Quasicrystal Star Lantern




Introduction: Quasicrystal Star Lantern

The following instructable will show you how to build what I for fun have called a "Quasicrystal Star Lantern" as a nod to chemist Dan Shechtman who recently won a nobel prize for his discovery of crystals that exhibit aperiodic geometric tiling. For more information about how the pattern on the faces of this lamp relates to his discovery and more background on this project, see my latest blog post .

The shape exhibited here is called a Small Stellated Dodecahedron. The Playful Geometer has been working with this form for several years as seen in our Cosmic SpaceCrafts Lantern line . Currently our products are all made with laminated digital prints, but we're hoping to launch a new line of more eco-friendly paper-only models called EarthBound SpaceCrafts. This is the first of their kind, and we offer their designs in-kind. We created this instructable for the Epilog 4 contest , as we are hoping to obtain a laser cutter to help us affordably distribute the EarthBound SpaceCrafts worldwide for those who don't have the tools or the time to make their own.

For this instructable, you'll need:

Your cutting device
A laser cutter like the Epilog Zing or cutter/plotters such as the Craft Robo, Cricut, Xyron Wishblade, or other home cutting device

12 Sheets of Letter sized cardstock
6 Sheets of 12“x12“ Cardstock (if you have a cutting machine large enough for this)
(used here is 80 pound Linen Cardstock found in scrap booking section of craft store)
TIP: purchase extra paper just in case mistakes happen
You are welcome to experiment with other semi-rigid, flexible media such as wood veneer, Mylar or thin sheet HDPE

Lighting fixture materials
* 1 baby food jar
* 1 small tealight candle holder as seen here : https://www.instructables.com/id/Convert-a-Tea-Light-Lantern-to-Compact-Fluorescent/
* tealight candles
* A metal pen tip OR small glass/metal bead with a hole that will fit your wire.
* About 3 feet of hardware wire (18 guage or so, less length if using tealight holder)
NOTE: I used normal steel wire here but in retrospect, some decorative brass, copper or black wire would have looked much nicer. That reminds me....I would love to see what you can do with this instructable, so please do post pictures of your very own QuasiCrystal Star Lantern !

Step 1: Cut Out Panels

Download the Quasicrystal_cutlines.zip, extract it to wherever you prefer, and using the software provided for your cutting machine, open the file corresponding to your device:

Craft Robo, Xyron Wishblade -> quasiCrystalSSD_cutlines_letter.GSD
Craft Robo Pro -> quasiCrystalSSD_cutlines_12x12.GSD
Cricut -> quasiCrystalSSD_cutlines_letter.svg

The files should work using other cutting devices. You're encouraged to post a comment on what you used and how it worked out. If you need a different file type for your device, please leave a comment, we may be able to help.

The Cricut should import the provided SVG files as instructed here .

Most cutting software provides a feature to make dashed lines for folding. Set the red lines to be dashed, as they are the fold lines. If you can adjust the dash length, a suggested setting is 0.1 inch cut followed by a 0.9 inch space. Otherwise choose a setting with dot-like dashes that aren't too close together (otherwise it will take a long time to cut out).

Cut 12 panels out and remove the little pieces of paper from the holes. If you can, try setting up your cutter to do 2 passes of the cut lines as it will make the holes easier to remove (skip the fold lines on the second pass if possible) . If you can’t, you might be able to send just the cut lines a second time if your cutting machine returned to exactly the same place as it started. If it did not, you might have an "advance page after cutting" feature set, try to disable it in your software settings.

Now punch out the holes in the pattern. You may be able to remove most of the holes just by flicking the panel. For the more stubborn pieces, try bending the panel to get them to stick out so you can pluck them easier. Pull them out from the back side of the panel so that if you happen to tear off a thin layer of paper from the lattice, it won’t show once the lantern is built. Set aside the punched holes for the last step.

Do a final inspection to make sure you have 12 well-cut panels.

Step 2: Construct Component Pyramids

Each panel you have cut will compose a 5-sided pyramid. For each panel, you will fold along the dotted lines. All the folds will be of the mountain fold type EXCEPT where the bullet-shapped tab meets the panel, which is a valley fold. In a mountain fold, the fold line comes towards you and the paper moves away from you (if you’re facing the front of the page). In a valley fold, it’s the opposite, the fold moves away from you and the paper towards you. Start with folding the tabs around the edges of the panel and then finally fold the long edges that go through the panel.

