Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Cardboard Art: Building a Robot

Photographs by Greta Eskridge

I knew that long-time client and friend, Greta Eskridge, would be a great addition as a guest blogger here at the Dodgen Photography blog. Seeing her post about the cardboard robot her son made, sealed the deal (in case you didn't know, we're big fans of cardboard creations). In Greta's words:

My son James loves to build things out of cardboard. If he sees a box lying around the house, he is sure to ask if he can use it. This time he wanted to make a robot.

It was a pretty straight forward project.

First, I cut off the back of the box, then a hole for his neck and two holes for his arms. This allowed him to slip it on and off easily by himself. We used an additional box, with eye holes cut out, for the head.

Next, he decorated it. Besides markers or paint, some glue and various shiny things are just right for decorating a robot. Tin foil would also be fun.

He was pretty pleased with his creation.

A little imagination goes a long way with a cardboard box.


For additional photos, go here.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Hikes

Photographs by Greta Eskridge

Spring is the perfect time to take a hike. Everything is in bloom, the skies are blue, the sun is out, but the air is still cool. It feels good to be outside.

Kids are great hikers because they are naturally curious and they love to explore. As long as you don't expect them to hike an eight mile trail with you on your first time out, they will have a good time. A little planning goes a long way in making your hike successful. You might find these tips on hiking with kids helpful.

I took these photos at Riley Wilderness Park in Orange County. It is just beautiful right now, and one of the many parks to explore in Orange County. You might find it hard to believe, but the OC is rich with hiking trails. There are beach hikes, mountain hikes and everything in between.

I have found these three sites to be helpful in locating good hikes.
Brian and Ashley's Hiking Blog!
Wilderness Parks
Hiking Trails

We hope you and the kids will make it out to a trail this spring. If you do, please share your adventure with us. We'd love to hear about it.


Photographs by Greta Eskridge


Monday, March 22, 2010

Recycled Forest

I love artist, Yuken Teruya's work in which he transforms everyday objects (like toilet paper tubes and Happy Meal Bags) into intricate vignettes. I also thought it fit in nicely with our series of posts about the creative reuse of cardboard.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Spring

The first day of spring is right around the corner and with it comes the return of the monarch butterflies who will reawaken after a four months in hibernation. Many of the preschools I photograph at raise butterflies from larva each spring, giving the children the opportunity to witness up-close the complete life cycle of these beautifully delicate creatures.

Small Friends Preschool takes this a step further with their butterfly tent that is large enough for a child to sit in. Climbing in the tent gives each child the opportunity to get hands on experience with the recently hatched butterflies, and gave me the opportunity to capture some great photographs during my annual visit.

If you are interested in raising butterflies at your home, it is pretty simple and inexpensive. Amazon offers the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden kit for just over $14 (plus $3 for five butterfly larvae and special food, ordered using the included mail-in voucher). The kit is reusable and the larvae are available year round, so you can raise butterflies at any time of year, though butterflies should only be set free in temperatures over 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Butterflies Grow, by Joanne Ryder is an excellent picture book about the life cycle of butterflies and would be a perfect companion to the butterfly kit. Read it before starting and refer back to it throughout the process as a reminder of what will happen next.

We first discovered it online as an audio book. It may seem strange to have an audio only version of a picture book, but Joanne Ryder's text gets children's imagination actively involved from the very first line. "Image you are someone small hidden in a tiny egg...." This line sets the stage for an engaging journey from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Ethan has even acted out the story while listening.

The picture book is equally enthralling. It's detailed watercolor illustrations by Lynne Cherry provide lots for kids to observe and discover. As a postscript, Ryder includes suggestions on how to prepare a portion of your garden to attract butterflies or encourage the ones you have raised to stay.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pizza Box Tabletop Soccer and Cardboard Tube Marble Run

The latest issue of Family Fun magazine has several cardboard reuse ideas that look fun and fit into our series of posts about creative (re)uses for cardboard. Our favorites are Tabletop Soccer made from a pizza box and a magnetic Marble Run made from paper towel, toilet paper and wrapping paper tubes. Click the preceding links for complete instructions.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cardboard Fire Station

Making believe is the gist of his whole life and he cannot so much as take a walk except in character.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A couple of years ago when Ethan said he wanted to build a fire station, I thought he was talking about a little one for his numerous fire engines. When he clarified that he wanted one that he could fit in, I was not sure where to start.

Inspiration came when we realized we could use his loft bed for the frame and the box from our new wagon for the walls. Curtains the he could open and close, a door through which the fire engines could come and go, and door knobs for the front door helped complete his vision.

