Sunday, April 23, 2017

Boring Boxes to Stylish Storage

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many storage solutions, or too much craft supplies, so when my existing system wasn't working anymore, it was time to get creative. I dug through my stash of cardboard boxes, grabbed a few old road maps and a roll of craft paper tape and got to work.

You can use any type of cardboard boxes that you have, although I like heavier ones rather than the cereal box weight. You can also cover them with a variety of materials, from duct tape to magazine pages, so you can make them fit any decor. 

For these, I used spray glue to attach the maps and craft paper tape around the top and bottom edges. I also used the craft paper tape around the sides of the lids. On other boxes I have used contact paper on the box sides and top of the lid and duct tape around the sides of the lid. The possibilities are endless, as long as you have the glue/tape to hold your material in place.

- cardboard boxes, flat cardboard pieces
- exacto knife, scissors
- tape, glue
- decorative paper, contact paper, wrapping paper, fabric, or similar

1. Cut the top flaps off the boxes. Remove any labels or loose tape. Ensure that the bottoms of the boxes are sturdy and secured.

2. Measure the height of the boxes. Cut your paper into strips slightly wider than that measurement.

3. Wrap and secure (i.e. glue) the strip(s) around the box, overlapping slightly at the seams/ends. I like to have the bottom edge of the strip flush with the bottom of the box and a bit of paper sticking up above the top edge of the box. You can trim away the extra bit of paper or leave it and cover it with tape like I do.

4. Wrap tape around the top edge of the box, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending above the edge of the paper. Slice the corners vertically.

Fold the four sides down inside the box.

5. Wrap tape around the bottom edge of the box, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending past the edge of the box. Slice the corners vertically.

Press the tape down onto the bottom of the box.

6. Measure the width and length of the top of the box. Add 2.25" to both measurements. Draw and cut out a flat piece of cardboard that size. Mark 1" in from all four sides. Score along those lines. Cut a thin wedge out at each corner, creating 1" square flaps. Fold along all the score lines.

NOTE: For larger boxes, you might want the lid to be deeper, which is easily achieved by adding more width and length to your original measurements and making your cut and score lines further from the edges.

7. Glue the little flaps to the insides of the lid sides. Hold with binder clips while the glue dries (if necessary). Once the glue is dry, you can cover the top of the box with paper, etc. if you want to. Wrap tape around the sides of the lid, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending above the edge of the lid towards the inside. Slice the corners vertically.

8. Fold the tape to the inside of the lid. Flip the lid over and put it on the box.

DONE! Complete the rest of your boxes, fill them with treasures, label them, and stick them on a shelf.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


To pair with the Lego "NEXO KNIGHTS" shield that I made for my son, I also designed and built a sword. These instructions can be adapted to make all sorts of designs.

- cardboard: flat pieces, scraps, 1" tube
- scissors, exacto knife
- white glue
- glue gun and sticks
- grey/silver duct tape
- colored duct tape
- ruler, pencil

1. For the blade and tang (section that goes inside the handle/hilt), mark and cut out four pieces of cardboard that are 16" in total length, 3" wide for 10" of length (blade) and 1" wide for 6" of length (tang). Mark the center at the end of the blade and 1.5" down each side, connect to form two triangles, and cut away the triangles to form a tip on the blade.

2. Glue the four pieces together.

3. Wrap all the sides and edges of the blade and a bit of the tang with grey duct tape.

4. Cut the 1" tube to 6" long. Trim a bit of the edge off the tang so that the tube will slide over it.

5. For the cross-guard, cut three pieces of cardboard 2" wide by 5" long and trim away a 1" by 1/2" triangle from all four corners. Cut a hole in the center that is just big enough for the tang to fit through (approximately 1" x 1/2"). Check to make sure the tang fits through.

Glue the three pieces together. Cover in grey duct tape.

Slide the cross-guard onto the tang and glue in place.

6. Cut 2 pieces of cardboard approximately 1/2" wide and 5.5" long. Glue one to each side of the tang. Let dry.

7. Cover the 1" tube with colored duct tape. Put glue on all sides of the tang and slide the tube over top. Let dry.


Saturday, April 8, 2017


Ever since my son watched "Lego NEXO KNIGHTS", he has been running around the house slaying monsters, rescuing people, and performing other knightly duties. To help him in his quests, I designed and built him his very own shield.

