How to Make Mountains From Cardboard Boxes

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You're staging a school play that requires a backdrop of breathtaking mountains for a few pivotal scenes. What do you do? You can't exactly, er, move a mountain into the auditorium. Good news: Using cardboard boxes to make mountains is a quick and easy fix for this mountainous problem, and it's one that has been used by schools and theater design companies for years. The easiest cardboard box mountain is made from large cardboard boxes from refrigerators and hot water heaters. These aren't always easy to get your hands on, though, so in lieu of outsize boxes, try stacking smaller boxes like a pyramid. In this case, the boxes must all be the same size in order to have a solid base. And to get the most bang for your buck, try paper boxes without the lids -- these are widely available in most schools or offices.

    Remove the lids from 15 paper boxes. Stack the 15 paper boxes in the shape of a pyramid with five boxes on the bottom. Place the boxes so the 12-inch end is to the front of the pyramid. Number the front of the paper boxes in order from 1 to 15.

    Pull two sheets of paper from the newsprint roll 5-feet long. Tape the two pieces together to make a large 5-by-6-foot rectangle.

    Draw the shape of the mountain on the 5-by-6-foot piece of paper. Make sure the paper is laying so it is 5-feet-wide and 6-feet-tall. Draw a ragged pyramid shape to form the mountain. Put an X on the top of the mountain. Cut out the mountain shape.

    Hold the mountain shape against the front of the boxes shaped into a pyramid. Make sure the X is visible. Line up the bottom of the mountain with the bottom of the boxes. Trace around the outside shape of the mountain.

    Remove the paper mountain from the front of the boxes. Hold the paper mountain on the back of the box pyramid. Line up the bottom of the mountain with the bottom of the boxes. Make sure the X is not visible and facing the boxes. Trace around the outside of the paper shape. Remove the paper mountain.

    Start at the top of the pyramid. Remove the top box and cut along the lines with a utility knife. Make sure to cut off the excess cardboard from both sides of the box. Set aside. Repeat the process with each cardboard box with a mountain outline. Discard any scrap.

    Take down the top four rows of boxes. Place large rings of masking tape in-between the boxes to hold them in place. Make the rings of tape approximately 6-inches in diameter. Stack the boxes in their original positions.

    Place large 3-to-4-inch circles of masking tape on the back of the paper mountain. Tape it to the front of the cardboard box mountain. Push the tape firmly.

    Paint the paper on the front of the cardboard box pyramid to represent a mountain. Paint any exposed cardboard.

    Things You'll Need

    • 15 paper boxes
    • Newsprint roll
    • Masking tape
    • Pencil
    • Scissors
    • Utility knife
    • Tempra paint
    • Paint palletes, plastic lids or paper plates.
    • Paintbrushes
    • Water container
    • Water

About the Author

Kim Blakesley is a home remodeling business owner, former art/business teacher and school principal. She began her writing and photography career in 2008. Blakesley's education, fine arts, remodeling, green living, and arts and crafts articles have appeared on numerous websites, including DeWalt Tools, as well as in "Farm Journal" and "Pro Farmer."