Make a Cube with 12 Sides

This cube defies geometry and logic. Choose from 2 very different versions: a 2015 calendar, or a Rubik’s cube. The calendar shows one month per side — yet all twelve months fit on the 6 sides of the cube! The Rubik’s cube comes scrambled, but even though the cube is an empty box, with three quick rotations it can be solved.

Rubik's-loop-250The trick behind this beauty is a completely new folding technique, inspired by my fascination with the traditional “Jacob’s ladder” toy. My (patent pending) technique allows a single box to have two different patterns. This cube has 12 sides.

Make one for yourself!

cube-calendarStep 1.

Download the template from Keep reading these instructions, or watch the video tutorial for the calendar. Since the Rubik’s cube is the same box with a different pattern, you can watch the video to understand how to make either of the designs.

Step 2: Print

calendartemplateThe template has 6 pages. Print the document DOUBLE SIDED, on three sheets of light card stock. If your printer doesn’t duplex automatically, flip the pages manually; pages 1 and 2 should be on the first sheet, pages 3 and 4 on the second, and pages 5 and 6 should be on the last sheet of card stock.

The calendar comes in 2 versions, a European one formatted for A4 paper starting the week on Monday, and a US version on letter sized paper with the week starting on Sunday.

The Rubik’s cube is only formatted on letter sized paper, but you can print it on A4 without having any important parts missing or cropped. I wasn’t able to test this, so if there’s a problem (especially with both sides lining up), let me know and I’ll make an A4 version.

Step 3: Cut

cutrubiksThe template comes with a cut and fold guide, a scaled down version of the pieces with lines (solid for cuts, dashes for valley folds and dots for mountain folds). You can use a regular pair of scissors to cut along the solid lines. Cut on the side of the sheet with instructions. The reverse image is formatted with an extra bleed, in case your printer doesn’t feed the paper in precisely.

Step 4: Fold

Score the fold lines by firmly drawing along all the dotted and dashed lines (shown on the cut and fold guide). Scoring crushes the paper along the fold line. This is an important step which allows you to get a nice clean fold.

To score I use an old ball point pen emptied of its ink, but you can use any tool which has a pointed but blunt tip, like a stylus, a knitting needle or even the bones they sell in art stores just for the purpose of scoring. The idea is to crush the paper along the straight fold line (use a ruler!) without piercing it… In this case, since all the fold lines are over printed areas you can use a working ball point pen… the lines you draw will not ruin the pattern.

Fold strips marked A, B & C using a valley fold along the dashed lines, so you end up with the two pieces pictured here.


Step 5: Glue

Glue the two parts together by gluing A to A, B to B and C to C.

I prefer white glue because it’s the most durable and strong for paper, but be careful to use just a tiny drop or it makes your paper buckle.

glue flatSee that gap between the two parts? It’s supposed to be that way, don’t try to push the pieces any closer together.

Step 6: Fold and glue some more

Fold all the sides of the box (mountain fold — so the pattern is facing out).

FinishfoldGlue sides D though G to their corresponding letter (D to D, E to E etc).


The downloads come with a few extras: a matching gift label, and a sliding strip which can be used to keep the box sealed shut and show the week (for the calendar) or get a different pattern (for the Rubik’s cube).

Cut out the extra pieces (you might need a scalpel knife to cut the interior window in the calendar’s strip) and fold them according to the pictures below:

cutlabel foldlabel poplabel


Chocolate honey lip balm in pop art package

A couple years ago I concocted this tasty chapstick recipe, because my kids couldn’t stand the stuff, and I grew tired of smearing their cracked dry lips as they slept. I wanted a recipe they would use willingly; what better flavor than chocolate?

I quickly realized I had hit upon the perfect small holiday gift for all the casual friends, colleagues, and teachers in my life. It’s very easy to make in large quantities, inexpensive, and yet, since it’s home-made, it’s still a personal and cool gift. The only thing missing was a good presentation.