Now you will connect the tabs along the long edge of the panel (a modification of the SlideTabs Edge Connection System by Chris K Palmer). Start by inserting the tab closest to the tip of the pyramid into the adjacent slot cut. First insert the end of the tab closest to the tip, then push in the other end. Continue inserting the other 3 tabs, working from the tip to the base of the pyramid. Here’s a video illustrating the process:

Where did that strange orange glow come from ?  It must be getting close to Halloween !

TIP: if you’re having difficulties fitting the tab in to the slot, your cutter may not have cut all the way to the edge of the slot. Gently open up the slots using the tip of a pen to press against its edges without tearing too much; a little opening will help a lot.

Repeat this process for all 12 panels.

Step 3: Installing the Candle Fixture

NOTE: as an alternative to the jar method shown here, you can similarly use a tealight holder as seen in the Convert a Tea Light Lantern to CFL instructable instead. Though it will not allow light to shine through all angles of the shape, it will make inserting and lighting a candle easier.

In your fingers, measure off a section of wire enough to fit around the jar lid with about an extra inch on each side.

Mark off the halfway point on your length of wire by folding it in half and pinching the folded tip.

Open up the pinched tip a bit and twist it into a small loop. It only needs to be big enough to fit a wire through.

Wrap the wire leading from the loop around the jar lid and twist it off on directly on the other side of the jar. Try to be as precise as possible so the jar will stay balanced.

Cut off enough wire to arch over to the other side of the jar and into the loop. Don’t make the arch too big, or it will be difficult to fasten inside the lantern, just one inch above the jar opening is plenty.

Thread the cut end of the wire through the wire loop and twist it around itself to fasten the arching handle. Trim excess wire if necessary.

Pull another length of wire out and tie a knot in it about 4 inches from the tip. Slip your stopper object (glass/metal bead, pen tip, etc.) onto the wire.

Push the tip of the wire through the tip of one of the pyramids so it sticks out the top. Twist off a loop for hanging as before and trim excess wire if necessary.

Cut the wire coming out of the base long enough so that you can suspend the jar such that its opening is about 3 inches from the base of the pyramid (err on the side of longer or you might have a fire hazard). Now attach the dangling wire to the handle of the jar with the measurement given as in the handle attachment. It is suggested that you just use a couple twists to hold the jar handle in the lantern. That way it will be easy to remove the jar and relight the candle.

Step 4: Birthing Your Star

Now you're ready to connect the edges of the pyramid to form the Small Stellated Dodecahedron. Take a look at this video to see how one edge is connected to another.

First one of the pointy tabs is inserted into one of the holes, then the pyramid face above the edge's other pointy tab is pressed down to make the tab point towards the hole. Then the other tab is inserted in the other hole.  Releasing pressure on the face, the edge is given a little jiggle to let the tabs slide into place just right.

If you have trouble getting the tab into the hole, squeeze the fold on the tab to make it as flat as possible and adjust the angle of the tab from the the edge if necessary.

You might be tempted to just hang up the candle-filled pyramid and start attaching the pyramids so that there are 3 pyramids to each corner, but that is not as fool-proof as the method described in the following steps.

Take the lantern-filled pyramid and attach to each of its edges one pyramid; only connect these five edges for now. Consider this the top half of the lantern.

Now take a loose pyramid and do the exact same thing you did for the candle-filled pyramid, surrounding it with 5 other pyramids. Consider this the bottom half of the lantern. Now attach one of the surrounding pyramids of this group to one of the surrounding pyramids of the top half of the lantern.

Connect 3 of the 5 adjacent edges of the pyramids surrounding the top pyramid, leaving the pyramid farthest away from lantern’s bottom half loose. We are leaving this pyramid loose so you can get the candle in afterwards.

Now attach all of the adjacent edges of the pyramids surrounding the bottom pyramid.

At this point, suspend the lantern somewhere so it can hang freely, preferably in the location you will keep your lantern. Position the lantern so it is below your head or pull up a chair to raise up to it.

Now attach the bottom half of the lantern to the top half of the lantern along the adjacent edges. Start close to where the bottom half meets the top half of the lantern and work outwards. You might find it helpful to reach inside the lantern with to get the tabs firmly in place.

Alright, now for the crowning moment ! Light a tea-light and drop it in the jar from the opening you left. I prefer to leave the opening unfastened and just twist the lantern so it faces against the wall. However, if you want the lantern to look nice from all sides you can close up the final tabs. Consider that fastening just one tab near each of the 3 bottom corners may suffice to hold the opening in place.

