Friday, 16 March 2012

Old School Toys: Cardboard Boxes Make Wonderful DIY Childrens Toys: Cardboard Castles, Cars, Planes, Houses, Rockets, Stoves, Geodisic Domes

My 8 month old son has just discovered the joy of cardboard boxes! We received a large package in the mail, and while I am sure as he grows older he will love the kids furniture that came in the box, right now he is most enamored of the box it came in. Its got me aching for a chance to make some cool stuff with boxes- I have some super sweet box skillz for real.

Box crafts are easy on the wallet (some tape, scissors and markers are all you need- although a bit of acrylic paint will add a bit of visual flair for the super crafty), but strenuous on the imagination- and if there is one type of exercise I like, its one where the only muscle I use is my mind.

When I was little my mum and I used to make huge box forts, cars, doll houses, cat runs, ovens and rockets. I don't have any photos to show you the majesty of yesteryear, but I had a little looksie at Pinterest and found this selection of images to get your creative juices flowing.

Source: via Alyssa on Pinterest

In terms of advice for the novice box-architect, may I suggest that a sharp and heavy duty pair of scissors is far superior to pair that wont cut more than five pieces of paper at a time. A sharp slightly serrated kitchen knife is also suitable for cutting cardboard, although obviously not safe for kids.

My husband made this awesome geodesic dome for our cats, but Hunter likes to get in under it (and by 'Hunter likes to get in under it' I mean I really like turtle-ing him under it, and watching him be all cute and helpless. He makes the cutest faces as he wonders how on earth he ended up with such a mean mummy).

To start off, draw your doors and windows onto the cardboard. Any part that you want void is best removed by stabbing a huge hole (with the scissors closed) in the middle of the shape and working out towards your guide-lines from there. For doors or other moving parts, you will want a sleek line. This is best achieved by using a smooth slice/stab motion in the direction of the cut you want to make- get that sharp kitchen knife for these bits. Try to keep any raw edges neat, or use wide masking tape to 'seal' the edges. Round edges like the ones on the geodesic dome above were drawn on using a pin and string compass because we are high tech, and cut out using a scalpel because we are medical professionals (and when the scalpel was blunt, we used an X-Acto craft blade. I guess I lied about being a medical professional).

In terms of sticking your multi-box creations together, Duct Tape or Cloth Tape is the best tape, although wide masking tape or packing tape are also suitable. Glue is a horrid thing to use here as it will take ages to dry and is just as likely to turn your box into a sodden mass as it is to glue the box to your living room floor. Glue is only OK if you are using PVA or clear craft glue sparingly for the sole purpose of attaching cupcake wrappers, dried pasta or cotton balls as fancy decorations. Double sided tape is preferable for all other types of attaching, although split pins are also good (and are the best at attaching jar lids and tin foil plates). Sharpies and other types of permanent marker are the best for getting big bold coloured lines onto the box, although felt tip markers will also work. Spray paint or acrylic paint are the best ways of painting your box, poster paint is also suitable.

That said sometimes even just turning a box on its side and draping a table cloth from the top of the box to the top of a dining chair is all a kid needs to make a super rad fort. Add a pillow, some snacks and a good book and you will have a very happy kidliwink indeed, or a nice dark place to hide from the kids.

For those of you who have read all the 'tips' above and are thinking "get knotted, this is ridiculous! I thought box crafts were meant to be simple!", or perhaps just aren't too big on crafts, a set of Rolobox wheels and brackets may tickle your fancy. Suitable for children between 3 - 7 years old, these light weight wheels attach to any box with chunky nuts and bolts, and really roll (they don't roll with a kid in the box, although a small dog, placid cat or light doll would be an ideal passenger). If you are in Australia you can pick yourself up a set from Peter's Of Kensington.

Because I like to take things literally, and laterally, here are some songs with the word box in the title.

And then an empty box came floating by
An empty box and I crawled inside,
Sandi D

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