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.
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.
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…
…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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I liked the look of the grid so much that I made a PDF of templates that includes the grid.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.