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51_Cardboard Rocking Horsey

31 Dec

Typical! New toy, parents all excited about it and what do the kids do? Play with the packaging. So let’s play  with cardboard boxes

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

The Cardboard Rocking Horsey is made out of 5 identical modules. It will take you about 45min-1hour to make each module. This is a challenging one so make sure to make it with the help of a grown up.

The final dimensions will be 1m. long, 25cm wide and 75cm heigh. (the sitting height is 50cm)

You´ll need:

_To download and print 5 copies of this file: rocking horsey (it is a large format so you’ll need to print or plot at a print shop, ask for a black and white print in regular paper, no need for anything fancy)

_5 large sheets of corrugated cardboard (120x120cm aprox.)

_Glue stick


_Cutter or scalpel and a cutting mat or surface to cut on

_Double sided tape

How to make a Cardboard Rocking Horsey:

1. Download and print 5 copies of the file above. (Print an extra coloured copy at home, on A4 paper for your reference)

2. Stick each print on each cardboard sheet using the glue stick. Don’t use to much glue, you want to be able to remove the paper once you’ve cut and folded everything. It’s a good idea to put glue only where there are printed lines.

3. Cut over the solid lines and score over the dotted ones. This will make it easy to fold the sides.

4. Put double sided tape on all the tabs. Don’t remove all the waxed film at once.

5. Close each module by sticking all the tabs to the edges. You’ll have 5 “pizza slices” when you finish.

6. Remove all the paper off the cardboard and put the double sided tape where the drawing indicates with green.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

7. Remove the waxed film from the double sided tape, one module at a time and stick the modules together.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Well done! You’ve made your own horsey!

You can use markers and poster paint to add details if you like… It could be a spotted horsey or maybe a stripy one?


(more detailed photos to come)





48_Screws and String Shapes

30 Dec

If paper and coloured pencils are not your thing, why not try Screws and String?!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

This one takes about 3 hours. This one is kind of challenging and I recommend that you make it with the help of a grown up.

You’ll need

_A wood or MDF board about 20x20x1.8 cm

_Black paint

_Pencil and ruler

_50 screws

_Hammer and 1 nail

_A screwdriver


How to make Screws and String shapes

1. Paint the board black and let it dry completely.

2. Make an 8×8 grid. Each square in the grid should be 2.5×2.5 cm.

3. Mark the intersections of the lines that make up the grid. Those are the spots where you’ll put the screws. You’ll have 49 intersections (7×7)

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

4. To make it easier to screw the screws, make a small hole on each intersection with the nail and hammer. A couple of hits should be enough.

5. Now put a screw on each intersection. Leave about 5mm sticking out of the board. You’ll have 49 screws total.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

6. Now get the yarn and make a hoop on one end.

7. Put the hoop into one screw and go from screw to screw to make some great string shapes!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

You can make very geometric and abstract shapes…

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Or your favorite animals… how about an elephant?

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

…or a bunny!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

You can even practice your abc’s!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

The truth is you can make whatever you like! change the colours, move the yarn around the screws and see what string shapes you can make…

45_Secret Messages (Invisible Ink)

30 Dec

Ever wondered how spies and secret agents make secret messages?

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

WARNING: It is really quick and easy to make secret messages, however in order to make secret ink work you need fire, so this toy requires adult supervision.

You’ll need:

_Half a lime

_A thin brush

_A piece of paper

_A lighter

_Adult supervision

How to make secret messages:

1. Dip the tip of your brush into the lime. You can also squeeze the juice out of the lime into a container and dip the brush into the container.

2. Write your message onto a blank piece of paper. You’ll need to get more invisible ink (lime juice) every letter or two.

3. Let the lime dry for a few seconds. Your piece of paper will look as if it had nothing on it.

4. To reveal the message, get an adult to pass the flame of a lighter gently under the paper, all the way through your secret message.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Watch letter by letter appear in front of your eyes!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Be careful with the lighter… you don’t want to burn too much. (have some water next to you, just in case)

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Think twice next time you find a blank piece of paper!


(Thanks K!)

43_Pop up Book

30 Dec

Once upon a time in a far away land, I learned how to make a pop up book… keep reading to learn how to make your own and live happily ever after.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

 It will take you around 2.5-3 hours, depending on how long a story you decide to turn into a pop up book.

