folding · How-to

The Paper Spring in the Classroom

Teaching kids how to make a paper spring is always thrilling. Children ooh and ahh, and practically jump out of their seats when I show them what we’ll be making.

The only problem has been is that it takes up a big chunk of my teaching time, as only about 55% of the students (who are usually 6-8 years old) in the classes I teach are able to make paper springs without extra help.

I’ve been teaching kids how to make paper springs for probably 20 years. Have shown it to thousands of students. We usually glue something to the top of it it, like a cut-out of their hand, to give the books we are making another dimensional element.

About a year ago, driving to another of my itinerant teaching-artist jobs, I was stressing over the fact that, due to time constraints I needed to cut something from my agenda . Realized the paper spring was going to have to be eliminated…unless…unless I could figure out how to get all of the kids to do make it without any extra help.

A caterpillar of paper springs
A caterpillar of paper springs

The way I’ve been teaching it is to glue two paper strips together to form a right angle, then alternate folding the strips on top on each until the papers fold down into a square. It’s easy to teach this method to adults, but kids keep folding in front then wrapping behind, which sabotages their springs.

 

 

Notice the corner is like a square, Draw a happy face on the square.

What if I ask students to fold the other way, to fold it below the glued corner, rather than above it? And to keep them from folding forward, draw a happy face which they are told should not be covered up?

Really, no one wants to cover up a happy face.

So I tried it out. Asked the students to alternate colors folding behind the happy face, said what we wanted to end up with is a little square.

Almost done

Couldn’t believe how well this went when I first tried it out. There is still a bit a confusion that happens when they see these flaps at the end.  I probably should say to cut off these pieces, but…

Last step

…these flaps can be  folded back too, then secured with a bit of glue.

This method of teaching has worked out for me unbelievably well. Unbelievable, even to me. Students have been nearly 100% successful in class after class.  So exciting to have discovered this way of teaching the paper spring.

Here’s a video:

 

Geometric Drawings · How-to

Gifs & Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop

Pentagons, ebb and flow
Pentagons, ebb and flow

I figure out how to do things, then I forget.

Making a GiF in Photoshop CS6 from artboards created in Adobe Illustrator is one of those things that I have to relearn every few months. I always panic when I have to learn it again. This post is mostly for me, to help me remember. Unless  this is something you want to do, just enjoy the pictures, especially the one at the bottom of this post.

Pentagons converging in color
Pentagons converging in color

Most of the GIF’s I’ve made have something to do with shape transformations. For instance, I’ve done a bunch with pentagons converging towards the center. I start with basic outlines then add effects. This post is about creating the gif from the artboards, not about making the images for the artboards. I leave that for you to figure out. But to give you an idea of my workflow, so that it makes sense for the rest of the post, here’s a screenshot of what one of my sets of artboards look like:

 

48 artboards
49 artboards

After I am happy with the Illustrator files I save, label and close my AI file.

Next, I open this Adobe Illustrator file in Photoshop. Since the AI file has lots of art boards. a box, which is labeled “import PDF” pops-up in the middle of my Photoshop workspace. Just ignore the reference to the pdf. Make sure the Pages option is picked. Pick your resolution. By default it’s at 300. Depending on my image, I sometimes can’t get a 300 resolution to save. I usually change this to 72.

Nothing is to scale here. Just highlighlighting what's needed
Nothing is to scale here.
Just highlighting what’s needed

To get ALL of the AI artboards to open SHIFt-CLICK the first and the last pages that are loaded in that little window. This will select all the artboards. Press OK (which I forgot to draw, but it’s in the lower right hand corner of the box).

Once the layers panel is full of your images you will need to close them. Oh, this is when I remember that I need to put a new file on my desktop, labeled New Gif. So make that now.

THEN CloseAll your files using the CloseAll command under the file menu.  A menu will come up, you tell it to SAVE and check the box that says apply to all, pick that New Gif file you made to save the images in, and, one by one, they will go into the folder, and you have to press save for each image as it goes in.

One Artboard Image

NOW OPEN your new gif folder in BRIDGE. Bridge is a great program that is packaged with Photoshop. SELECT ALL the artboards. At the top of the Bridges workspace go to Tools>Photoshop>Load Files in Photoshop layers.

