The new year is already five days old. I put everything else on pause today to write my thank you notes.
I’m going through my image files and pulling out some fun graphics I’ve created this past year. After putting them in an Illustrator file, getting things into the right size and fiddling with the colors endlessly, I eventually get to hit the print button, let my computer do the work, then finish these cards up with a bit of real world cut and paste.
Am determined to finish them up tonight. Tomorrow I drive my daughter back to college 😦 so that’ll be the end of holiday season for me.
Just in time for the holidays, a shape that you probably never heard of. Maybe that’s just as well. If you want something that’s kind of awesome & easy to make, you are in the wrong place (go here instead). This shape is awesome and endearing, but takes more finessing than is comfortable for the average bear. I do not recommend making these with children. Or adults. Proceed at your own risk.
I was introduced to this shape by Vincent Pantaloni, who has a knack for distraction. Near the bottom of this post I will link some of our sphericon-related twitter threads.
What’s most endearing about this shape is that it wobbles as it rolls. You have to give it a flick right near one of its edges and it will roll like a drunken sphere. Its net (the flattened out version of the shape) reminds me of a duckbill platypus. I bet they wobble too.
If you have a template you can probably figure out how to make one of these without any help from me. Here are the templates, in black and white, in color, and in two different sizes. I’m pretty sure these will work with A3 and A4. (Let me know if I’m wrong about this!)
After you fail a few times you can watch my video to see me struggle through making one. I do have a few good tips to offer.
I recommend printing these on heavier papers than standard copy papers. They don’t do their rolly-wobble really well when made from lighter papers. Really, who would want a non-rolly sphericon? I use 67lb cover paper.
Once you cut out the shape, score the curves and the straight lines within the net.
To get everything to stick together I recommend using some kind of double-sided adhesive.
I’ve tried regular tape and white glue and glue sticks: I do not recommend using regular tape because it messes up the rolling edge. I do not recommend using white glue or glue sticks because I have to hold everything together while the glue dries and this takes too long.
I had some big glue dots around. I like the way they worked, especially as I could stretch them over a larger area that one would expect. When I ran out of glue dots I discovered adhesive LINES. Very cool.
See the the adhesive line stretching in the photo above?
I put the adhesive on all the glue surfaces before I actually try to adhere anything to anything else.
I find that it’s best to stick the long tab to the one straight edge before doing anything else. You will likely disagree with me and try to glue one set of the teeth first, then the other set, then do the tab. Then you will realize that this was a mistake. Oh well. Told you so.
I think these look so adorable at this stage that I had to post both of these photos. Now you just have to somehow get those teethy things to stick to the inside edge of that arc (which, according to Vincent, is about about 127.3 degrees of a circle. About)
Getting these to stick together perfectly is just not possible. But good enough is actually good enough. You have to do a 3D print for perfection.
Here’s a video of me struggling through making this. It’s worthwhile to watch but there are some reaaaalllllly boring stretches. The whitish on the bottom of the video never goes away. Sorry.
Here are are some interesting twitter threads to look at. Click on them then scroll up.
I’ve always loved coloring books. Is this true for every kid? I really don’t know. Are coloring books for kids even around much anymore?
When the coloring books for adults became all the rage a few years ago, it made perfect sense to me, although most of the titles on the market didn’t interest me much. I like sense an underlying rigorous structure, but one that is not simply symmetrical. Naturally, then, I fell in love with the books by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harris.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been asked to write this post by anyone connected to these books. In fact, the reason I am writing this now is because I am working on something else that won’t be ready to write about for awhile, so I thought that, with the holiday season upon us, the colorfulness of writing about these books seems timely.
I love these books for all the same reasons that I’ve always loved coloring books. They let me mess around with color without having to think too much about form. Just experimenting with color combinations without thinking about much else is a great thing for me to do when I’m wanting to make something but not feeling particularly ambitious. I think this cascading waves is my favorite of all the pages. If the authors happen to be reading this, please make more versions of this one for me, please.
I do not recommend using crayons in these books. The image above in started as crayon only, but it didn’t have a look that I liked until I added those crackly lines made with markers. Crayons are amazing when used on paper that is a bit rough, just like the newsprint paper in traditional coloring books, but seems to me that they aren’t well suited for the smooth papers of adult coloring books.
Colored pencils work well on these pages, but be advised that not all colored pencils are created equal. The best value for colored pencils are the Crayola brand, but Prismacolor Colored Pencils are just about the only upgrade that makes sense. If I’m using colored pencils on these pages, it’s Prismacolor that I’m using. However, If I am making drawings of my own, using my own designs, I generally use my absolute favorite colored pencils, made by Caran D’Ache.
Sometimes mixing up the Prismacolors with markers works out best. This page above, which references color bands used by Georgia O’Keefe in one of her paintings, was done with both Prismacolors and brush markers (an expensive Japanese brand, SAI).
I love the way Sharpies look on these pages. Yes, they bleed through like crazy, so I always put a protective piece under the page that I am working on. Otherwise, I don’t care that they bleed through the page. The publishers of these books were kind enough to keep the verso side of the spread mostly blank, so I don’t lose anything that I’m not willing to lose in the interest of using exactly the materials that I want to use.
My favorite pages, so far, are one that are not full of tiny, tiny details, like the one above, These tiny details require more attention than is comfortable for me.
This Kolakoski Sequence has just about the right balance for me of detail and broad areas of color. I’m generally more interested in the description of the form after I’ve colored it, but in this case it was already obscured by the bleed through from the previous image. Oh, well, I still have the internet.
Here’s another one done with both markers and pencils. I didn’t find this uncolored page very compelling, so I challenged myself to use color to make it more interesting to me.
I was pretty happy wit the way this one turned out.
The thing I like the most about these books is that I can pick them up and put them down with impunity. I don’t have to remember what I was thinking about or where to start. During the years of raising children and never having any extended amounts of time to work on anything, it still makes me feel happy to have something to do that doesn’t suffer from interruptions.
This spiral is the first one I did in these books. Took quite a few sitting before I considered to be finished, but that’s fine.
Here I got to play with trying to create a illusion that these circles were not in a precisely straight line. Sadly, in this photo that illusion seems to be mostly lost, but on the page they do look wiggly.
Not all drawings that I do come out great. Some come out well but don’t photograph well, like this one, which I love, but doesn’t seem to like the camera much. Sharpies love the camera.
Those funny shapes to the right of the page are called Sphericons. They are peculiar, funny, and I will making some to give away and some to hang on our tree. They are pesky to try to make out of paper, hence it will be many more days before they get a post of their own. But am happy to have finally made a post about my favorite coloring books.
OH, and if the editors or authors are taking requests, how about a coloring book along the same themes as these, made for kids and printed like old-fashioned coloring books, on newsprint, so that crayons would be the preferred medium? A mathy coloring book for kids, with large, not-particularly detailed patterns sounds like a great idea to me.
Next, directions for a six-sided snowflake. My big tip is to use paper napkins, as they already are the right shape: no extra prep needed! Also, paper napkins cut quite easily. They are perfect for snowflakes.
If you want to understand how the cuts of your snowflakes affect the final design, see below:
Festive Jumping Jacks are quite fun. I’ve made these with kids just a few times, as all the knot tying makes this an intense project for anything more than a small group, but so worth the effort!