Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm Almost There

I'm not going to be all secretive about the cardboard house (already established here that I tried and failed) and do a big reveal after days of silence. Cardboard projects are not like that. Fabric projects are like that, because the WIP stages of, say, a dress, look like a pile of rags with flyaway frayed edges, and annotations like "W.S." or "R.S" as the only hope for any recognition whatsoever. Cardboard projects, though, are beautiful even in all their intermediate stages. I think so, anyway. Plus, you can stop at any point and declare them finished, depending on whether you like the shredded surface look, or the natural brown veneer look, or the painted acrylic look, or something so processed that you can't even tell it's made of cardboard in the first place. 

So..... wanna see? Here you go.
The design is based on the actual plastic Barbie townhouse that you can buy on amazon. The tiny, grainy thumbnail I had to work with, though, didn't provide a lot of helpful details, so I had to make a lot of it up.

Those dangly wire things are the lights. They took a whole day to install.

See all the wiring on the walls (more on the floors for the rooms below)? They had to be recessed into the cardboard itself.

This way they lay flat under the surface, without bumps. But it also means that with all those worm-tunnels, I have to wallpaper the house. I feel slightly regretful, because I like the natural brown-and-white color combination it is now.

Also must show you this, in case you are ever lucky enough to come by a thick box like I was: in order to fold this triple-wall corrugated cardboard, I had to cut a deep channel half an inch wide, just so it would bend. Usually I just score a line and - presto - it folds. Not this three-layer kind. 

But it is so strong, and the house is so sturdy, it feels like I've been building with wood. I love all of it, even the slightly wonky elevator shaft, with one exception: I'm not crazy about the wheel-and-axle contraption that raises and lowers the elevator. It's (the wheel) not strong enough to be smoothly rotated with that little lever, but it had to be made this way, and placed where it is, so that Kate could reach it at all. 

There's still a fair bit of work left to do - wallpaper, light fixtures, curtain rods, patio tiles, little fences, and (dare I dream it) a spiral staircase like they have in some of the more charming cities of the world. And furniture, of course. But it's come to the point in the construction where all the engineering is done and we can call in the 4,5 and 7-year old interior decorators to join the fun. I'd like Kate to be able to say, "When I was 4 years old, I asked Mum to make me a cardboard Barbie House, and she did, and I helped."

Speaking of fun, I've started reading In Search of Schrodinger's Cat (sitting at the playground, shivering in the wind, while the kids played). I've always wanted to read it, since all the guys in our Physics class at Uni were reading it. But I also wanted to be a bit rebellious, so I read Alice in Quantumland instead, which was a softer option because it was a work of allegorical fiction (sort of). Now I'm catching up. Also ordered Mr Tompkins (in paperback), which I heard is excellent. And I'm still itching to sew. I've learnt something through all this, though - anytime I get sewing-related jadedness, all I need to do is build a cardboard house. 

P.S. That first photo? A bunch of optic fibers that I found in my electronics stash. There is one low-situated light bulb that can't be reasonably made into any kind of light fixture, so I thought, well... Barbie... she's sort of a groovy 70's chick, isn't she? Apart from also being a vintage babe with I Love Lucy hairdos, I mean. She should have a optic fiber lamp-cum-dried-twig display! Pity it isn't psychedelic or even color-changing, huh?


  1. WOW... super fantastic. We have the one you buy in the store:) If you need any more pictures I can send them. The girls are going to have a great time with it. They are so lucky!

  2. "...I asked Mum to make a cardboard Barbie house and she did..." Way to make memories!!! Awesome! :)

  3. Can't wait till you're 'there'!! So far so great....

  4. You could wallpaper with grocery sacks! Byerlys has some pretty ones! I must admit you've got me thinking. I was breaking down c-board in the garage this morning, and found a nice triple wall box, and a beautiful white one,(at least 20x20x4) and wondered how close you really are and if I could manage a meet-up to give you the boxes rather than re-cycling them! Is that bad or what? I think you come to Crafty Planet sometimes.

  5. I love how open it is! Hours of play in store, with this one!

  6. My best friend had the Barbie version (way back in the, um, 1970's) and I've gotta say that, except for the fact that yours is cardboard, it pretty much looks exactly like I remember it! You could wallpaper it with brown craft paper and Uhu glue stick. I use Uhu stick to re-cover journals with decorative paper and it works really well.
    really beautiful and looks like so much fun!

  7. What a fantastic and beautiful project! The lights remind me of the Lundby houses from Sweden (http://www.lundby.com.au/) and I love how high and spacious it is.


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