I love it.
You've probably heard of tiffin carriers, and even seen the modern plastic/melamine ones for sale alongside bento boxes and other tupperware-type storage containers. Or even the slightly-more-traditional stainless steel ones. But let me show you some antique tiffin carriers from my culture:
Have you ever seen anything like them? Oh, that nyonya/peranakan culture (with which one also associates the sarong kebayas and kasut maneks and amazing food)! The handiwork and workmanship! Scream.
So anyway, those tiffin carriers (tiffin is a word originating in British India, meaning "light meal") of yore were my inspiration for the artwork on this cardboard version. I don't often decorate my cardboard projects because they're almost always for the kids, who then get first dibs on embellishing. But this one is mine. And I peranakan-ed it as best as I could with a modern Sharpie.
Back in Singapore, we called tiffin carriers "tingkats" (meaning "tiers/floors" in Indonesian/Malay). They aren't used for transporting food as much now with the advent of disposable styrofoam and plastic food boxes. But in the old days, as a child, I remember food brought to our house in stainless steel tiffin carriers bybicycle-riding delivery people . They were (and still are) a popular way to have meals catered to one's home, particularly when one was shut-in or generally unable to cook. Very useful for postpartum mums! One can still order weekly/monthly tiffin meals off extensive multiple-course menus from various companies as we did back then, but they cost a lot more now. I've often wished we had this here in the US, especially when I had my babies, but I suppose that's what pizza delivery is sort of, or Chinese take-out. Not anywhere as charming, though.
I've wanted to make this for... I dunno..... a year, at least. Wasn't quite sure how to get the handle to stay on securely, while still allowing access to stacking and unstacking the tiered containers. So I slept on it - for this many months. Then this week I needed a warm-up project before tackling the massive Barbie (or 12-inch-dolls, as we must more PC-ly call them) townhouse for Kate. So this is my Get The Motor Running project. Enjoy!
I'll walk you through the more interesting parts of this project, especially since these have applications for other projects.
First are the containers themselves. They are circular, which might be intimidating to some, but fear not! This is one of probably many methods, but it's one I like and use all the time. The post important thing to remember is to cut the side of the cylinder so that the flutes are parallel to how you'd roll the cardboard to curve it.
Now roll the strip of cardboard. To get it to curve smoothly, you'll need to be diligent so that the cardboard is bent along every flute.
Then glue it on using this old tutorial.
Here's a new technique to make seamless joints. You can use it with shapes other than a circle, too, but it is an improvement that's most noticeable with a circle because circles have no corners at which to hide seams. This is what a regular overlapping joint looks like. Very crude and abrupt, but I use this all the time, too.
For this tiffin carrier, however, I needed the joint to be seamless so I could fit cylinders within cylinders as part of the design (more evident later) and also because I wanted a smooth outer surface to draw on.
To do this, glue the side of the cylinder onto the base as you normally would, but leave the first inch or so of the beginning of the strip unglued. When you have come around to where you began, do not glue the overlap down.
Then cut off the extra 1/2" overlap of just the flute layer, leaving the liner layers long for overlapping. Apply glue to the inner liner, tuck that under the starting end of the strip
and stick that down. Notice how the flute layer meets perfectly at the seam with no overlap. Then glue on the outer liner layer for a seamless finish.
Folded loops were glued to opposite sides of the containers
to allow them to slide on and off the frame of the carrier.
An important part of the design was to have the containers stack into one another without shifting around or, worse, sliding off.
which was just a smaller, much flatter circular "container" stuck onto the bottom of the main one.
The lid was made to fit onto the containers the same way.
With these techniques, you can make any cylindrical structure - think pots and pans for kids' play kitchens, coffee pots, blenders, cups, mugs.......
The frame was cut out as a single piece in this shape:
Again, a very important consideration was the alignment of the flutes: they were parallel to the length of the "arms" so that they would not bend or fold accidentally during the process of slotting the arms into the loops of the containers. The arms were simply folded up to accommodate the containers.
The handle was a single strip (with the flutes in the same alignment as the arms of the base) folded into this shape.
An extra piece of cardboard was added to each end to accommodate the paper fastener.
Then the back face of this extra piece was glued to the bottom of the frame arms, enclosing the prongs of the paper fastener so they are hidden and unable to get loose.
A carrying loop was glued to the top of the handle. Note that the handle was held in place by snug fit between it and the knob of the lid (technical term = static friction).
The lower the headroom of the handle, the flatter the knob needed to be. However, the handle still had to clear the edge of the lid when it swiveled off:
so it was just a matter of ensuring that freedom of movement first, and then stacking as many small circles as needed to make it stay put. I figure that the snugness is going to wear off over time, in which case I'd just stick on another circle (or two).
And that's all to it. As always, building with cardboard is just half the fun - the other half is designing workable elements to the whole structure to it make a sturdy and non-frustrating toy for the kids.
And prettying it up at the end, of course!
This one is right at the top of my favorite cardboard projects (for now). It's not going into the recycling bin anytime soon!
Now (SIGH) to get started on the townhouse. I've never procrastinated doing a cardboard project by making another cardboard project so, even for me, this is a groundbreaking example of laziness.