Have you ever built a treehouse?
Or played in a treehouse?
I built a treehouse when I was 12. I found a giant tree in a vacant lot near my house and claimed it as my own. I hauled all the scrap wood and cardboard I could find to my new construction site and worked every day until it was done. Then I invited my sisters over for a visit.
As you can see in this photo, my abode in the trees was magnificent!
I think building a treehouse is a childhood essential - at least for us creative types, so I asked my young art students if they had ever built a treehouse. Unfortunately, they had not. So instead, a few decided to do the next best thing. They would build a MODEL of an awesome treehouse!
Each artist started with a sheet of cardboard and a simple template of a strong tree, such as an elm. I designed this first for them to trace because, by golly, you don't normally have to build the tree - you just find a good one to build the house in! Anyway, they traced it twice on the cardboard and cut it out, mostly using shears and occasionally a canary cutter. (No craft knives necessary, and definitely not scissors - they are not strong enough.)
The two shapes were then slit halfway down the centers: one halfway up from the bottom and one halfway down from the crook of the branches. Then we inserted the slits one into the other to create a (very sturdy) free standing tree. This is called the slot technique for attaching cardboard pieces.
They wanted to those treehouses in there right way, so they cut the shape of the floor, added slits, and inserted the trunks through the slits. Then they made roofs and walls and doors and windows to complete the treehouse.
Artists also wanted to add leaves or canopies to their trees, so they cut cloud-shapes, which they slit and pushed down over the top branches.
This is a round tree house, being created by a brother and sister team.
You can see they have added a little green into their shady canopy and a rope ladder for easy access.
This treehouse includes a waterslide and a swimming pool full of toys! What a 'cool' way to get out of the house, right?
And if you don't feel like getting wet, there's always the tire swing to hang around on.
Cardboard is such a versatile medium, you can make pretty much anything with it!
This artist made animals with cardboard. She started by drawing an cutting out the body shapes and U-shaped legs. Then she painted everything.
When they were dry, she cut the slits and inserted the legs into the bodies. Then she glued on googly eyes, and took them home to add more details, like tails and manes made from yarn.
Here's a giraffe that she made, along with the zebra and an elephant for her animal menagerie.
If you have a little time and you want to get serious about working with cardboard, try creating a small 3D stand-up scene such as this Butterfly Fish swimming along through a coral reef. I made this one, and it was so much fun! As an art teacher, I often feel so lucky to be 'allowed' to think and act like a kid again. Why not give it a try?