Cardboard Bear Desk Organizer


The Cardboard Collective / Cardboard Bear Desk Organizer

I’ve been playing around with making templates and shapes from things you find in the kitchen, so here’s a funny little animal that was born out of that process, and was inspired by some similar wood and ceramic pieces I’ve seen on the internet as of late.

You’ll need a cardboard tube, corrugated cardboard, scissors, white glue, a drinking glass and a spoon.

Simple Steps:

THe Cardboard Collective Cardboard Bear Process 2

1. Flatten the toilet paper tube and cut along both creases to cut the tube in half.
2. Layer the two halves of the tube together to make the cradle for the organizer.

The Cardboard Collective

3. Use the mouth of the drinking glass as a form to trace the curves for the front and back  of the bear’s hips and shoulders. Cut.

4. Trim the tube to the desired length and assemble the organizer by gluing the tube to the hip and shoulder pieces. Secure with a rubber band while drying.

The Cardboard Collective Cardboard Bear Process
5. Use the base of the drinking glass as a form to trace the bear face, add ears, cut. Glue face to the front of the organizer.

The Cardboard Collective

6. To make the nose, trace the curve of a teaspoon, cut in half and glue to the cardboard face.

Spoon, glass, plate, spatula…… hmmm. What else can we make?


Woven Cardboard Vase



 Woven Cardboard Vase DIY by The Cardboard Collective

I’m so excited about Spring’s arrival in Tokyo. Cherry blossoms are in full swing and Forsythia, Snow Drops, Grape Hyacinth and Narcissus are popping up all over our neighborhood.

Inspired by a post on Supercyclers, (Clink on Plastic Fantastic, and then at the end of the post More Plastic Fantastic) I made this long cardboard vase for our Easter Brunch. It’s an easy and unexpected way to showcase single stems and spring greenery. I used some plastic drinking straws left over from our fantastic lunch and bike trip to Ishikawa Brewery yesterday as well as a few plastic bags that some birthday cards came in.

Woven Cardboard Vase DIY by The Cardboard Collective

Last Spring we made tea cup arrangements and I have to say it’s hard not to be happy looking at spring flowers…this is my 3 year old daughter’s arrangement. I love seeing which flowers and greenery she chooses, always different than what I would think of and equally beautiful.

Cardboard Finger Puppet Book

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This Christmas present  was a team project. I got lots of guidance while I was sewing the facial features on “wiggle worm.” My daughter also wrote the story for the book, which strangely enough changes every time you read it… you can catch the “text” below.

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

Stitch your wiggle worm together from a fabric scrap.

The Cardboard Collective

Cut holes in the middle of the pages of a cardboard book. Cardboard book how to here. Tape your worm in place.

The Cardboard Collective

Glue a cardboard page over top, to secure the “wiggle worm.”

The Cardboard CollectiveMERA

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

Looking a little smug after the photo shoot isn’t he?

Cardboard Books for Christmas: #1 Lift the Flap

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

I hope the rest of you are organized and ready for Christmas!  We’ve just returned from a week-long pre-holiday adventure which involved a broken laptop, so I’ll be doing what I can to catch up with you now that we’re back in Tokyo.



I wanted to start by sharing with you some of the cardboard gifts I’ll be giving the girls this year, including a batch of cardboard books. If you haven’t seen the 2011 post (one of my very first on The Cardboard Collective) about making cardboard books, you can get the step by step instructions here.

I used some of my favorite summer photos of the girls and printed them out in black and white and then added flaps cut from toddler magazines. (You can use cereal boxes or other kinds of lightweight cardboard or card-stock to accomplish the same thing.)

The Cardboard Collective

This book just adds a few more details which includes a cover that I measured out and cut to size after making a basic cardboard book. I then just slathered the glue on and placed it over the top, weighing it down with a few books to dry overnight. It definitely gives the book a more polished look and makes it more durable too.

I’m really looking forward to reading these books with the girls! They really enjoy it when we make books that include them in some way, whether through pictures or text, and it’s always lovely to revisit our beautiful memories together while they’re nestled in our laps.


