Tidying is Magic

Well back in May I decided to make magazine containers MagazineBox for my son’s Zoobooks and my Hornbooks. Then I was making teacher gifts for the end of the year and realized making a small box for the items would be helpful. I still had a pile of cardboard so, I built boxes. This started a side tracking project where I made many more boxes with plans to continue making more. Everything I am using is recyclable and reusing shipping boxes we get. In this day of two day shipping it’s easy to have a pile of boxes. (To note I still shop locally whenever I can). All of this makes me happy and it’s honestly a lot of fun. I can use up decorative papers I have had and after checking out piles from neighbor’s spring cleaning I got a free roll of thick craft paper for covering. I also might have wrapping paper I keep that I am can apply to the outsides too. My hoarding of paper is finally going to something!

It’s funny that I titled this tidying is magic and start with a story of hoarding becoming useful. I don’t think you should keep things with hopes to eventually use them. Keep only the things you know you will use and if you don’t start using it within a month you should really get rid of it. I have a lot of other found objects that I have intended to use. These items are now weights that fill my mind and keep me from creating anything. There is a fine line between useful found objects and over cluttering.

This need to find order is why I picked up the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I heard it was really helpful for de-cluttering and it is true. It said the right words to me which, released my need to hold onto things that could be useful. This book brought me back. I actually had the chance when I was younger to experience the magic Marie Kondo talks about. I came back home from college after having been cramped into a tiny dorm space with a dorm mate who had also tried to bring everything she owned to college. I had actually used a Uhaul to move into a college dorm, it was ridiculous. Also arriving home I realized I had made my childhood room into a shrine. My walls were wallpapered in photos from high school, there were candles on every surface, I had collections of weird objects and toys, and I had two closets and a floor to ceiling bookshelf stuffed full. After a year of college I was ready to let it all go; I got rid of everything until I could fit my belongs that weren’t furniture into my 1992 two door Toyota Celica. The day I finished it felt like I was standing in a meadow of fresh air. I made art for the rest of the summer unencumbered.

I want to get there again. It’s harder to retain that little stuff with children. They have their own pile of things and there comes a point where you can’t just purge their items without their consent. You probably also have another adult living with you that may or may not care about keeping a small amount. Keeping your own items in check while being distracted by the people you are living with is a new challenge for me. However, I started to process. Eight bags have been donated and I did not keep track of how many times I have gone to the recycling bin. Friday I made art all day and started to write this blog How-To. It was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel like I should really be doing stuff around the house. I thought after moving twice in the past 3 years I wouldn’t have too much but, I did. Finally letting go of the extra and finding a space for what I’m keeping feels amazing.

Now, some of the things I am keeping do need containers and rather than go on a spending spree at the container store I am using the containers that are too often found at my front door.

Here is a step by step of how I make a box.

Tools I need outside of cardboard:

2Tools

Glue, cheap brush, container, exact-o blade, pencil, card stock
(not pictured) a ruler

Then the box. I hang onto a box that is already a good size. This way I only have to build a lid.

1thebox

Then I take off the 4 top flaps.

3bottom-cleaning

I do this laying a ruler along the crease then cutting it with an exact-o. I recommend cutting around so the flap behind your cutting hand is already gone. You of course have no option for that on your first cut. If needed I take a portion of one of these flaps and glue it to the bottom of the box where there is a gap between the base flaps. This way my box has an even bottom.

4bottom-clean

Then I have a box! Now I lay this box on top of the piece of cardboard I intend to use as a lid. If possible I use the already existing creases for the sides. I measure out from each crease or edge line, if there aren’t enough creases, 1 1/4 inches for the sides.

5top-cuttingout

Once everything is drawn I cut out the lid and crease any sides that need it. To form a new crease I lay a ruler along my line and fold the side across it.

6top-creasing

Now I have a top!

7box-topcut

To connect the four corners of the top sides I cut out 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch pieces of card stock. I make a glue and water paste to brush onto these pieces for adhesive. This is were I use my glue, container, and brush. I make sure the glue is more glue than water but, I eyeball this until I get a consistency that works for me. I brush a thin layer of this adhesive onto my four card stock pieces and let them dry for about a minute. Then I attach them to one end of two sides.

8Top-Gluing

I give them a minute or two to dry. Then I fold down the sides to touching and adhere the other side of the card stock to the adjacent side. This can be tricky and I usually have to reapply pressure multiple times until everything is stuck.

