Other Mother Box





Introduction: Other Mother Box

About: I love everything about mail. I have fascinations with Cold War culture, military design, espionage, hermits, religion, and typewriters. Old books and papers are my favorite treasures, and making things by h...

There are all kinds of strange and wonderful boxes showing up across the Internet to promote the new Coraline movie. I, unfortunately, did not rate high enough on the coolness scale to receive one. Rather than cry myself to sleep, bemoaning my lack of boxness; I decided to get creative and make a box of my own.

This box is based on some boxes that have been sent by the [your, mine, our] Other Mother. I'm not selling them on my Etsy site. I don't think it would be proper. I do think that everyone who wants one should be able to have one; so I've made this Instructable. I hope you like it.

Step 1: Print Templates and Gather Materials

I've done all the hard work here and made up a template for everyone. I hope to have a PDF version available as well. This template will make a palm-sized box which I think is around the size of the original.

For this project you will need the following:
1 sheet of illustration board* at least 8.5" X 11"
1 yard 0.75" ribbon
1 sheet covering paper 11" X 17"
1 piece riser paper at least 5.5" X 8.5"
1 sheet scrap paper
1 fabric scrap at least 5.5" X 8.5"
1 piece thin cardboard** at least 2" X 2"
white glue
glue stick
clear packing tape
regular hole punch
0.5" circle template
box templates
craft knife
bone folder***
small paintbrushes
black ink

*You can use any sort of stiff board which you think would make a sturdy box.
**The back of notepads is good for this.
***You don't need this tool, per se. I use it to burnish some lines with, which can be done with a capped pen or any other sort of pressure-putting, non-marking object.

Step 2: Prepare Templates

For this step you'll need your templates and a pencil (Photo 1).

What I do is trace the solid lines of the template with a soft lead pencil. This is making a sort of pseudo carbon paper. You can trace directly on the printed template or onto some tracing paper which is what I'm doing in the second photo. When you've traced all the solid lines you're ready to transfer the design to the illustration board.

Step 3: Transfer the Templates

For this step you'll need your prepared templates, bone folder and illustration board.

Turn the prepared template, traced side down onto your illustration board. I align my templates with the flat sides of my board to reduce the number of cuts I have to make later (Photo 1). Hold the template steady with your hand and with the bone folder or another burnishing device, rub along the backside of the pre-traced lines (Photo 2). When you finish rubbing the entire design, you should have transferred the template to your illustration board as seen in Photos 3 and 4.

Step 4: Cut Your Box Pieces

For this step you'll need your craft knife, ruler and illustration board with transferred designs (Photo 1).

Using the lines on your board as a guide to align the ruler, cut out your box top and bottom (Photo 2). Remember that you are only cutting the outside lines. Do not try to cut through the entire piece of illustration board in one pass. I often take as many as six passes with the knife to fully cut a piece (Photo 3). This makes for smoother cuts and less Band-aid incidents.

Step 5: Score the Box Pieces for Folding

For this step you will need the craft knife, ruler and box top and bottom pieces (Photo 1).

Starting on the fronts of the pieces, use your ruler to mark a straight line between the corners as shown in Photo 2. You will be scoring these edges which are shown as dotted lines in the template. Scoring is not cutting all the way through the board. 2-3 passes with the craft knife should be sufficient.

When you have scored all around the front of the pieces, flip them and repeat the process on the back (Photo 3). I only run the craft knife once on the back just to help make sure that I don't cut all the way through the board. You should have two pieces which look like Photo 4 when you are finished.

Step 6: Making the Box

For this step you will need your cut and scored box pieces, clear packing tape and scissors (Photo 1).

Carefully bend down the tab flaps of your cut and scored box pieces (Photo 2). They should bend easily along the scored lines. You should be able to see the box form at this point (Photo 3). You can also check to see if any of your tabs are a bit too big and trim them accordingly so that your box has an even edge.

Using your scissors, cut small pieces of packing tape to secure the corners of your box top and bottom (Photo 4). You don't have to mummify the edges with tape; a small piece should be sufficient. When you're done taping, you should have your basic box and top created (Photo 5).

