How to Make a Tomb Out of Cardboard

Etruscan tomb image by Aisha from

Tombs have played an important part in the development of culture and the preservation of history for thousands of years. Present on every continent, and in many cultures, tombs are a way to respect those who have passed on, as well as to leave a monument for future generations. Model tombs have been created using nearly every medium in existence from paper to stone. Creating a model tomb not only aids in learning about the history of tombs but also in learning about the architecture and physics involved in the process.

Cut the flaps off the open end of a cardboard box. The size of the cardboard box is up to you. A small cardboard box will work for a model of a tomb, while a large cardboard box, such as a refrigerator or other large appliance box, will build a tomb large enough to crawl into.

Place the cardboard box on its side, with the opening facing out rather than up. A foundation is not necessary, but attaching the cardboard box to a foundation of cardboard or wood will give the structure extra stability.

Place the cardboard foundation in the location you would like it with the opening facing in the direction you desire. Unless it is a small model, it will be difficult to move after you finish constructing it. The location should be secluded from weather, such as rain or wind, and should not impede everyday traffic or hinder emergency escape paths.

Lay a piece of corrugated cardboard out flat. The cardboard should be at least three times as wide and as tall as the base of your cardboard brick. For example, if you desire a cardboard brick that is 1 foot wide and 1 foot long, your cardboard should be at least 3 feet long and at least 3 feet wide.

Draw a square in the centre of the cardboard with your desired dimensions. Using the example above, draw a 1-by-1 foot square. Use a ruler to create straight lines and achieve accurate measurements.

Draw a second square on each of the sides of your initial squares, using the same measurements. They should align, forming a + sign with each box's measurements being the same as the measurements of the centre box.

Draw a fifth box at the end of one of the outer squares, with the measurements the same as the initial square. The results will be a central box with three extensions of one square and one extension of two squares. The formation should look similar to a cross.

Use a craft knife or a pair of scissors to cut along the outline of the cross formation. Do not cut out each box, simply cut along the outline of the entire formation.

Fold the cut-out cardboard figure along your pre-drawn lines. The centre square should face downwards. Fold the external squares upwards. The extra square should be folded to form the top of the cube.

Hold your cardboard square in place and apply a line of craft glue to each seam. Continue holding your square in place for 5 to 15 minutes, or until the glue has set. After the glue sets, you should be able to set it aside for further drying.

Allow your cardboard brick to dry overnight.

Repeat the steps above to make a number of bricks. The actual number varies, depending on the size of the tomb and the desired level of detail you wish to attain, but you will probably need at least 10 for a small tomb or up to 50 for a larger, more intricate tomb.

Stack smaller cardboard boxes, or handmade cardboard bricks, of varying sizes around the cardboard box to build up the tomb. Long, rectangular boxes can be used near the entrance to create pillars. Smaller boxes can be stacked along the sides to create walls and stairs. Other boxes can be added to represent broken pillars, crumbling walls and even randomly strewn piles of rubble.

Experiment with different brick locations until you achieve a layout that pleases you. There is no right or wrong, so be creative.

Glue the bricks into place using either craft glue or a hot glue gun. Gluing the bricks into place will prevent them from shifting or falling as you continue construction, and as you enjoy your tomb when once it is finished.

Attach sheets of thin cardboard to the outside of the cardboard bricks to create additional effects. You can glue thin pieces of cardboard over the bricks to create a smooth effect, or you can wrinkle the cardboard with your hands and glue it to the bricks to create a textured effect.

Roll some newspaper into balls and place them around and between the bricks. Glue them into place.

Glue a few pieces of wrinkled cardboard or newspaper over the open end of the foundation cardboard box. You want to hide the square shape of the box opening as much as possible.

Allow the glue to dry, preferably overnight.

Use a grey or brown coloured spray paint to paint the outside of the entire tomb. Don't worry about painting the inside of the foundation cardboard box, but do be sure to paint all the visible surfaces, including the crevasses formed by box corners and wrinkled cardboard.

Allow your paint to dry, preferably overnight.

Sprinkle sand on and around your tomb. Sterile craft sand is available at most craft stores.

Place a few real rocks around the entrance of your tomb to add a bit of realism. Do not place rocks on the top of the tomb, as they may collapse the tomb and, in the case of larger cardboard tombs, could cause injury to those crawling in and out of the tomb.

Drape some artificial ivy over the tomb and glue it into place. You can use live ivy, but it will wilt quickly.

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