I’m capitalising on that cliché that comes with a children’s gift that they (the kid) are often more interested in the box. Cardboard is king. It’s versatile, readily available and recyclable.
I made a cardboard motorbike at Christmas in about three minutes flat (no word of a lie). There was an urgency; we needed a distraction. There were two pieces: a profile silhouette of a bike and a set of handlebars slotted in to it at a right angle.
For my son’s birthday at the start of the week, I upgraded the now rather too floppy first bike for a more developed version. It was sturdier, but too fussy round the back. While he went a bit Basquiat with the decoration, I worked on a third prototype – ironing out the telemetry and so on…
Version 3 won’t take long to make and will last for more than a few hours. Then, when your junior Evel Knievel is done and has abandoned the bike like a delinquent joyrider and moved on to poking sticks in your plant pots/teasing Polly Pocket into her rubber flip flops or whatever, you can (very nearly) recycle all of it.
By all means deviate from the classic superbike shape: try a laid-back Chopper (think Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider), or show some ultra cool credentials with a sneaky Google for ‘Café Racer’ – I didn’t know either, but it’s definitely the one I would get (?!). Before you know it, you’ll have a garage full.
- Cardboard – quite a bit. Think between 60-100cm x 70cm for the bike (depending on the size of your child) and you need this twice so you can sandwich the wheel in place.
- For the seat: a piece of cardboard about the size of an iPad.
- For the handlebars: a piece about the size of two iPads side by side (on the long side).
- For the wheels: I had some foam board knocking about, which is really sturdy. You need two disks, each the size of a dinner plate. Or, if you just have cardboard, cut four disks – double up and glue together for strength. Use a dinner plate as a template for drawing a wheel-sized circle.
- Tape (masking/elephant/brown)
- A pen/pencil
- Strong scissors/scalpel. A cutting mat.
- Felt tips, paint, washi tape, electrical tape, stickers for decoration.
1. Follow our step-by-step animation above, or read on for a recap.
2. Collect your materials up.
3. Draw a silhouette of a motorbike minus the wheels (keep it simple) on your large piece of cardboard.
4. Cut it out and use as a template for another piece exactly the same. Cut the other side out.
5. Draw your wheel outlines on foam or cardboard. Cut these out using a scalpel or good heavy duty scissors.
6. On a smaller piece of cardboard, draw an outline of the bike’s handlebars and include a small notch at the base of the bars that will allow you to slot them onto the bike. Cut this out.
7. On another small piece of cardboard, draw the outline of a bike seat (like a pear shape) and include one notch at the thin end and one at the thick end, to fix it into the seat space. When cutting, don’t go mad on neatness – the bike will get bashed about. Better to go mad on glueing it well!
8. Sandwich the wheel inbetween the two sides of the bike and tape well and/or glue. Allow to dry.
9. Slot in your handlebars and seat and… BOOM! Let’s go! Obviously you can paint and decorate at your leisure…
Photography & styling: Ruth Howes