of you cardboard creatives out there….Will you join me?