Now sit back and wait as the Photoshop’s layers are populated with the artboards.

Almost done.

Next, make sure the Timeline option in checked under Window. At the center of the bottom of the workspace there is a box. Choose then  click on Create Frame Animation. One of the artboards will appear on the timeline. Open the fly-out menu on the timeline. Click: Make Frame From Layers (this is the 11th item on the list, and will only show up if Create Frame Animation has been clicked,  not merely chosen).

The timeline will populate, probably backwards. If so, click Reverse Frames on the fly-out menu.

The positions of all these things that need to be clicked can be found in that drawing above.

The Gif is now basically done. The timing can be changed by clicking on the sec option below the frame. Shift click two frames to select everything between them.

NOW SAVING is a whole other thing.

Click on SAVE FOR WEB under the file menu. Choose the 2 (or 4) up tab on the upper left of the save box. On the right hand side of the save box JPEG will probably be in the second box from the top. Change this to GIF. Choose the file size you want to save. I usually pick the 2nd to the biggest file. Click Save, name your file and be proud.

Here’s the one I made last night:

Click on this to see it go
Click on this to see it go OR click https://bookzoompa.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/awesome-gif-pentagons.gif

o

 

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How-to

Spiraling Paper Ornament

I came across this complicated looking but simple paper structure and have been happily playing around with it for days.

I’ve been able to locate only once source for these, which is at http://hattifant.com/triskele-paper-globes-flower-edition/, an exquisite site by German artist Manja Burton. Fact is, her site has enough about these globes that, really, no one else needs to ever write about them again ever, but, oh well, here I go.

Manja calls these Triskele Globes. I have no idea whether these are a traditional paper-folding design, or if she developed it herself. “Triskele” is a symbol which depicts three interlocking spirals. These paper globes appear to be interlocking spirals, but the spiraling is simply a wonderful illusion.

Bonus Update: just as I was about to hit the Publish button for this post, I received a note from Manja, responding to my questions about this structure.  I’ve added her response at the end of the post.

Three rectangles that will become globes
Three rectangles that will become globes

The globes are made with three interlocking strips. 

After interlocking the strips, the arcs are folded in. It really helps to pre-score the curved fold lines. Here’s a short video:

I made three different pdfs for paper strips, which will be at the bottom of this post. Each page will make two ornaments. My templates are a bit smaller than the ones on Manja Burton’s site. I like this smaller size mostly because I think it work so well with standard copy paper.

I’ve embellished with the paper with simple shapes, so that it’s easier to distinguish the strips from each other, otherwise it can be confusing to see what’s going on with the construction. I’ve also provided a pdf below that has no embellishments, so my shapes won’t interfere with your own vision.

Image of template for paper strips to make spiral paper ornament
Image of template for paper strips to make spiral paper ornament. Look for PDF below

You’ll notice that there are triangles on the template. These triangles are hidden in the final product. I put them there to help orient the designs, hopefully making it easier to see how the rings of paper strips are aligned to each other.

If you don’t have access to a copy machine, it’s absolutely possible to construct your own template for these paper strips. Here’s a grid that can be used to understand the proportions of the shapes.

The Paper Strips for the Spiraling ornament, mapped on a grid
The paper strips for the Spiraling ornament, mapped on a grid. The strips are 48 squares tall (plus two more for the tab), 10 square wide, and the circles have an a radius of 8 squares, but only 1/3 of the circle is on the paper strip. There, that should get you started.

I liked the look of the grid so much that I made a PDF of templates that includes the grid.

Grid on paper strips
See PDF for this at the bottom of this post

I’ve had such a great time with these. I’m  surprised every time I see the transformation happen as the strips of paper become a spiraling globe.

Here are the PDF’s of the strips.

Spiral Paper Ornament strips with shapes

Spiral Paper Ornament strips plain

Spiral Paper Ornament graphed strips

and here the PDF of the grid so you can construct your own strips without a copy machine:

Spiral Paper Ornament strip construction  (will be much  easier to use if you have graph paper)

A Bevy of Paper globes
A Bevy of Paper globes

Have fun. Use bling. Be colorful. Experiment with different papers, different designs. Make them into dice, fortune tellers, add quotes. Go wild.

Here’s the bonus update: I wrote a note to Manja which said.