You’ll need:

_A coloured sheet of A4 card

_A4 white paper

_Pencil, black fine liner, black felt tip pen and coloured pencils or markers


_Scissors or a cutter/scalpel and a cutting mat (or surface to cut on)

_Double-sided tape

_A good story to turn into a pop up book. You can choose one you already know or make one up yourself. Either way, it’s best if you go for one that isn’t too long. Remember you’ll have to write and illustrate the whole thing!

How to make your pop up book:

1. Grab an A4 piece of paper and fold it in half.

2. Open it a little and fold the right end inwards, 9o°, as shown in the photos below. 

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

3. Draw a vertical line 1cm from the edge of the folded paper and cut over the line. Make sure that you cut both halves.

When you open the paper again, the 2 triangles that formed with the folding will be the pop up bit of your book; the rest of the page will be where you’ll write your story. This will make the first spread of your book (spread = facing pages).

 4. On the pop up bit make a drawing that illustrates the beginning of your story. I’ll start with the usual “Once upon a time in a far away land” so my illustration is of that “far away land”.

5. When you are happy with your illustration use your fine liner to trace over the edges.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

6. Using your pencil, draw a few horizontal lines, the same distance from each other, on both pages of the spread (left and right halves of the folded A4). 

7. Write in pencil the beginning lines of your story over the lines you just drew.

8. When you’re happy with the text, use your black felt tip pen to write over the pencil.

9. Add colour to the illustration and any details and decorations to your piece of paper and that’s your first spread done.

10. Do the same with as many pieces of paper as you need to write and illustrate your whole story.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Putting all the spreads together:

11. Put a strip of double-sided tape on the back of the right page of each spread.

12. Remove the waxed film from the tape of spread 1 and stick the back of the left page of spread 2 to it. Try to align the edges of both spreads as much as you can.

13. Repeat step 12 until you’ve put all the spreads together. When you finish, you’ll have some sort of concertina. You’ll now be able to flick the pages and see the illustrations pop up as you do so.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Making the cover of the book:

14. Add a stip of double sided tape to the back edges of the first and last pages. Don’t remove the film yet.

15. Fold the A4 card in half and put all the pages inside. Make sure they go all the way to the back.

16. Remove the waxed film from the front page and press the card onto it. Turn the book around and do the same with the back. You should now have a fully functional pop up book.

 17. Write the title of you book on the cover, make another illustration if you like, and when you’re happy with it use your liner or felt tip pen to trace over the edges.

18. Add colour and you’re done!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte
© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte
© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

There you go.. your own pop up book.


32_Invisibility Box

6 Sep

A magician is not supposed to reveal his tricks, but this time I`ll make an exception … wanna know how to make your hand (or anything really) disappear?

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte


It´ll take you around 2 -2 1/2 hours to make your invisibility box.

You´ll need:

_A border-less mirror.

_Mount board or any other type of thick cardboard (about 2-3 mm thick). I used  black cause we´re doing magic! but you can choose any colour you want.

_A piece of acetate.. It could be that you recycle a plastic packaging or something similar. I actually used the pack of my mirror.

_Double sided tape.



_Cutter and cutting mat or a surface to cut on.

_Coloured tape to cover the edges if they don´t look that nice (that´s the downside of using black: every little detail shows!)

_You might need a bit of maths skills for this one, but nothing to worry.. I`ll show you what to do.

How to make an Invisibility Box:

Before we go to the detailed instructions, let me explain a little so that you what I`m talking about all the way through:

The invisibility box works by placing a mirror diagonally inside the box. That way, you get half a box “obscured” from the view of your public and the mirror does the trick by creating the illusion of looking at the whole box through the window at the front. When you put your hand or any other object inside the box you fill the “obscured” part of the box, and because of the mirror illusion, it looks as if your hand was disappearing as it goes inside.

It will be hard for us to find exactly the same size of mirror, that´s why instead of giving you exact measures, I`ll show you how to figure out the dimensions of your box, depending on the size of the mirror you find.

Let´s do it step by step:

1. We´ll start with the maths (yaaay!).

The mirror will be placed at 45º inside the box. That means that the height and depth will have the same dimensions. We`re using Pythagoras theorem to calculate the sides of a right triangle (the sides of the triangle will be the sides of your box). I have simplified and written the formula for you to replace the letters with the right numbers.

The width of your box is the same as the width of your mirror.

Check the diagrams below:

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

2. On the mountboard/cardboard, draw a rectangle the same length and width as your mirror and add about 4 cm. to both ends, lengthwise (8cm. total)

3. Cut the rectangle, including the extra 8 cm; pass the cutter a couple of times of the lines dividing the original rectangle from the extra length, make sure not to cut all the way through.

