Thursday, December 2, 2010

Geoball ornament - here's one for the puzzlers!

Do you remember from geometry class that a perfect triangle, also known as an equilateral triangle, has 60 degree angles on all sides? For those of you saying "who cares?", the answer is: you will, if you want to perfect the awesome geoball ornament!

I have to say that I picked this ornament to blog about because of the challenge. First, I kept seeing pictures of it saying it was made of 20 circles, with very little instructions. Seems easy enough, right? Wrong! Because the challenge with this ornament is to fold the circles with a perfect triangle in the center so that you have 20 folded circles that perfectly align geometrically (hence the name "geo"ball).

So, here is what you need for this project: one double sided piece of 12 x 12 paper, a circle punch (preferably with a diameter of 2 inches or less), a ruler, a bone tool (for scoring), plus the two key elements for me: "this to that" adhesive runner from American Crafts and a cutting mat with angles pre-imprinted on it. I used the Art Alternatives mat which I believe is one of the less expensive mats that Paper Zone carries and I LOVE it.

First, punch out 20 circles. Snap!

The next step is to score a perfect triangle in all 20 circles. I accomplished this by finding the 60 degree angle line on the mat (my pen is pointing to it in the picture to the right).

I then set my circle so the 60 degree line starts at the top middle part of my circle. (to find the center of your circle, align it within the measuring cubes on your mat). Make the first score using a ruler and a bone tool along the preprinted 60 degree line. Again, my pen is pointed at the 60 degree line in the photo on the left.

Next, turn your circle clockwise until the end of that the 60 degree line is back at the top center of your circle touching the end of the scored line that is at the right top part of your circle. The trick here is to make sure your circle is centered left to right within your measuring points, not to try to figure out the angle yourself. If your circle is centered between the left and right lines of the squares you used to measure it, and the end of the score is at top center, score again along that 60 degree line.

Rotate the circle and make the 3rd score using the same guidelines. The following pictures shows all 3 scores that should be made:You should end up with folding lines that when the flaps are folded over, creates a circle with folded flaps of equal sizes. I cannot stress enough how important this step is and you'll probably have to do several test scores to get it right. But it is very important that all of the folding flaps are the same size in order for your ornament to line up properly.

Score triangles onto all 20 circles. Then fold. Fold an equal amount of circles so that you have both sides of the paper showing to give your ornament a little bit of variety. I used this great 12 x 12 by American Crafts that reminded me of a candy cane. Minty!

Next, use your adhesive runner to place adhesive on all of the outer sides of the folded flaps. A good adhesive is so important in this project. My first attempt with an inferior adhesive was a disaster. I love, love, love this American Crafts This to That tape. They didn't pay for this blog entry, but if they see this, feel free to send me more samples!

Really, this adhesive seems gummy, and it is, but it allows you to pull apart the pieces and re-stick them yet remains very tacky. Coincidentally Paper Zone is selling a value pack of these. . .great Christmas gift for any crafter!

Now the assembly begins, and this is where you must have patience. The one thing to remember during the assembly is that all points must have five pieces to them, not four, not six, but five (see bottom image to the left). I found it easiest to start with creating the top and the bottom of the ornament and then adding pieces until the whole ornament has formed.

So, start with adhering 5 pieces together by perfectly aligning and attaching the flaps of 5 circles together. Do this again to have your top and bottom.

Take one of your 5 piece bases and start adhering more circles remembering that each point should have 5 pieces in it. This will take a little bit of maneuvering and probably some rejiggering of pieces, but it's actually pretty easy. Pretty soon you'll have 15 of the pieces together in this nice little ball that just needs the top put on.

Add the 5 remaining pieces that you already adhered together and you've got a geoball ornament! Punch a hole on any flap, insert a string and this will be a great addition to any tree. This is definitely more challenging than the bird ornament or the snowflake, but I think the results are worth it. Makes you miss algebra, doesn't it? --Kim


  1. An easy way to get all the triangles the same would be, after figuring out the first triangle score lines, make a template out of chipboard and run your scoring tool alongside the chipboard that you have lined up on your circle.

  2. I missed this the first time around - cool! I'll have to do this one next year...