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 makepopupcards.com. 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.

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

rubiksfold1Rubiksfold2

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).

EXTRAS:

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

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.

Nothing Beats a Beet Cake

This is a truly extraordinary cake: not only will it slip beets into veggie-phobic kids, it tastes amazing, contains no fat (besides the minimal amount contained in cocoa powder), no eggs (so it’s vegan too), it has a great texture and baking it is an esthetic joy. Seriously. Beets may stain your hands, but their color is so beautiful it’s impossible to hold a grudge against them.

1 large beet

1/2 to 1 cup apple sauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Peel and dice beet into 1/2” cubes, and boil until soft. Drain the beets and puree in the food processor with 1/4 cup fresh water.

Preheat oven to 325°F

Put pureed beets into large measuring cup and mix in enough apple sauce to get 2 cups of beet and apple puree. Add vanilla, vinegar, and 2 tbsp water.

Sift all the dry ingredients together then combine with the beet mixture.

Pour in a greased 9” by 13” pan or two 8” round layer pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick pricked into the center of the cake comes out clean.

To decorate the cake as shown in the top picture, make a paper doily then (right before serving) sprinkle some powdered sugar on top. If you sprinkle the sugar ahead of time the cake’s moisture might make it vanish from sight….

Vegan Egg

My latest crazy food endeavor was much more successful than the cake with nothing in it. This dish looks exactly like a sunny side up egg but tastes nothing like it. It’s a delicious desert made with fresh mangos and coconut milk. The yolk oozes out exactly like it should, the white is easily sliced with a fork just like its model. Click here to view step by step instructions, but I must warn that there are some hard to find ingredients (like sodium alginate,  a seaweed-based powder). It was a lot of work to get this to come out right, but who am I to resist such a challenge?

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.

Trying to Make a Mark

Although I love building castles in the sand, I had nothing to do with the construction of this particular piece. I just walked by it at the end of a long, lazy summer day, snapped a picture, and now, a couple months later, I’m still thinking of it.

Sand art is about the pleasure of making in its purest form: it is engrossing, it is beautiful, and it is futile. A maker will happily spend hours of patient planning, digging, patting, carving and, on a crowded beach, defending his territory, all for a result which he knows will succumb to a couple of waves or a toddler bent on destruction. Yet we build these castles, along every beach in the world, even though the pain of our sunburns will long outlast our creations. The drive to make is stronger than any rational thought about time management, efficiency and results.

This particular piece has stayed with me because by infusing the sand with a political message, its makers reminded me how absurd and ephemeral political fashions can be. High tide, powered by the freak storms of climate change, will soon wash away this message and along with it this new fad, this tea party. The sculpture itself is wonderfully ambivalent; though I’m fairly certain its makers meant it to deliver a straightforward “don’t tread on me” message, the truth is this snake is being trampled, and it is leaving the toe-ringed foot unharmed. “Go ahead and step on me,” he smiles, “nothing matters. In a few hours you’ll be gone — I’ll be gone — washed away. And tomorrow someone else will build something else.” 

Sure enough, the very next day, the rattlesnake sculpture was replaced by a beautiful castle with tall dripped sand towers. Other makers had left their mark on the beach — till the next wave.

Bookworm

Unlike the lice and carpet beetles I’ve written about in the past, a bookworm is a good bug to have around. For the past 11 years I’ve been working hard to make two of these, and I wrote precise instructions on raising them here. I’m very excited that this instructable won a prize in the “Are We There Yet?” Challenge on Instructables: a very cool Knex ferris wheel that I got to finish assembling after my younger son drifted off mid-construction to go read a book.