Using Cardboard to Make Easy Toddler Art Stations

cardboard art

When it comes to making art, there are a few challenges we face in our home:

1. We share a small living space.

2. We have a baby in our midst who is prone to trouble and spilling.

3. We want to protect our furniture, favorite stuff, and floors from damage.

4. We want to devote as much time to fun and interesting experiences as we can. (and as little to clean-up, and maintenance as we can)

5. We want to try to solve our problems in frugal, creative and kind-to-the-planet ways.

So, I want to share these two methods that we use in our home for making art projects more spontaneous, less of a chore to cleanup, very versatile, and 100% recyclable!

The first item we use is a kind of art caddy that keeps brushes, paints and water cups organized and spill-safe. They are really quick to make, and very adaptable.

First just gather your supplies: a small cardboard box, pencil, serrated knife, and all of the items that you want to organize in the caddy.

Arrange the items as you would like them, and then just trace around each piece.

Use the serrated knife to cut just inside the area you traced. I left about a 1 mm gap for this project.

Fit your items into the caddy and you’re ready to go!

The second item we use is a fold-up cardboard work mat which can double as an easel.

If something spills on the cardboard I can easily wipe up the excess and let the mat dry. We can also let some of our spills decorate the mat to create a whole new piece of art in the process! That’s why I think this cardboard mat is a really great solution. It’s easy to store and you can recycle it or make a new one when your kids outgrow it. It’s also costs only pennies to make. Let’s get started!

You’ll want to customize this project to the dimensions of the table where your child (or children) works. I originally made my pieces about 8.5 in. in width, but after using the mat, I added two pieces that were about 12 in. in width so that we could incorporate two easel panels that would accommodate a piece of computer paper that was oriented vertically.

When you put the panels together, tape every other seam, then flip the while thing over and tape the remaining seams. This makes the work mat easy to fold up in an accordion – style.

To affix the paper to the easel you have a few options. Here I just used tacks, but you can also use strong magnets on the front and back or a little bit of washi tape.

You could also punch holes in the cardboard and string some elastic through, which would still allow you to fold up the mat without added bulk.

Electra is hard at work on her first homemade gift for grandma’s upcoming birthday! A set of hand-painted (+ other interesting stuff she found and glued-on) note cards.

Happy Creating!



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.

Cardboard Marquees

Another way to display cardboard beads, letters, pictures or shapes cut from cardboard.

To make the marquee I first decided to orient my cardboard with the fluting running vertically since most of the letters to be cut from cardboard run in the same direction.  I used one side of a box with the top and bottom flaps folded back to create a triangular base. Next, I  gently scored the the edges of the area I wanted to display and then started to gently peel away the top layer of paper to reveal the corrugated part of the cardboard below.

I used a chopstick to pry up some of the paper from between the flutes of the cardboard. It really helped to move the process along. (I would definitely enlist the help of any willing young spectators for this part.) If you are lucky enough to find some cardboard with the corrugated part exposed, then you can just glue it on top of the marquee base and get to work peeling the backs off of all the cardboard letters or shapes that you are using.

Make sure that your letters have the same size fluting as the marquee base if you want them to hold their place securely.

Just a piece of tape (masking tape, washi tape, or paper tape) to secure the marquee base at the back and you are ready to start crafting your own personal message to the world.

Sandwiches are Beautiful ….. Sandwich Books are Fine!

The latest addition to our cardboard book library; a very delicious book about how to make a B.L.T. (Bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. This book was easy to make and I had help from Electra painting the pages. We used the same process that I wrote about earlier in the How to Make Cardboard Books post. I used a type of tape made from white paper that could be painted for the binding. I touched up the spots where the book was adjoined after the whole thing was assembled. The coolest part was finding white cardboard for the bread that gave the look of “brown crust” when you cut the pages out. This is literally a recipe book for getting your child or toddler cooking in the kitchen!

Mmmmmm cardboard!

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.