4. Bend these extra length bits back.

5. Put some double sided tape on the back of your mirror and stick it to the piece you just made.

6. Once you’ve figured out the dimensions of the box, draw a net, on the mountboard/cardboard to make the actual box. (check this posts out to see a few examples of nets so you know how to make yours camera obscura, Spyscope, cubic Transformers). Make sure you make 2 openings: 1 for your hand and other objects to go in and another one to let your audience see the trick; I`ll call the later “the window”.

7. Cut out and score (pass the cutter without going all the way through) where needed.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

8. Cut a piece of acetate the size of the window plus 5mm on every side. So, if for example, your window is 10cm x 10cm, your piece of acetate will be 11cm x 11 cm.

9. Use some tape to attach the piece of acetate to the window, on the side that will go inside the box.

10. Stick some double sided tape to the tabs (extra bendy bits of your box-to-be)

11. Start folding and sticking the whole thing together. Don´t close it yet! we still have to put the mirror in.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

12. Remember the cardboard piece with the mirror from the beginning? Get it and stick it with the mirror facing down and towards the acetate window. (check the image below)

13. “Close” the box.

14. If you like, you can use the colour tape to cover the white/not so nice edges and make your box all black and nice.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Invisibility box ready to do the trick!

Just stick your hand in and watch it disappear in front of everyone’s eyes.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

You could also do it the other way around… hide something inside the box and make it appear when you take your hand out.

And remember… a magician never reveals the trick.


11.2_Creature Mixture. The instructions

23 Mar

Hello again! as promised, the instructions to make Creature Mixture

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

To make 3 creatures (9 different combinations) you´ll need:

_6 cardboard rolls

_ a small piece of cardboard (maybe a recycled cereal box)


_cutter or exacto knife


_all purpose white glue


_pen/thin black marker

_colour markers.

This toy has lot´s of steps but the truth is the Creature Mixtures are not thaaaaat hard to make. Here we go:

1. Using a ruler, find the centre of one of the cardboard rolls and make a little mark. Move your ruller about 2 cm and mark the centre again. Keep doing this until you have  marks all around; it should look like a dotted line around the middle of the roll.

2. Join all the marks using a pen and a ruler. Now you have a continuous line all around the roll.

3. PARENTS SHOULD DO THIS STEP: use the cutter or knife to cut the roll over the line you just traced.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 with 2 rolls, this time measuring different distances from the top to make the marks. I marked at 3cm from the top on one roll and 7 cm on the other. Keep the 2 parts of each roll together.


© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

We need to add a tab to one half of each roll so that we can join them back again or combine the rolls with each other.

5. Using a ruler, draw a line  from the top to the bottom of a roll. Try to make it really vertical.

6. Draw a second line about 3 mm from the first one. Both lines should be parallel.

7. Using your scissors, cut the roll over one of the lines. Then cut the over the other line.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

8. Measure 1.5 mm from the top of the roll you just cut and make a small mark. I’LL CALL THIS THE INNER ROLL.

9. Pick the top half of one of the outer rolls and put the newly-cut inside. Align the end of both rolls; the one inside will be longer. Draw a line, on the inner roll, where the outer roll ends.

10. Now slide the inner roll up, until the 1.5mm mark aligns with the top end of the outer roll. Draw another line, on the inner roll, where the short roll ends. (the bottom end). Check the photos bellow to make this clearer.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

11. Cut the roll along the line you drew at the bottom. It should be easy to use your scissors. Don’t discard the bottom bit.

12. Put some glue to the top part of the roll you just cut. You should leave the bottom bit, between the line and the end, clear.

13. Roll the tube and put it inside the roll you used to mark the lines. Align the top ends of both rolls. You should have a strip 1.5mm long, sticking out.

14. Put some glue to the remaining bit of the inner roll and stick it inside the bottom bit of the outer roll. Make sure the bottom ends are aligned. The outer roll will be longer than the inner roll. That´s OK; this will allow us to close the whole thing back together. Check image below to illustrating these steps.

15. Repeat steps 5-14 with the remaining rolls. When you`ve done this, you should have 3 rolls that can be opened, closed and combined with the others.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

16. We´re going to cap the rolls now. Draw 6 circles on a piece of cardboard, one for each end we need to cap. The rolls aren’t so regular, so I recommend that you the rolls as  templates to draw the circles.

