Introduction: Dixie Cup Spherical Dodecahedron

Picture of Dixie Cup Spherical Dodecahedron

All you need is a glue gun and 140 5 oz. Dixie Cups to achieve this rigid erection! Make several - then show off your amazing balls to friends and family! Then show them the thing you made out of 140 Dixie Cups! These Dixiespheres exhibit icosahedral symmetry, but other kinds are possible as well - I've included pictures of other Dixie Cup spherical constructions. I'd love to see any new ones you can come up with (especially if they exhibit some sort of symmetry), and I'd love to hear about how you use your Dixiespheres. I am a 30 year old man who makes things out of Dixie Cups!!! I'm starting to get a gut!!! I haven't taken a shower yet today...

Step 1: Constructing the Basic 7-cup Modular Unit

Picture of Constructing the Basic 7-cup Modular Unit

The Dixiesphere is composed of twenty spherical-hexagonal 7-cup modular units, which you will construct first. Each hexagonal modular unit consists of seven cups hot-glued together such that one central cup is surrounded tangentially by six more cups. (The spaces between cups will look like equilateral triangles with concave edges, and the circular bases and rims of the cups will look like hexagonal close-packings of circles, but they will posess a slight overall curvature, as the circles define the surfaces of spheres.) It is important that the central cup contacts each of its surrounding six cups at their bases. It's a tight fit getting six cups around a center cup. Work quickly while the glue is hot to ensure that all upper rims and lower bases of the cups are flush, and that there are no superfluous gaps between the bases of the cups. Make all twenty units before assembling the Dixiesphere. Do not micturate in the cups!

Step 2: Assmebling the Modular Units Into a Sphere

Picture of Assmebling the Modular Units Into a Sphere

Glue two spherical hexagonal modular units together such that the gap created by the four cups resembles a square with concave edges. Here is a picture of where two hexagonal units meet. Two cups from one unit are glued at their bases to two cups of another unit. See the square? Glue three more modular units to the first two to form a spherical pentagon with a hole in its center. Repeat this process to form another spherical pentagon. Glue the two pentagons together. From this point on, it should be obvious where to add the remaining modular units - just continue to make more spherical pentagons and the structure will close upon itself to form a Dixiesphere.

Step 3: Some Thoughts and a Different Type of Dixiesphere

Picture of Some Thoughts and a Different Type of Dixiesphere

The finished spherical dodecahedron is impressively strong, but IT'S NOT A GEODESIC SPHERE! Quite the contrary, it is comprised of a lot of minor circles on a sphere, not great circles (aka geodesics). The cups are truncated cones (aka frustrums). I'm not really sure how to understand the structural dynamics or statics engineering of this type of construction. If the dixie cups were were made of thin-walled aluminum or sum shitz, and their bases were welded plates, would the hemispheres make good strong dome structures? I'm not equipped to consider this problem effectively. Any thoughts?
Now, here's a different variety of Dixiesphere at various stages in its construction.

Step 4: Dixiesphere2

Picture of Dixiesphere2

Use a 6-cup spherical triangular modular unit for Dixiesphere2.

Step 5: DS2 Cont'd

Picture of DS2 Cont'd

DS2 consists of three intersecting great circles (geodesics). The somewhat "vaginal" openings do not occupy identical locations on the surface of the sphere; rather, they alternate higher and lower in their placement with respect to one another. You'll discover just what I'm talking about when you make DS2. Then you will be a rockstar, like me.

Step 6: Beyond Dixie Cups

Picture of Beyond Dixie Cups

Triangular prism carcboard mailing boxes! Any size will do, so long as they are equilateral triangular in cross-section. Ask and you shall recieve instructions - otherwise, I'm too lazy to type them.

Step 7: Dixie Cup Say What? ..Foo!

Picture of Dixie Cup Say What?  ..Foo!

Use a very high-tack glue. This thing has a tendency to fall apart into a pile until the glue has dried. It's nice to be able to make adjustments as you complete the assembly.
The little hole you see between the three "turbining" triangular prisms is a flaw. The pieces should all be perfectly snug. Each prism is parallel to a face plane of a shape called the rhombic dodecahedron. A company called ULINE is one supplier of these mailing boxes. You could make this shape out of cheap acrylic optical prisms. Use capillary-action acrylic cement. This shape could serve as the base for a plastic-top coffee or end table. (You might decide to add interior reinforcement to the cardboard prisms.)

Step 8: I Don't Need No Dixie Cups, Bitch!

Picture of I Don't Need No Dixie Cups, Bitch!

