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How-Tuesday: Colorful Cubes

Dec 13, 2011

by hownowdesign handmade and vintage goods

The holidays need not be gift boxed into a red-and-green or blue-and-white corner. Celebrate a spectrum of vibrant colors while making your own set of abstract cubes with the help of artist, blogger and mother  Abbey Hendrickson in this week’s How-Tuesday post. Try making a set of these cheery wooden blocks in your own palette as a hands-on present for playtime or sculptural desk decor for your co-worker.

For more fun projects like this one, check out the new book, State of Craft, edited by Victoria Woodcock and Ziggy Hanor, available on Amazon and from an independent bookseller near you.

About the Artist: Abbey Hendrickson is an artist and blogger living happily in Owego, New York, with her husband and their two babies. She has a background in drawing, book-making and printmaking and is an enthusiastic crafter. The majority of Abbey’s days are spent with her children, pretending to be a superhero, unicorn or robot. In the wee hours, she also writes a daily lifestyle blog called Aesthetic Outburst and runs an Etsy shop called How Now Design.



Let’s get started!

Tools & Materials

– Ruler
– Eraser
– Fine sandpaper
– Paintbrushes
– Old milk carton lids to hold paint
– 24 wooden cubes in any size (available at craft shops). The ones pictured here are 2cm x 2cm, but you can use any length of square-ended wood to cut your own blocks.
– Acrylic paint in nine colors. This example uses turquoise, pink, yellow, light blue, red, orange, black, white and grey.

If you are cutting your own blocks, you’ll also need:

– Junior hacksaw
– Clamps
– Medium-grade sandpaper


1. If you have ready-bought blocks, skip to step 4. If you are making your own blocks, measure the width of your square-ended wood and mark this measurement along its length. So, if the wood is 2cm x 2cm, mark a line across the wood 2cm up from the end and at a right angle on the long edge (fig A).

2. Clamp the wood onto an appropriate surface (a workbench is ideal) and saw along the line.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create 24 blocks and sand well with the medium-grade paper.

4. Inspect the wooden cubes and find the smoothest side of each. Position the cubes smoothest side up.

5. Use a pencil and ruler to draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on each cube (fig B).

6. If you are feeling very organized, you can make a chart of which colours to paint where. Otherwise, select a cube and paint in one triangle (fig C). Set this cube aside to dry and continue painting one triangle on the remaining cubes.

7. You can leave some cubes with just one triangle painted, but if you want to add color to the other side, let the first triangle of paint dry first.

8. Leave all of the cubes to dry completely, then rub out any visible pencil marks.

9. Use fine sandpaper to sand away any excess paint over the edges.

If you make your own set of blocks, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Holidays on Etsy

Wooden Blocks Set of 150
Wooden Blocks Set of 150


  • UnionStudioMetals

    UnionStudioMetals said 6 years ago

    So fun, thanks for the tutorial :)

  • SheepishCreations

    SheepishCreations said 6 years ago

    ...did this really need a tutorial?

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 6 years ago

    Haha, I had a similar thought myself.

  • NoFrump

    NoFrump said 6 years ago

    What an adorable idea...simple, fun, easy...and one of those timeless kid-gifts that'll result in hours and hours of creative play. :)

  • ismay

    ismay said 6 years ago

    I love these blocks! I am definitely going to make some and I already have the book :)

  • phuleffect

    phuleffect said 6 years ago

    These would look fab on my boring desk!

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 6 years ago

    My friend made similar blocks for my son but they didn't last long with baby drool and teeth and tower knocking down. They are a great keepsake for an out of reach shelf. If they are for small kids keep in mind that they WILL eat them.

  • PurpleToedGypsy

    PurpleToedGypsy said 6 years ago

    very cool

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 6 years ago

    love it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    As a die hard Tetris player I can see playing with these myself. Endless combinations. OK - not endless. Can some math smarty tell us exactly how many different combinations there could be? I'll check back later.

  • JewelMeShop

    JewelMeShop said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • ArigigiArt

    ArigigiArt said 6 years ago

    like it very much!

  • TrilliumsTreasures

    TrilliumsTreasures said 6 years ago


  • mtraub

    mtraub said 6 years ago

    Such an eye-catching project!

  • GoldenPondStudio

    GoldenPondStudio said 6 years ago

    wonderful article ill be making these for my lil one for his stocking!!! thanks for the great idea

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    TrilliumsTreasures says: 331,776. --------- Really? I'll have to take your word on it. ;)

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    love that how tuesday

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 6 years ago

    I like this project! It looks like it would be a good coffee-table thing, good for folks of all ages.

  • erinzam

    erinzam said 6 years ago

    Fun idea!

  • babyjives

    babyjives said 6 years ago

    Now these are blocks that I would mind having spread all over my living room. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Love this! coffee table piece!

