A Month of Making

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The Cardboard Collective

I’m feeling a little out of practice posting to the blog, but also so excited to get back in the groove. April has been a wonderfully busy month! I sent my daughter to Japanese preschool for the first time, and have been commuting for about 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week by bicycle to do the pick ups and drop offs. The weather has been beautiful and I’ve loved it, but I do find myself wondering about those cold wet rainy days to come? Hot, hot August in Tokyo?

Taking the opportunity to be with my family and just be a “maker” for the month was deeply exhilarating. At times I filled every unused corner of our living room with towers of boxes, and bags of cut cardboard scraps. My family never flinched; a true testament of their unfailing love and support.

So many new ideas were born out of my sabbatical, that I’m planning to observe two cardboard sabbaticals every year. I can’t recommend them enough, and if you’ve ever felt that you needed a break from blogging, take one! and don’t apologize. Let’s keep blogging humane. We all need a break sometimes, particularly when we are working to bring something thoughtful and creative into the world on a regular basis.

One thing I thought about this month while I was hacking away at boxes, is what do all of you want to see more of? I’ve put together a quick survey so I can actually find out what you think instead of just imagine….and I would be really appreciative if you could take the time to fill it out!

It’s a painless 3 question survey: Click here to take survey

And yes, I didn’t forget about that big project I promised to tell you about! It’s a pattern and video tutorial I’ll be releasing very very soon for sale in my Etsy shop. It’s the first pattern in a series of  cardboard furniture pieces that I’ve been designing over the past 6 months. I’m sure I’m being way too secretive about it all, but I’ve got lots of great posts coming up in the mean time and hopefully a few sneak peaks of the pattern too.

It’s good to be back.

A Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Note to readers: Washi tape has since been removed from the toolbox (only to be rein-listed with parental supervision (full focus parental supervision)).

As a family of makers, a kids’ cardboard toolbox was next up on our cardboard making list. I found a smaller box with smaller handholds for the toolbox with real tools, real nuts and bolts and other real stuff, for real cardboard projects…

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Child sized tools: embellishment hammer, round tipped serrated cutting blade, spackling blade, screwdriver and safety scissors

The Cardboard Collective

Assorted screws, bolts, nuts and washers

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Here’s a peek at our first project. I originally saw this idea in what I believe was a February 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine. They used dry wall screws and a rock for pounding, which would work too.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

We enjoyed the opportunity to do some parallel “making”. It was great to all be focused on different cardboard projects while we pounded, sawed and glued to our heart’s content.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

The accordion cardboard drop cloth is a great addition to this ensemble. I blogged about it last fall here.

The Cardboard Collective

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Do you have a cardboard tool kit or set of tools for your kids? I’d love to hear how others are making cardboard construction play accessible for kids of all ages…

 

Cardboard Tinkering Toy Series: Cardboard and Cork Flip Car

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This car is SO much fun!

It really makes my girls giggle because it seems like it has its own personality. We’ve had a great time tinkering with ramps, and there was also a failed zig-zag chute, but the girls also love attaching a string and chasing after each.

This project is pretty intuitive once you gather all the tools and materials together. A few pointers:

* Use large paperclips that have fewer kinks to straighten out.

* Try to cut your corks as evenly as possible.

* You can make the car without the hinge in the middle, but if you do make the hinge, be sure to leave a gap between the hinging parts.

I hope you try this one out, it truly is a toy for all ages!

Cardboard Tinkering Toy Series: Egg Carton Gondola


As Christmas marketing campaigns and expensive toy lists begin appearing on the internet, I wanted to start this series to remind parents and gift givers everywhere about  simple, low cost, recycled toys that kids will wrench out of your hands and say, “Let me try!”

In case you haven’t heard about the creativity crisis that’s being heralded by lots of important people, I just want to leave you with this simple thought. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. They are constantly watching you to find out what you think, what you like to do, and how you handle a challenge. While we don’t need to teach our children how to play, we do need to positively model for them the joy of learning, experimenting, creating and doing.

How do you do that? You can let your child see you make things, solve problems, fix what’s broken….. be resourceful. There are a million ways to do it, but if you want a place to start, here’s one:

To make an egg carton gondola:

1. Use the nail clippers to cut notches on both sides of the spindles in the middle of the egg carton. Measure down about 1 cm to 1 inch to make the cuts.

2. Cut a slit down the entire length of the tube. You will need a tube thicker than a standard paper towel tube. A tube that has three or four layers makes a gondola that’s quite strong and will hold up to lots of play.

3. Slide the tube unto the egg carton where you’ve made the notches so that the tube grips the egg carton when you put gentle pressure on it.

4. Puncture a hole in one end of the tube and tie a long string or piece of yarn to the gondola for moving it back and forth.

5. Thread an even longer second string through the tube for the gondola to travel on. Anchor this string in two places with a slight decline so that gravity will help the gondola to travel on its own.

And one more thing. I’m challenging everyone who reads this blog to make a handmade toy for a child they love for Christmas. It’s not an official challenge as I don’t have the energy for another one after the Cardboard Costume Challenge, but I just want to give you permission to make something quick and homey, and even ugly, that you can play with together on Christmas day. I promise your child will never forget it.

Cardboard Tinkering Toys and Mobiles

Intergalactic Cardboard Space Station? Cubist Crossroads? Alice in Cardboard Wonderland? Just a few possibilities for Cardboard Tinkering Toys.

After experimenting with some tightly rolled up magazine pages, our universe kept expanding. The fun part of tinkering with the cardboard and magazine pieces is that you keep adding pieces to your building set as you go. As you fiddle, you get new ideas for ways that you can connect the magazine paper rods to one another. Add to your building set every time you play. We were able to recycle some of our old cardboard beads and cardboard alphabeads, and I’ve been saving words and images cut from cardboard boxes as well.

I also loved the possibility for mobiles…….

Here’s a closer peak at some of our components. To be able to attach cardboard rods in two different directions, I glued two cardboard circles together with the channels running perpendicular to one another. If you glue four circles together and poke a whole through the center of each one, you can get your magazine rods to attach in four different directions plus you can thread the component piece on another magazine page rod. Other great possibilities include splicing two pieces together to get x-shaped pieces that act as stands and stabilizers.

I love the “found” poetry aspect of using cardboard words in conjunction with the bold cardboard geometric shapes…. Now go play!