Three Words: Rhombic Dodecahedral Lattice.
4 sets of three parallel triangular prisms - HELL YEAH!!


guerroloco (author)2016-11-01

I started making one of these out of tomato support cages. Unfortunately, the cages are too tapered, and the finished ball will not be so big, maybe 5' or less -- I was hoping for something much larger. BTW your title is incorrect -- this shape is a truncated icosahedron, like a soccer ball. The 7-piece units form the hexagonal faces while the 5-sided holes form the pentagonal faces.

zayed_hossam (author)2015-04-21

Is it possible to build 2 spheres one of them bigger with protrusions and is meshed in form ( has spacings ) and the second is smaller and has the inverse protrusion forms. So that the smaller one is used to drive the bigger one in all 3 axis directions seamlessly ?

bglick21 (author)2013-03-04

love the dixie cup dodechahedron and i am in need of a lampshade. i just purchased 140+ dixie cups and will purchase a glue gun soon. do you have instructions (url or something) to get me started or the process at its entirety? i will give you mad props, etc. and yes i have a gut too, because i am desk jockey by day. potlucks never tasted so good. morph me obi wan.

guerroloco (author)2012-11-10

This resembles George Hart's lattice of 72 hexagonal pencils:

micronxd (author)2006-11-29

o shit that's awesome! never seen a cardboard mailing box of that shape b4 tho

tledgerwood (author)micronxd2011-08-09

you could just pig out and get 12 toblerone packs and open them very carefully!

jjordan (author)2006-07-01

Some comments are not appropriate for younger inventors.

Some of my comments were puerile (from the latin puer, boy) and vulgar, ie, not suitable for ADULTS, but none of my comments are going to screw any kids up, or even surprise many. I'll be lucky if I get a laugh. Not appropriate for young inventors? Don't pick on me! Industrial mercury emissions are not appropriate for young inventors. Most public education is not appropriate for young inventors. The drinking water in Washington, D.C. is not appropriate for young inventors. Prenatal malnutrition, water riots, Ritalin, War in Iraq, suicide bombers, carpet bombers, Game Boys, sit-coms, carbon monoxide, My Little Pony, Cabrini Green, mass-media dissemination of vacuous and shallow values which serve only to super-size an individual's capacity for raw, uncultivated material lust....oh but it's PARENTS who really F_uck kids up. And when they grow up, you can be sure kids will curse their parents for their problems, and not me. Does anybody even dimly suspect that one day a disillusioned young inventor is going to weep about just how bad I really assed-up his life? Yet how many of tomorrow's young adults will think of their incompetent former guardians and gnash their teeth, "Why couldn't I ever please you, Dad? Why did you pidgeon-hole me as a ballerina, Mom?" "Why did that guy who showed me how to make a spherical dodecahedron out of F_cking Dixiecups make a joke about testicular exhibitionism?" Just to bug the prudes. Platitudinous, unthinking and trite prudery is not appropriate in the company of intelligent primates, damn. And it's not appropriate for young inventors, either.

i'm 14 and i personally found it hilarious

Cabrini Green, doesn't really affect anyone now, it is mostly Yuppie condos now

Cabrini Green is an anachronism, you're right. But there are still awful projects and slums. Detroit is still an urban wasteland, except for a bit of new development which gets all the press. The Hurricane swept away some awful projects in New Orleans. You know, I thought that whole city should have been cleansed by FIRE, but you take what you can get. (Ahh, inflammatory remarks..) I wish the folks I met down there were a little more reform-minded. I wish Johnson had been in the Whitehouse when Katrina hit, and not Bush. Yuppies eat souls, by the way.

"Inflamatory remarks"? Don't you mean incendiary? 8-)

"..vacuous and shallow values.." was a poor choice of words, too. If it's vacuous, it ain't shallow - it's empty.

Skirmishes in Iraq. 'Tis not a war yet

coretj (author)foxtrot46972010-05-02

 Not to get WAY off topic .. but it is a WAR.  

It was enacted, as such, by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States on October 16th, 2002

foxtrot4697 (author)coretj2010-05-02

And wow, I just remembered what this instructable was about

oh chill

if there are young inventors on this site, than the world still has some good in it. I think that any Instructable is at least one or two notches better than young people lookin up porn or much worse, spending hours of brain and social draining World of Warcraft. (sorry to the avid gamers ( but for real, go talk to girls)) any symmetry project is cool. but if you add LEDS then !Watch out! for multiplying coolness factor.

taraist (author)fastback5702008-09-20

But what if the porn is underground victorian erotica? Or better?!

foxtrot4697 (author)taraist2010-03-25

link pl0x
lol jk

chalky (author)fastback5702008-04-19


sincitysaint (author)fastback5702008-04-01

so true, good call!

Hi. This site has a 'be nice' policy. Deliberately using peurile language in order to wind people up who you seem to have a chip on your shoulder about doesn't strike me as very nice. Neither does the rant you just wrote. Please be more considerate of others.

