Introduction: Glowing Solids With Paper and Cardboard (SIMPLE!)

This is a super simple project that even kids can cope with, but the results are pretty cool! You will almost definitely have the materials needed to make this lying around in the house doing absolutely nothing (*cough* like us people in quarantine *cough*), so it's time to recycle. And the best part is, you have basically infinite variations of this project to fit your taste to a T! I'll cover these below. By the way, a "solid" is any 3-dimensional real shape. For now, let's get started!

Note: everything in this instructable is completely my own work.


The supplies are very few and should be plentiful and readily available in your house:

- Paper

- Scissors or craft knife

- Any basic glue (e.g. school glue)

- Cardboard or some other opaque material you can cut and paste (This should be as thin as possible to avoid snags)

- A light source, preferably small (This should be an LED type, otherwise it may be a safety hazard due to heat. You can use a lamp, flashlight, or connect some LEDs to a USB using my other instructable:, or even other choices!)

- Access to a printer, and my templates.

This specific instructable is for the Quartz Crystal design, for simplicity. The others, when I add them, should be easy enough to figure out by looking over their sheets. I will add pictures of those as well, later.

Step 1: Cut Out and Paste the Opaque Pieces

I have attached files as svg. You will likely want to open in chrome and print. You will likely be able to print this with other softwares as well. Go ahead and cut out the opaque pieces; these will perform the effect of light coming from only specific places. Wherever they are placed, light will be blocked.

No need to make it super neat yet, that comes later. Paste this onto your cardboard.

Note: I have attached "cover piece" files as well, for a purpose made clear later.

Step 2: Roughly Cut Out the Cardboard

Begin to cut out the opaque pieces, but do it roughly to make it easy for yourself. Still make sure to avoid cutting over the lines. The careful cuts come in the next step, just to break it down.

Step 3: Carefuly Cut Out the Opaque Pices

I first cut them out in columns with their triangles, then cut out the rectangles and triangles to make it easy and neat. Take your time!

Step 4: Cut Out the Net and Fold/score

Now cut out the actual net. A net is the flat, basically unfolded, form of any real 3-dimensional solid. This almost gets there but not quite because it has the extra flaps to hep glue it; a real net does not.

Do the gluing carefully and break it down like before! You may notice my templates look a bit different, but that is because I was using an older version, which doesn't actually make a difference. Now fold on the lines. I recommend folding so that the finished model would have the lines on the inside. This makes it both easier and better looking in the end. If you want, you can score the folds, like I did, for maximum accuracy.

Step 5: Add the Opaque Pieces

Add on the pieces of cardboard in their areas. If needed, trim the cardboard. It is better to have the pieces a little too small than a little too big! Be careful and place it well!

Step 6: Close It Up!

Glue all the flaps and close up the model. I do suggest letting the glue on the cardboard dry first to make it easier and more accurate. If you are having trouble closing the model, never fear! This is where my cover pieces file comes in!

Step 7: (OPTIONAL) Cover Pieces

These can be used to help close the model, or cover up blemishes, or both! Cut them out and fold them, glue them, and put them in their designated place. I used only the top piece because that's all I needed. The body piece just wraps around the body. These should be straightforward and simple to use for any model.

Step 8: Let's Make It GLOW!

Now darken the room and take a little light, placing it through the opening, and marvel at the wonderful glow. There are endless possibilities with this method, highlighted in just a second. I used various lighting, including my USB LED ( with wires attached. I used batteries to power LEDs and I used a lamp of mine as well. I was thinking I would add RGB style lighting later, and I will add it here once I do!

Step 9: I WANT MORE!

I will be adding more templates and instructions later. In the meanwhile, you can easily create a net and customize the opaque parts yourself! I would recommend Inkscape, which I used for my nets. What I did is that I created the net first, and for the opacity I copied and pasted each face in its place. Then I shrunk each one a little bit and centered it in its face. Then, I took these smaller faces and copy+pasted them in another part of the page. This gave me equal results in both the outlines to assist with placing, and the actual opaque pieces. If you want to add cooler opaque designs, please do! Also make sure to show me below; I'd LOVE to see all your amazing projects!

Step 10: Let's Make the Stand!

I have an optional stand you can make to display your creations! Go ahead and print out the files... I have added letters to help you know how it all goes together. See the pictures for help! You'll want to put the main piece and strips on cardboard and use the seperate pieces to join them. The "E" letters are for features currently unimplemented. I have added cover pieces as well.

Step 11: Adaptors

I have adaptors for the stand which you can use. Print it and paste it onto cardboard. Make sure to cut out the slot int he center! This is how your solid will be held in place. I added paper on the other side for cleanliness.You also want to poke two holes in the sides. Look at the photos!

Step 12: Thread It On

Now, we actually put the adaptor on the stand. If you want to do this, you'll need thread. You can also just permanently glue it place if you don't want to hang it or change it later, or just wrap a little strip near the top so it sticks out a bit (see next step for a picture!). The threading process is shown above, but make sure to poke two holes in opposite sides of the actual stand. As you'll see, I took a piece of cardboard and made 4 holes in it so I could hang it from the threads. Now just stick in the crystal!

Step 13: Add in the Light

I fitted in an RGB LED that I programmed, and poked another hole to lead the wires to one of my DIY USBs ( You can use any little light you want! As you can see, the results are pretty cool!

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