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Upcycled Shadowbox for wayward toys

Wishcraft shows you how to give misfit broken toys a second life with a Joseph Cornell–inspired art project.
By Candice Blansett-Cummins |

Gather your materials
• Errant or broken toy pieces
• Woodsies craft slats, $2.49 for a six-pack at Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts (2639 N Elston Ave, 773-227-7874), or a shoebox
• Pages from an old book, magazine or newspaper, or scrapbook paper
• Scissors
• Light-brown duct tape
• Dark-brown permanent marker
• School glue and hot glue

Build a box
1. Place the short ends of two rectangular slats together at a 90-degree angle so they form an L shape.
2. Tape them together at the interior corner with a five-inch piece of tape.
3. Repeat twice, adding a third and then fourth slat to create a square box frame. Maintain 90-degree corners with each step.
4. Tape both short ends of two more slats and position them at the back of the box to brace the square shape. (The slats won’t completely cover the back of the box.)
5. Wrap the exterior of the box with tape, keeping the edge of the tape lined up with the edge of the box. Repeat until the exterior is completely covered.
6. With permanent marker, draw a wood-grain pattern on the exterior surfaces (practice on scratch paper first).

Add the toys
1. Lay the box flat. Cut and test the paper to make sure it fits; trim if necessary. Lightly squeeze glue around the interior edges of the box and adhere the square paper inside. Repeat with each piece of paper to line the box.
2. Heat up the glue gun (an adult should do this; low- or cool-temp glue is best when working with kids).
3. Test out different ways to arrange the misfit toys. Try combining pieces to tell a story: For example, use numbered dice to show the age(s) of a child or set up a “battle” between action figures.
4. Glue items into the box. Let dry. Enjoy!

For further inspiration, and to learn more about celebrated artist Joseph Cornell, visit

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