Cardboard Crafting

I absolutely love making things out of cardboard, it's amazing what you can do with it. I'm no expert on it, but I'm still amazed at the things I can do. Here's some tips that may help people who are just starting out.

1. Sharpies
I used to lose a lot of pieces of cardboard when I was crafting things. I'd mistake smaller pieces as scarps and large pieces as unused pieces and cut them up, but I figured out a way to keep them straight. I mark each piece that I need to keep with a star. Assuming you're going to paint over your project anyway (which you should), the sharpie shouldn't show through. You'll need several coats of paint to cover the cardboard, and it should be enough to cover the Sharpie. If you're using a light-colored paint and are still worried, you can get a light-colored Sharpie like silver or light green. Using pieces of painting tape as tags on the pieces you need could work too.

2. Cutting Tools
A typical box cutter is pretty much a must-have, I have a few that have breakable blades that you just snap off when they get dull. Be sure that the surface you're cutting on is one that you don't care about. If you can't find an old surface to cut cardboard on, put a piece of scrap cardboard under your project. Also, be careful not to slice your fingers!

There are other ways of cutting cardboard too though. I have two of these Black & Decker cardboard cutters. They're not very great for cutting out small things, but they're excellent for cutting out large pieces quickly and rounding edges. There's also virtually no way to accidentally cut yourself with them! The drawback is that they take a long time to charge and then don't hold a charge for very long. Also, you can't use them while they're charging.

3. Clean as you Go
This is so simple, yet so difficult. Keep your working area free from scrap pieces, and everything will go a lot smoother. Put cardboard that you haven't cut yet off to the side.

4. Paper Mache
Cardboard can be used as a skeleton for paper mache. I'll make a tutorial on this later (even though I suck at paper mache), but basically, you make the shape you want out of a flat piece of cardboard, then cut smaller pieces or cardboard in the width that you want the project to be. You cut half-way through both pieces and put them together perpendicular to each-other. It'll make a lightweight, sturdy skeleton that you can then cover with paper mache. (Also, if you're making a large prop like a staff, you can put air-drying clay on the bottom of the cardboard before you apply the paper mache so that it's more sturdy.) Like I said, I'll make a tutorial some other time, but it's something to look into if you're interested.

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