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Friday 17 February 2023

Cartoon Heart Valentines Box DIY

Ok, so Valentine's Day is over for another year and I'm a little behind with posting this DIY, but rather than think of it as being late, let's call this post inspiration for next year, shall we?

This Valentine's Day I'm down to just one kid celebrating with their class. That means less work for me, but it was also quite the downer knowing that my years of helping the kids with creative projects is coming to an end. Only three more years of class Valentines left. 

This year we kept the valentines themselves quite simple. Mathilde handed out packs of Pocky with a simple label saying "Valentine, let's stick together". Get it? Pocky sticks? You can find the template for the labels here. We did put a bit more effort into the Valentines Box though.

Mathilde has been quite enamored with the cartoon style cakes that have been all over social media lately. You know the type - they're brightly colored with black outlines that give the impression of a two dimensional cartoon when view from certain angles. Luckily she wanted her Valentines box to look like a two dimensional cartoon rather than a cake - which would've been much more time consuming to create. Ooh... a cake Valentines box would be pretty cool though, right?

Anyway, to create this Valentines box I raided the recycling bin, grabbed some paint and tape, and got to work. If you've been here a while you'll know that I love making pinatas for the kids' parties, and this particular Valentines box was made pretty much using my regular pinata DIY but with a few changes. You can see the sort of Pinata DIY I'm talking about here. I really should post an updated pinata DIY seeing as I've made approximately a gazillion since I shared that particular DIY.

What you'll need
Large pieces of flat thick cardboard
Thin cardboard (cereal boxes and mac & cheese boxes are perfect)
Paper for a template (optional)
Masking tape
Gesso paint (optional)
Pink paint
Thick black Sharpie marker
White paint marker (or the above mentioned Gesso)
Paint brushes 
Box cutter
Cutting mat

If you're pretty good at freehand drawing hearts evenly you can give this first step a miss and go straight to drawing your heart shape on the cardboard. 

If, like me, you're not so good at freehand drawing an even heart you'll want to make a template. To make the template I taped two pieces of printer paper together and drew half of a heart, using one edge of the paper as the middle. I then traced around the template on my cardboard, flipped the template over (lining it up in the middle) and traced it again to form the second side of the heart. I then did this again to make the second heart. 

With my hearts traced onto the cardboard I took my box cutter and carefully cut them out. If you're using a flat piece of cardboard make sure to use a cutting mat underneath to protect your table/floor/work surface. If, like me, you're cutting your hearts out of a folded down box, the otherside works nicely as a cutting mat!

Not to cut out the edges of you heart box. I find that mac and cheese boxes are perfect for projects like this. My kids eat a lot of mac and cheese so we always have lots of empty boxes in our recycling. The great thing about using boxes like these is that there's no need to measure because they're all the same size - even if they're different brands. Just use a box cutter and ruler to remove the side pieces and you're set. I used three mac and cheese boxes for this heart box, but how many you need depends on how big or small you make your box. If you don't have mac and cheese boxes, cereal boxes also work great as do snack boxes. Simply cut strips of carboard to the width you'd like the heart box to be. Mac and cheese boxes are about 3.5" wide so that's the width I went with.

The Valentine box will need an opening, so on one piece of cardboard measure and cut out a rectangle in the middle, making sure that it's wide enough for your kid to easily reach their hand through. I made the opening 4" long by 2" wide. This was plenty big enough for me to reach my hand through.

Now to tape it all together! With the inside of the thin cardboard facing out, use small pieces of masking tape to attach it around the edges of one of the cardboard hearts. Start by just using enough tape to keep it secure and you can go back afterwards and add more tape to fill in any gaps and neaten it up. Add extra tape where the thin pieces of cardboard join to ensure it's not a weak spot. Make sure to add the cardboard piece with the opening cut out at the top of the heart. You could place it right in the middle of the top if you like, but I went with placing it to the side of the middle. 

Once all of the carboard pieces are taped around the outside of the first cardboard heart flip it over and add some tape to the inside for reinforcement. 

Now, here's where it gets a little trickier. It's still pretty easy, but attaching the second cardboard heart is a little fiddlier than the first. The opening for the valentines will come in handy as you can poke one hand through it to support the second cardboard heart as you attach tape to the outside. Once it's done it will look like the box below.

Once the box is all taped together it's time to paint it. I started with a nice thick coat of white gesso. This gave the box a much more even finish, making everything the same color. Now, if you plan to paint your box a dark color you can always skip the gesso, but I find it comes in really handy when painting lighter colors as the brown of the cardboard won't show through. The gesso also ensures that the painting surface is the same all over whether it be cardboard or masking tape.

Once the gesso was completely dry Mathilde took over and painted the heart a nice pastel pink color. You may have noticed two different pink paints in the "supplies" photo at the top. I couldn't find the exact pink color that she wanted so I mixed a pastel pink and a neon pink together to create a pastel yet vibrant pink.

Once the pink paint was completely dry on both sides I used my big chunky Sharpie maker to draw outlines around the edges of the heart. I drew outlines on both the front and the back as well as the sides of the box. Because of the masking tape the marker didn't always run along the edge smoothly, so I took my time and went back and filled in any areas where it skipped a little. If you'd prefer, you could always do this with black paint and a paint brush, but I knew I'd have a steadier hand with the marker so I went with that. Plus, the marker goes on nice and opaque right away so there was no need to go back for a second coat like paint probably would've needed.

The finishing touch was adding the white highlights to give the heart more of a cartoony feel. I used a Posca paint pen to draw on the highlights but once again you could always use white paint instead. I did think about tracing around the white highlight with a regular black Sharpie (not the big thick one) but ultimately Mathilde decided she liked it better without an outline. 

And that's it!

The only thing left to do was take it to school for her classmates to fill up with goodies!

Speaking of goodies, here's a look at what Mathilde handed out. As I mentioned earlier, we kept it simple this year and just stuck a basic label (with a cheesy pun, of course) on pack of Pocky. You can find the labels here.

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day if you celebrate!

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