A Happy Halloween!

Our Cardboard Family, collectively, after a fantastic night of trick-or-treating!

A few announcements:

  1. Deadline for entries is Nov. 2, midnight EST.
  2. If you saw a fantastic cardboard costume out and about on Halloween you can let your friend know how to enter the challenge by sending them an email or phone message ( see post below)
  3. If you’re not sure which category to enter, just send me your photo and I can help you decide which one would suit your costume best.
  4. If you’ve been following us, but didn’t make a cardboard costume this year, you can start planning for next year! (My 3 year old already has!)

Check back on Nov.3rd for results of the Costume Challenge and thanks to all of you for the amazing costumes you’ve entered! Hope to see you next year!

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

How to make cardboard bug eyes

These cardboard apple box liners have so much potential. I love their color and texture which works perfectly for insect or reptilian costumes. I’ve seen these liners in pink, yellow, purple, white and brown. Ask the stockist at your grocery store’s produce department if you can take a few home.

This a costume component easily made by any child who can handle scissors, so a perfect start for a kid’s first self made costume.

How great would these be for a bed bug costume?

Mr. Pumpkin Head

[vimeo 50462470 w=550&h=310]

[stop motion animation: The Cardboard Collective family / music: our friends Lullatone]

I wanted to squeeze one little Halloween decoration project in before we roll up our sleeves for the Cardboard Costume Challenge on October 1st!

SO, here’s a project that is inspired by two of my favorite Japanese artists Tatsuya Kameyama  and Atsuko Nakagawa who go by the collective name tupera tupera.

We got the work x create books by tupera tupera for my daughter when she was about 2 years old, and they were the best sticker books ever. You can still buy them in the US through Muji’s website here. (FYI I have no affiliation with Muji, just a fan)

These sticker books were so beautifully designed, I couldn’t stop looking at them myself, and so I got to thinking about making something that the girls could use to change the faces over and over again.

About a year ago, I came up with a project called the Cardboard Marquee that basically utilizes this same concept for making two pieces of corrugated cardboard “stick” to each other. You might have missed it since I had about 2 followers then (neither of which was my mom BTW)…..

To make this project you’re going to need to secure plenty of pieces of corrugated cardboard that “link up.” You need to test your cardboard pieces for compatibility unless you have cardboard from identical boxes.

Go for the strongest cardboard with the widest corrugations that you can find (and still cut through with the tools that you have on hand.)

This is basically a cardboard version of a felt-board, so don’t expect these pieces to have a death grip. They are perfect for little kids to play with, but sometimes the flutes/corrugations get a little flat, so if that happens, I suggest poking a chopstick or skewer inside them to help reshape the channels.

Get your big piece of cardboard and strip one side of the paper covering the corrugation. This will take a little work, and I usually use a chopstick to help pry up the paper. When you’re done, cut out and paint your pumpkin shape.

To make the facial features, I first cut them out of magazine pages and other recycled papers that I have and then glue them onto the cardboard. It’s very important that you always have everything lined up with your cardboard channels vertically, so you don’t get say, a lazy eye, unless that’s what you’re going for.

Strip the paper off the back of your facial features and you’re ready for a truly dynamic and fun Halloween decoration for young and old!





Finding Free Cardboard

Since we’ve been back in the U.S. on a summer holiday trip, I’ve had to start all over sourcing cardboard. In Tokyo I was hauling everything by bike and bike trailer and I had developed relationships with several places in my local community.

I was also able to scavenge from my neighbor’s cardboard piles weekly on recycling day. It was pretty easy to get whatever kind of cardboard I wanted.

I haven’t had time for a lot of cardboard projects while we’ve been in Michigan this summer. One thing I have been doing is scouting all kinds of exotic grades of cardboard.

There are some great materials out there… but before I tell you how you can get your hands on this stuff, let me first brief you on a few reasons why it’s not as easy to get free cardboard as it used to be…

DALIAN/CHINA, 15SEP11 – Cheung Yan, Chairlady, Nine Dragons Paper Industries, and Nora Wu, Partner, Asia Pacific Human Capital Leader, PwC, speak at the “Talent Management Philosophy in China” session at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China, September 15, 2011. Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Adam Dean

Exhibit A: Cheung Yan, (the woman on the left) CEO and power house of Nine Dragons Paper Industries. She just happens to be one of the richest self-made female billionaires in the world.

She is also partly responsible for the growing trade of U.S. waste paper and cardboard that is shipped to China to be made into cardboard boxes for export.  Yan’s story is quite remarkable, and she’s a big reason why even your local grocery store is baling their cardboard and selling it for a profit.

Exhibit B: Cardboard Compactor / Baler and Cardboard Bales. When I talked to the Produce Manager at my local mid-sized grocery store, he told me that cardboard bales sell for $75 a piece, and that their store produces about 2 bales on an average day. During peak holiday seasons they produce as many as 4 or 5 cardboard bales each day. That’s over $300 dollars worth. Wow!

With that in mind, here are my top 3 sources for cardboard BEFORE it gets to the baler:

1. Befriend a manager or two in the produce department of your favorite grocery store.  They all use some kind of cardboard that they will probably be willing to set aside for you if you speak with them directly and explain what you’re doing with the cardboard. This is my favorite place to score banana boxes, kiwi boxes, and the über fabulous watermelon boxes (I’ll be posting about those next week.)

2. Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, or your local “everything” store. Call ahead or stop at Customer Service first to find out when and how they break their cardboard down. The more specific you are about what kind of cardboard you’re looking for the better. (Banana boxes, large boxes without holes, etc.)