Step 7: Cut Paper to Cover the Box

For this step you will need your covering paper, ruler, glue stick and box bottom and top (Photo 2).

I always like to check the fit of my box lid (Photo 1). I've never had one not fit, but I've only made three. Still it would be quite sad if you got through every step and then discovered your box didn't fit together.

Now is the time to cut the pieces for covering your box. I use the ruler to help estimate the size that I will need. You'll want a piece that is big enough to cover both the outside and inside of the box edges (Photo 3). I always go with a little more than double the size of the box edge. Cut out your pieces for the top and the bottom and then use the glue stick to smear glue all over the flat part of the box piece (Photo 4). Then place the glue side of the box down in center of the covering paper.

Step 8: Begin Cutting the Paper to Cover the Box

For this step you will need your box pieces affixed to their covering paper sheets, ruler and craft knife.

Begin by folding up the paper along the long edge of the box (Photo 1). Use your fingers to crease the paper so that you will be able to see both the top of the box and where the box corners are located through their impression in the paper (Photo 2). Let those crease lines be the guide for your ruler as you cut a straight line, perpendicular to the horizontal crease along the right edge to the outer edge of the paper, but not to the edge of the box (Photo 3). You're leaving that uncut so that you can make flaps. The flaps make for a seamless covering of the box without any pesky gaps at the corners. To make the flaps, align the ruler with the horizontal crease and cut to the right about 0.5". Then align the ruler with the angle of the box corner and complete a cut to the horizontal cut (Photo 4). Your cut should look like the profile of a bird or a backwards 1. Mirror these cuts on the other side and your project should look like Photo 5.

Step 9: Continue Cutting the Paper to Cover the Box

For this step you will need your box pieces affixed to their covering paper sheets, ruler and craft knife.

Hold the ruler flush with the first angled side of the box, directly at the corner of your previous cut and trim away the excess paper (Photo 1). Then, move to the sharpest corner of the box and align your ruler parallel with the long side of the box and make a cut all the way from the corner to the edge of the paper (Photo 2). You should now have a second flap to work with.

Begin by folding up the flap along the angled edge of the box (Photo 3). Just like in the last step, use your fingers to crease the paper so that you will be able to see both the top of the box and where the box corners are located through their impression in the paper. Repeat the same steps from Step 8 to create the folding flap so that your cut looks like a backwards 1 (Photos 4 and 5).

Step 10: Finish Cutting the Paper to Cover the Box

For this step you will need your box pieces affixed to their covering paper sheets, ruler and craft knife.

Hold the ruler flush with the second angled side of the box, directly at the corner of your previous cut and trim away the excess paper (Photo 1). Repeat Steps 8 and 9 for the other flaps of the box. Your cut paper should look like Photo 2. I also trim the ends of my flaps so that they are square (Photo 3), but that is not a necessity.

Step 11: Glue the Covering Paper to the Box

For this step you will need your prepared box pieces with their trimed cover sheets, glue stick and scrap piece of paper.

Place your box with cut flaps down on your scrap piece of paper. Starting with the long side, run the glue stick completely over the covering paper including the edges and flaps (Photo 1). Gently bend the paper up to the side of the box (Photo 2) and apply pressure to the flaps against the box so that they affix (Photo 3). Repeat this with the angled side which has a flap. (The one that looks like a backwards 1.) Skip the straight flaps and continue gluing up the next long side and angled side with a flap. You should have a box that looks like Photo 5. Glue those flaps up last. There shouldn't be any of the original illustration board of the box showing through the paper.

Step 12: Finish Covering the Box

Repeat Steps 7 - 11 on the bottom of the box to create the fully covered box.

Step 13: Begin Decorating the Box

For this step you will need your covered box, pencil, ruler and stripe guide from the template.

NOTE: If you aren't trying to make an exact replica of the box, there is no need to do this step. I made a box where I used a pretty paper instead. The striping is for those of us who want our Other Mother box to look as official as possible.

Using the template and pencil, mark out the widths of your stripes (Photo 1). I add a little "x" to where I know I want it to be solid black. Then use your straight edge to mark out the lines using the marks as a guide (Photo 2). Continue the stripes all around the edge of the box including to the inside of the lid (Photos 3-5).