<3 I searched Buckminster Fuller looking for a present for my boyfriend who is a big fan. I think he may enjoy this! Any other Bucky inspired projects anyone? My neighbors do a similar thing to this but poke a bulb from a string of Christmas lights through each cup bottom and hang it from the cord for X- mas decor. I always enjoy having to look up words and finding out they are pertaining to something a bit uncouth! Yay lernin! I also enjoyed your testicular humor. Thanks from someone of the young-ish set!

Hats off to you, R. Buckminister (or should I call you Mr. F_cker?). I'm a teenager (and therefore still considered a kid by most), and I've gotta agree with you on this one. Also, the idea of taking "refuge in the icosahedron" is one that I'm quite amused by, especially since it made me start wondering if it might be a good place to play D&D...; Thanks for the nifty instructable!


i agree

Dude... just...dude...My thoughts exactly, plus a few. Kudos on the speech...and the instructable! How did you take your face pic(beside your name)?

You ruined your response with the swearing, really. Nice instructable though, I often think of doing something similar and making a lamp.

I litterally just gave you a standing ovation. This is officially my most favoritest quote ever.


Sounds like that paragraph sums up the early years of you life rather accurately.

O.k. so how old do you think the youngest person is that visits this website? I'm 13 and Buckminster is right. If you were younger you'd know that kids my age, and even younger than me, get enough crap from school, not to mention the Spectravision. P.S. I admire the time and thought you put into your lengthy list. "Game Boy", "My Little Pony"- Hilarious!

I Chuckled Audibly. (feel free to abreviate it to ChA, for IM and Txt versitility)

sir... I tip my hat

How much do you tip hats these days, anyway? 15%? Har! Thank you much! But You're gonna make my head swell. Next cause I take on, I'll go overboard: "Can't have sex with Donkeys? Wait a minute!"

trebuchet03 (author)jjordan2006-07-01

PG13 ratings - "May contain tempered violence, occasional swear words and allusions to sexual situations." And in order to register, you must be at least 13 years old.... in any case, there's a reason why the "flag for review" link is there ;)

roxycutie329 (author)2010-09-28

I really like this one. Can you please post the instructions for it?

flothmann (author)roxycutie3292011-04-08

well, take a close look of the picture: you need 12 pieces, 3 runs vertical, then 3 runs perpendicular respect the first group, the next group of 3 runs from left down side to top rigth side and the last gruoup of 3 from right bottom to the left top. I hope helps

Nicolas Jara (author)2009-10-26

I like it. It's positive and constructive instructable.

MotaBoi (author)2009-08-22

ppppwawaaaaahahahahahahaha RIGID ERECTION!

SpiroExDeus (author)2009-07-16

By the way. Thanks for adding the phrase 'Rigid erection' to the beginning of your instructable. Please think of those of us who use a content filter when you write these things :P Added instructables to my 'exceptions' now though, as I'm pretty certain it has nothing that will corrupt young minds. :D

Thekodanator (author)SpiroExDeus2009-08-17

Yes I agree, you should change that particular group of words to something like "fabulous model" or someting of the sort.

spikethegecko (author)2009-07-22

Wouldn't it be cool to spray-paint the thing silver and add a string of Christmas lights to the ball, gluing one light inside each cup through the back. There would be plenty of room to contain the wiring inside the ball.

micronxd (author)2006-11-29

u think "wood glue" would work? (i dunno... i just found it in my basement)

SpiroExDeus (author)micronxd2009-07-16

He said 'High tack'. That means it's reasonably sticky during construction. Wood glue is kind of slippy. It'll hold one surface to the other pretty reasonably in some cases but it won't stop them sliding around until it's dried quite a bit more. I would say that if you used wood glue you'd have to get a lot of friends to hold stuff in place (or rig up some kind of 'scaffold' to hold it in place) while you wait for it to dry.

SpiroExDeus (author)SpiroExDeus2009-07-16

That said. Wood glue IS very effective on cardboard once it is dry. I don't know whether the two would work well together but I'm thinking if they don't react against each other you could use 3M poster mount spray for the initial 'positioning' and to hold it in place and then squirt 3m around all the connecting edges for a longer term solution. Think that might work but you'd have to try it for yourself ;)

vmiller (author)2009-03-25

PLEASE!!! I want to make this.. yes you are a rock star v

jmkatja (author)2009-03-19

When I made a slightly-less geometrically accurate version of this with multicolored lights poking through each cup, I used staples to hold the cups together rather than glue. It was pretty quick.

maximzodal (author)2009-02-05

In our first home, the dining area had a bare bulb on the ceiling. I used small foam cups and Elmer's glue to build a hemisphere and used clothes hanger wire to hold it against the ceiling over the light bulb. It made a great looking light fixture. Even after we were able to buy a fixture we kept the foam one. we got a lot of favorable comments on it.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have achieved a degree of civil attrioneering (grande cum laude), and I've got a minor in under-the-influence basket weaving. (I did not take ... More »
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