  • kaybaxter

    kaybaxter said 6 years ago

    I would never stop playing with them therefore I would never get anything done lol. Love them!

  • kukishop

    kukishop said 6 years ago

    i actually did something like this when i was a child, it was my favorite thing for a while ;)

  • driftforever

    driftforever said 6 years ago

    super cute!

  • urastarhouse

    urastarhouse said 6 years ago

    Love these and your awesome blog! Rock out lady!Super fun for everyone!

  • rebeccasanchez

    rebeccasanchez said 6 years ago

    Fun stuff!

  • copticlaura

    copticlaura said 6 years ago

    I was given a set of these from Germany by an aunt who lived there when I was two or three. I can honestly say that I played with them through my teen years. They are serious mind-therapy. (Those six sides were blue solid, yellow solid, blue/yellow diagonal, red solid, white solid, red/white diagonal--tons of patterns waiting to be created!)

  • RivalryTime

    RivalryTime said 6 years ago

    Looks like fun.

  • cartelle

    cartelle said 6 years ago

    This reminds me of tangrams...remember those? Pretty sure you could figure out the same sort of games with these. The kid and I will definitely be making these very soon. Muchas Gracias for the wonderful idea!

  • cartelle

    cartelle said 6 years ago

    ooh, to add to the coffee table idea: Paint them with a color theme that goes with your decor, and keep them in a fabulous centerpiece bowl on your coffee table.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Great project!

  • TheSpeckledKat

    TheSpeckledKat said 6 years ago

    I can't decide who would enjoy them husband, my kids, or myself :)

  • peshka

    peshka said 6 years ago


  • curiouscreaturesshop

    curiouscreaturesshop said 6 years ago

    how cool is that, love the colors btw!

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 6 years ago

    :) cool!

  • HandmadeIsAllAround

    HandmadeIsAllAround said 6 years ago

    Cute Cubes!

  • StyleGraphicDesign

    StyleGraphicDesign said 6 years ago

    I find it very cute and simple for anyone:))

  • rootedphoenix

    rootedphoenix said 6 years ago

    Nice project!

  • dharma8designs

    dharma8designs said 6 years ago

    is there a good, non-toxic way to finish them so the paint won't come off?

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 6 years ago

    These are wonderful for children!

  • mikiheather

    mikiheather said 6 years ago

    So cute!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 6 years ago

    Very cute and colorful!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    These are so cute!

  • UnadillaWoodworks

    UnadillaWoodworks said 6 years ago

    Ah, wooden cubes are important!

  • FayeMaloneDesigns

    FayeMaloneDesigns said 6 years ago

    Ah, don't forget the CPSIA law. It requires you to test all the paint before you use it, every color, every bottle. So don't even think about trying to even give to kids under 13. The fines are up to $100,000 per violation. No stay of testing for paint and surface coating. Now I know you are using perfectly safe, wink, wink, acrylic paint approved for use in schools by every teacher, but the government doesn't think so. Cute blocks by the way, what kid wouldn't love them?

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 6 years ago

    Crazy Colorful Collection thanks for sharing.

  • happygohandmade

    happygohandmade said 6 years ago

    So cute! love the colors on these blocks too!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    Cute idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • jinny888

    jinny888 said 6 years ago

    good idea i will make for my home thank :)

  • rivahside

    rivahside said 6 years ago

    My son, who is mentally challenged, used something like this in his special education class. This is not only fun to figure out but can be used in many types of learning environments. Wonderful!

  • masalachai

    masalachai said 6 years ago

    love these, can't wait to get my hands on some wood blocks!

  • PariDesign

    PariDesign said 6 years ago

    I am going to make these for sure! Thank you :)

  • goosegreaseundone

    goosegreaseundone said 6 years ago

    totally gonna do this. thanks for the idea! our little girl will love it!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Cute! They remind me of those puzzle blocks you get with photos on them : )

  • feltstories

    feltstories said 6 years ago

    i love them

  • BackyardBrand

    BackyardBrand said 6 years ago

    Dig the modern-day cubist

  • BackyardBrand

    BackyardBrand said 6 years ago

    Cute Cubed (couldn't resist)

  • madebycasandra

    madebycasandra said 6 years ago

    Love it! This would make a fabulous gift for a quilter. Did I mention I'm a quilter? Thanks for a great article/tutorial.

  • circleandsprout

    circleandsprout said 6 years ago

    Love these! Thanks Abbey...your are awesome!

  • Maronne

    Maronne said 6 years ago

    Seriously LOVE these!

  • HeatherLucille

    HeatherLucille said 6 years ago

    A set in the Pantone color palette would make a great set of blocks for an adult (ME)! This is a really cool way to play with color and think about it in different ways.

  • marieboutique

    marieboutique said 6 years ago

    how fun and colorful!

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