Step 14: Paint the Stripes on the Box

For this step you'll need black ink, small paint brushes, and more patience than a saint.

This is point in the project where my boyfriend walked in and called me crazy. Carefully paint in the black stripes on the box. I find it easiest to paint one side of the stripe (Photo 1) and then go back and do the other side after the first side dries. Remember that you have to paint the sides and inside of the box too. Repeat Steps 13 and 14 on the other half of the box. I wait to do this side because I want to make my stripes mostly line up when the box is closed. You can see where I'm using the first painting as a guide in Photo 2.

The reason for not painting the stripes before hand (or for using striped paper) is because when you fold the stripes, they become diagonal on the sides. It looks kinda neat, but isn't accurate to the originals.

Step 15: Measure Out the Inner Riser

For this step you will need the bottom of your box, pencil, piece of riser paper and ruler (Photo 1).

Place the box atop the riser paper* and trace along the bottom with the pencil. Set your ruler in about an eighth of an inch from that line and retrace (Photo 2). Mark out 5/8ths of an inch from the retraced line (Photo 3) and redraw the hexagon. Add in marks at the corners at right angles (Photo 4). Your drawing should now look similar to the template for the box top (Photo 5).

*You'll want to pick a semi-sturdy paper for this. You won't need card stock, but regular copy paper will be too flimsy.

Step 16: Make the Inner Riser

For this step you will need the bottom of your box, scissors, piece of marked riser paper, craft knife and ruler.

Cut out the measured riser with your scissors (you can use the craft knife, but this is faster)(Photos 1-2). Use the ruler and the dull side of the craft knife to score the flaps of the riser on one side similar to the process in Step 6 (Photo 3). Fold the riser into shape along the scored edges (Photo 4). Test the fit of your riser (Photo 5). If it doesn't fit you'll need to move in your folds another eighth of an inch all around. I've never had one not fit though.

Step 17: Add the Ribbon

For this step you'll need your box, your 3/4" ribbon, scrap paper and glue stick.

Measure out the ribbon by placing it on the box. Cut your pieces a little long, remembering that you'll want them to carry over the insides of the box bottom and top. Decide which side of the ribbon you want to be face up. Place the ribbon face down on the scrap paper and apply the glue stick along its back (Photo 1). Start at the inside (Photo 2) and affix the ribbon to the center of the box, taking care to keep it straight (Photo 3). Repeat on the box top and check your alignment (Photo 4). Same as the stripes, the ribbon should line up (Photo 5).

Step 18: Make the Inner Liner for the Box Top

For this step you will need the box top, some covering paper, pencil, ruler, glue stick and scrap paper.

Note: There is a strip of silver ribbon on my example here which is not a part of the original design. I ran out of my 3/4" ribbon and had to make a bow from the smaller silver ribbon. The bow looked silly without the extra stripe.

To cover up the nasty middle of the box, you'll need to cut out an inner liner. Place the box top on a piece of the leftover covering paper and trace around the edge. With your ruler, mark inside the line about 1/8th of an inch (Photo 2). Cut out this smaller hexagon with your ruler and craft knife (Photo 3). Check the fit of the liner. If it is too big, trim it to fit. Once it fits, place the liner on the scrap paper and glue all the way to the edges (Photo 4). Then pressed the glued side down to the inside of the box top (Photo 5).

Step 19: Make the Bow

For this step you will need your 3/4" ribbon, scissors, and needle and thread.

Note:I ran out of my 3/4" ribbon and had to make a bow from the smaller silver ribbon to show you how. You can see how the 3/4" bow is supposed to look in the Intro photo.

Okay, so the trick to this is to not think about it like you're tying a bow; we're just going to make it look like a bow. Start with a long length of ribbon and make two bends in the middle, like a staple would bend. Allow the ends to go past the edges of the loops and pinch it in the middle. You should get what I have in Photo 1.

Take your needle and thread and sew the bow together at the point you are pinching (Photos 2-3). It only needs to be a little 'x" of sewing; you'll be securing it with glue and another piece of ribbon soon. You should have what looks like Photo 4. Trim the ends of the ribbon into V points (Photo 5).

