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This page will detail how to make four different types of mathematical shapes by producing and assembling a number of tiny paper pieces. I did not invent the pieces or the method of making pieces; in fact, they seem to be called "Sonobes" (though I've always called them "pieces" and will do so here). Here is a rather detailed page that shows pieces that resemble mine. I also did not invent three of the models presented on this page. I learned them from elsewhere. The fourth model (the "Epcot ball") I did derive by myself, out of curiosity, because up to that point I did not know that models larger than the icosahedron were possible. (My friend Uche Akotaobi tried, before I derived the Epcot ball's structure, to create a model with more complexity than the icosahedron, but ended up with a mutant that wouldn't close in on itself.) I searched the Internet rather thoroughly and could not find a picture of, let alone instructions on how to make, an "Epcot ball". Therefore I believe that I have constructed the first four Epcot balls in the world, and I'll continue believing that until I hear otherwise through E-mail. The pictures here are wholly original, and please don't take them for your website without asking me first. (I'll almost certainly let you; I just like knowing about it beforehand.) In any case, I do not claim copyright or anything else on these models or the process of making them. They're little paper models, after all. Everyone should be able to make one. Have fun with them!

but of course that doesn't matter). I absolutely recommend using squares that have edges of 1. the more sheets of paper you'll have to consume to make the squares.5 inch. and how easy the pieces are to assemble. (And assembling an Epcot ball out of 1-inchers would be absolute torture).) Each piece starts its life as a small square of paper. you see. these models are all made up of a number of absolutely identical paper pieces. such as typing paper. are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE to work with and would only be appropriate if you want to show off how cool you are. First I will detail how to make a single piece (step-by-step) and then I will outline how to assemble them into a model of a polyhedron. while appropriate for airplanes. The size of the square determines the eventual size of the polyhedron model (and the model's physical strength. Typing paper or printer paper. constructing and folding the appropriate number of pieces. For average models. read below for cases when typing paper is appropriate.) Therefore. assembly into a model takes a couple of hours at most for the most complex model and mere minutes for the simpler models. and so forth).) And of course. I've gotten it down to the point where I can fold one piece in about one minute. the larger the square. Smaller squares. and then assembling them according to a pattern. Too large squares (3-inch and above) may lead to flimsy models unless you use stiff paper. may be appropriate for models that you wish to make larger. The 1. (I have indeed dreamed of making an Epcot ball out of posterboards.The Epcot Ball! Preliminary instructions: As I said. they just take some time. but it would require a LOT of posterboards. Larger sizes. such as 1-inch squares. such as 2-inch squares. Paper type and paper size: Unlike for the fighter jet paper airplane. (However. (I prefer college rule. I strongly recommend that you use lined filler paper for these models. Accuracy issues and making the squares: . making a model involves three steps: choosing which model you want to make. No step is hard. (The word "origami" therefore applies very tenously. quick construction and does not penalize inaccuracies too much.5 inch size allows for sturdy. and how easy the model is to assemble. it's more of a mechanical process. is too thick and stiff for these models.

on to how to fold a piece. a mechanical pencil or something) which divide the paper into 1. Folding a single piece: (The convention here is different from my paper airplane page: solid lines mark valley folds. and finally assemble the model. When you make a model (you aren't. This is your final goal for this section: to make a completed piece. the pieces will not be too adversely affected.) So. Then you'll go through and fold X pieces (repetitively). yet. All folds should be absolutely accurate and creased sharp.5-inch square of paper: A freshly cut square of paper. It will be obvious.5" square regions. the pieces will be irregular and will not fit together nicely. in contrast. This is why my photos will have more blue lines on them than your squares will have. I mean rotating it around on the table. but I'll make it clear then. A completed piece. but remember that you are making a large number of (supposedly) absolutely identical pieces. producing X number of squares (where X is the number of pieces you'll need). when I refer to spinning the paper 180 degrees around. . If you are inaccurate in your folding.) You may find that you have to discard irregular pieces. Then you'll take sharp scissors and cut exactly on the lines. cutting.5-inch square.Basically. and no mountain folds are involved anywhere. you should use a 1. or measuring. because you don't know how which models are possible. start with a 1.) Also. let's concentrate on making a single piece first). You actually will need to turn the paper over near the end of the process. it ought to take you one minute per piece. If you make a small error. don't worry. And remember: accuracy is everything! Now. (1-inch pieces demand absolute perfection. The only time a pencil is needed is when dividing up a sheet of paper into squares to be cut. This process is actually very easy and quick. (For the purposes of photographing this process. all measurements must be absolutely accurate and all cuts must be absolutely accurate. once mastered. I used a 3-inch square. all the rules that apply to my paper airplane instructions apply here. say. do not label your square in any manner while folding it. All folds can be made without any markings. you'll gather a large number of sheets of paper and draw very precise grids (using. my markings are to make my instructions clear. Also.

