Gathering Inspiration & Making a Plan


Costume Planning at The Cardboard Collective OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When my daughter decided that she was going to be a butterfly this year, we thought, hey why not be a whole family of insects?

Then the real thinking began and we each had to commit to our insect of choice… My husband chose early and is following an entirely logical, and proper plan for attacking his costume, bit by bit. Although it’s not typically my style ( I wish it was), I’m going to try following his approach this year too.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

1. Create an inspiration board. I like to use Pinterest. Here’s a link to the board I’m using for my Grasshopper costume. I usually try to gather examples from the following categories to get a well rounded amount of inspiration and produce a unique and creative costume.

  • realistic images (many views)
  • inspirational costumes
  • images that address problems or difficult parts
  • images that inspire shapes or moods

2. Create a detailed sketch of your costume. I like my husband’s approach of folding a regular piece of white paper in half vertically and drawing the costume from the front and back. It keeps it simple. After drawing, he began to add measurements.

3. Collect materials and prototype. I like to try smaller versions of some costume parts first to see if my ideas will work, then I know if I have to keep trouble shooting any parts of the costume.

How about you? Are you well on your way, or just getting started?

Banana Box Pull-out Drawers


cardboard drawers


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


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…..

Cardboard Office Supplies Holder

Can you tell I’m on an organizing bend? Why shouldn’t MOM get a cardboard thing-a-ma-jig every now and then?

Well, here’s my newest treasure – a place to stick some of the sharp pointy tools I use so I can keep them away from little, “I know what scissors can do” hands.

It’s also a way to use up a lot of scrap cardboard bits that you (or I) might have lying around.

I’d love to show you my gigantic pile of cardboard scrap that I keep moving around to different corners of my apartment, but I’m just not there yet…I know it’s become very vogue these days to blog about the imperfections in your life and prove that everything doesn’t always look like a well curated Pinterest board. But honestly, isn’t that the best part about blogging? The fact that I’m typing with a towel on my head right now, but your seeing all this great cardboard stuff?

I pulled a yellow kiwi box out of my stash for this project and then cut it down to size, carving out two little handles on the sides. I find that a serrated knife does the best job for rounding corners, as I’ve never been able to cut circles in heavy corrugated cardboard with a utility knife.

You can mash up the cardboard on the inside anyway you like. We’ve got a random kind of Keith Haring thing going on in there, but it would be cool to make a more structured zig-zag or circular pattern too.

If you do something with this idea, I’d love to see your work! I think there are a lot of places to go with this compressed cardboard in a frame concept. It’s super strong! Please send me your photos so we can feature you here on The Cardboard Collective!

OK, today is recycling day so I’ve GOT to get out there and see what else I can haul back and stuff into that empty space in my closet!


Cardboard Bookshelf Organizers

As Electra dives deeper into the world of (pre) reading and books, we’re trying to get a handle on our bookshelf.  I made this Maisy cardboard bookshelf divider for Electra as an experiment to see if it would help her understand that we can group books, and also guide her in putting her books away more easily. So far the divider has helped on both accounts, and I’m hoping to make some more dividers that correspond with our seasonal books, like a Christmas tree for Christmas, a heart for Valentine’s Day, and a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

I traced the Maisy character onto computer paper, colored it, cut it out and glued it to the heavy duty wax treated cardboard I talked about in the Wheels on the Box post. I learned the hard way after hacking through a normal piece of corrugated cardboard that you really need the strength and rigidity of the waxy fruit box cardboard for this divider to hold up. (You can see my first and second tries below.)

I had to use quite a variety of tools to recreate Maisy’s chiseled features, including scissors, craft knife and mini cardboard saw, so I’ll have to get back to you on the quick and dirty way of getting through this tough cardboard. (If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment box.)

Maisy is a character from a series of books written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins. We especially love Maisy because we can get a bilingual version in English and Japanese that we check out from our local library. We have learned colors, shapes, textures and so much vocabulary from reading these books together. Maisy or Lucy, if you’re reading this, thank you for all the adventures!

Cardboard Hat and Mitten Organizer

Surprise! We’re in Michigan; visiting grandma and grandpa, sledding down a custom built toddler ice luge, snowshoeing for pinecones, and building mustached snowMEN. A quick post for you about a hat and mitten organizer that I put up in the basement so that Electra could easily find and put on her own duds even while she was on vacation. I took two mugshots with the digital camera and then used photo editing software to convert them to black and white pictures. I printed the photos onto regular white paper, cut them out and glued them to the cardboard backing. I also traced Electra’s hands onto the cardboard. The last step was cutting the cardboard to accommodate the hats and mittens. This project was really quick and fun. You could use tape or tacks to affix the organizer to a closet door or wall. Enjoy!