Step 20: Finish the Bow

For this step you will need a small piece of ribbon, your bow, glue stick, white glue, and scrap paper.

Place glue along one side of the small piece of ribbon (Photo 1). Wrap the glued ribbon around the center of the bow (Photo 2), covering up the stitching (Photo 3). Pinch closed for a while to ensure the ribbon sticks and trim any excess. Place a dot of white glue on the back of the bow (Photo 4) and place in the center of the box top (Photo 5). I will also weight this down while the glue is drying to make sure the ribbon in the center of the bow doesn't pop up before the glue is dried.

Step 21: Cover the Riser

For this step you will need your inner riser, scrap of fabric, scissors and clear packing tape (Photo 1).

Place the riser top down on the scrap of fabric. Wrap it up from the edges and secure with small pieces of packing tape (Photos 2-4). Insert the covered riser into the bottom of the box (Photo 5).

Step 22: Start the Spool

For this step you will need some left over covering paper, glue stick, ruler, craft knife and scrap paper.

Cut out a strip of paper 3.4" wide by 12" long (Photo 1). Put the strip on the scrap paper and cover one side with glue (Photo 2). Start at one end and fold the glue to the inside (Photo 3). Continue the paper up in a roll (Photo 4) until you have a nice tube for the center of your spool (Photo 5).

Step 23: Make the Tops of the Spool

For this step you will need your piece of thin cardboard, circle template, pencil, scissors, and hole punch.

Start by tracing two 0.5" circles on to the piece of thin cardboard (Photo 1). Cut of the circles with the scissors (Photos 2 and 3). Use the hole punch to put a hole in the center of each cut circle (Photos 4 and 5).

Step 24: Finish the Spool

For this step you will needs your spool center from Step 22, your spool tops from Step 23, white glue, black ink and small paintbrush.

Add some white glue around the edges of the center holes of the cardboard discs (Photo 1). Place the center on top of one of the discs (Photo 2) and top with the second disc (Photo 3). Darken the insides of the holes with the ink and paintbrush (Photo 4).

Step 25: Wrap the Spool

For this step you'll need your newly made spool and thread.

This step is very easy, but takes some time. Just start wrapping the thread at one end (Photo 1) and keep wrapping and filling in empty spaces as you go until you're finished (Photo 2).

Step 26: Make It an Other Mother Box

For this step you'll need everything you just made plus two matched buttons and a needle.

Okay, so the Other Mother carefully chooses a pair of buttons ("Black is traditional.") and thoughtfully includes a needle and spool of thread. The Other Mother is always prepared and thinking of you.

I hope you liked the Instructable. There are many options available for it. You can see a different example in the photos here. The stripes really are the hard part. Read Coraline. Go see Coraline. Listen to the Harper Audiobook where Neil Gaiman reads Coraline. It's amazing. It's fueled many a project of mine.

-Donovan Beeson



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    16 Discussions

    Wow this is really neat! I loved the movie and now i can make the gift the other mother gives :D

    Can you PLEASE sell them on etzy???? please please please i tried making this and i failed i would buy so many xxxxx

    oh my god I can't believe I found this! Can't wait to begin making it! I've already made a Coraline Doll. I love Coraline!!!!

    I read the book this last week, and then saw the movie tonight with my kids.  ...When I saw the box in the movie, I remembered seeing this on here a while ago and wondering what in the world it was. 

    Now I get it!  Very cool, I like it.

    I seen this movie with my daughter in 3-D. The beginning made me a lil woozy..lol. Good instructable and sorry ya didn't get that box :( Lemonade from lemons, as they say ;)

    Amazing! I saw this movie, and have yet to read the book. However, I NEED TO!!

    This is Amazing! Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

    Thanks for sharing your templates - I'm also sad that I missed out on the mystery box and button box fun, but now I can make my own! :)

    O.M.G. I didn't even know about the Coraline Boxes until I started reading your instructable. This means I'm going to have to make one, or something like it since I can't put in actual artifacts from the film production itself...