Introduction: The Three Card Monte - an Origami Wallet

Picture of The Three Card Monte - an Origami Wallet

[This instructable appears here under the Terms of Service. It also appears here under my terms of service. Mine say that this content is free as in speech and free as in beer. If you paid to see this content, you've been imposed upon. Ask for your money back and buy yourself a beer.]

a) The Three Card Monte is a wallet made of letter paper. When made from paper with a card design printed on it, it has the trompe l'oeil effect of being three playing cards in a spread, the ones commonly used in a street hustle called, three card monte.

b) When open, the wallet gives easy access to three credit or identification cards and a finite amount of cash.

c) When closed, the model fits nicely into the breast pocket of your shirt.

Step 1: The Crease Pattern

Picture of The Crease Pattern

Download a crease pattern and print it out. There are two to choose from, depending on where you live. If you live in the United States, choose the American letter paper version; if you live in another part of the world, one afflicted with Napoleonic era scientism, you'll want the A4 version. (Both are below, for your convenience.)

a) In the printer dialog for Reader or kpdf or whatever your flavor is, please note that Page Scaling should be set for none. You want the lines to go all the way to the printable margins.

b) Note that mountain folds are signified with dash-dotted lines, valley folds by dashed lines. (For those unclear on the distinction).

Step 2: Mountain Fold the Top and Bottom of the Sheet

Picture of Mountain Fold the Top and Bottom of the Sheet

a) Fold the top of the paper away from you, using the mountain fold as a guide.

(Yes, the rightmost part of this is marked a valley fold -- you may safely ignore this. We'll be reversing it shortly.)

b) Rotate your paper 180 degrees and mountain fold again.

Origami is all about symmetry and repetition. So am i. (I am so.)

Step 3: Mountain Fold the Sides of the Sheet

Picture of Mountain Fold the Sides of the Sheet

Mountain fold the leftmost and rightmost vertical crease marks.

Step 4: Making Pockets and Flaps

Picture of Making Pockets and Flaps

a) Now the model looks like this: a 3 by 2 x sqrt(3) rectangle.

b) Flip it over, front to back.

c) Unfold the left flap.

d) Unfold the top flap.

e) Valley fold the left flap back. This will reverse a part of a crease. That's okay.

f) Valley fold the top flap back. This will reverse another part of a crease. Likewise, okay.

g) Like this. Now, rotate the model 180 degrees and repeat c-f on the diagonally opposite corner.

h) You have pockets and flaps! Flip the model over, back to front.

Step 5: Precreasing

Picture of Precreasing

a) Mountain fold along the vertical lines through all layers and unfold again, so that you still have this rectangle in front of you.

b) Valley fold along the diagonal lines through all layers and unfold again, so that you still have this rectangle in front of you.

Step 6: Forming the Wallet

Picture of Forming the Wallet

a) Mountain fold the bottom edge behind to meet the top edge.

b) Like this.

c) Insert one of the flaps into the corresponding pocket.

d) It locks in, loosely. When the model is flattened, this will be a more secure lock. Repeat c on the other side.

Step 7: Let's Do the Twist!

Picture of Let's Do the Twist!

a) Ready? Twist the top of the left end towards you while twisting the top of the right side away from you.

b) Thusly. (That's right, I said, thusly. I have a Masters in English, so it's perfectly legal. That doesn't mean you should try it at home.)

c) Note that as you twist, the model flattens into a beautiful hexagonal shape.

d) The finished model.

Step 8: Putting Your Card in the Three Card Monte

Picture of Putting Your Card in the Three Card Monte

a) This is how your cards fit into the pockets. The fit should be snug, but not tight. If the cards don't want to go in, consult step 1 again and make sure you printed your crease pattern out without scaling it down.

b) Did I mention how nicely this wallet fits into your breast pocket?

Why not try this again with the trompe l'oeil patterns? If you're in the USA, you'll want the American letter paper version; if you're in a country that uses a nonhumanistic measuring system, you'll want the A4 version.(See below.)

