Introduction: Easy Boxes and Cubes

About: I'm an artist, environmentalist, animal lover, gardener, recycling nut, a high school teacher, crafter, Mom, Christian and widow who reads a lot in between figuring out how to do things.
Many of my projects here are things I do with my students as an art teacher. One of my favorite crafts to show my students is to make a box without a pattern from a single sheet of paper. This will show you my simple method.

Disclaimer 1: This works better in person 
Disclaimer 2: I think I stole this from a fellow art teacher who probably stole it from someone else.
Disclaimer 3: You may also steal this idea from me.

Step 1: Dividing Your Paper Into 4 or 3

When I do this project with my students, I use 9x12 or 12X16 paper.

Why? It is a hidden success factor in that the paper dimensions are already mathematically predisposed for success, the paper already is something easily divisible into equal chunks. 9x12 divides into 3 inch squares, whereas 12x16 is divided into 4 inch squares.

You'll be dividing your paper into 4 and 3. Divide the paper into 4 on the longest side (in the example, 9"x12" paper, dividing the 12" into 4). The other direction, the shorter side will be divided into 3 (9" divided into 3). In both of these directions the answer is 3". This is why the hidden success factor works, because if for example your paper is 8.5 x 11- standard copy paper, then this doesn't work without some trimming.

For 8.5" x 11 paper, you will need to do this:
Divide 11 by 4 = 2.75 inches
2.75 x 3 = 8.25 inches, Cut off .25 inches from 8.5 side of paper.

Generally with my students of any age I begin with the smallest size, 9x12 and teach how to create the cube. Or if I have not much budget for supplies I take copy paper that has been used and reuse it, cutting to make it 8.25 x 11 or 7.5 x 10. In a class of 30 I will usually have about 10-15% who make a mistake and cut incorrectly and will need to start over. So therefore, I try to use the smallest paper with the least amount of waste as possible.

Step 2: Divide by 4 or 3

Fold your paper (long) into half. (Hamburger fold)
Fold each side of the half into halves- dividing your paper into 4.

Rotate your paper 90 degrees.
On the short side, you'll divide your paper into 3.

3 ways to do this:
1. When your folding one edge, look for a square to happen in the unfolded and folding sections. When you've achieved a square- fold away
2. Roll your paper into a tube like structure, overlapping the two outer sides. When they all line up, fold this down.
3. Measure carefully and draw lines. Fold on lines.

After folding, you'll use your fold lines as cut line. Cut on the longer sides on the 3 fold lines. Cut all the way to where the lines intersect. or cross Cut 3 times.

If you've cut 2 times, you did it the wrong direction. Try again, or fix your mistake(tape) and move on (keep going).

Step 3: Fold Into Cube

After cutting, your cube should naturally occur by rolling/folding the sides up .

Decide on the outer sections of your cube, mark.  Remember a cube has 6 sides.

Designing will occur next.

For my students I will have an assignment:
1. It can be very prescriptive- such as show 6 elements of art: line, shape, color, value, texture, space


2. Somewhat choice driven- show 5-6 elements or principles of art; show 6 alphabetical art terms, etc.


3. Completely choice driven: show on your cube a subject matter in 6 different ways

Step 4: Gluing and Finishing

Usually  my students will glue the cube together. I resist using tape or staples because of aesthetic reasons (staples, tape looks UGLY!! unless it is decorative duct tape) .

To glue together. these are tips:
  1. Use hands as tools. Glue one side of the cube and press this down against the table with one hand inside pressing down firmly.
  2. Press hard. Pressure makes glue work  better.
Glue sides and then decide on top closure.

Top closure:
Do you want to be able to open?
Do you want it to be a closed cube?

Step 5: Voila!

Voila! You have a cube.

I've used as an art project, or a gift. Jewelry (yes those are earrings) or an art statement. I teach this cube also as a precursor for other functional forms. Once you've learned how to make this, you can make an open box, a basket, etc.

Hope you enjoy making a cube. Thanks for letting me share!

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