If you do much of your shopping online, you've probably built up quite a collection of cardboard shipping boxes. And, at least around here, cardboard boxes aren't part of the city's recycling program. So what to do with all that cardboard? Cover it with polymer clay, of course!
What Cardboard Is Good For
- Adding lightweight bulk
- Serving as an armature for shapes and structures not "natural" for polymer clay (like tall, hollow tubes)
- Allowing you to use less clay for larger items
Cardboard Items to Cover with Clay
- Shipping boxes: Use a sharp knife to cut down your shipping boxes into any size and shape you like. Use a template to cut and stack multiple layers if you want extra depth. This allows you to create a large form that's lightweight but has extra bulk.
- Soap Boxes: Soap boxes are plentiful and are a perfect size for covering. Check out HGTV's site for Michelle Ross's covered soap box project.
- Matchboxes: Matchboxes are a wonderful armature for sliding drawer pendants. Fair warning, though. Get really into making these & you're liable to have baggies full of matches & no place to strike them. I get the impression this bothers some family members. :-)
- Cardboard Tubes: I already mentioned making a polymer clay top hat from a toilet paper roll. But cardboard tubes' different sizes and strengths make them useful for a variety of things:
- Try toilet paper or paper towel rolls for making napkin rings.
- Sturdy rolls that are large enough to fit over your hand make a great base for a bracelet.
- Tall, heavy cardboard tubes are great to decorate as pen holders. For a nice example, check out Sue Gentry's pen holder.
How to Cover Cardboard with Polymer Clay
- You don't have to coat the cardboard with anything (you could cover it as is), but it may be hard to do as the clay doesn't grip the cardboard's texture very well.
- I had the best results coating the cardboard with Sobo Glue or acrylic paint, then letting that dry before covering with clay. Spreading TLS on the cardboard before covering also works.
- Thicker sheets of clay (i.e., the 2nd-3rd thickest setting on the pasta machine) are easier to work with, especially if you're wrapping the clay around sharp cardboard edges.
- Another option is to do a couple of layers of clay to cover the cardboard base. Use a thicker base coat of clay to smooth things out. After that's baked, add a decorative layer.
Removing the CardboardIn many cases, it works well to leave the cardboard in place after baking so it can continue to add support to your structure. But if you just want to use the cardboard as a temporary armature to remove after baking, here are a couple of tips:
- Use foil or wax paper instead of glue for easier removal.
- After baking, leave your polymer clay piece soaking overnight to moisten the cardboard and make it easier to remove. If the clay and cardboard are still stuck together in the morning, try running a needle tool along the edge. But be careful not to force the cardboard. You're likely to hurt the clay too.
I hope you enjoy upcycling your cardboard into something creative. As always, I'd love to hear your ideas!