You are welcome to use the following ideas and techniques to build your own style of shield.

There are tonnes of NEXO KNIGHTS shield crest pictures online that you can print off or copy if you don't want to design your own crest. There are also coloring pages on the official Lego webpage that you can print off and have your kid(s) color and design their own crest.

- cardboard: flat pieces, scraps, tubes (approximately 1" and 1/2", if you can find)
- colored paper: yellow, your main color, accent color
- scissors, exacto knife
- white glue
- spray glue or paper glue stick
- glue gun and sticks
- grey/silver duct tape
- clear contact paper (mactac)
- pencil, ruler

1. Cut 4 cardboard rectangles that are 12" x 8". Mark the center of one 8" side. Measure and mark 3" from that end along both 12" sides. Draw lines from the 3" marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape. Repeat for all four rectangles.

2. Glue the four shield shapes together on top of one another with white glue. Put something heavy on them to keep them flat while they dry.

3. Cut a yellow rectangle that is 12" x 8". Mark the center of one 8" side. Measure and mark 3" from that end along both 12" sides. Draw lines from the 3" marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

Cut a rectangle from your accent color that is 11" x 7". Mark the center of one 7" side. Measure and mark 2 5/8" from that end along both 11" sides. Draw lines from the side marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

Cut a rectangle from your main color that is 10" x 6". Mark the center of one 6" side. Measure and mark 2 1/4" from that end along both 10" sides. Draw lines from the side marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

4. On the back of the main color, mark lines 1/2" from the outside edge on the top and long sides. Mark lines 1/4" from the outside edge on the two angled sides at the bottom.

Around the long sides and top, mark squares and rectangles in 1/2" increments within the 1/2" border you marked. The pattern can be symmetrical or random. Look at pictures online for inspiration. Once you're happy, cut out some of the squares and rectangles from the edge. Cut away the 1/4" area you marked along the two angled sides.

Add your design in the center. I drew mine on the back and cut out the pieces, allowing the accent color to show through. You can draw on the front, apply stickers, or glue on printed pictures.

5. Use paper glue or spray glue to attach the main color shield onto the accent color shield and the accent color shield onto the yellow shield.

Cover the front of the layered paper shield with clear contact paper. I had some with squares embossed on it that gives the shield a digital look.

6. Wrap the edge of the cardboard shield with duct tape.

Glue the layered paper shield to one side.

7. Cover the opposite side of the shield with duct tape.

8. From scrap cardboard, cut 18 rectangles that are 1" x 1.5". Fold the rectangles in half width-wise (to look like little books).

From the 1" diameter cardboard tube, cut two pieces 1/2" long.

From the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube, cut two pieces 1" long.

9. Cover the outsides and edges of 14 of the little rectangles with duct tape.

10. Cut two corners off of each of the remaining four little rectangles. They should look like little shields with a vertical fold down the middle.

Use duct tape to attach one little shield piece to one little rectangle piece (so that they look like a little hockey stick shape), covering the outside and edges with tape. Repeat for a second little shield and rectangle pair.

Use duct tape to cover and attach together the remaining two little shield shapes into a V-shape, covering the outside and edges with tape.

11. Center one of the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube pieces inside one of the 1" diameter cardboard tube pieces. Fill between them with scrap cardboard. Fill inside the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube piece with scrap cardboard. Repeat with the other two tube pieces.

Cover both tube pairs with duct tape.

12. Using a glue gun, attach the pieces from steps 8-11 around the edges of the shield as follows:
ANGLED CORNERS: hockey stick shape
LONG EDGES: rectangle flush with the top of the edge, three rectangles between that one and the angled corner
ANGLED EDGES: two rectangles between the angled corner and the bottom point
TOP EDGE: tube pairs at both corners

13. Cut three 1" wide strips of cardboard: 4" long, 6" long, and 8" long. On the 8" piece, fold the ends up 1" from the end and down 2" from the end. On the 6" piece, fold the ends down 1" from the end. Glue the 6" strip on top of the 8" strip and the 4" strip under the 8" strip, so that the middle 4" is three layers of cardboard, the next inch on both sides is two layers of cardboard, and the inch at both ends is a single layer of cardboard. (I used binder clips to hold the strips while the glue dried.)