When relighting the candle, you can use a BBQ lighter or a long match to make it easy to get the flame down into the jar. Tilt the jar sideways when doing so. If you're struggling to get it lit, you can take the jar out and place it back in, just be careful not to burn yourself when reinstalling. Always let the candle and jar cool off before relighting.

OK, now its time to celebrate ! Remember those little holes you set aside. Well, that’s actually a pile of magical confetti ! If you will, toss some of it up in the air to hail the birth of a star and invite your friends over to bask in the ambient glow.

While The Playful Geometer’s Cosmic SpaceCrafts lend themselves more to ecstatic celebration, the EarthBound SpaceCrafts tend to evoke a more relaxed mood. They're great for activities like candle-light dinners, prayer/meditation circles or an evening of creative writing. For me they also evoke slightly more active images such as: chapels permeated with Gregorian Chanting, Hermetic Mystery Theatre, Indian temple dancers at Dwali and the equivocal sensuality of tribal bellydancers.

Here's a little video I put together of the finished product all lit up, it looks a lot brighter in real life though.


Step 5: Epilog(ue)

A personal message from Cosmo Guffa of The Playful Geometer:

For years now, I have been developing methods of constructing polyhedral models decorated with digital designs, with countless runs of trial and error. The playing field for these experiments has been in providing voluntary decoration services for community-based festivals and special events in the region. In the beginning, the models were delicate handicrafts with a lot of “rough edges”, but recently I’ve developed a method for creating star-like polyhedra like the one you see here out of nothing but laminated prints, the results of which you can see on The Playful Geometer's Cosmic SpaceCrafts .

Due to the overwhelming response to my constructions and the expressed desire to own them, I recently decided to start up a business of producing these models. Since then I have invested countless hours into the development of a stable and easy-to assemble model, something that could be considered “my product”. However, I consider it more than that, it is in fact a whole new form of artist/craft I am working to share with the world.

I was greatly inspired by the Free Culture movement in which I participated during several years in university, and it has offered guiding principles for my creative process and my developing business model ever since. I publish all of my content under a Creative Commons license and have used exclusively Free and Open Source Software for the design of the SpaceCrafts. Without these massive contributions to my creative empowerment, I could have never made this possible, part of the reason why I sometimes use the plural tense in speaking as The Playful Geometer ... I also have a fine team of muses at my service :)

It has always been my intention to share my methods of development as much as possible, and I’ve documented my process on the Cosmic SpaceCrafts blog in the spirit of sharing. I’ve even thought about Open Sourcing my Cosmic SpaceCrafts building methods but they’ve been under constant development, they’re a bit to complicated at this point for the average user, and there is a need to focus on making the operation financially sustainable at this point.

I’m utterly grateful for all I’ve learned on Instructables.com over the years. For me, it represents a whole new attitude on “intellectual property” and an new economy of decentralized building that is emerging as a result of the internet. Thus it is with great honour and humble appreciation that I offer my first development in the coming line of EarthBound SpaceCrafts to the general public.

Admittedly, I wrote this instructable with the prospects of winning the Epilog 4 Contest being my major motivation. Its funny how self-interest can motivate generosity, and vice versa; the paradox of the cosmic joke seems constantly unfolding here !

Already I've had such amazing feedback about the positive influence that my art/craft forms have brought into peoples homes. I really think that I could do even more good in bringing manifestations of sacred geometry into people homes with a laser cutter and appeal to a much wider audience than the Cosmic SpaceCraft line does. If you like what you've seen here, please consider voting for me in the contest. In the event that I do win this contest, I resolve to dedicate the merits of this prize towards the en-lighten-ment of all sentient beings. Its been a great joy to put together this work so thanks to Epilog for inspiring it, and may the best instructable win !

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    This looks great. Upon opening the files though (llustrator), it looks like the 12 x 12 paper is actually for a 15 x 15 inch sheet of paper. I was looking at the letter size paper and the two shapes in there are half an inch off. Is that intentional? Both files have a different tab design on them as well. I guess I'm a bit confused on which file I need to cut out. Just wanted to be certain before I get started. Thanks!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, a pet jellyfish, that sounds awesome ! Thanks for the suggestion. If I don't win the Epilog contest then I may enter the Mad Science Fair but right now I would like to focus my votes on the Epilog contest.