If you went to see Frozen, you’ll probably agree that Elsa’s ice castle is totally amazing. But on Amazon, the ‘Ice Palace Playset’ is $160 when I last looked (not to mention shipping), which is a lot of money if your kids (or yourself) want one.
So I enlisted the help of my dad and sister, and we did what any crafter would do in this situation ~ we made our own!
I mean, it doesn’t look exactly like Elsa’s ice castle. It’s made out of cardboard boxes, you know. But maybe you took a kid to see the movie and now they want an ice castle, and you don’t want to drop a bunch of money for it. Or maybe you’re just in the mood for some serious crafting. Whatever the cause, if you want to make your own, directions follow. 🙂
We got our stuff from Lowe’s for under 20 dollars. But we bought some things we didn’t end up using (like, we thought we were going to use dowels, but we didn’t.) If you can find a box in your basement like we did, or if you already have spray paint of an appropriate color, then 10 dollars might be more accurate. The spray paint is the most expensive part.
- 12 x 12 x 12 cardboard box
- 16 x 12 x 12 cardboard box
- Optional box if you want an attic*
- Packing tape
- Light blue spray paint for main color (ours is sort of icy-blue)
- Sparkly silver spray paint for overlay
- 8 in. x 10 in. sheet of Plexiglass
- Hot glue
- Worsted weight yarn & J hook if you’re making a snowflake
- Elsa Barbie (optional)
*No directions are included for the attic because it’s so easy! Just get one of those mini piano box looking things and cut a triangular hole in it. 🙂
Naturally, we’re going to start at the first floor and work upwards. But now you’ll know how they come together.
Start off with your 12 x 12 x 12 cardboard box. This box was rooted out of the basement so it’s a bit bedraggled. You may need to assemble yours firstly, leave the top open like above.
Then cut down one side seam.
And unfold it so it sort of looks like a pentagon. I know it still only has four sides, but pretend the fifth one is there. Make sure the left and right sides are parallel.
Then you need to use packing tape to tape the bottom together. Next, fold down the top flaps and tape those together too.
Take your 16 x 12 x 12 box and assemble it as normal. Then cut off all four top flaps.
Two of the flaps should be 12 inches/1 foot long. Tape them as support beams on either side of your bottom floor/pentagon looking item. You can dispose of the other flaps if you like, but I’d keep them on hand in case you need spare cardboard. (Edit: Six months later, these supports are sagging. I’d reinforce them with dowels if you can!)
Just tape on all 4 sides as sturdily as you can.
At this point, the poodle wanted to get in on the action, but when I tried to get a good picture of her, all she wanted to do was lick the camera…the same poodle from this post, as a matter of fact ~ she seems to be interested in crafting! Anyway. Back on track now…
Then pop the box on top of the first floor, so it’s in line with the front. This forms a bit of a balcony in the back …
…like this…this picture might help for reference…
Place the Plexiglass in the second floor, in line with the front edge. Keep in mind, it has to be supported by the first-floor-edges, or it will plummet right to the ground. Trace around it and cut out the resulting rectangle from the second story box you just finished.
Then you can put the Plexiglass on top and marvel at it. (But first you should peel off the covering, which is really quite fun.)
To let some light in, my dad, who was in charge of the sharp stuff, cut out windows. Our method was this: you draw the shape of the window as you’d like, then trace around it, and draw a line down the middle. Then when you cut it out, you can leave some cardboard on the side, and if you score it, the windows can open and close.
Now we have to attach the first and second floors together. Put the second floor where you want it, so it’s aligned with the front edge and centered, then trace around the edge as shown. This way you know where NOT to glue. (Yes, that’s my hand, but no, I am not left-handed. Photo purposes. 🙂 )
Also, you should trace from the first floor looking up, so you know the other place not to glue.
Then, apply hot glue to the non-marked parts, as quickly but efficiently as you can. Then squish it into place, and hold it together for a minute or so, so it will hold. But I beg you to be careful with the hot glue…
The next step is to secure the Plexiglass, but we were running into a problem. If you glue it down, you can’t remove it to spray-paint it, and it was a really rainy day so spray-painting was out of the question. So we cut two long, narrow strips of cardboard and glued it so there was a little gap for the Plexiglass to go into, kind of like a drawer. Then it can pull in and out and your Barbie can have vaulted ceilings if she wants, but she can switch to a two-story house easily.
For those of you who can crochet and want a large snowflake for Elsa, here’s what I did. This is the closest pattern I could find to the snowflake that starts the ice palace, have a look at the before and after in Let it Go if you want to compare.
I used Snowcatcher’s Bicycle Spokes Snowflake with Red Heart Super Saver yarn and a J (6.00 MM) hook. It turned out 8.5 inches point to point. I did make a slight modification on the last round: instead of chaining 8 in-between petals, I chained 9, slip stitched into the 8th chain from the hook, chained 1, and proceeded on, which made it look more like an oversized picot and therefore resemble Elsa’s more. I mean, it is a crocheted snowflake so you can only get so close, but…can you say obsession? 😉
Okay, so this is how the ice palace looks at this point…it kind of looks like a bunch of cardboard boxes, right? (oh look, there’s a poodle in the background! XD ) Don’t worry, a bit of spray paint is going to make a huuuuuge difference.
Follow the directions on your spray paint container ~ ours said to spray paint on a day over 65º, and naturally it shouldn’t be a rainy day. It would be more effective if you waited to glue it all together, but this worked fine for us. Spray paint a coat of blue paint. Two coats would be good since you want this to look professional, right? Well, as professional as a bunch of Lowe’s boxes can look, anyway… 🙂 Then add a coat of sparkle spray paint to make it look icier. I highly suggest doing the inside too because otherwise it will just be cardboard inside, and the entire castle is made of ice…as Anna found out the hard way. Then let it dry…let it dry…here’s something for you to watch while you do so…
We ran out of spray paint for the back, so you may want to go lighter so you have enough. Or just don’t spray paint the attic. When you’re done you can put the Plexiglass back in, re-glue if you need to, and then your
cardboard ice castle is complete! Pretty good for some common materials! And, if you’re careful, it’s actually quite sturdy. Everybody say, “Thank you, Cogaroo’s dad and sister!” Because they were SUPER AWESOME and I totally wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own. You guys rock, thank you! 😀
If you make an ice castle, do let me know how you get along, I’d love to see pictures! I think adding a chandelier would be awesome…or you could add doors, we left the front open for easy access…or railings around the balcony…there are lots of things you can customize to make it however you’d like.
Now I am going to make my dramatic exit like at the end of Let it Go. See you later! 🙂
P.S. Want to do some more Frozen crafting? Check out the free pattern for Elsa’s Coronation Dress!