Cover in duct tape.

14. Glue and tape the handle to the back of the shield.

DONE! Raise the shield to the air in victory.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on making a matching sword.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Triceratops Pinata

Pinatas are a lot of fun at parties and they are an easy way to thank your guests for attending without doing individual treat bags. Unlike individual bags, it doesn't matter if guests cancel at the last minute or arrive unexpectedly, because the treats are simply divided among whoever is present.

Pinatas are also very versatile: you can make them any size and shape you want and the contents are easy to customize to your theme and preferences. You can fill them with your child's favorite candies, opt for healthier options such as fruit snacks and granola bars, or skip the food all together and use small toys, erasers, stickers, etc.

This tutorial is for a triceratops pinata, but you can definitely use the basic techniques to customize it to whatever animal you want. By adding or removing elements, changing the colors, and using your imagination a little, this could easily become a cow or elephant or dog pinata. And remember, the best part about a pinata is the smashing, so don't worry about trying to be perfect.

- BODY: cardboard box around 12"x10"x8" (30 cm x 25 cm x 20 cm)
- HEAD: cardboard box around 4" cubed (10 cm)
- FRILL, HORNS, TAIL: cardboard pieces
- LEGS: cardboard tube(s)
- white glue
- scissors, exacto knife
- acrylic paint, brush
- 3-4 sheets of tissue paper
- tape
- string
- treats

1. Turn the large box upside down (opening to the bottom). Poke a hole in both sides near the top edge in the center of the edge. Thread approximately 6' (2 m) string through both holes and tie the ends together. This is how your pinata will hang. (I completely forgot to do this until the end and used a long stick to thread the string through the box.)

2. Turn the box over and fill it with treats. Glue the opening shut just enough that it will stay sealed but still be the weakest part of the box (so the treats will fall out). If you want the pinata to be a "pull-type", poke holes in these flaps and add long strings to them before closing the box. Turn the box upside down again, so that the opening you just sealed is now the bottom of the pinata.

3. Cut a piece of cardboard to make a frill approximately the same size as one end of the large box. I had a thick piece of cardboard that was already the right size and a cool shape. You can make yours as simple or elaborate as you want - basically a wavy-edged oval is the shape you're going for. Once you have it cut out, trace the small box onto the frill along the bottom edge and cut out the square.

4. Glue and tape the small box to one end of the large box.

5. Glue the frill to the large box, fitting it around the small box.

6. On a piece of cardboard, measure and mark out six triangles that are 6" (15 cm) long and 2" (5 cm) wide.

Draw a diamond on cardboard approximately 3" (7.5 cm) high by 2" (5 cm) wide.

Cut out all the pieces. 

The diamond is the nose horn. Glue/tape it in place with half on the small box and the other half sticking up.
Two large triangles are the eyebrow horns.
Four large triangles are the tail. Glue/tape them together.

7. Cut narrow slots into the frill above the small box for the two large horn triangles to slip in. Glue them in place.

8. Glue/tape the tail to the opposite end.

9. Cut the cardboard tube(s) into four pieces around 4" (10 cm) long.

Glue/tape to the bottom of the large box.

10. Stand the pinata on the legs (tubes).

Allow all the glue to dry thoroughly.

Paint the entire pinata whatever color(s) you want. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.

11. Cut the tissue paper into long strips that are 2" (5 cm) wide. Snip along one side of the strips approximately 1" (2.5 cm) deep and 3/4" (2 cm) apart. (I used binder clips to hold my strips together and snipped lots at once.)

12. Starting at the bottom of the pinata, glue the uncut side of the strips to the pinata, overlapping as you go.

13. Work your way around the pinata, gluing on strips from bottom to top. You can use different colors for different parts or leave some parts bare. (I left the legs bare for now so that it's easier to store the pinata until I need it, but I might cover them later.) For the frill, start at the outside edge and work your way in. DONE.