Spark your creativity with a papercraft memory 'explosion' box

In the first of the Canon SELPHY Craft Club series, papercrafter Lini Trinh shares her guide to making a personalised explosion box using a Canon SELPHY CP1500 printer.
A Canon SELPHY printer sits next to a purple cardboard explosion box filled with papercraft stars, decorated with heart-shaped photographs and more photographs and origami hanging from strings above it.

Papercrafting is the perfect way to get artistic without spending a lot of money or gathering complicated materials, and it can be a great way to take some time to yourself, away from the chaos of the outside world. It can also be a thoughtful way to create a gift for someone special, adding individual touches to make the recipient smile. Papercraft enthusiast Lini Trinh has been crafting since her childhood, and started sharing her creations online just over a year ago. She is known for her cute projects full of colour, intrigue and fun. More than 800,000 people follow her TikTok account to stay up to date with her inspirational creations and video tutorials on everything from papercraft birthday cakes to flowers, fans and even lamps.

One activity she particularly enjoys is making 'explosion boxes'. "An explosion box is a unique and interactive type of greeting card or gift box," she explains. "It's designed in such a way that when you open it, the sides 'explode' to reveal a surprise in the centre. It's like opening a box to discover a hidden world of creativity."

In the first of the Canon SELPHY Craft Club series, Lini takes us through the creation of her latest project from start to finish, sharing an enjoyable and artistic way to approach making your own explosion box using your Canon SELPHY compact photo printer.

The concept

A Canon SELPHY printer sits next to a pile of colourful cardboard, a pack of Canon printer paper, a pair of scissors and a glue stick.

You can begin making an explosion box with basic materials including coloured paper, scissors, glue and Canon photo paper, using your smart device and Canon SELPHY CP1500 printer to print your creations and personalise your box.

Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, and currently living in Germany, fashion designer Lini has crafted throughout her life and knows first-hand the joy and wonder papercrafts can bring to people of all ages. "I started working with paper at a very young age," she says. "I crafted a lot as a child because back then, we didn't have video games or mobile phones like kids do nowadays. So I spent a lot of my time working with papers and other craft materials."

As for her Canon SELPHY Craft Club project, "I was inspired by the idea of preserving memories and creating a personalised gift," says Lini. "I wanted to make something special for my son's birthday, and I thought an explosion box would be a perfect way to capture the joyous moments we've shared." Gifting an explosion box to her son for his birthday proved the perfect opportunity to pass on her passion and share the enjoyment with him – perhaps even inspiring a new generation of papercrafters.

The process

Scissors being used to cut out a heart shape around a printed photograph of a woman holding up a small child. In the background is a Canon SELPHY printer and a pack of Canon photo paper.

Lini chose photographs of special memories with her son, then used the Canon SELPHY Photo Layout app to edit them and print them wirelessly via her Canon SELPHY CP1500 printer. She decided to cut them into heart shapes to represent love.

A cross-shaped piece of purple cardboard sits on a worktop, with heart-shaped photographs stuck onto it and a pop-up heart in the middle. A Canon SELPHY printer sits near it.

Lini encourages experimenting with different shapes and layers, such as this pop-up heart shape she created at the centre of her explosion box. After she adds her papercraft stars to it, it offers another dimension to the 'explosion' and adds extra excitement when the recipient opens the box.

Explosion boxes can look really impressive and add a sense of excitement to special moments – the surprise and drama of a loved one opening a box, only for it to be an explosion of memories and art. Once you master the basics, they can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Lini suggests approaching your explosion box step by step, following the stages below:

  • Gathering materials: Collect coloured and patterned paper, photographs, stickers, and other decorative elements. You can edit your images using the Canon SELPHY Photo Layout app on your smart device before sending them to print wirelessly in a variety of shapes and sizes – from postcards to mini stickers – on your Canon SELPHY CP1500 printer.
  • Design and layout: Plan the structure and layout of your explosion box, including the number of layers and how they will unfold. The basic structure needs to include a main square, with four additional squares – one on each side – for the basic box, plus a lid. Lini has numerous videos on her TiKTok account that show the make-up of the boxes, and you can always test them out with used paper first, to avoid waste.
  • Cutting and folding: Cut the paper into the desired shapes and sizes for each layer. Fold them ready to create the explosion effect.
  • Decorating: Add photographs, messages and decorative elements to each layer. The possibilities here are endless.
  • Assembly: Carefully assemble the layers, making sure they fit together seamlessly so that the box can 'explode' without any hitches. If you want to include items hanging from the lid of the box, this is where you would attach them to string and make sure they still fit within the box while closed.
  • Finishing touches: Add any final embellishments and decorations to enhance the overall look. You could use glitter and draw your own shapes, as well as attaching stickers and personalised photos.