then spin the paper 180 degrees and do the same. Here is what I mean: Dividing the square in half. I'll refer to these folds. (You will be folding the paper here again. Here is what I mean: The folds that you'll be making. rather uncreatively. you just need to do some things in the meantime. of course). as "the second and third folds" later on. The actual purpose of this fold is just to give you a reference to make the next two folds. Take the bottom edge of the paper and fold it to the center crease. Unfold the paper and lay it flat. Here is what I mean: Folding two triangles. Okay.) Take the bottom-right corner of the paper and fold it into a triangle so that what was the left side of the paper now lies on top of the second fold you made. spin the paper 180 degrees and make the same fold. . unfold the paper and lay it flat. you should make them one at a time. Here is the process halfway through completion. Now.Make a precise and creased fold lengthwise. Leave that folded. Here is the process halfway through completion (both folds are shown simultaneously.

you must tuck in that large triangle fold into the paper. the upper-left corner shows it halfway through completion. The following image's bottom-right corner shows the end result of this process. take the bottom-right corner of the paper and make another needlenose-type fold. take the bottom-left corner of the paper and fold it so that what was the left edge of the paper now lies on top of the top edge of the paper. A parallelogram! Now. Now is the time to remake the second and third folds you made: Okay.This is the traditional fold you make when producing a (lousy) needlenose paper airplane. That fold was hard to describe but easy to perform. like this: Rotate the paper 180 degrees and repeat. Then rotate the paper 180 degrees and tuck in the other fold. Now. Here is what I mean: The left fold is tucked in. I have no way to easily describe this in words. Now. it's used in the production of lousy needlenose paper airplanes everywhere. producing a triangle. while the right fold is not. resulting in: . That means bringing the fold that you just made to lie exactly on top of the second fold you made. Then rotate the paper 180 degrees and make the same fold. Another "needlenose" type fold.

Fold the bottom point of the paper straight up to meet another vertex of the parallelogram. like this: Then rotate the paper 180 degrees and repeat. . you have a finished piece: Congratulations. (This is actually a mountain fold.Good. Now you need to give the paper a bend in the middle. but I could have you flip the paper over again and make a valley fold. Now flip the paper over and rotate it so that it looks like this: The backside of the paper. so what?) You will end up with this: Now. producing this: Okay. as you can see.

which allow them to interlock.) Stick with right-handed pieces. There are four models that I know how to construct (though I could derive how to make many other types of models).) Takes 30 pieces. Difficult (though not overly so). (A stellated octahedron. If you choose to make them on the bottom-left and upper-right corners of the paper. for no reason other than to annoy me. you need to learn the basics of model construction.) Being right-handed and very used to making right-handed pieces such as I've shown here. here's a bit of useless trivia: you can actually make mirror-images of these pieces. you need to choose which model you want to construct so that you'll know how many pieces to make. Not difficult. The cube. (A stellated icosahedron. making a left-handed piece takes a lot of time for me.) However. A boring cube. The crucial decision comes when you make the triangle folds after the second and third folds. actually. :-D Making models: Now that you know how to make pieces. Now that you have enough pieces constructed to make the model of your choice.. it takes 6 pieces. left-handed pieces and right-handed pieces cannot be used in the same model! They just won't fit together. (I also have trouble assembling left-handed pieces into models. Here are two pieces placed to illustrate this: . but incredibly time-consuming. Incidentally. The icosahedron.or right-handed pieces easier to make. The stellated truncated icosahedron. Takes 270 pieces. The easiest to construct. or if right-handed people who've never made pieces before find left. 2. I think. Also not difficult.Now. you end up with a left-handed piece instead of a right-handed piece. So if you make one left-handed piece. in other words. because everything is reversed. I suggest that you start off with the cube and work onwards. and modify subseqent folds accordingly. 1. (I have no idea if left-handed people find lefthanded pieces easier to make.. 3. A piece has two sharp corners and two pockets. and this is the important part. (The pieces are chiral. my best friend Uche Akotaobi delights in making left-handed pieces.) Takes 12 pieces. The octahedron. 4. all of the pieces in your model will be left-handed.

Solution: pieces can form more than one peak. Here is a cube.And here they are locked together. (Although you should assemble your models piece-by-piece and not make a bunch of 3-piece peaks and then assemble the peaks. but only requires six pieces. The former works. corner in pocket: Here is a third piece. the latter won't.) Now you should be able to assemble a cube. Example: the cube contains three peaks. pictured with a peak at the center of the image: A cube. . because peaks are the founding blocks of your models. Trust me: go piece-by-piece. Doing so necessitates forming the three pieces into a three-dimension configuration that I call a peak: It is vitally important to understand what I mean when I say "peak". placed over the first two: And here the third piece is locked in: There is a free corner and free pocket that can be locked together.