Problem solved! I just finished the design for this pop-up chapstick holder, inspired by the pop art master, Roy Lichtenstein. Our blond friend’s lips aren’t really sealed — they slide open to reveal the secret to her smooth lips: your tube of home-made lip balm. The template also includes a version with a blank speech bubble, in case you’d rather write your own message.

Make your own pop-up chess set

I just finished designing this (if I may say so myself) insanely cool pop-up chess set. Please forgive the boasting, I get a little hyper sometimes when I finish a project.

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The board is a simple trellis which holds your paper pieces steady — and you can even fold it up while a game is in progress. When you’re ready to start playing again, open it up and all the pieces are in place! I designed the pieces so they would be easy and quick to make (no one would want to spend an hour on each pop-up when there are 32 of them to put together…). All you need is a pair of scissors. Fold, cut, fold again, and done!

Get the template here.

Wear the sea

My favorite seashells are the ones which have been battered by the waves, smashed, carved by sand and worn so thin only the iridescent shadow of their former selves remain. I can’t walk along the beach and enjoy the sun — my eyes are glued to the sand, ready to pounce before the next wave pulls its treasure back into the ocean. I collected these fragile shells without knowing how to use them — they are so friable, most fall to pieces before I even get home — then I discovered Sugru.

In case you don’t know about Sugru, it is a new and interesting material with many qualities and just a few drawbacks: the main quality is that it’s as easy (and fun) to use as play doh, but it also bonds to almost anything, does not shrink when it cures, it remains flexible, waterproof, and dishwasher proof once it cures, plus it is heat, cold and UV resistant. The cons are that it is not food grade (meaning you can’t use it on anything which will come into contact with food) and it has a limited shelf life — a few months, not a few years. This is really too bad, because it would be great to have around for odd repairs. Instead you will need to order it online (I don’t think it’s sold in stores) when you have a specific project or repair in mind.

Click here for detailed instructions.

Phoenician Ship

I think I might have crossed an ethical boundary… My son had a school project: write the Phoenicians a thank you card. The minute he showed me a picture of a Phoenician ship I knew I could design one as a pop-up card — so I did. His project was a great success, and apparently it was even shown as part of a report of the school on local TV. Was it wrong of me to make this pop-up for him? Part of the assignment was for him to list his sources, and he did put down my name and website. This should make it OK. I just can’t help feeling a little guilty about his perfect grade. To top it all off, now, whenever he comes home with a project, he wants me to design a new pop-up card. He’s learned that even the simplest pop-up will always impress.

A New Summer Dress

I haven’t written much about sewing because I’m not that good at it and my technique is embarrassingly poor. I’m just too impatient to go through all the necessary steps, ironing, pinning, basting, etc. Despite this unforgivable laziness, I think this dress came out pretty well. I put it together in a couple days with some left-over upholstery muslin for the lining, and an old sheet of my sisters for the trim. The cotton print I got at a steep discount because it had a manufacturing defect (small holes every few feet) but I was able to cut the pattern around it. All told the dress cost about $5.

For the pattern, I used a comfortable dress of mine which fits well. I laid fabric and dress flat on the table and just traced with a piece of chalk the outline of each piece. I then cut it 1/4” bigger all around, for seam allowance. The most important thing to remember when you are laying out the fabric is to match the direction of the weave: the skirt and bust were cut on the bias, and the dress wouldn’t have draped properly if I had cut them otherwise. It’s also a good idea to match the weight and feel of the fabric. I once copied a slinky little number with some fairly stiff silk (designed for upholstery rather than dressmaking) and though the pattern was identical the end result was completely different. I can still wear the dress, but it’s not the same animal.

I won’t attempt to go into the details of manufacture, but my point is this: if I can do this, so can anybody. Just take a very close look at your favorite (and possibly threadbare) summer dress. Most dresses are really very simple to reproduce. This one was a bit more complicated than some because of the lining and cut, but an A line dress, for example, is no more difficult to sew than a square pillow.