Step 9: The Small Print

The origami design for the Three Card Monte is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license. That means you can teach this model freely, modify it to your own uses, copy and distribute the diagrams and crease patterns and a lot of other things we haven't thought of yet. It's called Open Origami and it's the up-and-coming thing. What you can't do it make money off of it (without permission) or copyright derivative works.

The artwork on the trompe l'oeil patterns is adapted from the work of David Bellot and is under his Lesser GNU Public License. The use of it in this work appears to me to be consistent with the language and the intent of this license. If you wish to use the patterns elsewhere, consult the license first.


01123581321345589144 (author)2017-12-01

I made it! My camera on this computer is broken so I can't take a picture but it took me 3 tries. Still very good though!

(I use exclamation marks way too much!!!!!)

powerfulparadox (author)2015-05-15

For the sake of pedantry, I would consider a measurement system designed by adherents to Napoleonic-era scientism to be inherently humanistic, rather than the reverse. (I know, necro-post, but I just stumbled across this and was inspired by your wit and mad origami skills.)

On the subject of metric vs. imperial (English/American alliance of uneasiness), my opinion has always been that the metric system lacked inspired names. I always enjoyed the concept of measuring mass in slugs. (Slimy!)

As to the large numbers of conversions to remember in the imperial system, it's not really any more than in metric, it's just that the metric system was designed to disguise the fact that all units of measurement are arbitrary and don't always relate well to each other. I consider this to be a strength of the imperial system, because it grew haphazardly as new units were needed and makes no attempt to disguise the warts inherent in arbitrarily established systems.

And so the rant endeth thusly: (I'm not so well credentialed in my English skills, but language usage is a hobby, so I will try it at home, with proper safety equipment, of course.)

This discussion reminded me of a joke that's an old favorite. It goes thusly: (!) Measurements for problems will always be given in the most inconvenient units possible. As such, velocity will always be given as furlongs per fortnight.

Thanks for an enjoyable read.

theo5355 made it! (author)2015-01-28

C'est super et très facile par contre quelques problème pour l'impression du patron mauvaise taille et tout j'ai dus le convertir en .jpg pour l'utiliser avec un traitement de texte mais sinon +1

kohlait (author)2014-02-26

where is creese PDF?

oschene (author)kohlait2014-02-27

At the bottom of step one.

kohlait (author)oschene2014-02-28

thanks.I made it.

avillarama (author)2014-01-03

Would it be possible to construct this out of actual playing cards???

jweirs (author)2011-12-28

do you have the proportions between the lines? i'd love to scale this up on bigger paper to fit cash.

Miss415 (author)2011-08-29

I love this! Best origami project/ instructable EVER! You gave really clear, detailed & easy to follow directions. I did it first w/ just plain lined paper (from your pattern) then printed out the card design & it went really easy the 2nd time. I painted on a lite coat of modge podge (like a decoupage finish) to make it more durable but it takes a while to cure so I'm not sure just yet. I sprayed fixative on it first so the ink wouldn't smear.
Thank you!

sfry1 (author)2011-08-23

Great idea i made it from images and just guessed the scale so is a bit mis-shapen will print off the template and do another.

Thanks :)

ynnah23 (author)2008-06-01

I can't twist it..grr it's so hard..I already did it for 4 times.. comment back pls..

hellokitty4u (author)ynnah232011-01-21

try to make one out of cardboard paper

oschene (author)ynnah232008-06-02

Look at the pictures of the different stages of the twist -- are all you creases going in the right direction?

IndianaJones98 (author)oschene2009-10-13

it's imposible, i can't twist it

comment back please

Valeil (author)IndianaJones982010-07-10

It's not really a twist, so much as a "fold in multiple places at the same time, causing a twist-like illusion" thing.

evilghostbat (author)2010-08-21

Though this is old this is a very neat wallet. I just designed a simple Coca Cola themed one using photo shop can't wait to print it out and see if it was laid out correctly!

ricmerry (author)2010-08-20

Very nice. Thank you for sharing this with us.

