design · geometry and paper · geometry and paperfolding

Pattern by Rotation

Twist Boxes
Two Twist Boxes

A bit of eye candy tonight.

Here’s the birds eye view of two collapsed twist boxes . What’s wild about these is that they are made from nearly the exact piece of paper.

Patterned Paper
Patterned Paper

Here’s the paper they were made from. Can you see the difference between them?

What’s going on is that the pattern is shifted by just a small amount.  This small shift makes a big difference in the pattern that is created by the folds that rotate the design on the paper.

Here’s another fun rotation.

I have four of these little squares. I can put them together so that the design is rotated around a specific corner. Like this:

Rotation #1
Rotation #1

A design pops out! When I rotate the design around another point, another design pop-out.

and another…

and since this square has four corners there is another design for these rotations to make, but this is all for now.

I should be prepping for the Center For Book Arts class that I am teaching on Thursday and Friday, on how to make Zhen Xian Bao.,,

Good thing I’ve got tomorrow. Have been spending way to much time rotating things.


Workshop Prep

Sourcing Materials

Mohawk-Keaykolour Sample pack
Mohawk-Keaykolour Sample pack

If anything gets me out of the business of doing workshops before I’m ready, it will be the shifting ground of finding the materials that I need for my workshops. Not only have places vanished that I used to just stop by and get materials (ExPedex), not only have some of the materials that I’ve loved and relied on change dramatically for the worse (UHU Glue sticks) but the papers that I rely on the most have at least doubled in price. No exaggeration AT LEAST doubled in price. Even at these elevated prices I feel lucky to get what I want. Sometimes I don’t get lucky.

Blue Copy Paper
Blue Copy Paper

Yesterday I got lucky. I needed some bright blue copy paper. I checked on-line at Staples. It said they were out of stock. I checked Amazon. Yesterday I couldn’t find this on Amazon unless I bought it by the case (over $100). I checked the Mohawk paper site. Nothing. Checked Walmart. They had it, but it was about $34.00. I used to pay about $9.00 for this paper. Since I needed some other things, I drove an hour to Saratoga Spring Staples. They had it on the shelf for about $16.49. But then today I checked Amazon again and they had a comparable paper by Astrobright for a better value, $14.99 for 650 sheets. If I had used Astrobright as part of my search I would have found it, but I didn’t know to do that.

Card Stock and Cover STock, white
Card Stock and Cover Stock, white

I made a mistake on one purchase because I wasn’t clear about the difference between 67lb cover stock and 65lb card stock . I’m clear now. It’s not a huge mistake, and I will use what I bought, but I don’t want to make this mistake again.

Let me explain. It would seem the the 67lb is heavier than the 65lb, but you can’t go by that. For a better weight comparison you have to look at the g/m-squared weight. You will notice that the 65lb is heavier. While this seems to make so sense, it has to do with the fact that the card stock pound measure is determined by a different base than the cover stock pound measure. Yes this is sounds crazy, but remember this is the land of inches and feet,

It’s not the weight of the paper that bothers me: it’s the feel of it. I like the toothiness of the COVER weight paper, because I like that crayons and colored pencils feel better to use on the toothier paper. The cover weight cost about about $3.00 less than the card weight.

What’s uncomfortable about these Staples purchases, though, is that the instore prices were more expensive  than the on-line prices. In-store the items were about 15% more than on-line.

from Nicole's papercrafting collection
from Nicole’s papercrafting collection

I made a stop at AC Moore too. I happened to see pack of 50 sheets of 65Lb card weight paper on sale from from Nicole’s papercrafting collection, for $3.33. There are five colors to a pack, which comes to about 7 cents a sheet, which is about standard. What attracted to these is that I liked the selection of curated colors in each pack. I will probably buy these again. I can get curated colors of Astrobright colored paper,  (for closer to 10 cents a sheet) but I like the Nicole’s colors better.

The downside of the Nicole paper was that it kept jamming in my copy machine. Not all but some, which is an oddity for my machine

Stardream Paper
Stardream Paper is a place I’ve frequently bought paper from, especially when I’m looking for Stardream paper.

