Cardboard: It Makes a Village (and Some Cool Kinetic Creatures)

cardboard village at maker faire bay area 2013
LEFT — Me to this kid: “Is that a bionic arm or something?” Him, all business: “Yes. Exactly.” RIGHT — Cardboard + imagination = race car

There’s something about cardboard that inspires creativity in people of all ages.

At Maker Faire Bay Area this year, had set the stage for a whole “cardboard village” where kids could put together structures, catapults, armor … basically, anything they could imagine making out of cardboard. I showed up toward the end of the day on Sunday, and a lot of the cardboard structures were starting to get dismantled, but there were still kids hanging out in the rosy afterglow of the cardboard village, like these two, above.

Another exhibitor at Maker Faire Bay Area who harnessed the power of cardboard was Kinetic Creatures, a company started by couple Lucas Ainsworth and Alyssa Hamel. They produce kits for making fun kinetic cardboard animal sculptures. (Inspired by the great kinetic sculptures of Theo Jansen, of course!) Each animal — rhino, elephant, or giraffe — comes with a wire crank handle, but it also has room to add on an electric motor and gears to make it walk on its own.


makershed_holiday_hdr-logo_bur022I asked duo why they think cardboard is so inspiring. Here’s what they said in an email: “Cardboard is such a highly accessible material not only because it is familiar — it is also low pressure, low stakes and potentially high reward. Such an unassuming material. Being able to create three dimensional shapes is a truly fantastic thing and we hope to encourage kids and adults to spend more time building!”

quotePick up your very own Rory the Rhino, Elly the Elephant, or Geno the Giraffe today in the Maker Shed. Kinetic Creatures make unique and exciting gifts for kids — recommended for ages 11 and up!

At Maker Faire, Alyssa and Lucas brought a scaled-up, pedal powered version of their Rory the Rhino creature. It was a huge hit. “Hundreds of makers pedal-powered it at the Faire,” they tell me.

Alyssa trying out the giant pedal-powered rhino for the first time:

See all of our Shed picks here.

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"To oppose something is to maintain it." –Ursula Le Guin

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