Introduction: Gingerbread Tangram

Mmmm. Gingerbread, yummy stuff! I love making gingerbread cookies and I also like a good puzzle to occupy my mind and pass the time at Christmas. So I thought, this Christmas I could shape gingerbread cookies like a tangram as a puzzle slash food giving gift.
The idea is simple to grasp: a gingerbread tangram. I wasn't inventing anything new just putting a few old things together in a quirky way. I thought I was being very clever and original but yes, it has been done before. So the only thing unique I am offering here is the box presentation and the little booklet I compiled showing the puzzle's compositions and solutions. And really, its the booklet that's the puzzle master. So if it survives longer than the cookies you could always cut up a piece of cardboard and keep playing. The idea of using the origami box fits in nicely to this whole efimeral ensemble. After all, who cares about making a fancy box set for something that gets eaten in one afternoon!

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

The materials I used to make six boxes of Gingerbread Tangrams are:

Gingerbread ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, molasses, ginger, cinamon, cloves, salt and baking powder.
12 A4 100gr sheets of white paper
6 A4 80gr sheets of red paper
2 oversize A4 200gr sheets of red card stock
Red tissue paper
0.8mm PETplastic

And the equipment I used is:

A kitchen (mainly the oven, some bowls and knives)
A computer
A printer
A Craft knife/ Stanley knife
A Steel ruler
Painter's tape/masking tape
A Cutting mat
A Stapler
Paper plotter (optional)

Step 2: Making the Booklet

There are lots of images on line. I was thinking I could copy and paste these but there were too many different styles and presentations so I just did my own compilation.
To do so I drew out all the shapes in all the different orientations in autocad (you can use whatever drawing program you're comfortable with). I set up each composition I wanted with real tangram pieces then copied the pieces to make it up on my computer screen.
I arranged the compositions onto a sheet of paper in six areas of each sheet in such a way that when printed and folded (see photos) and stapled with the cover they would read as pages of the mini booklet. All I had to do was cut them down a few milimeters on the top and bottom and the six folded areas worked as 12 pages of the booklet ;). The first page shows the silhouettes, the second page shows how to solve them and so on.
I made the cut out windows of the covers on a machine I use to cut cardstock called KNK Zing Air and the software program it uses called Make the Cut. Its a fun tool to have for some projects but I don't use it nearly half enough and have to re-familiarize myself with it evey time I go to use it.
Compiling the shapes on my computer took some time as did cutting out the windows on the covers with the KNK (mainly due to errors and having to start again); but assembling the booklet was nice and fast. Here are the PDFs one is one side of the sheet the other is the back side of the sheet. I took them to be laser printed in my local fotocopying shop.

Step 3: Making the Origami Box

The design of this box was taking the typical origami box and reducing the height of the walls. The origami version uses key folding points to help you line up the subsequent folds. But by reducing the height of the walls of the box you don't have those reference points so I printed the fold lines along with the text in order to facilitate the folding. The lid is slightly larger than the box so that they fit together nicely. You can download my design here. Follow the sequence of photos to understand how to fold the boxes.

Step 4: Making the Cookie Cutter

I used a strip of 0.8mm PET plastic to make the cookie cutter. It cuts nicely and can be bent by hand. To join the various pieces together I just stuck it with masking tape. I guess I could have tried to weld the plastic but I was satisfied with the result for a batch of cookies.
I also went searching instructables and thingiverse to see if there was any tangram cookie cutters posted before. There are some on pinterest etc. but at first I couldn't find any on instructables, tinkercad or thingiverse so I decided to model and publish my own Tangram Cookie Cutter in tinkercad and you can also download it here and on thingiverse for anyone who is interested.
Afterwards, I came upon LeoMarius' fantastic instructable about 3d printing all sorts of cookie cutters (one of them being a tangram). His stl. is there to download too and is most probably a better design than mine.

Step 5: Making the Gingerbread

I won't go into the details of making gingerbread here. You can find recipies for it all over the internet, or in magazines or just ask your mother, brother, sister, lover. Someone will know it even if you don't.
But what I am going to tell you is how I avoided the cookies going out of shape. I rolled the gingerbread dough out between two sticks on the floured work top to make it very level. I only rolled out enough for one tangram at a time and TRANSFERD THE ROLLED OUT DOUGH TO THE OVEN TRAY BEFORE USING THE COOKIE CUTTER. Then cut the shapes and remove the excess dough. This way I didn't need to move the cookies anymore after cutting. I dusted off any excess flour with a clean pastry brush. I also kept them in their square formation which meant they fused together again while cooking but I cut them with my kitchen knife inmediately after taking them out of the oven. Lastly, when cooled, I filed the cookies down on the grater (the side of the grater that's only good for scraping your knuckles) to level them completely. Hmmm...anyone ever try putting gingerbread through a table saw? Maybe thats the way to go with this part of the build.

Step 6: Put It All Together

Lastly I cut the tissue paper to size and lined the boxes with it.
I put the cookies in place and folded the tissue paper over top of them
I added the booklet and finished it off with the lid.
Merry Chri....YNOM YNOM YNOM.

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