darknessfalls (author)2010-07-23

LOVE THE WALLET! sadly tho, cash barely fits in it, so its kinda hard to use... but still a SICK wallet (ended off making it ut of cardstock to make it stronger)

picaq (author)2009-08-10

You should have won the paper wallet contest. Yours was the most original (yet still very useful)that I have seen and I can't believe the one that looks the most like a normal wallet won. Your card print-out made it look gorgeous.

bromanuzak (author)picaq2010-01-02


bromanuzak (author)bromanuzak2010-01-02

wheres the trompe l'oeil format

bromanuzak (author)bromanuzak2010-01-02

found it

Valeil (author)bromanuzak2010-07-10

Good job(:

BK-201 (author)2010-05-05

how is this twistable, you need like a youtube video... lol?

newton.95.dan (author)2010-03-07

 I dont know how to do the fold is step 7

oschene (author)newton.95.dan2010-03-07

Did you look at all four photos?

newton.95.dan (author)oschene2010-03-07

 yea its just the 3rd and 4th picture that confuse me

luis_695 (author)2010-02-21

on adobe when i try to print it. it says "unable to start print job. is printer avaible''  why is that need help

oschene (author)luis_6952010-02-22

That could be a lot of things: is your printer plugged in and on?

sassyjo (author)2010-02-14

The diagonal lines fold inward and the vertical lines fold out...right?

helendamnation (author)2010-02-06

Very cute and (once I figured out what I was doing) very easy. :)

PastTheVoid (author)2010-01-08

I did it! It took me a while to "twist", which for me was more of a "jam this here, pull out here, screw it up here, and fold these." Now I have to re-do it, cause i did the blank one.(>.<)

foobear (author)2009-11-04

 so beautiful

jumpertoad (author)2009-10-10

wow cool

twinsfan#7 (author)2009-08-06

I cant figure out how to twist it like you do

jake walker (author)2009-06-25

make a video that shows how to make it

[KRN] Leeber (author)2009-05-26

I didn't really get step 7 that much..

Real instructions (author)2009-03-31

i get how to make it but how do you add pictures

Do you mean the card images? They're available in the next to last step. I put them together using a vector drawing program -- feel free to add your own.

Obelisk1101 (author)2009-03-23

This is a nice wallet! Great instructable.

MegaMaker (author)2009-03-16

Wow, that is really cool. Nice work.

wyocoyote (author)2009-02-09

Its lovely, real purdy, however seems like ya gotta origami fold ya cash to make it fit in thar. the cards work fine but them green backs don fit no good.

superbogan (author)2008-09-25

can you please post a template with card design on it

oschene (author)superbogan2008-09-26

There are links on step 8.

raykholo (author)2007-05-06

can you coat it with clear tape for reinforcement? very great design, though it might fall apart after a while.

oschene (author)raykholo2007-05-06

Yes. The corner locks tend to be quite sturdy. When I made one of these from a Tyvek envelope, it lasted for months. I use paper, mostly, and print bar codes on the backs of the cards (so I don't have to carry my library card or my supermarket card, etc.). I put a piece of clear duct tape over the codes, so that random moisture won't blur the bars.

calm2u (author)oschene2008-02-11

i cant get to your site

oschene (author)calm2u2008-02-12

Sorry about that -- my host has been wicked flaky, lately. And so's his server. I've moved the files to the Instructables server -- thanks, guys, that's a great feature -- and you should be able to download and fold away, now.

raykholo (author)oschene2007-05-06

thats a great idea with the codes. i have also discovered 2 more pockets when the lock folds are made. i keep notes in one and folded cash in the other. as for the three main pockets, i use on for each: business cards, credit and store cards, and receipts.

oschene (author)raykholo2007-05-06

Someone, somewhere, mentioned that this model would make a good presentation for giftcards at Christmas. An idea.

About This Instructable




Bio: Oschene is Philip Chapman-Bell, a human resources drudge living in western Massachusetts. I probably should mention my deep and abiding enthusiasm for Open Source Origami ... More »
More by oschene:The Guinness Box -- Sort of an Origami Box for St. Patrick's DayThe Spiral Data Tato -- A Curiously Complex Origami CD CaseThe Three Card Monte - An Origami Wallet
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