Also, I’ve been happy to discover I can buy full sheets of paper, without having to buy a full box, from Mohawk at  I’ve invested heavily in buying many of their sample books, like the one in the photo at the top of this post. I absolutely love buying the papers that I’ve been getting from Mohawk.

My biggest problem has been glue sticks. I am not happy with any glue stick choices.

sing Gel Markers when they were good, 2013
sing Gel Markers when they were good, 2013

I used to buy some cool colored pencils by Crayola (Fx pencils) that worked great on black paper. Then they disappeared from the market. Then I bought Crayon Gel Markers for black paper projects, but then they stopped working well. I now use Prismacolor pencils with kids when we are using black paper, but I still miss great Gel Markers.

I used to also do many projects using 36″ shoelace tipped yarn. My supplier stopped selling them, and any others that I found were more expensive, but worse than that, were not made of the lovely, thick soft yarn that I was used to. Now when I want to use yarn with kids I nailpolish the tips myself. It works.

There’s probably more to be wistful about, but it’s time for me to get back to prep work for this weekend’s workshop.









Workshop Prep · Zhen Xian Bao

Workshop Prep for 100+

Thirteen tips for a successful, humongous workshop.

Image of workshop project at MoMath
This was a free workshop that happened this past weekend. We had a full house and then some.

Last week, as I was prepping for a workshop at the Museum of Mathematics I began writing this post because I feel like I have some useful things to say about getting ready for a large workshop. But, until right now, post-workshop, I didn’t get any further on this post than its title. Therefore, helpful tip #1 should probably be, don’t think that you will have what it takes to write a blog post while getting ready for a large workshop.


Preparing the covers for the project, which included scoring the fold lines, making a slit for the ribbon closure, and adhering double sided tape

Tip #2

To avoid stress, start prep at least a couple of weeks in advance. Everything takes time to research and order. You just can’t procrastinate about getting ready. I designed the paper I printed for the project months in advance. That allowed me to figure out the right paper for the boxes and the covers weeks in advance. Deciding on the cover came before deciding on the ribbon we’d use.

Tip #3

Don’t over-prepare. There’s a not-so-fine line between over-preparing and under preparing. I try to do only what I think is essential. If I do to much prep, people have less of a connection to the materials and they will also finish too quickly. I had to prep the covers quite extensively because they required a slit to be precut on the folds.  I did not cut out the papers because I knew people could do that themselves. I worried that people would have a hard time sliding the ribbon through the slits in the covers, then I just decided that it would be fine. And it was.

Printing paper
Making Copies. I check every copy, so I print over a course of a few days as I’m doing other things.

#4 : Get a close estimate of how many people will attend then bring more than is required. I was told I should have enough materials for 120 people, but, to be safe, bring enough for 140 people. I brought even more than that. I quoted a price per person for materials so that there won’t be any surprises with receipts.

#5 : Figure out what technology will be available. This includes scissors, glue sticks, and pencils.  I asked to do a presentation on a big screen, and I asked for a document camera. I sent the presentation slides to MoMath a few days in advance, and, before I arrived,  confirmed my files would work with their technology.

I want to mention that the document camera set-up at Momath was brilliant. Usually with these things the presenter has to have their backs to the audience so that they can see what the big screen is showing. Not here! The document camera was hooked up to large screens in the front AND backs of the room. Not only were the people way in the back better served by not having to see all the way to the front of the room, but I could face the people in the room and see what was showing on the screen in the back. What a great system. I think there were a total of 4 screens so people even in the far back corner had a good view.

#6 Of course have a good sound system set-up and a great tech person to provide instruction about what clickers do what, and how to wear and turn on the mic. I was fortunate to have a kind, responsive and awesome tech person showing me how to work the big screens and the little clickers. It was hard for me to focus on what button to press for this screen or that as people were beginning to filter in, but he got through to me and I lost the clicker only once.

Setting the tables
Setting the table

#7 Leave plenty of time to set out the materials before the workshop begins. It took a number of people working a full hour to get everything on the tables. If possible, find out in advance how many people will be at each table. Since I knew there would be six people to a table I packed some of my papers into packets of six so that they would be easier to distribute.

#8 If at all possible, have written directions available. Fortunately I’ve been working on my written tutorials for awhile. If you have more than one page of hand-outs, print them on different colors. This will help everyone stay organized.