17. Cut the circles out .

18. Put some glue on the surface of the rolls and stick the cardboard circles. If the circles don´t exactly fit, don´t worry, you can always use the scissors to carefully cut any bits that stick out.

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

19. Let’s draw some creatures now! Grab a pencil and draw the face and any details you like on each roll.

20. When you´re sure, draw on top of the pencil with your pen or thin black marker and add colour with your colour markers.

21. Add some details to the back too.

22. You can add ears or horns or anything you imagine using cardboard. Remember to leave an extra bit that you can fold and put glue on. Stick ’em on the rolls and done, now you’re ready to mix some creatures!!

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

You can make any creature mixture you like! What about some monsters so that you have your own Frankensteins? or some alien creatures from outer space?

As always,use your imagination and have fun…

11_Creature Mixture

20 Mar

3 heads…3 bodies…mix them… do the math… 9 different creatures in total!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

This one will take you about 3 hours, depending on how much detail you decide to add.

To make 3 creatures (9 different combinations) you´ll need:

_6 cardboard rolls

_ a small piece of cardboard (maybe a recycled cereal box)


_cutter or exacto knife


_all purpose white glue


_pen/thin black marker

_colour markers.

The first step will be to cut 3 of the rolls at different heights. Then we´ll stick the other 3 inside to make the first ones sturdier; this will also make a tab so that the parts can be separated and joined back again. Finally, cut some cardboard circles and stick´em to the top of each roll.

The rest is using your imagination to make your creatures; we´ll make cardboard ears, draw faces and bodies and add lots of colour.

Today I´m posting the finished toys and the summary of the process that you just read. Come back tomorrow to read the full instructions.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

We have a sleepy dog with a starry pajamas, a rabbit with huge teeth (a bit yellow by the way! they could use some cleaning!) and some sort of monkey with a stripy tummy.

Each creature is made of 2 parts: head and body.

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

Don´t forget to add details to the back!

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

As you exchange parts, you change the height and body of the characters… so the rabbit got the pajamas, now the sleepy dog has a stripy tummy, and the monkey grew teeth! (and grew taller)…

© 2011 Fernanda de Uriarte

or the rabbit got shorter and stripier, the sleepy dog got teeth and now the monkey is wearing pajamas!

Imagine as many creatures as you can and combine them in as many fun ways as you can think of.

Have fun!


13 Feb

What do you get if you mix Alebrijes (wooden or papier mâché fantastical Mexican creatures) with Matrushkas (or matroyshkas or nesting Rusian dolls)?  ALEBRUSHKAS!

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

This is the most challenging post so far. It´s not that hard to make but requires some patience and skill. There´s also some waiting time between layers of paper and paint so I can´t give you a precise making time but I can tell you it will take a few days; maybe one hour work for about 6 days. But be patient… you`ll have fun and the results are totally worth it!

You`ll need:

_ 4 different sizes of styrofoam balls. Mine are about 9, 7, 6 and 4 cm in diameter.

_ Tin foil.

_ Paper for recycling (maybe an old newspaper, printer paper, a discarded activity book, etc). It´s a good idea to have 2 kinds so that you can make the difference between one layer and the next.

_Water based all purpose glue.

_ Water based paints (coloured and black)

_2 brushes (one for the glue and one for the paint)

_2 small plastic containers (one to rinse your brush after you paint, the other one to make a water-glue solution).

_ A small hacksaw (ATTENTION KIDS! This is to be used by adults only!)

_ Flat screw driver.

_ Scissors.

_ Ruler.

_ Pencil and black felt tip pen or medium marker.

There are many steps involved in the making of Alebrushkas, so before I go to the usual step-by-step list, I`ll give you a quick summary of what we´ll do:

We´ll use the styrofoam balls as moulds to make 3 hollow spheres and a solid one. We´ll cover each ball with several layers of paper using a water-glue solution; then we´ll cut the 3 larger balls in half and remove the styrofoam to make them hollow. We´ll add a “ribbon” of paper to one half of each ball so that they can be closed again, to make them like boxes. When all the layering and cutting and closing back again is done, we´ll move to painting and finally decorating the spheres.

So here we go:

1. Cover the 3 larger styrofoam balls with tin foil. This is to prevent the paper sticking to the balls so that we can separate the styrofoam from the completed papier maché spheres when we want to make them hollow.

