Introduction: How to Make Snapology Origami

About: I like making things, and I like showing people how to make things.
Snapology is a type of unit origami created by Heinz Strobl which requires the folding of strips of paper to produce amazing origami pieces. Unit Origami can be done by nearly anyone, as long as you have time and patience. I learned this type of Origami from a friend, who in turn learned it from this site. The folding instructions can be found there as well as a gallery of different models, which is a good place to start when making your own.

Step 1: Materials/Tools Needed

Materials needed:
  • Paper (enough for your model),
  • Time,
  • Patience.

Tools needed:
  • Cutting surface,
  • Ruler (for measuring and a straightedge),
  • X-acto knife (or scissors if you can cut really straight)
  • Pencil,
  • Pencil Sharpener,
  • a 1cm wide piece of plastic,
  • flat pliers (Ones without teeth, so as not to mark up your paper)
  • small needle nose pliers(i picked up a set of pliers here for $6, which has flat pliers in it as well)
  • some stiff wire or a bamboo skewer(optional)

Step 2: Choosing Your Design

For this 'ible, Im going to show how to make a snub cube. While this isn't the simplest model that can be made, its pretty easy to make and doesn't require that many pieces to make (6 squares, 32 triangles, 60 connector pieces). Feel free to make your own design, because Snapology scales up really easily. When choosing your model, consider the angles between pieces(the pieces that stick out from the model). Angles of 90 degrees or more won't hold because the connector pieces will pop out.

There are two types of pieces here: Face pieces and connector pieces. The face pieces make up the faces of the piece (I know, right?). Connector pieces connect the face pieces together (seriously?). For this model i chose blue for the face pieces and yellow for the connector pieces. I find that using contrasting colors in a model makes it look more awesome.

Step 3: Making Your Face Pieces Part 1(cutting)

For the snub cube, there are 6 square faces and 32 triangle faces. The basic formula for making the face pieces is 1:2n, with n being the number of sides in that shape. So for the square faces, you'll need a 6 strips of paper that are 1(unit)x8(units), and for the triangle faces you'll need 32 strips that are 1(unit)x6(units). For my models use centimeters, which makes most completed pieces just smaller than my fist. I have made several pieces and have noticed that if you make the strips 9.5mm wide instead of 1cm wide, you get a tighter piece overall, which holds its shape much better.

To cut the strips I start with a large piece of paper and make a grid of 1x8cm (or 1x6cm for triangles). I then cut lengthwise with a ruler and x-acto knife. Then i simply separate the individual strips from eachother(if you wish to cut down the strips to 9.5mm, you should do that while they are still in long strips).

Step 4: Making Your Face Pieces Part 2(folding)

Alright, so now you have a bunch of strips, right? Excellent. Now you have to fold these strips into shapes. I'm going to show how to make the squares, because the triangles are made the exact same way. Follow the pictures if you get confused, but once you know how, you can really speed up and get a bunch done.

First, take the 1cm wide piece of plastic and place a strip perpendicular to the edge. Fold the piece over and line it up with the other side. Then wrap it around the plastic again. slide the paper off of the plastic piece and use your pliers to give a tight crease. Repeat for all of the strips.

Then, take your semi-folded piece and continue folding the folded part onto the rest of the strip (check out the pictures). Your strip will probably not go all the way across the edge, but that's fine. Make your folds tight, because the tighter the better. Once you've done this to the rest of the pieces, use your pliers to crease the edges of all the pieces.

The face pieces are now done!

Step 5: Making Your Connector Pieces Part 1(cutting)

This step is almost exactly the same as step #3, except these pieces are all the same. You want to lay out a grid of 1x4(units) strips. Again, use the same units as in step #3. Once you have all of your connector strips cut (60 pieces for a snub cube) go ahead and put away your x-acto and ruler.

Step 6: Making Your Connector Pieces Part 2(folding)

Folding the connector pieces is really easy (if you don't get it, check out the pictures). Take a strip and fold it in half lengthwise. Fold one end so that the end touches the middle fold. Do the same with the other flap. Now do the same thing for all of the connector pieces.

Congratulations, no more folding!

Step 7: Unfolding Your Pieces!

Now you have a bunch of folded up pieces, it's time to unfold them! For the face pieces, unfold them all the way , and then fold them back into the shape they are being made into. Do this to all of the strips and set them aside.

Now unfold the connector pieces so that they look like a "V". Once you've done this to all of the connector pieces, you're done!

Step 8: Putting It All Together

This step is going to be slightly different for every model you do, but its just doing the same thing in different orders. I'm going to show how to put the pieces together, as well as the best way to put a model together. It's best to have a picture of the model to use for reference, and most of the time you only need a picture because the model repeats itself across the whole face.

To put a model together, start with two face pieces(2 triangles for this model). Push the connector piece through both pieces so that the triangles are on different sides of the "V". fold the flaps down in between the 2 face pieces. The pieces then will "snap" together, thus the name "Snapology". That's basically how you put pieces together. Follow the picture and make about half of the model. Make the rest of the model using the same method, so that you end up with two halves.

When you go to put the halves together, make sure you have something that fits through the triangles (a piece of wire or needle nose pliers works well. "Sewing" the 2 halves together takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can do it like a pro. I'm going to separate this part into two parts, pushing and pulling. In the pictures for this part, i'm going to use a non completed piece so that you can see whats going on inside the model, kind of like x-ray vision)

Pushing: Flatten out the connector piece and push it through one of the remaining unconnected face pieces. from the other side of the model, use some wire or a bamboo skewer to push the flap through the adjacent piece. Once it's in the "V" position like the other pieces, fold the flaps down like all the other ones. Be careful to fold them over on the folds you made, it will help hold the pieces together.

Pulling: Flatten out the connector piece and push it through an edge piece like in the pushing method. Then use pliers to grab the flap and pull it through the adjacent piece. Fold the pieces over and you're done!

Step 9: Variations

Snapology is great for changing the design and making it your own. The size ratio of pieces can be changed and could produce cool results (the faces could stick out from the model a lot or be very large). The problem sometimes is that the model can be squishy and lose its shape. This can be avoided by changing the width of the strips so that there's less slack. I would love to see a model made from carboard boxes or something, so the whole model ends up to be like 5 feet tall! Have fun and make some awesome models!

Check out This website for some masterpieces from Heinz Strobl himself. He uses ticker tape for the strips, which means he just has to cut lengths.