The printer

A Canon SELPHY printer sits next to a smartphone showing the Canon SELPHY Photo Layout app, some coloured cardboard and a pack of Canon photo paper.

The Canon SELPHY Photo Layout app offers endless possibilities for adding creative, personalised touches to your projects. There are numerous templates to choose from, and the app also enables you to customise your images with text, borders and stamps to make your photos unique.

A piece of purple cardboard sits on a worktop, with heart-shaped photographs and papercraft stars next to it. A Canon SELPHY printer sits near it.

The Canon SELPHY CP1500 printer can be used with three different sticker paper sizes – square, rectangular and mini stickers. You can use these to decorate smaller parts of the box.

"Working with the Canon SELPHY CP1500 was great," says Lini. "The quality of the prints was excellent, with vibrant colours and sharp details. It added a professional touch to my project."

Images printed on the SELPHY CP1500 are protected with a special coating that makes them resistant to dirt, water, oil and fingerprints. They can last up to 100 years1 when stored in an album, so are great for preserving important memories. It was the ideal choice here for a really personal gift that celebrated quality time and special moments with Lini's son.

As well as the professional quality it lent her project, Lini also enjoyed how easy it was to wirelessly connect her SELPHY CP1500 printer to her smartphone and edit her designs before printing them out. "I used the SELPHY Photo Layout app on my phone to select and arrange my photos before printing," she explains. "It was user-friendly and allowed me to customise the layout to fit my project's needs. The wireless printing feature also made the process very convenient."

Lini has four final tips for making your explosion box a success:

  • Use high-quality paper to ensure the box's durability.
  • Measure and cut accurately to achieve neat and uniform layers.
  • Experiment with different folding techniques to create interesting shapes and angles.
  • Be patient and take your time during assembly to avoid mistakes.

The results

A purple cardboard explosion box filled with papercraft stars, decorated with heart-shaped photographs and has more photographs and origami hanging from strings above it. A Canon SELPHY printer sits near it.

Once you've folded your basic box shape, you can add any embellishments you want, such as Lini's heart-shaped photos on the outer edges and her collection of papercraft stars arranged in a matching heart shape in the centre.

A purple cardboard explosion box filled with papercraft stars, decorated with heart-shaped photographs and has more photographs and origami hanging from strings attached to the lid held above it.

One fun aspect of explosion boxes is attaching papercraft objects to the box's lid with string, so that they expand out when the lid is lifted. Here, Lini included origami swans, a moon and stars in pastel colours for a result that looks similar to a mobile placed over a child's cot.

"I'm thrilled with the final result," says Lini. "It's a unique and personalised gift that I know my son will cherish." In the past, Lini has made a variety of different explosion boxes, incorporating elements such as spooky ghosts for Halloween, a mini papercraft birthday cake, hearts, stars and origami swans. "Compared to other explosion boxes I've created, this one holds a special place in my heart because it's for my child," she says.

"What I enjoy most about papercrafting is the creative freedom it offers," she continues. "I love how I can take simple sheets of paper and turn them into beautiful, creative designs. It's a way for me to express my creativity and bring my ideas to life."

More creative ideas

The Canon SELPHY CP1500 can print images in a range of different shapes and sizes to personalise whatever creations come to mind. "The possibilities are endless," says Lini, "and it's a great way to create memorable gifts or keepsakes. There are many other ideas for explosion boxes or other crafts using a SELPHY printer. You can incorporate mini stickers, square or postcard-sized prints into an explosion box to add more personalisation and surprises."

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Lini shares her creations on her social media and also follows what projects others are working on in the process. "I enjoy connecting with followers because it allows me to inspire others and also learn from the crafting community," she says. "It's incredible to see how people from all over the world can come together to share their love for crafting." As well as explosion boxes, Lini has created mini papercraft bunches of flowers, puzzles, greetings cards and mini figures inspired by popular characters.

"To anyone looking to make an explosion box for the first time, I would say go for it," Lini enthuses. "It's a fun and creative project that allows you to express yourself and make something truly unique. Don't be afraid to experiment with different designs and techniques, and remember that a SELPHY printer can elevate your project with high-quality prints. Enjoy the process, and the final result will be worth it!"

Written by Kat Halstead

  1. When stored in an album. Based on accelerated testing, assuming a temperature of 23° C / 73.4° F and humidity of 50%.

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