Real Origami Icehouse Pieces

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This is not the Origami Icehouse kit that LooneyLabs sells. These are my own adaption of a genuine origami pyramid (that I learned from my brother Marc Moskowitz) to Icehouse dimensions. (Japanese Paper-folding, or Origami, traditionally uses square sheets of paper and consists entirely of folding, without any cutting. Officially it doesn't include tape either, but these pyramids will stay together better once taped.)

There are 2 sheets, one with 6 larges and one with 6 mediums and 6 smalls. I'm following LL's lead in giving you a spare in each size, just in case.

untaped 2-pointer You will need the following to create these:

How to create:
  1. Cut out square.
  2. Fold diagonally across the square, with the ink on the inside, so that you end up with a triangle. Unfold, turn 90 degrees, and repeat. Note: you will not be folding along any of the printed lines on the page.
  3. Fold horizontally across the square, with the ink on the outside, so that you end up with a rectangle. Unfold, turn 90 degrees, and repeat. Note: you will be folding along lines that do not go all the way across.
  4. Hold the square flat (horizontally) by one corner with the ink side up. Pull the other corners down (toward the un-inked side) and toward the held corner. Bring all four corners together. You should end up with 4 triangular flaps coming off a central axis, with the ink on the outside. Flatten two of the flaps together, then the other two, so that you have a square. This square should have a large triangle printed on it, pointing toward a corner. Hold the square so that the triangle points upward. (This step is not actually very difficult to do, but it's very difficult to explain. Anyone with a better description, let me know.)
  5. Fold the small triangle on the bottom (under the large one) back away from you along the line.
  6. Fold each of the side triangles toward you along the line, only folding one flap.
  7. Unfold the bottom triangle.
  8. Turn the square around and repeat the last three steps. You should now have a kite-shaped object, with the sharp corner pointing up. This will be your pyramid: the blunt corner will become the base.
  9. Put your index finger on the sharp corner and your thumb on the blunt one. Squeeze slightly. The blunt corner should flatten slightly. Don't worry much if it doesn't. This is just to help start the inflating process.
  10. Stick your paperclip in through the small opening in the sharp corner of the pyramid. Use it to push the sides of the pyramid away from each other, and to sharpen up the lower points. Be patient, and push each side out a little before pushing any of them all the way out; otherwise you can end up with an annoying 3-sided pyramid that doesn't have a flat bottom.
  11. Tape your pyramid closed and move on to the next one.
Once you've got the hang of it, you may want to try to fold your pyramids so that the flaps end up on the inside. You'll have to do more taping this way, but the sides may look a little better. Specifically, each side will be one of the large triangles on the original flat paper. These would also be easier to fill with weights.

Thanks to Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans for the picture of an untaped 2-pointer.

Bill Adams has adapted these pyramids into stackable origami pyramids that do not require tape. These are more complicated to fold but won't require any tools like paperclips.


Last modified August 23, 2003 by Denis Moskowitz.