I had two fixations in my head this last month—making a toy theater and making stuff out of old moving boxes from the garage. I made a crown and sword for Halloween out of these boxes and found it so thrilling (just using masking tape and a utility knife) that I immediately starting thinking bigger. I have made small theaters before (and there is a pattern for a cloth one in my first book) and I also had plans to make one using these images, but in the end—I went for a totally homemade one.
I just winged it for the design and started hacking away. What I love about making this out of an old moving box and using no plans, measurements, or even a straight edge to cut with, is that it makes every decision changeable and spontaneous. I really tried hard not to use a ruler, because once it gets too perfect, it loses its charm. I actually was taught to make models this way in architecture school, and it was so liberating. If it's not perfect, it's easier to design, because you aren't worried about taking it apart and making changes. It's a great way for me to work while incorporating the girls' ideas. And, you know, it's just a box—so who cares if it doesn't work out. It was free! And we have plenty more!
Here it is in progress. I kept all the tape on there and painted over it. There is pretty much no glue, just masking tape. I did glue some of the decorative details on toward the end.
And the painting—I won't lie here, acrylic paint and kids freaks me out but tempera wasn't the right choice for this. It's pretty much a stain-type activity, no matter how many wet towels I have on hand. But we did fine. Except the paint on the wall. Oops. I did limit the color choice to one, because then they could all paint and have fun and Mommy didn't get all controlling and freaky. Most crafts I let them have at it, but sometimes not, especially if I am getting all crazy excited about something I have built. They are cool with that, and actually I think it's good for them to respect what I have made and work with me in collaboration every once in a while.
After the two coats of red paint were dry, we added some stickers which I picked up at Michael's. They are self-adhesive borders that I cut apart and stuck on. That's all we bought for this project—we had the red paint, tape, and cardboard box already.
I made slots in the back to hold 3 layers of backdrops. The girls made a Nutcracker set, and I have since made a hanging cloud set. The flooring can change easily with colored paper. The backdrop ideas just keep coming, and it's really cool to see them switch them out and play. The ballet characters are just drawings of theirs I glued to cardstock and added a stander to. This took about 3 days of us all working on it a little bit. So fun. I miss my babies, but it is so wonderful having older kids now who dig this type of stuff. Unbelievable fun.