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Making a Box

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: October 8, 2005
Latest Update: October 8, 2005

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Index of Topics on Site Making a Box

Why on earth would I want to make a box? That's what I asked myself as I sat through Wendy's workshop at Vroman's, making a box, rather ineptly. I understood making the art book that was going to reside in the box; but why on earth a box??

Well, now I know. I had fun making the box, and was quite proud of it, even though a couple of my mistakes showed through. It was learning. And humans feel good when they learn. I still didn't know what to do with it, but that's called creativity - figuring out what on earth to do with such things.

Then Wendy put out lots of stamps, oriental ones, with brilliant colors, to decorate the box. I joined a stamping club with another member of the workshop, and then learned how we could use stamps for our visual sociology tools.

Then I taught you all how to make a box, in classes which some of you missed (ahem!), and Val helped me figure out why we were making them. She wanted to make a smaller box to nest inside her bigger one. And as I watched her, I realized that the outer box could represent any social issue, and the inner box(es) could represent the complex underlying social factors that produce the social problem.

The Mythos box I made with Halloween decoration could represent our mythos, the stories that are so much a part of our culture that tell of social relations. Halloween carries a scary aspect of death, of ghouls and vampires and tricksters from the After World. Day of the Dead treats death and the dead differently. Day of the Dead tells a story of our beloved relatives and friends coming back and finding their homes, their friends, and celebrating with them. (I like Day of the Dead better.) Realizing this, I knew what do with my Halloween-decorated box for the Naked Space exhibit.

In one Halloween box, on which I wrote MYTHOS, I could put little trinkets representing Santa Clause, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thangsgiving, "You're little cat brother is in cat heaven," etc. and I could either put explanations on little tags attached to the trinkets within the box, or on cards next to the box, with instructions to open it and look inside. We tell these stories as mythos; they are "true" as mythos. But we do not confuse them with expecting to verify Santa's visit in experimental tests. We are content to let mythos be "true" in its stories, and science be true in the universe and cosmos we can experimentally test. Just as we are content to let legal truth be true in the court room, knowing that we may have failed to capture whatever really happened.

In another box, we could illustrate, for example, delinquency or teen age pregnancy or whatever. Then a box inside could represent school problems, like not interested, causing disruption, cutting classes. Inside that could be a box on family. And inside that could be a box on poverty in the neighborhood and its effects on child, family, school, etc., getting people to see that these problems are more complex, like boxes within boxes, than simple problems with simple answers. I'll bet you could make a box to illustrate the Freakonomics statistics that relate abortion to lower crime rates.

With boxes inside of boxes we could explain spurious relationships. For example, the people in New Orleans should have evacuated when ordered to do so. But couldn't there be a box(es) inside that tells us there was no car, no money for gas, no place to go?

Each of these boxes can attract by color, form, content. They then help us to illustrate the issues we have studied, and share the importance of those issues with community, with friends, family, neighbors, who weren't here to study them. In this way we educate each other to care about and take responsibility for our communities.

Illustrations and Instructions for Making the Boxes

small version of box pattern

Box Pattern

My box isn't perfect. I hate measuring. But this is good enough to give you the idea. jeanne

Now follow the directions carefully. Once you've done it a couple of times, it will come easily.

  1. Start with a square piece of card stock. If it is not square, cut off the longer edge to make it square.

  2. Draw the green lines from K to N and T to Q in pencil. They will not show once box is made. If you can't find a ruler, fold the paper lightly on the diagonal each way, and follow the fold line instead of drawing a pencil line. Some of you did this in class. The light fold will show after the box is made, but you can decorate it to cover the folds.

  3. Now, place the corner K at the bottom center where the pencil lines cross. Hold tightly and fold along what will become G to H.
  4. Place corner T at the bottom center where the pencil lines cross. Hold tightly and fold along what will become G to E.
  5. Place corner N at the bottom center where the pencil lines cross. Hold tightly and fold along what will become E to F.
  6. Place corner Q at the bottom center where the pencil lines cross. Hold tightly and fold along what will become F to H.

    Now, we do a second set of folds:

  7. Place corner K on the green line at the fold E to F. Hold tightly and fold along what will become R to D.
  8. Place corner T on the green line at the fold F to H. Hold tightly and fold along what will become L to I.
  9. Place corner N on the green line at the fold H to G. Hold tightly and fold along what will become S to P.
  10. Place corner Q on the green line at the fold G to E. Hold tightly and fold along what will become J to M.

    Now, we do a third set of folds:

  11. Place corner K on the green line at the fold G to H. Hold tightly and fold along what will become I to J.
  12. Place corner T on the green line at the fold E to G. Hold tightly and fold alongwhat will become R to S.
  13. Place corner N on the green line at the fold F to E. Hold tightly and fold along what will become M to L.
  14. Place corner Q on the green line at the fold H to F. Hold tightly and fold along what will become O to P.

    Now the entire box pattern should consist of squares with a few triangles around the edges. In order to fold the paper we need to take away a few of the triangles and make some cuts along the sides of specific squares:

  15. Cut out the triangle GAR between corners K and T.
  16. Cut out the triangle HBO between corners K and Q.
  17. Cut out the triangle CFP between corners Q and N.
  18. Cut out the triangle SDE between corners N and T.

  19. Cut along line B to W with W ending on the bottom of the box.
  20. Cut along line C to X with X ending on the bottom of the box.
  21. Cut along line D to V with V ending on the bottom of the box.
  22. Cut along line A to U with U ending on the bottom of the box.

    Now you are ready to fold your box. If you're going to decorate it, you might want to stamp or draw or paint on it, while it's still flat. But practice first, so that you're sure you won't have any problem folding it together once it's decorated.

  23. Fold line A to B upright.
  24. Fold line G to H in the same direction toward the center of the bottom of the box.
  25. Fold line J to I in the opposite direction and tuck the line I to J into line A to B at the edge of the box, with the point K pointing into the center of the box bottom.
  26. Now fold lines I to U and J to W towards the inside of the box as it is forming.

  27. Fold line D to C upright.
  28. Fold line E to F in the same direction toward the center of the bottom of the box.
  29. Fold line L to M in the opposite direction and tuck the line L to M nto the line C to D at the edge of the box, with the point N pointing into the center of the box bottom.

  30. Now fold lines L to V and X to M towards the inside of the box as it is forming.

    Now complete the folding:

  31. Fold line U to V upright.
  32. Fold line A to D in the same direction towards the center of the box.
  33. Fold line R to S in the opposite direction and tuck the line R to S nto the line U to V at the edge of the box, with the point T pointing into the center of the box bottom.

  34. Fold line X to W upright.
  35. Fold line B to C in the same direction towards the center of the box.
  36. Fold line O to P in the opposite direction and tuck the line O to P nto the line X to W at the edge of the box, with the point Q pointing into the center of the box bottom.

    That's it. You have a box bottom, or a box top, as you prefer. All you have to do to make the other half of the box is be sure to make the top from a square that is half an inch wider on all sides. If you're making a small box you may need less than half an inch all around. Experiment.

    And now, for that always-asked question: 'But what if I don't have any bigger paper to make my square half an inch bigger on all sides?" Well, then make this the top, and cut off half an inch from each side of the paper you used for this top. Remember to think out of the box.

    You can decorate with all the techniques we are using for cards, bookmarks, whatever.

    love and have fun, jeanne



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