Manja, I am enchanted by the Triskele balls, and am currently writing a blog post about them, which will include links to your site. Can you tell me something about history of these balls? did you invent the form or did you come across it in your travels? Many thanks for your beautiful work.

She wrote back, saying:

It is a couple of years back now that I saw an image of one of these globes and all I knew was that it was made out of three strips of paper. I spent a whole day on figuring out how it works… I never found that picture again online. I did do some more research on it back then and couldn’t find anything. So I asked the Hattifant community to help me find a name. And that was absolute fun and we in the end came up with Triskele Paper Globes.  Today, I have seen more of them and also in the Scandinavian area… there they seem to be called “click balls”. So please I would love to know more, too!  If you find out more do let me know!”
Okay! If anyone knows something about the history of these balls, let us know!

 

 

Books Made from one sheet of folded paper · How-to · origami pamphlet · simple book binding

Four Books Students Can Figure Out How to Make on Their Own

Origami-Base-for-Star-Book-and-Cascading-Book
PDF version

For years, until she retired, I worked with an enthusiastic classroom teacher named Anna who loved seeing her students make books. Instead of teaching bookmaking skills she created a bookmaking corner in her classroom that included a little display of books that I had taught her how to make. These books were accompanied by written directions and a stack of paper. Anna’s third grade students had a great time making books independently.

Last week I received a note from Lana, a teacher in Canada who I follow and who always has insights that I value. Here’s what she wrote:

I started a personal history project with my kids today, with  the big idea that our histories are different but we learn about each other because we are a community. Students start with creating a personal history of 5-10 important events in their lives. What if I open it a bit and let kids work with paper in 3 dimensions? Someone wants a line, someone else a book, a spiral, a tree, a flexagon?

I was wondering if there are some formats that you could recommend that don’t require too much pre-teaching. Ideally kids can follow template/video.

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book
Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Thinking about Anna’s bookmaking corner, I want to suggest a few books to Lana.

I decided to take this opportunity to finally get around to creating the StarBook/Cascading Book tutorial (at the top of this post) with video accompaniment:

This modular origami book can be tricky, but it is totally doable, The folding needs to be done precisely, folds need to be sharp, and it’s important to pay attention to the orientation of the modules as they get glued together.

Fact is though, that it looks tricker than it is. It’s a structure I highly recommend because it’s so dynamic.

Bookmaking by Paula Beardell Krieg

The next book I want to highlight is the Origami Pamphlet. This is the #1 book that I would like every person in the world to know how to make. Here’s the link to my post https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/how-to-make-an-origami-pamphlet 

Another set of these directions that I like belongs to Tim Winkler, and can be viewed at http://pictureengine.net/?p=7960

Mike Lawler made a 24 second video -Voila!- showing a piece of paper transform into the origami pamphlet  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APfeGF0HqvY 

Books made from one or two pieces of paper

The biggest problem with the origami pamphlet is that if you’re using regular copy paper, the book will be rather small,  If this bothersome there are two good variations that result in a larger book (other than just finding a larger sheet of paper):

You can link two of the structures together with a rubber band. That’s what’s going on with the lilac/blue booklet above. Well, I guess it’s not actually a larger book, it’s just longer.

Making a larger origami pamphlet by linking two halves together
Two Book Bases linked together to make an origami pamphlet

A way make a larger origami pamphlet is to use two sheets of paper to make two halves, then attach them together (use glue, tape, paper clips, staples? whatever ) like in the photo above.  I call this half-or-an-origami pamphlet a book base.

An advantage of making a book this way is that, if composition paper is used, the lines will be going in the correct direction for writing on.

There are so many fabulous inventive book structures students can make, but sometimes it’s great to just fold a bunch of papers in half, secure them together, and be done with it. The problem here is that it is not obvious how to secure the pages together. A doable no-needle way to sew pages together in a classroom setting is to use a bit of string or yarn to do a modified pamphlet stitch.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch
Modified Pamphlet Stitch

There you have it, four books:

  • the Star Book,
  • the Cascading Book,
  • the Origami Pamphlet (with two variations) and
  • the Modified Pamphlet Stitch book

Lana’s note mentions a spiral. I’ve been playing with some spiraling pages lately, and I have something wonderful that I want to share, but the spiral deserves its own post: which will hopefully show up here in the near future.