Card-Carrying Blizzard Book, any size you like

Art of the Fold by Hedi Kyle It's so wonderful to have this book in the world.
Art of the Fold by Hedi Kyle
It’s so wonderful to have this book in the world.

Generalization has a bad rap. We’ve all been admonished with the phrase “don’t generalize.” But sometime generalization is a worthy pursuit. Sometimes when you can come up a way to understand something in a general way, it opens up possibilities.


Hedi Kyle’s card-carrying Blizzard Book is an elegant, well-loved folding structure. I wrote a post about this structure about 7 years ago: this post of mine has attracted viewers every single day (nearly 20,000 views so far). What I want to do here, in this post, is to generalize the paper proportions so we can make a card-carrier blizzard book that can hold any size cards, not just business cards.

Determining the size of your paper can be done in one of two ways: 1)referencing the cards themselves or 2)measuring the cards then doing some calculations with numbers. I do it both ways, starting with no measuring tools except for the cards that will be going into the book’s pockets, then I do the math to check and refine.

There’s a video link at the end of this post, demonstrating how to discover the perfect size paper for your cards of choice, but here’s photos and a description, too, because a snap shot may be all you need to see what’ going on.

two widths, one length
two widths, one length, to find the measurement of the short edge of the paper you will need

First, or course you have to know the size of the cards that you want to put into the pockets. These cards will have a length(bottom) and a width (side).

To find the short side of the paper you will be needing, stack two short edges of your cards plus one long edge of your card, then add just a bit more. In the example above my cards are 3.5″ x 5.5″ so I added 3.5 + 3.5 + 5.5 + .5 = 13 inches. This is the short edge of the paper I will need to cut.

Keep in mind that the paper you will be needing will be a long narrow rectangle.

four short edges to determine 1/2 of the paper I will be cutting
doubling the length of the four short edges gives you the length of the paper you will need

To determine the long edge of the paper you will need, measure one short edge of the card for every pocket that you want to have in your book. I usually make books with eight pockets, so I measure four short sides then double this length, and finally add another 1/8″ per pocket. In the example above, the short sides of my cards are 3.5″ so four of these are 14 inches, doubling this makes 28 inches, then I add one more inch and get 29″.

My eight-pocketed book will, therefore, by 13″ x 29″. If I want 16 pockets, like what Hedi shows in her book, I double ONLY the length of the paper. In my example my paper would then need to be 13″ by 58″.

Here’s the video of me telling you all of the above.


Addendum: Here’s a video on how to make the blizzard book. The paper I use in this video is 13″ x 29″.


Hexagons and the Golden Ratio

This past Sunday I brought some hexagons to a nearby library, where a homeschooling group was meeting, hoping to do some math/art. My thinking was to bring something that was playful, hands-on, and that combined visuals and math in a way that would be both engaging and instructive.  The woman who asked me to do this project had seen my post on circles and the golden ratio https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/sorting-out-the-golden-ratio/   and was looking for me to do something that explored this golden ratio idea with kids.

The Golden Ratio is found in nature, and is a darling concept of artists, designers, and mathematicians. It’s also a tricky proportional relationship which is not easy grasp. I started out the session reading a definition of the golden ratio, and explained that, generally, the only people who understand its definition are people who understand it already. I let them know that my aim was to  convey the  message that if they are confronted with a difficult idea, a great way to move forward is to play with the idea. Just play.

Which is what we did.

The spectacular thing that happens to shapes that are scaled by the golden ratio is the way they fit together. This is hard to explain but a close examination of the proportions in picture above pretty much says it all.

Putting this into words sounds a bit incomprehensible, but I will try anyhow.: First, understand that scaling something means you are making something uniformly bigger or smaller by a chosen amount. If there are three shapes scaled consecutively larger by the golden ratio,then the two smaller shapes will fit exactly into the largest shape.

See, like this:

Golden Ratio Hexagons
Golden Ratio Hexagons

A few people who’ve seen these have commented on the beautiful papers that we used. I thought they meant the colors, which is bright copy paper. But now I’ve realized that people like the graphics on the shapes. These aren’t patterned paper, these are patterns made on my printer, printing with black ink. It was my way of easily distinguishing between the shapes, as all the same sizes have the same graphics on them.

Sample of hexagon file
Sample of hexagon file on regular copy paper.

Since I have printer that makes 11″ x 17″ inch copies I printed from a file that has lots of hexagons in an 11″ x 17″ file. This gave me room to print a really big hexagon that I’ve been showing in the photos above.

