Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rapunzel: Cardboard

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young maiden who lived in a tall tower

and she was very, very sad and lonely.
So she sang to keep herself sane.

One day, a handsome prince chanced to walk
by her tower and he heard her sing.

Having read all the right storybooks as a child,
he knew exactly how to get to where she was.

Unfortunately, because he was never very good
at gym (although he was a whiz at Science),
he couldn't rescue her.

Which disappointed the lovely maiden somewhat.

But, because he was
so handsome, and their circumstance
reminescent of another story of ill-fated
Shakespearean lovers
she'd read and loved as a child,
she walked down the staircase
and let him in by the front door.

And they lived happily ever after.

The end.

I love cardboard. I love it so much more than fabric.
When I need a break from sewing, I make cardboard
things. Whereas I never sew stuff when I need a
break from cardboard (which is never).
My favorite part of any kids' party is the cardboard.
Never mind the cake or the fabric nonsense or
felt food or Hello Kitties or whatever,
the cardboard is the real thing.

There is no party without the cardboard.

But making with cardboard under a time limit
with little kids at parties can get challenging,
so I often let them just do the decorating and
personalizing of cardboard toys.
Which suits me fine, because then
I get to do
all the making beforehand.

This is a little cardboard tower to house a little Rapunzel
(or Juliet) peg doll. Already my three girls have hijacked
some of the towers and the Rapunzels and fought
over the lone Prince guy and made up their own stories.
So I thought I'd take some pictures and share
them here so you can make them too.
Hint: make enough for each of your kids to have one,
because they will not want to share.

You'll need typical cardboard-crafting supplies and equipment:
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Strong scissors (I use kitchen scissors)
  • Craft /X-acto knife
  • Glue gun
  • Marker/pen/pencil and ruler
  • One peg doll

The Tower

Step 1

Cut a circle out of cardboard (we used corrugated cardboard). Our circle was made by tracing around a random coaster.

Measure the circumference of the circle. Cut out a rectangle of cardboard whose width is the circle's circumference plus one inch for overlap.

The height of the rectangle is whatever height you want the tower to be. Important: the ridges/spines of the cardboard should run parallel to the height of the tower, so that when you curve the rectangle to form the cylinder for the tower, it curves easily. One of the upcoming photos illustrates this further.

Step 2

Cut out the crenellations/battlements on the top edge of the rectangle:

Step 3

On the WRONG side of the cardboard, position the peg doll at the height you want it to be. Draw a window at face level. Also draw a horizontal line for the position of the floor the doll will stand on.

Step 4

Cut out the window.

Step 5

Curve the rectangle into a cylinder. Notice the ridges/spines of the corrugated cardboard (if you cut your rectangle in the correct orientation) running parallel to the height of the tower.

Step 6

Heat up your glue gun. You're going to be applying a thick line of glue all along that floor line you drew in Step 4, and rolling the wall onto the circular floor. Begin at one side of the wall, apply about 2-3" of glue along the floor line and press the edge of the circle onto it.

As the glue dries, continue applying more glue along the floor line and rolling the circle onto it. Roll the wall tightly around the edge of the circle so it makes good contact with the glue.

Step 7
When you get to the other end, apply glue along the overlap bit, and press firmly to seal the seam.

The floor should be firmly stuck in place like a high platform within the tower.

Here's the finished tower. Easy!


Step 1

Cut a long piece of yarn or trim for her braid. Stick it on the top of the head with craft glue.
Also cut out a piece of fleece (or felt) for her hair. Mine was roughly a broad leaf shape, and I cut small slits in the sides to wrap around the round head more snugly.

Step 2

Glue the toupee hair on her head.
This is all I'm doing for the peg dolls for the party. The kids will decorate their own Rapunzels with adhesive felt (buy these in sheets at craft stores) and self-adhesive gems and other felt stickons.

If the kids were older, I'd let them handle craft glue and make the entire doll, including the hair. And let them paint the dolls with acrylic paint. But these are 4-year-olds, and I think they'll manage better without the mess. So just stickers for them.

But for the sake of this tutorial, let's finish the doll, shall we?

Step 3

Stick adhesive felt around her body.

Step 4

Paint/draw on her face. We are going to use fine-tip permanent markers at the party. They bleed a little, but I don't think 4-year-olds are going to kick up a fuss about that.

Step 5

Embellish. Use trims, jewels, markers, whatever you like. We're sticking to only what's self-adhesive.

Step 6

Put Rapunzel in her tower, yell at her to Let Her Hair Down, and let the kids take it away.

Note: We're not providing Princes at the party. Emily wanted a Prince for her own story, so we made one - you can see him starring in the story at the beginning of this post. If you don't have peg dolls, use Playmobil. Or Legopeople. Or make your own small persons.

Next up: Our Rapunzel fishing game with daft caricatures!


  1. I love how your story ended! Too funny! (But ever so practical.) :)

  2. that is great and looks so easy..i will try ...thanks a lot..:))

  3. You always have so wonderful ideas !! Thank you for sharing...

  4. Uma ideia espetacular! Adorei! quero fazer com os meus meninos.
    Beijinhos e milsorrisoscoloridos

  5. this cracks me up! You like cardboard the best??!

    I want to show this to my husband, who made models all through architecture school.

  6. Love your blog and all the amazing tutorials - thank you!

    I'm so happy to share a tip with you...Fabric pens (the permanent ones) work really well for clothes pin doll faces because they don't bleed.

    Thanks again for all the goodness!

  7. Love your blog and all the amazing tutorials - thank you!

    I'm so happy to share a tip with you... Permanent fabric pens (the ones for drawing on shirts, etc.) work really well on clothes pin doll faces because they don't bleed.

    Thanks again for all the goodness.

  8. We love cardboard too- I think it's the number one medium in use around here these days. We have those peg people - I love how you decorated them! Great tutorial.

  9. Thanks, Lier! I used your tut to make little drummer boy drums.


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