Forming the first three models. around both of which are five peaks (there are also two more points on this icosahedron for which you can clearly see the five surrounding peaks. cubes are too small). And here is an icosahedron. Simply start out with the required number of pieces (6. is quite easy. Here is a picture of an octahedron. here is a what I call (somewhat confusingly). (It's hard to show with a single picture how three peaks surround every "point" of a cube. because I will make it even clearer. Around every "point" in a model there are three or more peaks. Icosahedra have five peaks around every point: An icosahedron. then read on. This is my own terminology. but they're at more of an angle): . or 5 peaks around every point until you've run out of pieces and close the model. you can see two points very clearly. You will end up with a cube. (I need to demonstrate the next fact with an octahedron. or 30) and place 3. therefore. Now. See how four peaks are arranged around the point? An octahedron. 12. or an icosahedron. respectively. an octahedron.) Here is a picture to make this even more clear. 4. with a point more or less in the center of the image.If you were unable to assemble the cube. a "point". The lens flare in the following image shows where a point is located relative to a peak: This is what I mean by "point". call it what you will.

Then form more points by adding more pieces to make more peaks. until finally it's almost completed like in the image above. simply start with a peak. the buckminsterfullerene (which also goes by the names "fullerene" and "buckyball"). 4. Gradually this will cause the model to curve in on itself. This is what you should see when your model is almost completed. for its obvious similarity to the Epcot Center in Disneyworld. (To make matters easy. Notice how a 5peak point is at the exact center. (Don't try it. here's that icosahedron missing three pieces. but with twelve pentagons that give it enough curvature to be a ball. while 6-peak points surround it in every direction: .Hopefully that should make what I'm trying to say absolutely clear. the hexagons are colored white while the pentagons are black. I derived how to make this shape out of pieces on my own. the last piece is the hardest to put in. and add pieces to form peaks in a circular fashion. if you try to form a model with 6 peaks around a point. have you ever seen a soccer ball? It's made of hexagons.) You can replicate this here.) You end up with sheet of peaks. Here's a blue-and-red icosahedron I whipped up: You can also make it so that three colors of pieces make up every peak. Here is a top-on view of an Epcot ball. the truncated icosahedron.) However. you can make colorful models. you will find that it cannot be done. for a similarly cool effect. (Tetrahedra are too small. you can form models out of 1-inch squares. until you have a point surrounded by 3. is also the structure of C60. it's a waste of time. or 5 peaks. There are no other regular polyhedra that you can form. this corresponds to hexagons tiling a plane. It's actually a self-assembling process once you understand what you're doing. and now I'll teach it to you. This mathematical shape.) To form a model. Mathematically. I call it the "Epcot ball". Now. If you get really good and precise. anything from cubes to icosahedra. Here are the three 1-inch icosahedra I've made: If you use construction paper. (Actually. Now. and I do not believe that dodecahedra can be formed with these pieces.

Marked by a green toothpick. Not fun.) Due to the fact that they're mostly made of 6-peak points. therefore. If you indeed discover that 270 pieces is not enough to continue the pattern I've detailed here. I just follow the pattern and make pieces as I go. If you fail to do it exactly. so you'll have to take my word for it. (By the way. and then surround it with another ring of 6-peak points. surround a 5-point peak with six-point peaks. no less. I once derived a simple formula for figuring out the number of pieces one of these things has. Be careful with the Epcot Balls that you make. The following image shows how. and then add exactly five 5-peak points so that they are two 6-peak points away from the original 5-peak point. if anyone is still having trouble understanding what I mean by "point". is key. there it is. (Note: That figure of 270 is hazily remembered by me. Two 5-peak points are marked by green toothpicks. Although I would be incredibly surprised if 270 is not the correct number.) Conceptually draw a straight line between those 5peak points. but I was never sure that the formula was correct. is to construct a 5-peak point. you'll end up with a mutant model that will refuse to close in on itself. you must also know where to put the other 5-point peaks. I didn't take a photograph of all of them together (it would be large!). are precisely TWO 6-peak points. Here is a gratuitous picture of one of them: The Epcot Ball! . I still have all four. I have made exactly four Epcot Balls in my life. Here is what I mean: The key to making an Epcot ball. marked by lens flares. and in any case I've forgotten the formula and its results. The pattern. surround it with 6-peak points. not the number of pieces. I do remember the number being in the 200's. I've never counted the pieces before making an Epcot ball. No more. Epcot Balls require 270 pieces and a substantial amount of time dedicated to making them. Actually. then by all means make more pieces. Repeating this process EXACTLY over the entire surface of the model will produce an Epcot Ball. they are not nearly as rigid as the smaller models and can be damaged EASILY by a jolt or by a drop. and being a multiple of 30.To start making an Epcot ball. In between. However.

then surround it with another ring of 6-peak points. but I don't speak for them. Lavavej Home: stl@nuwen. Agnes Harnisch used these instructions to create a very beautiful Epcot ball . Even my own models don't fit together that well.".html (updated a long time ago) Stephan T. Also feel free to E-mail me if you've made models according to these instructions and enjoyed it.net if you had significant trouble following these instructions. Please E-mail me at stl@nuwen.note the exquisite precision of the folds.net Work: stl@microsoft. so that I may revise this page and make it easier to understand.com This is my personal website..net/poly.Now I hope you understand what all those lengthy explanations about peaks and points were for... I would also really like to know if you've made an Epcot Ball.. and then add exactly five 5-peak points. They allow me to communicate how to make the Epcot Ball in a compressed sentence like ". . I work for Microsoft. ^_^ Have fun! http://nuwen.

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