One of the things I love about cardboard structures is that they are temporary, so when the kids have a new interest or want a new challenge, the box can be modified, stored or just recycled. To make these transitions easier, I like to use Velcro Cable Ties when attaching the cardboard to furniture like loft beds and table legs. They make it easy to attach and detach cardboard without ruining the furniture or the box. I did not take detail photographs at the time, but you can see the small black straps along the sides and under the main door of our fire station.

What always amazes me (a perfectionist) when creating things like this, with and for Ethan, is how much his imagination will take over to fill in the gaps, look past the inconsistencies in scale and smooth over the flaws in construction. I have to remind myself that it is more important to make it, than to make it perfect.

Now I implore you to go collect the props, set the stage, and open the curtain to your child's world of make believe.

For more creative cardboard project ideas, click here.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Different Kind of Valentine

A couple of Februaries ago, a tree branch stood on a bookcase in our living room. Little red and pink hearts, on white ribbon swung from it. It was a Valentines Day decoration, of course. But it was something a bit more than just colored hearts and ribbon.

Each heart had a message on it. They were love notes for the whole family. Encouraging words, thoughts of thankfulness and simply things we liked about each other. In a few minutes time, we could remind one another of the special love we share. A love that is bigger than candy conversation hearts and boxes of chocolate (although those things are quite nice too).

You can incorporate this idea into your own family's celebration of Valentines Day. A simple tree branch can be found in your yard, or bought at a florist shop. Just make sure it has plenty of space to hang your hearts.

The notes can be hung every day for each member of the family, or you could choose one person each day to shower with love. Because they are small, these notes can also be easily saved for years to come as a special reminder of Valentines Day that year. You can even put them in that shoe box your child decorated to keep all his valentines in. Or if space is an issue, a Ziploc bag will work fine. The most important thing is remembering those special words you shared with one another.

We'd love to see your tree and hear about how your family added this idea to your Valentines Day celebrations.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Christina Katerina and the Box

I can't write about cardboard box creations without mentioning one of my favorite books, Christina Katerina and the Boxby Patricia Lee Gauch.

When Christina's family gets a new refrigerator, she gets a world of possibilities from the box it came in. The story follows Christina and her friend Fats, as they transform the box from a castle to a secret clubhouse to a race car to a summer mansion where they throw a lavish ball for their stuffed animals and dolls. The box is finally damaged beyond repair when Fats decides to wash it off with a hose. Fortunately, Fats' family just got a new washer and dryer...

The simple line drawings, by Doris Burn (who also wrote and illustrated the wonderfully imaginative Andrew Henry's Meadow, another favorite of mine) provide lots of inspiration for box creations.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Cereal Box Houses

Photograph from Bella Dia blog

Continuing with our series of posts about creative reuses of cardboard, here is a simple box house idea from the Bella Dia blog. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to finding the prize in the box of cereal. Now the box can be the prize. I think mine would have a garage door cut in the side for my Hot Wheels. Go to Bella Dia for detailed instructions.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Todd Oldham's House of Cards

I love this idea from designer Todd Oldham's book, Kid Made Modern, inspired by the Eames House of Cards. Not only is it a unique take on the classic cardboard box house, but it provides lots of "canvases" for kids creativity and can be reconfigured again and again.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Max's Jet Box

I knew when I walked into Max Gibbons' house for a portrait party that his family was hosting, I had found a friend. Upon seeing the jet plane that Max had built out of cardboard with his dad, I was reminded of the hours of fun I have had racing down the track, soaring through the sky and sailing across the ocean in cardboard boxes, first as a child and now with my children. I don't think any of my creations have been as impressive as Max's, but in my imagination (and in the imagination of my children) they were the real thing.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Not a Box

What better way to start a series of posts about the creative reuse of boxes than with a book about a rabbit with a box and an active imagination.

Not a Box is a simple and engaging book (think Harold and the Purple Crayon) that encourages imagination and thinking outside the box.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Fun and Photography at Gymboree

I will be photographing a Gymboree Play + Music again next week. It is always a fun time and a great opportunity to get portraits of your young ones (five and under). They are so busy playing on all of the slides and climbers, tubes and tunnels that barely even notice me. These photographs are from my previous session at Gymboree in the spring. If you are interested in attending, or getting more information, contact one of the Gymboree locations below:

Lake Oswego/Bridgeport
Monday, August 17 at 3:45 pm
Call today to reserve your space, 503-670-1683

Cedar Hills Shopping Center
Thursday, August 20 at 3:15 pm
Call today to reserve your space, 503-384-0542

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