from the blog

Repurposing Cardboard

We seem to have a thing for building stuff out of cardboard. Our sister company Flatgoods got us started down the environmentally-friendly path and now there’s no turning back.

Today’s big-kid-arts-and-crafts episode was about building the sole of a shoe for Sperry, to be hung with nautical-style ropes and suspended in an event space.  They wanted to somehow recreate the treading of the sole of a shoe, complete with shelving to display their product. That meant that we had a little prototyping to do.

Route files

We sourced 3/4″ thick packaging cardboard from a local vendor and went to work in Illustrator drawing the shoe shape.  We would need multiple 4’x8′ route files that all corresponded to each other to create the varying thicknesses of the sole of the shoe.  We’d then layer the separate panels and glue them together.


The Tread

The trickiest part of this project was figuring out the best way to build the ‘tread’ of the shoe.  What we ended up doing was applying a double-sided adhesive to the entirety of a 4’x8′ sheet and then building a route file to chop the full sheet up into little strips.  We then flipped the strips sideways and went to town adhering each one to the last, vertically, until we had enough height to fill the height of the shoe with the 3/4″ tall cardboard.


Structural support

Another tricky part of building this shoe was determining how to reinforce the cardboard where the shoe was to be hung by rope.  With the little bit of structural support surrounding the holes where the ropes would be tied to, we needed almost an industrial-sized grommet to add some integrity to the hole.  Rich Sholtis, production manager at ICON, had a thought – what if we used those little aluminum closet pole mounting brackets, but flipped them inside out?


They ended up working perfectly for what we needed.

After we had the separate pieces routed and assembled, we slapped them all together and voila – we had a big shoe.

route final

Both the event and the shoes turned out great. We always love trying to build creative peoples’ creative visions.

recyclable materials