I know that many people don’t have access to this larger size, so I made a pdf for regular size copy paper. To get the largest size, I suggest cutting out the big half-hexagon, and tracing it twice on larger paper so you end up with a big, whole hexagon.

And since Simon and Vince use A4 I made an A4 file.

Here they are:  use the files for the size paper you are putting in your printer.

hexagpn golden ratio 11 x17

hexagpn golden ratio 11 x17 (2)

8.5 x 11 hexagons golden ratio 



There is so much to notice in these pieces! First, people seemed to have a hard time feeling finished: the more they did, the more possibilities they saw. There are all sorts of opportunities to talk about equalities. Also, I noticed that equilateral triangles kept showing up. This isn’t something that we talked about, but it could have been. Oh, and see in the photo above how that green hexagon fits perfectly into the triangle?

Doing her own thing
I tried to explain the golden ratio and its specific measurement and relationships to this little girl, but no matter how much I told her about the ratio which we call phi, and how the exponents -1, 0, 1 ,2, 3, 4, and 5 were sequentially applied to the base of 1.618 to achieve our shapes, and that she should be putting phi^1 and phi^2 into phi ^3 she chose to respond to every one of my helpful hints with the words “MY PROJECT!” Although there was ample opportunity for us to chat up the associative property, seeing that if a +b = c, and b+c=d. then a + b +b =d, she still hung on to her insistence of “MY PROJECT!” Obviously she is a renegade.

Not everyone stayed with the program. The young lady above (3 years old) had her mother get her started in the right direction, but then she took off on her own, plotting her own course.

No background!
No background!

I like how this young person (she is 8 years old) decided to cut off the background hexagon.

There are much more I could write about this project, but it’s really about discovery. So I will leave it at this.


Just one last note: for gluing, we used glue sticks.


Counting & Arranging, with 5 year-olds

Flower person
Jeffrey’s Flower Person. Jeffrey is five years old.

I’m writing about two separate projects here that seems to have nothing to do with each other, but there was something about doing them, one right after the other, that worked so well that this is how I am going to be writing about them.

The first project is a structured bookish making project that references counting and the composition of numbers.

The second project is one I’ve written about before,, is recomposing natural materials to make images that look like people.

The first project is not a creative activity for the kids, rather it’s more about discovery, trying to get them used to the idea that the number 10 can be seen as a composition of smaller numbers. The second project, using flower petals, leaves and other natural materials, has loads of room for improvising. There was something about following the structured project with the unstructured project that really worked for these kids.

items for bead counting project
The pieces for the Composing 10 project. Needs 10 pony beads, yarn to string them on,a hole puncher and PDFs, which are posted below

The counting project is simple to assemble, Everything is printed on a heavy copy paper. The piece with the words on it is folded into a simple pocket. I did the folds for the pocket (which is just folding up an edge on the line, and then folding in half to so it becomes a folder), punched two holes near the top, and tied a piece of yarn to one of the holes.

Here are the pdfs if you want to make this with a group of your own:

five plus five

four plus six

seven plus three

eight plus two

NIne plus one

bead counting pocket

and here’s a pdf of all of the above in a single document, which will be trickier, but possible, to use if you want to use a variety of colors Bead counting all pages together

Here what it looks like assembled.



So, ten beads. Cards go in pockets, Kids separate the beads according to the card below it, then…

…they remove the card and compare the beads on the card to their own beads.  This card then gets put in the side pocket and the next card shows…

…and the activity is repeated.

I was floored by how much the kids liked doing every bit of this activity. They took it so seriously, counting the beads and checking, and doing it for all the cards. It was lovely.

No question, kids love using beads.

This took only about 25 minutes. For about the next forty minutes we made flower people.

Cora at work

Not going to say too much about these, other than OMG. Loved how these turned out.

I photograph these, then remove the backgrounds.

Lily’s flower person

Just today I finished taking away the backgrounds. Am making prints to give to the kids.


I just love this project. Kids worked very seriously on their creations.

I had plenty of materials to work with because I had put out a request on Facebook for people in my community to drop off flowers to our classroom in the morning. Tons of stuff showed up: it was awesome. 

So much variety!

Looking forward to doing this again next summer.

addendum Sept 16, 2018

Here’s a video showing how to make the beads book.


Summer Storm


Salem Flowers

A locust tree next to our house was hit by lightning. The tree did not fall, so the curling path of the lightning all the way down the tree trunk can be seen from the ground.

No other damages, other than we have lost internet. It will be more than a week before someone will be by to do repairs. It will, therefore, be awhile before my next post. When I can be back on my own computer at home, I will write more about the lovely image above.

See you later!