How to Make a Totem Pole Out of a Box

Updated February 21, 2017

When you learn about totem poles in history class, you may be amazed by how giant and colourful the ancient totem poles are. You can experience totem poles in a more interactive way by creating one yourself using a few items that can be found around your house or purchased inexpensively from an arts and crafts supply store. This enables you to construct your own personal totem pole using creatures that are meaningful for you.

Cut five of the sides off of a large cardboard box. You can find a large cardboard box at any furniture store, or you can buy boxes at a shipping store.

Lay one of the sheets of cardboard onto a flat surface, and draw out a shape that measures approximately 12-inches wide and 24-inches long using a pencil. Cut out the shape using scissors. Design the shape to suit your own personal style and creativity. Repeat this process four more times to create a total of five shapes. You can cut out the same shape five times, or you can cut out five different shapes.

Paint one side of each shape using white acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry for 20 minutes. This will enable the finished totem pole to look more authentic and realistic.

Paint colourful abstract faces onto each cardboard shape using coloured acrylic paint. Paint humanistic faces, or you can paint the shapes to look like animals. Allow the paint to dry for 20 minutes.

Paint a layer of clear acrylic glaze over each cardboard shape, which will protect the paint from chipping off and will make the totem pole appear glossy. Allow the glaze to dry for 20 minutes.

Glue the different cardboard totem pole shapes together, end-to-end, using tacky glue. Allow the glue to dry for 20 minutes, then stand the totem pole up vertically. The totem pole can be attached to a tree or pinned up on a wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint, white
  • Acrylic paint, coloured
  • Paintbrush
  • Acrylic glaze, clear
  • Tacky glue
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author