This post is about color registration boxes. You know, these:
Apparently, in the package-printing business, they’re officially called Process Control Patches, or Printer’s Color Blocks. Slate had a “What’s That Thing?” column about them.
I was one of those kids who found merely sitting and eating cereal unbearably boring, so I would read every inch of the cereal box, inside and out. These miniature pop-art canvases were always a delight to find tucked under a glued-down flap. Now that I am a bona-fide grownup, I flatten my cereal (and cracker, and tea, and tissue) boxes for recycling, and that process makes it easy — almost too easy — to tear off and save the little color-block tabs.
So, now I have a bunch, as you can see above. But, for what? I didn’t want to alter them too much, since I think they’re visually interesting on their own. However, they don’t get a lot of views in my kitchen junk drawer. I decided to treat them like the blocks they are, and build a 2D city.
First I trimmed them all with a craft knife. A child could use scissors. Or, to avoid mixing kids and blades altogether, trim the blocks into simple rectangles yourself before giving them to your child.
Then, I played around with them on a sheet of thick watercolor paper. You want to use a heavy paper whenever you're planning on gluing things down; regular paper warps and ripples and gets all crazy.
Here's my first attempt:
Kinda fun, right? I had cut out a few of the other registration marks to add steeples and roofs, which breaks up the roof line, as it were. But since so many of the blocks have a white border, I thought a darker background paper was in order. So, this:
Nice! It's now a city at night, and the bright registration mark squares become glowing windows.
I glued this one down, using Uhu All-Purpose Adhesive. It's like a clear tacky glue, but it doesn't dry quite as fast as regular (i.e. Aileen's) white tacky glue, making it good for exacting people like me who need to nudge things a little after they're glued down.
I hope I've inspired you to at least take a look at your cartons before you toss them — you can find art in surprising places, if you're open to it.
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.