I learned that Wal-Mart stocks at night and does all their re-shelving and cardboard processing then, so it’s best to ask or call after 10pm at night and have them hold boxes for you until the next morning. They kindly held a shopping cart full of boxes for me in the area near their bathrooms at the back.

Target told me that the only time they had boxes available was Thursday mornings at 8am. Apparently this is when they restock and break all of their boxes down, and the only time to get any cardboard from their store.

If you get the cold shoulder, try talking to someone who stocks on the floor, they might be more willing to help you, particularly if you are looking for a small quantity of boxes. Persistence is key.

3. Any Local business that is small enough to pay for a cardboard recycling service is more likely to hand over their cardboard to you. It also helps if you are a regular patron of their business.

Deliveries are usually made according to a weekly schedule and cardboard has to be broken down right after delivery because of space issues. Call ahead to find out when is the best time to pick up the cardboard and if it works with your schedule.

ALWAYS Be ready explain what you are doing with the cardboard, how much you need and what size box you are looking for.

More Ideas:

* FYI Cardboard dumpster diving is illegal, mostly because waste management companies do not want to be held liable for any injuries that could take place during the “diving” part. Your best bet is to intercept the cardboard before (it’s also cleaner that way) it gets to the dumpster, by talking to a business manager at the storefront responsible for the cardboard-only dumpster.

* Freecycle and Craigslist are other great options. Sign up and post a request for free cardboard. You can also peruse the “free” section or do a search looking for people giving away free cardboard boxes.

So that’s my advice for cardboard collecting. I hope you get out there and start putting all this bounty to good use.

But first I need your help!

What’s your secret for scoring recycled cardboard?

What kind of cardboard is available where you live?

I’m hoping to turn this post into a static resource page along with information on tools and materials, so I’d really love to hear from you in the comment section!

Update: March 2013

Some time tested ideas from Readers:

  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club
  • Independent Bicycle Retail Shops
  • Independent Car Auto Body Shops

Organize Yourself: Cardboard Library Pocket

I started gluing these library pockets in my sketch books and travel guides and quickly became addicted. They are a great addition to a Moleskin notebook too. I particularly like to use them on the front of the little cardboard covered notebooks I get from Muji. These notebooks are just the right size, inexpensive and great for sketching out ideas while the girls are playing on the playground every morning. My to do list stays front and center in the cozy little pocket and I can pull it out without having to delve into my sketchbook.

Cover them with interesting magazine pages, manga, paper bags, or other junk mail ephemera, and you’ve got a very classy place to keep your grocery list. No more forgetting the soy sauce!

For this project I recommend using the lightest weight cardboard you can get your hands on. Think “bone china” of cardboard. Re-purposed manilla folders would work great too.

To make the fabric covered pocket pictured at the top, I first traced the template onto cardboard and cut it out. Then I simply glued a scrap of kimono fabric to the pocket with watered down white glue and then painted over the top decoupage-style with the white glue  and water mixture so the fabric was entirely smooth and saturated. I let it dry overnight, cut off any remaining fabric, and then glued the pocket together and affixed it to the notebook. Easy.

Last minute stocking stuffer?

Click on the picture below for two sizes of free downloadable library pocket pdf templates.

Cardboard Washi Tape Holder

Now that we are getting deep into the Christmas crafting and gift wrapping, we’ve been pulling the washi tape out everyday. I used to keep our tapes in a box in the drawer, but I thought it would be great to have them organized in a way that I could easily see all the colors, as well as take them out and put them back without disturbing the whole lot.

Just plain old white glue should do the trick. You might try a couple of clothespins to keep everything together while it’s drying.

cardboard washi tape holder

You can use this template to create a washi tape holder that would fit in a drawer or sit on a shelf nicely. Of course you can decorate the whole darn thing with washi tape when you’re done.

So do you remember life before washi tape? I don’t.

Big Fat Cardboard Book Booster Seat

When Isis took over the highchair, Electra needed a booster seat so she could sit in one of the big chairs at the kitchen table. We put together a big fat cardboard book for her to sit on. We found a box with a Japanese castle on it, so you could even say this seat is throne-like.

I sewed an elastic band to keep the pages from opening up when she was getting into and out of the chair. The beauty of it? It doubles as a leaf press!

How to Make Cardboard Books

The first cardboard book I ever made was for Electra’s first birthday. It was filled with photos of her learning to walk and of places we had seen on day trips around Tokyo. Electra loved the book so much that she pulled off most of the pictures and peek-a-boo flaps I had pasted in. The beauty of the book was that we could easily add new pictures and tape to make any repairs. A second book ensued filled with photos of Electra helping out around the house doing things like sweeping, peeling garlic, putting groceries away and watering plants. It was a wordless book that opened up an incredible amount of dialogue (for a 1 1/2 year old) about our day to day life. We still love to look at our cardboard books together now, 1 year later and we have added many many more cardboard books to our library.

How to Make Cardboard Books:

In addition to cardboard, you will need washi tape or masking tape to make a book.

Cut your cardboard pages and cover.

Tape two pieces of cardboard together.

Tape four pieces of cardboard together.

Trim up any washi tape that is hanging over the edges.

Start layering tape across the spine of the book to bind it.

Cover the entire spine with washi tape.

When you are done it will look like this.

Now add washi tape in the other direction along the spine of the book.

Now add washi tape in the other direction along the spine of the book.

Add your own personal flair.