#9 Start out with the easiest part of the project first. If people get frustrated early on you won’t get them back. If they have success early on you probably won’t lose them.


#10 Talk to people individually when it’s possible. I tried to greet every table before we started, to get a feel for the room, and I looked at people’s work at the end. My sense of the room at the end of this workshop was that people were happy.

#11  Ask for helpers and ask them to help.  There were young volunteers to administrators working this room, helping people out. There was one person from Momath who took on the responsibility of attending to the people who came in late. Also, my friend Susan Joy Share came with me to assist.  After the event was over there was scrap paper everywhere. I have never seen such a messy room get cleaned up so quickly. It was wonderful.

#12 Try to design an activity that uses minimal glue. There are so many reasons for this. I will let you figure out my reasoning on your own. But trust me on this.

#13 Try to get someone to take pictures. My friend Susan Share took most of the pictures in this post, and I took the rest. It’s hard to remember to get photos, but so worth it.


I learned something new this weekend. Evidently it’s widely known that if people are asked to register for an event that is free, a significant proportion will not show up, so organizations will book accordingly.  If the weather is good, the subways are running, and the World Series is not on, it may be that the house will be very full, so, as a participant, show up early to get the best seats, and if you are late, know that you might not sit with the one you came with unless you are willing to sit on the floor.

I was also want to comment on how much work went into this 90 minute event for weeks before the event happened. Cindy Lawrence and her team were in touch with me on regular basis for many weeks so that everything would run smoothly.

149 people
A room with 149 people in it

One-hundred and forty-nine people showed up to the event this past Friday. We were ready.

It appears that a good time was had by all.





geometry and paper · geometry and paperfolding · Glue · Math and Book Arts

Sunday Night in the Studio

Building a dodecahedron
In Progress

I’ve been juggling a number of projects lately, working out different problems, nothing yet fully resolved, so this is going to be a post that shows a bit of this and that. As I’m working little things that I want to share keep coming up, so here’s a glimpse at what’s going on here.

Printing paper
Making Copies

One thing that’s going on in the background is printing papers for a workshop that I will be teaching in a couple of weeks. I will need to make a few hundred copies, and I don’t want to leave this until the last minute, nor do I want to be fully out of the room as the copies come out of the machine. Doing these a few at a time

Cutting a Net

The main event of the evening is making a black 12-sided shape, specifically a dodecahedron. I made this template in Illustrator so that it will have certain details that I want, such as a door that allows access to the inside of the completed shape. The template has to be printed on a light colored paper.

I clip my black paper to the yellow with binder’s clips. First step is to press in the score lines, making sure that there is a surface that gives under the pressure of the stylus. For the stylus I use a glitter pen, because I like using glitter pens. Next step is to cut out the shape.

Black Paper Shape
Platonic Solid in progress

Here’s how it looks with cuts and score lines made.

Next I will be gluing colorful pentagons to the black paper. Pentagons were colored with Sharpies, copies were printed at the copy shop, and then I cut them out.

Blackening the Edges
Blackening edges

My wise friend Jane recommended that I go over the edges of the cut out pentagons, using an India Ink based marker. This is a Coptic Brush Multiliner.

Books, Boses, and Portfolios by Franz Zeier, Pages 86,87
Books, Boxes, and Portfolios by Franz Zeier, Pages 86,87

I read this great book by Franz Zeier a few years ago, and, ever since, I’ve been trying to bring my glueing skills up a notch. He is using straight PVA to glue his models together, which is what I am doing as well. Since my grain directions won’t be lining up perfectly I like using the straight, unthinned PVA, as it has so little moisture in it, and dries so quickly.  I have given up on using a brush with this project, as the glue dries quickly on my brushes, too.

My Modest Glue Station
My Modest Glue Station

I have found that it’s neater to use stiff piece of paper to do my gluing. First I pour a bit of glue in the bowl then dip an edge of my paper scrap into the glue.

Putting Glue on a Pentagon
Putting Glue on a Pentagon

I can put a really thin layer of glue down quickly, which is exactly what I want.

I love the look of the paper once the pentagons are glued down. Sort of hate to keep going.

I do keep going though. Such a friendly looking Platonic solid.

Now that’s it for tonight. Glad I don’t have to clean any brushes.