Crossword Puzzle Origami Frame: Something from almost nothing #2

Why has it never occured to me to cut out the crossword puzzle that is in every newspaper and do some origami with it? After all, the crossword puzzles are square, and they always have this fun looking pattern of blanks and solids.

I suppose any origami structure would look good with crossword puzzle paper.

I chose to make a paper frame. It’s easy, assembles much like those fortune teller toys that kids make, except for the last step. I could have slipped a picture into the corners of the frame, but instead I colored in all the squares (after the folds were done).

If you want to see how to make this frame, here’s my Paper Frame PDf… I made these directions for a project a long time ago, so but the basic directions are the same. Just be sure to start with the crossword puzzle image face down. You won’t see any of it until the last step.

Let me know if you make one of these!



How-to · Paper Toy

Paper Rods: Something from Almost Nothing

At this time of year I’m usually working in a summer programs, trying out new projects with kids without the time constraints of being in classrooms. The projects that kids connect to the most become part of what I do with my arts-in-ed sessions in the schools. Turns out that just because there’s no summer programs during this 2020 season, and there is not much chance I will have arts-in-ed work, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about new projects. There are a few that I’m particularly eager to share, which is what this and some future posts will be about.


This exploration started with seeing a project posted by Chuck Stoffle in which Chuck made paper rods (he calls them paper supports) by rolling newspaper around a skewer and securing the roll with tape. I liked what he made so much that I had to try it out, but could I make them without using tape?

I started thinking about how, when glossy catalogs get wet, their pages stick together and thought that maybe this could be a tapeless way to make the rods.  Chuck’s method of using tape has the advantage of being able to use the rods immediately, whereas my tapeless method requires overnight drying time, but, hey, I’ve got time.

Here’s how it goes,

Make a 1-1/2 inch fold on the long edge of a page, then fold that in half, and repeat two more times, then start rolling


I start with one of the catalogs that are always showing up in my mailbox, looking for one with glossy pages (uh, they all have glossy pages), but also is not too thin or too thick, and also is colorful on the edges.. Turns out that the Lands End catalog gave me the results I liked the best, which is fortunate as they show up at my house frequently.

Here’s the work flow:  take out the staples, cut each page in half along the center line, then fold up a 1-1/2″ flap on the one of the long edges. Next fold the flap in half, then fold that in half again, and finally fold that last flap in half a fourth time. This last fold is quite tiny. Then start rolling.

Here’s a video of how it looks:

After the paper is rolled up, give it a shower right under a water faucet.

Choosing pages thoughtfully results in rods that are quite lovely.

Now this is where I really miss having groups of kids to play with. What I would like to do is to just hand the rods over to kids and watch what they do with them.

Fortunately my friend Mark Kaercher is a person who is like a group of kids. After we talked about this over Zoom he made a bunch, and figured out that he could use sections of pipe cleaners as connectors.

I really like the way that the pipe cleaners worked to connect the rods!

One of the challenges I made for myself was to connect only three rods together, tripod-like, then see how many more I could add just using gravity.

Or what about building something over a tomato?

I, uh, think a group of kids would have done something more interesting than what I came up with using the tomato.


What about purely linear arrangements?

Or photographing a 3D structure a from above?

This photo is the aerial view of the second photo in this post. Oh, don’t scroll back, here it is again:

This structure has a few pipe cleaner attachments.

If there are no pipe cleaners in your life there’s lots of ways to improvise: I leave that to you.

Now all I need is a group of kids to play with….


Zhen Xian Bao

Giving Big Thanks with a Little Zhen Xian Bao

OMG, just received this surprise gift in the mail. How did Mollie MacRae know that I was just now looking around for a new book to get into.

I know a little something about this book, something Molly contacted me about a few month ago. Part of the plot line includes a Zhen Xian Bao, aka Chinese thread book. I look forward to getting to that part, but in the meantime I’ve figured out how to thank Molly. She’ll be getting a wee thread book, which is just the right size.

If you are wondering what is “just the right size” well, just the right size to carry around these miniature cards of book covers of her previously published books. I used these cards to determine that I needed a 6″ x 6″ square to make the rectangular tray. Notice the names of her books: they all reference fiber, so OF COURSE I had to make Molly a thread book.

I used a wash of pink ink then splashes of other ink for the pink paper. The blue/purple paper is one of my paste paper.
I used a wash of pink ink then splashes of other ink for the pink paper. The blue/purple paper is one of my paste paper.

My plan is to make a folder that includes one tray and also one pocket. The pocket and wrapper will be one in the same piece.

I cut a piece of my paste paper to be long enough so that there is an overhanging flap that helps make a nice closure.

Here it is, finished, with one of her little cards tucked into the pocket. You can be sure that I will be taking that card out and keeping it for myself before the I head to the mailbox.

Here it is, ready to go,

Ok, now I get to sit down and read….:)


Building Something

Wanted to build something.

Wasn’t thinking specifically about art or bookmaking or math, but it all seeps in.

Had these stretcher frames in storage, pulled them out, hinged them together in the same way as if I were making a Jacob’s Ladder. Small pieces first,

Long pieces next. Hinges made of Tyvek. Husband lent me his power staple gun.

Next I needed to glue some pieces together. I’m planning something that’s kind of large, but need to start with the small pieces.

Assembling on my dining room table. Husband not too happy about this, but he was accepting.

After the frames were assembled I took the frames outside. The next part, adding small nails to stabilize the corners, was done by my husband. It’s a good sign when I like the visuals of an object while it’s still in process. I liked the way this was evolving.

This is a screen for my son’s apartment. I want it to be sturdy, large, lightweight and luminous. I am using drafting film for the openings. Decided to make wavy edges.

For five screens, I made 10 curtains of drafting film. Attached the pieces with double sided tape.

Attached the curtains of drafting film into the stretchers with double sided tape. I think it will hold, but if not, tacks can be added later.

Here it is, done, a humongous Jacob’s Ladder, which merely means the panels can fold in either direction.

I hadn’t made anything this large in a long time. It’s now out of my house and at my son’s place.

What I realize about making this is that it really is a response to what I need to be doing now, which is building something new.

This pandemic times are changing things for me.

So I started with something small, a few little stretcher frames and an idea.

Ended up with something large and satisfying.

Change is in the air.

Hadn’t meant for this screen to be a metaphor, but it seems fitting. These pandemic times, and this time of civic changes, requires building something new, starting with disparate pieces, putting things together, making something good.