9top-finishedglue

Eventually it all comes together and I have a lid!

10Finished-base-box

Before I get to decorating I test the lid to make sure it fits onto the base of the box. Everything fits; now, I can put on the paper to make it mine.

For the outside I like a plain color because this box is going to be used for storage and I don’t want something busy that will catch my eye all the time. This is where I use my craft paper. To not waste my craft paper I only use it on the sides of the base of the box. However, on the top I use my craft paper for the entire outside.

When measuring the paper for the outside of my box I do this like wrapping a present. I lay my pieces onto the paper and take note of the corners with my pencil then ruler in lines between these dots. I absolutely could measure the box and note that on the paper but, I find it faster to use the box as my ruler.

Because this is a larger box I cut out each side covering individually for the base. Two of these sides with have overlap corner flaps and two of these sides will have straight edges. All of these sides will have top and bottom flaps to glue over the top and bottom edges of the base. This will give the finished box a clean look.

11bottom-exteriorpaper

The flaps have 45º angled edges. If you make them 90º angled edges the will bunch at the corners. I make my flaps 1/2 an inch wide. I then cut out all of my pieces using my ruler and exact-o.

I then brush on a thin layer of glue over each side covering. After a minute of dry time I press the base onto the paper and then pick up the base and rub the paper onto the base with my hands. This flattens out any bubbles or ridges. Usually I have to add a little more glue to the edges of the covering to get it to lay flat. I do this with either my brush or a piece of paper. I paint the corner of a piece of card stock and slide it under the side covering, between it and the base, to give it a layer of glue. Then I press the side covering down to adhere it to the base.

Note: I start with the side coverings that have flaps on all four edges. They provide full covering on their sides. Then I put the side coverings on that have straight edges to give the box a clean finish.

12bottom-exterior

Now for the bottom of the base I cut out a piece of card stock so the bottom is a little hardier. This way it can endure being pulled off a shelf over its life. I brush on a layer of adhesive allow it to dry then press the paper onto the bottom of the base. This way I can see how I am lining up my corners.

12bottom of bottom

Now I add my craft paper to the top. I use a similar process but all in one piece of paper. I use the lid to measure its size on my craft paper by making a note of the corners. Then I measure out the distance of the edges. I draw lines on the craft paper for all of these edges. Finally I add flaps to the top of all the edges so it glues around to the inside of the box. This again finishes the top giving it a clean look. I give the flaps 45º angles and 1/2 and inch of width. I also add flaps to the sides of two edges. This way it will wrap around and not cardboard will be exposed.

13top-paper

After measuring and cutting this out I place my top onto the paper to see that everything is the right size.

13top-test

If all looks good I apply my thin layer glue, allow it to dry for a minute, then line the top over the paper and press it onto the paper. I then lift paper and lid and smooth out the paper around the lid with my hands. I apply more glue to any parts that need extra with either my brush or paper.

14gluing-corners

I press the sides that have side flaps down first. This way the clean cut edge can come down second and make a clean finish.

15Top-papered

Now the outside of my box is done.

For the inside paper I choose something decorative. I won’t have to look at it all the time so it won’t be distracting day to day but, it will be a treat whenever I open the box to get something out.

When measuring out this paper I actually use my ruler and measure the inside of the box. I find this makes my final cutting much more accurate. I take measurements of the width and length of the bottom, then the height of the sides. I draw this onto my paper and give two sides flaps at the edges and the other two sides get straight edges. The flaps again have 45º angles at the corners and are 1/2 wide.

16insidebottom-cutpaper

Next I crease all the lines of this paper on the decorative side. I lay my ruler on top of the paper align it with the inside corners and fold the paper across the ruler to create a crease.

17insidebottom-foldedpaper

I also do this on the flaps.

18Ruler-foldingpaper

Now I test this paper to make sure everything fits. I fold it into shape and slide it into the box.

19insidebottom-test

If it fits perfectly I brush a thin layer of glue onto the inside of the box, not the paper. Once that has had a minute to dry I put the paper back into the box and smooth it onto the box with my hands.

I then repeat this process with the lid.

Now I have a finished box!

21finalbox 22finalbox-inside

I consider this generally archival. Say for 10 years? The outside papers are archival, the cardboard is not. It can work for loose sketches and artwork but, I wouldn’t recommend permanently. I also use these boxes for make-up, jewelry, craft supplies, toys, whatever needs a box!

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