Saturday, July 28, 2012


Pretend for a moment that all that greenery is actually blue sky and sparkling turquoise - and hopefully shark-infested- waters and today's cardboard toy will make a lot more sense.

We made a pirate ship!

For Kate, who is in a pirate phase.
(And yes, I am aware that people with vision in only one eye have impaired depth perception and should probably not be allowed near sharp weapons, but I was watching Kate carefully, as I always do even on days when she is using both eyes, so if you were about to call Child Protection, put the phone down and go take a long walk off a short plank already. Arrrrrrrr!!!)

So now that we're all in the appropriately belligerent, piratey sort of mood, let me tell you about our afternoon.

As I was saying, Kate is in her pirate phase. Any play phase that isn't princess/mermaid/fairy-related is heartily welcome - and encouraged -in our home simply because it's a delightful deviation from the norm. And since we wanted to support Kate in her exploration of other dress-up genres, everybody helped her make what she needed.

Emily made eye-patches

and a beard

and the Jolly Roger.

I, under the captain's orders, made a stand for her sidekick, Polly.

Kate herself made a cardboard telescope, but it's already been misplaced so no photos - sorry.

And you all might remember the treasure chest from some months ago.

Then there was the seaworthy vessel. 

Here's the box we started with. 
I turned it inside out so it was plain brown outside and thus more intimidating to enemies than being a traveling billboard for household cleaning appliances (although Windtunnel is a cool name for a ship).

Each cardboard thing I make has to be approached differently, depending on whether it starts out as a box or a flat sheet, as well as whether that box needs alterations, reinforcement or any other special treatment. This box was a good width, but too short - it needed length extensions.

So I added a slopey stern

and a pointy bow. 

The sides of the bow were curled

and a snipped seam allowance (what is the cardboard equivalent for this sewing term?) was incorporated into the base to allow for better gluing.

The bow was first glued onto the existing flaps

and then the curved sides glued to the base, meeting at the front.

Because this cardboard was thin, I folded down the top 1" to make a hem (there's another sewing term!).

and as this side of the bow was 1" shorter than the rest of the box, I added the cardboard equivalent of a hem facing.

You might have noticed that I was working with the box still relatively intact as I added the extensions - this helped keep its shape.

And now we cut the top off, and folded-hemmed those sides.

At this point, the girls declared the boat a canoe, found plastic sticks for oars and began rowing.

But we weren't done. 
The next thing we added was a mast - and its support.

It just wedges into the boat and can be removed if the kids want to do the canoe thing again.

The masts themselves were dried sunflower stalks from a previous summer (yes, we save everything).

We added horizontal yards (made of cardboard rolled into skinny tubes) and glued sails onto them. The sails, incidentally, were just the brown packing paper that came in the box with the vacuum cleaner - I was too lazy to even leave the premises to look for something better.

One last thing - the support for the parrot stand.

We were going to add the helm (steering wheel thingy) - a paper plate and popsicle sticks paper-fastener-ed onto a cardboard column in the bow, but we ran out of time because I had to go cook dinner.

(Updated two days later)
We made the helm - front:


While all this shipmaking was going on, Kate visited and did her own crafting. See those notches?

They were pizza slices for Polly. Everyone knows pirate parrots eat pizza.

Kate also brought on board her diaper bag of caretaking accessories. All pirate ships have this, you know. 

While all this was going on, Emily was downstairs making paper hook gloves.

And Jenna was thinking up this pirate riddle:
Q: What do pirates do when they're waiting for someone?
A: They stay right where they arrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I've said this before but it's worth repeating: I love being a mom of small children :)

A shot of the kids in character, so you get an idea of the size of the ship.:

Finally: the name of our ship: after throwing out our suggestions for suitable pirate-ship names (I was rooting for The Black Pearl), Kate christened this Queen of the Waves. A bit Malibu-cruise-vessel-ish, but Kate is the captain, so QOTW it was.