2. Cut or tear your recycling paper into small squares, about 2.5×2.5cm. Don´t worry, they don´t have to be perfect, this is just to give you an idea.

3. On one of your containers, mix 50 ml of water with about the same amount of glue. We don´t want the mix to be either too thick or too runny. If it´s too thick it will dry too quickly and won´t give you time to complete the layers; it will also be too hard to cut in the end. If it´s too runny, it won´t be sticky enough and it will take ages to dry up. When you put your brush into the mix and take it out again, you should not see drops but a “string” of the mix coming down, at least for a moment.

4. For the first layer of each ball, we´re going to use glue without water. Cover a small portion of the ball with a thin layer of glue and start sticking the pieces of paper. Keep adding glue and paper until you´ve  covered the whole surface of the ball. Try to make it as smooth as possible. Cover all 4 balls.

5. Use the water-glue mix for the following layers. Add some of the mix and start sticking paper. It´s a good idea to put some of the glue on top of the pieces of paper as well; this will help you stick all the pieces together and make the surface smoother. You can do this with a brush or using your fingers; I find it easier with my fingers (and more fun too!) Remember to alternate the kind of paper you´re using for every layer; this will help you tell the difference between one and the other and make sure it´s all even.

6. Add 3 layers to each ball (including the first one) and let them dry for at least 4 hours. Good thing about this time of year is that you can leave the spheres to  dry close to your radiator.

7. The smallest ball will be ready with just 3 layers. The 2 medium sized balls need 6 and the largest needs at least 8 but an extra layer wouldn´t hurt. Remember to add 3 layers a time and leave to dry. I recommend that you use white paper for the last layer, this will make it easier for the paint to cover the surface evenly. (trust me! I didn´t use white as the last layer and it took several layers of paint to cover whatever was printed on the paper.)

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

2 or 3 days later….it´s time to cut the spheres open. REMEMBER NOT TO CUT THE SMALLEST ONE!

8.  First of all we need to mark a line around the middle of each sphere. Find an object that is almost half as high as one of the spheres and attach a pen or pencil horizontally to it. The tip of the pen should be the same height as the “equator” of your sphere. Now hold the sphere close to the tip of the pen and make it rotate on it´s axis; as you do this, the pen should be drawing a line along the “equator” of the sphere. Repeat this step for the other 2 spheres.

9. Pick a spot along the line you just drew and make a mark on each side of it, for example 2 arrows pointing at each other. This will help you find the right way to close the balls back once you´ve cut them.

10. THIS STEP IS FOR ADULTS ONLY. Using the hacksaw cut each sphere along the “equator” line you marked. It´s not necessary that you cut all the way through the styrofoam, cutting the paper is enough to detach the pieces.

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

11. You might need the help of  a flat screwdriver to separate the paper halves from the styrofoam balls. Be carefull not to damage the paper.

12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 to cut the other 2 spheres open. Remove the tin foil from inside all the pieces.

13. We want the spheres to close back again so that they can contain the others. On an A4 piece of paper, cut several 8 strips of paper 2 cm wide. Cut 3 more just 1 cm wide.  These need to be neat so be sure to measure right and cut in straight lines.

14. Draw a line, 5mm from the edge, across the length of each strip (the line will be in the middle of the 1cm wide ones) and cut tabs all along the strips. The tabs should go on the wider side of  the line on the 2cm wide strips of paper.

15. Take one half of each sphere. Using glue without water, stick one of the strips of paper around the inside of each one, making sure the 5mm section sticks out. Use the thiner strips for the smallest sphere of the 3.

16. Layer up a couple more strips on each sphere, this time using the water-glue mix, and leave to dry.

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

the following day…   You should be able to open and close all the spheres and keep one inside the other.

17. You can start painting now! I chose red, blue, green and yellow to paint the outside of the spheres. You might need more than one layer for the colour to look even. Make sure you leave enough time between one layer and the next for the paint to dry.

18. Paint the inside of the spheres too. I chose black.

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011

19. Once all the paint is dry and even, use your pencil to draw the face and details of your Alebrushkas. How about a food chain? or big fish eats little fish? could it be dad, mom and 2 kids… or maybe Goldilocks and the 3 bears? or perhaps some fantastical creatures from your dreams. The point is to use your imagination and have fun!

20. When you like how your design looks like, use a black marker to draw on top of the pencil. You could add more detail with colour paint.

Fernanda de Uriarte (c) 2011


I hope you have as much fun as I did…