the magical possibilities of cardboard and behind the scenes in the mouse diorama

Cardboard is all over the place, for free! It has lots of interesting qualities and I’m always curious about the possibilities of things. I’m very interested in transformation, particularly of modest things, discarded things. The thin stuff, like a cereal box, is wonderfully flexible and you can create remarkably graceful curves with a little ingenuity. It is the secret ingredient in my paper mache ships. I think that is quite a transformation, from family size Cheerios box to floating ship, it is a kind of magic.

paper mache ships hanging in my window

It is also what I use for my teacup armature.

cardboard teacup armature

Or even more intriguing, let it be the star of the show, glorified in all its cardboardness. The shapes and tones and textures all observable and celebrated.  And I can’t resist an interesting die cut, they set my imagination on fire. Die cuts figure heavily into this spooky cardboard castle.

yummy fun playhouse

I made this playhouse from cardboard and popsicle sticks ages ago for Clare Crespo’s Yummyfun Cooking.  So many hot glue burns but so much fun.

And speaking of fun checkout this super simple diorama for photographing your continental mice in a make believe French countryside. It is sand and pebbles, a little fake moss (all found at Joann’s) and a sweet print I got in the actual South of France last summer. It’s in a giant plastic container to diffuse the light.

felt mouse in a countryside diorama

This guy seems pretty excited about it. He was made by a student in the French General Mouse workshop last week. Find the pattern to make your own here.

P S – Do you get my weekly -ish newsletter? (there are two great cardboard halloween costume ideas in this week’s issue.

And you can signup for it right here.


  1. Merilyn Wood

    Hi Ann, I just love all you create . Thank you for being so generous with your tips. I enjoy your blog. Sometimes I wish your part of the world was closer. I’m looking forward to being able to purchase your owl pattern. Regards from down under Merilyn

  2. Marilyn Eves

    I so look forward to your newsletters, in fact I get quite excited! You make so many beautiful things and I also love all the other inspirational things you recommend. Thank you Ann!

  3. Ann L. Chandler

    Although we have never met, and are unlikely to, I fell you are a soul-sister. I, too, save bits of things, mostly paper, cloth, and cardboard. I am especially taken with the things you create, and must try some of your patterns. I have been saving the insides of envelopes and other paper with designs printed on them, thinking of making paper-doll dresses out of them, but have been so busy with fabric creations, and putting tiny antique dolls in boxes, sometimes with scenery behind them, I have never gotten to the paper dolls, which I would really love to do. Today is cold and stormy, here in Massachusetts. Autumn leaves are quickly being torn from the trees, and winter is just around the corner. I become very creative in November and December, not only buying or making gifts for family and friends, but also decorating the packages I give, so they will look special under the Christmas tree. I want you to know, I think of you as a friend, or as Anne of Green Gables called them, “A kindred spirit.” Isn’t imagination amazing? I feel so sorry for those who don’t have one! Love and Peace, Ann Louise Chandler

  4. Jackie P Neal

    What a magical post! How fun and just before the holidays!

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