30 Unit PHiZZ Ball (modular Origami)




PHiZZ stands for pentagon-hexagon zig-zag unit and was created by Thomas Hull. You can check out his work here. Thomas Hull explains how to fold the model and assemble the balls but there is a lot of information there so I decided to make an Instructable that might be a different way to learn this awesome system. 

The PHiZZ unit has quickly become one of my favorite modular origami units because of the simplicity and potential to make many different size balls. There's also a lot of math/geometry stuff that you can get into by studying these that Thomas Hull explains on his site. 

I plan on making Instructables for all the PHiZZ balls that I've made so far up to a 360 unit one. I also plan on adding some videos and other fun stuff too so be sure to keep an eye out for those. 

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Step 1: Materials

To make a PHIZZ ball you will need 30 pieces of square paper. 

Step 2: Folding the Unit

1. Start with the paper colored side up and fold in half.

2. Fold one layer to meet the middle crease so that the colored sides now show again.

3. Flip the unit over.

4. Fold the layer to meet the middle crease. 

5. Fold the left corner down to meet the bottom.

6. Fold the strip to the right down to line up with the edge of the corner that was just folded. 

7. Fold the strip up, using the bottom as a guide for creasing.

8. Fold the strip down, on a diagonal, lining up with the bottom. 

9. Flip the unit over.

10. Fold the left corner down to line up with the bottom and last fold made. 

11. The unit is now done, open it up by unfolding the zig-zags so that the paper is in a strip 1/4 the size of the original size. 

Now make 29 more. 

Step 3: Assembly & Preview

Once you have 30 units it's time to assemble them into a ball. 

Start by insetting Piece 2 into Piece 1, as in the second picture. You'll notice that the crease lines will match up to lock it in a little.

Open the pocket on Piece 2 so that Piece 3 can be tucked into it, fifth picture.

Once Piece 3 has been tucked into Piece 2, the pocket on Piece 3 will need to be opened so Piece 1 and be tucked inside, as shown in the seventh picture.

The three pieces together will form a triangular peak. Keep adding more units in this fashion to create more triangular peaks. Eventually a ring will start to form, this is a good thing. Keep forming the ring until you have a pentagon shape as shown. To make the ball you just need to keep adding onto this ring to make more pentagon rings and eventually a ball will form.

If you get confused feel free to comment and I'll try to explain it. I'm sure once I add the how-to video it will be more clear. 

Below is a video of a larger PHiZZ ball that I made and will cover soon in another Instructable.

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46 Discussions


1 year ago

I've made a lot of modular orgami, tried like 20 different unit types, and the phizz unit is still the worst by far. I don't recommend this one if it's your first modular origami.

Hi, I made my PHiZZ ball. But I made it hexagonal. and I used 30 pieces but its not coming together, i dont know what to do.

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

You have to use more pieces if you want it hexagonal. I don't know the exact number. Because you added one extra piece to each "side" and an extra side or two, there need to be more pieces to complete the shape.


Reply 1 year ago

Caution when using sticky notes for origami purposes. Look through the whole of the instructions and make sure it is possibly that you wont have to open it carefully on a side that will end up sticky.


Reply 3 years ago

I use sticky notes all the time b/c of my laziness. It'll work

Try it and find out (and post a picture here)! I've used sticky notes before but prefer using thinner origami paper.


5 years ago

I used red orange and blue and they look really good

13, 9:02 AM.jpg13, 9:02 AM.jpg
2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Mine is a red, green, and blue one that I made semi-algorithmic-ally so that each corner has one red one blue and one green.


6 years ago on Introduction

this isnt origami
Origami from ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper" is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding

4 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Sorry that you're confused, but the problem you may be having is the idea that origami requires only one piece of paper, which is very wrong, given that the japanese actually had a tradition to fold a certain modular origami the shape of a flower using sometimes close to 300 sheets if I remember the tradition correctly


Reply 2 years ago

hey, sorry, you are incorrect, this involves no cutting (that would be kirigami), only squrare sheets of paper, with no glue. it's modular.

note that this is real modular, meaning the modules are all of the same type.(if the modules are reversed, such as in the shruikan, it still counts.) do not confuse with chinese modular or 3d origami!


Reply 2 years ago

If I may add... 3 years later. Technically she is folding and using paper. And making it into something, all without the use of anything else. No glue, no tape, no staples. Just paper and folding... Origami is the correct term. Modular origami to be exact. Thanks.


3 years ago

30 is a rather small amount when you have used 270 pieces of paper. Also you can get 4 pieces of square paper that are the perfect size out of an A4 piece of paper. Juts make it into a square and make 4 other squares.