Not planning to make the rotating cardboard periscope yet. Suddenly got the urge to sew 17 knit fabric headbands. When have I ever resisted the urge to mass-produce silly things? Off I went!    


  1. Oh. My. Gosh. This is, of course, far more impressive than anything I would have conjured. I feel a straight steal of your awesomeness coming on and two little happy pirates coming up! Thank you for sharing. And for being so darned creative! Arrrrrrr!

  2. Why 17???

    I love the pirate ship - and my kiddos would adore it! I may have just found some inspiration for the cardboard stash sitting behind the playroom couch...

    I love that Kate brought along her diaper bag. Being the mother of young children is the best!

  3. I think I want to be a mum just like you; completely with the mass proc´duction of silly things part =)

  4. My first thought about the scissors picture was, "How cool - she's experimenting with depth-perception!" Your kids are amazing :)

    I agree about Wind Tunnel as a good name for a ship, are amazing also!

  5. Adorable. Who wouldn't want to play with this. I have some swashbucklers that would get a kick out of making this, and bonus, it will keep them busy all afternoon! Thank you.

  6. I gotta imagine that your kids love being your kids as much as you love being their mama!

  7. Oooh, here's my favorite pirate joke:
    #1 - What's a pirate's favorite letter?
    #2 - Umm. I don't know, R?
    #1 - You'd think so, but 'tis the 'C'

  8. Child Protective Services never entered my mind until you mentioned it. My first thought was "wow! Her mother has taught her well!". This from someone who gets very nervous when "children" and "sharp objects" are in the same sentence! You amaze me! I am probably your mother's age and do not have little ones around much anymore but I still love to read your blog and see what you are up to next.

  9. how cool! you're an awesome mom!!

    little pirate trivia- pirates wore a patch over an eye so that when they went into the dark below deck out of the sun, they would uncover the eye with the patch and be able to, huh?

  10. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry impressive! And about one eyed vision and sharp objects, you should read this: ;-)

    1. Awesome! I should send that to Dad, too, since he's big into archery. Thank you!

  11. That's pretty awesome! I wish I had learned how to cardboard when I was a kid... we had lots of wonderful large boxes I could have used. =)

  12. Did you ever read the Swallows & Amazons books? Nice amount of pirate play in them. They are meant for older children so maybe something on the future to read list.

    1. No I haven't! I must go check it out. Hopefully there aren't princesses or fairies in them. Mermaids would be okay, I guess, given the setting. Maybe I'll be lucky and they'll be the real kind of mermaids - the sorts that eat sailors. Arrrr, indeed!

    2. No princesses or fairies or girly things like that. If you read them I'd love to know what you think!

  13. Wonderful! I'm torn between showing my boys and being scared that doing so will mean that I have to build a replica of the Dawn Treader from cardboard (my oldest is into all things Narnia at present).

  14. Here are a couple more jokes for Jenna
    What does a pirate drive on land??
    A Caaarrrggghhhh.

    What is a pirate's favourite letter of the alphabet?

    What is a sea monster's favourite food?
    Fish and ships.

    Also checkout this site and reserve the date (hopefully the ship lasts until then.
    Hope Kate is having fun in her ship. It is certainly a masterpiece.

  15. Love it. Looks like so much fun. I think I have a spare box around here somewhere...

  16. Love It!~ must add to summer crafting list

  17. This is cute! We're on a pirate kick at our house too!!!

  18. Uhhh. this is pretty awesome. :) You all obviously had a blast.

  19. Such fun. A couple more pirate jokes for Jenna:
    Q: How much did the pirate pay for the corn?
    A: A buck-an-ear!

    Q: What's a pirate's favourite letter?
    A: Arrrrrr!

  20. Another piratey joke for Miss Jenna:
    Q: How much did the pirate pay for the corn?
    A: A buck-an-ear!

  21. Love this idea, totally pinning it for inspiration!


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