Cardboard UFO!

Introduction: Cardboard UFO!

I am undeniably more than a bit cardboard-crazy. It's just the perfect material for nearly all of my projects; it's easy to cut and stack, easy to paint over, and best of all, I can almost always get it for free! (Thanks DGSHS Go-Green Tuesdays.)

Our porch has been pretty bland this October, and with Halloween rapidly approaching, we needed something to liven it up. So thanks to a super-surplus of cardboard, I was able to create a porch that was out-of-this world with a cardboard UFO!

Its features include the following:

-Has a three-foot diameter

-Two sets of lights for nighttime decor

-Entirely made of cardboard

-Painted features and aliens in cockpit


1. Cardboard, and lots of it

2. String lights; ones with battery packs are preferable so this decoration could be installed anywhere instead of limited to a charger. I used a string of white lights and a Christmas light-up necklace.

3. Hot glue gun

4. Paint (I used acrylic)

Step 1: Cardboard Cutting

This step is definitely the most time consuming, as it requires tracing and cutting out every single piece in the structure.

There were five different types of pieces included in this project, dimensions as follow:

1. Octagon (x1): Radius of 2.4", and each side is 2.75". Sits at very top of cockpit.

2. Trapezoid 1 (x8): 2.75" at top, 4.5" at bottom, and 4" tall. Connects with octagon to form first slant in cockpit .

3. Trapezoid 2 (x8): 4.5" at top, 7" at bottom, and 4" tall. Final cockpit pieces.

4. Trapezoid 3 (x8): 7" at top, *16" at bottom, and 12" tall. These compose the main body slants.

*With the angle that I glued at, I needed to add supports between these pieces as their bases weren't long enough to connect, so I would recommend doing 16" at the bottom instead of the 14" that I did.

5. Trapezoid 4 (x8): 16" at top, 14" at bottom, 7" tall. These pieces lean inwards. Once again, I used 14" at top and 9" for bottom, but they didn't connect all the way and required supports, so starting them longer is better.

If needed, any of these pieces can be trimmed to fit, so err on the side of bigger in the beginning.

Step 2: Hot Gluing

This is also a really time-consuming task, especially when it came down to the larger pieces. It uses a lot of hot glue sticks too, so make sure to stock up before furthering this adventure.

1. Take the octagon and one of the Trapezoid Ones, and glue a joint with the 2.75" sides matching. This should not be vertical, but with a mild slope outwards. Repeat with the rest of the Trapezoid Ones, gluing the sides of the trapezoid together as well, and it should look like a bowl.

For additional support in this step and onwards, I used tall cups for propping up the cardboard as I glued. Once the first piece is dried into place, the rest get much easier.

2. Connect the shorter side of Trapezoid Twos to the side of the Trapezoid Ones. Every side glued together in this step will have the same dimension as its partner side. Add a greater outward slope between the Ones and Twos by increasing the angle by which they're glued together.

3. This is definitely the hardest one. Glue on the Trapezoid Threes to the Trapezoid Twos at a much greater angle. It would be recommended to either have extra hands to hold the first piece in place, or use some sort of support under the piece. I once again used cups from the kitchen.

4. Finally, flipping the structure upside down, glue the Trapezoid Fours to the Threes, this time with an angle sloping inwards instead of out. For extra support, I also cut rectangles and glued them vertically inside before adding the Trapezoid Fours, but that might not be necessary if they actually connect.

Step 3: Optional Ending: Accept the UFO As the Ultimate Sombrero

Step 4: Painting

This is where there's a lot of room for creativity!

I did my UFO in two shades of gray, and painted on bolts on the edges and near the cockpit. The cockpit was painted white, and I also added some small aliens inside for good measure.

There's definitely no right way to do this, so this step depends on whatever design you want to go for!

Step 5: Add Lights

So finally, since this project will be displayed in the nighttime, and since UFOs always have rocking lights, add some string lights around the perimeter or inside.

I used a string of white lights and taped it to the perimeter using Scotch tape because it had a battery pack, and wasn't limited to outlet availability. Any other color would work, and even having a string with an outlet would also work, but I just used what I had at home.

I also used a light-up Christmas necklace on the inside and attached it to the inside also using Scotch tape. It isn't visible in any pictures, but this made the UFO have an ethereal glow from underneath, like it's about to abduct something...

Step 6: Hang and Admire

Finally, I poked a wire hanger through the top of the craft, and spread out the sides inside the UFO while leaving the hook poking out so it could be hung on a nail.

This is great as an outside decoration, but make sure that it's in a covered area, as rain could make the cardboard fall apart. I'm leaving mine up on our porch, but since I hung it very close to the edge of the pavilion, I will definitely take it down if it rains.

This project is a great way to give your house a budget-Area-51 vibe this Halloween!

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    1 year ago

    This is so cool! How did you come up with the shape of each individual piece of cardboard? They come together so nicely!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much! I thought of each layer of the UFO almost as a circle with a different radius. So the octagon was pretty much inscribed in that circle, and another octagon was incribed in the circle of the previous piece. The trapezoids then connected the larger octagon with the smaller, if that makes any sense. The heights were just guesstimated to be honest :)
    I'll attach some brainstorming pics below too (it's a little messy...):