Introduction: Art Caddy From Cardboard (Toilet Paper) Rolls

This caddy holds more than 300 pens, pencils, and markers and is almost a year old. It turns out to be remarkably durable and easy to repair.

When my daughter began to use markers and crayons, we ran into a problem: If the container holding them is taller-than-it-is-wide, it will tip. Wider-than-it-is-tall won't tip, but you can't see what you have; it is a big pile in a box. SO: the perfect solution is lots of tall things, glued together into something wide.

Step 1: Lining Up to Rolls.

A key step in making the caddy sturdy is making sure that the rolls have good contact with each other and the base. First line up to rolls without glue to make sure they will stand next to each other and flat on the board. Sometimes rolls are cut on a slight angle on one end.

Glue them together standing up, so that the bottoms are flat on a flat surface.

Then, lay the whole row on its side so that it dries flat and straight.

Allow the glue to dry overnight.

Step 2: Gluing to the Base

Once the row is dry, glue it to the base.

Cut the base to the right size, leaving a little room all around to ensure a solid connection. In this example I used mat board for the base, though ordinary corrugated cardboard works equally well.

Put a few drops of glue on the bottom of the rolls and use these to mark the "footprint" of the rolls on the base.

Now trace the footprint with lots of glue and put the rolls on.

Put something heavy on top of the rolls while this dries to keep the base from bowing or wrinkling.

Step 3: Assembling

Glue on additional rows one or two at a time. At each point that one roll contacts another roll or the base, use lots of glue. It will dry clear. Allow the glue to dry completely each time.

Rolls can be cut to shorter lengths to accommodate crayons, memory sticks, coins, et cetera.

Painting or decorating each row before gluing is easiest. I used cheap hobby acrylics and finished with water based acrylic varnish.

Step 4: Repair

Any sufficiently ambitious child will, at some point, attempt to stuff too many markers into a roll. It will burst. When this happens:

Cut a new roll lengthwise on an angle.

Put the cut roll tightly into the burst roll and mark it for a flush fit.

Cut the new roll on the line and apply glue.

Insert new roll tightly into the burst roll. Allow to dry


Now the tube is even stronger than before.

Step 5: Done!


The number of configurations possible is limited only by the imagination. Actually, it is limited by the number of toilet paper rolls you have.

But toilet paper rolls are trash and glue is cheap, so these things, regardless of how big, are almost free.

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