Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Box Art – literally! Art in a cereal box!

This is an idea that I had when I visited the Museum of Childhood in London with A. There were displays of huge doll houses which were owned by girls of very rich households in the centuries gone by. They were really huge, some of them literally coming up to my height. A kitchen, a sprawling living room, dining room, multiple bedrooms, guest rooms, cutlery, furniture, the works. With the miniature people shown in the rooms, they really looked like cardboard craft to me. And one day, I just thought of this idea when I was throwing away an empty cereal box. Though we are not into doll houses (thank God for that!!!), we love to colour and occasionally draw as well. Since A was not even 4 then, I did not think that she would be interested in an entire cereal box art. So I took a smaller one, a dishwasher tab box and set about thinking of something to do. 

We were enamoured those days by an Indian mythology story showing how the Pole Star/North Star came into being. It’s a story about a little lad of 5, named Dhruv, who was sent away by his step-mother (yes, sigh, it’s not just fairy tales where you find them!) asking to be reborn as her son if he harboured any intentions to be king. The little boy was disillusioned and set off with a steely resolve to meet God and ask of him a boon to be king. He goes to the forest and enters a severe state of meditation. He prays for 5 months without food, water or sleep. Finally, Lord Vishnu, the Supreme deity, appears before him and grants him a boon to be a powerful king who will rule on earth victoriously for 36,000 years, after which he shall go to the heavens and will have a place there for himself forever. And that’s how it came to be. It is Dhruv, indeed, who we see up in the sky at night, the brightest star, known in India as ‘Dhruvtara’ (the Pole Star).

Now this book on Indian mythology that we frequently read has this story of Dhruv. The last page of the story has this picture of a dark starry night, made luminous by the sparkly ‘Dhruvtara’ with Dhruv sitting on it, representing his eternal seat in the heavens. That image seemed to me like a simple idea to start with – something to cover the box and hold A’s interest long enough to see it getting completed. I mean, most of it was the dark starry night!

I first cut the main side of the box so that our ‘canvas’ was the inside of the box with 2 sides and a bottom. I got some black water colour and asked A to splosh the whole box black. It took some time to do and as we set it aside to dry, on the side of the box that I had taken off, I asked A to draw some stars and a little boy in sitting position. I had to help her with the sitting position and she completed the rest of the drawing. We practiced drawing some stars on a sheet of paper before we set to work on cardboard. When done, I cut out all the drawings and kept them ready for the next day’s activity. 

Next day, we coloured the stars and Dhruv with water colours and sketch pens. Then I applied glue to the stars and Dhruv and handed them out to A to stick on her night sky. We finished up with some blue glitter to give it a truly cosmic look! Ha ha!

This is the original photo in our story-book -

And this is what we made -

Though I did help her to practice drawing the stars and Dhruv, I did not help A on the box ultimately. I guess it would have looked a lot neater if I had contributed, but it was a conscious effort to not interfere with her art. And this is a rule that I follow till date and hope to continue always. I want A to be proud of all the ideas that she thinks of and all that she does, even if they turn out to be unconventional or rather, not as neat as you would want them to be. Because I am mighty proud of her! 

How did you like our art in a box? :-) 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice.. Very innovative..!!

  3. Without yr contribution it looks really neat😜😜😜

  4. Big applause for A for this precise art in the box. Very inspiring story and very inspiring art. Liked it totally.