Geometric Sculpture From 72 Pencils




About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

George W. Hart is a sculptor of constructive geometric forms (and writer of the Math Monday columns at Make), and I've long been an admirer of his work. Reproducing his art is far from trivial - I once tried to build his Chronosynclastic Infundibulum, but broke so many CDs I gave up in disgust. However, I recently discovered that Alejandro Erickson, instructable-r and self-confessed mathemagician, lives in the same city as me and runs workshops on geometric construction, so we hired him for an afternoon. He was the great geometry guru we'd hoped he'd be, and he kept 6 kids and 3 adults well entertained and busy making tensegrities. As a special request, he also taught two of us how to make a replica of Hart's 72 pencils sculpture (Hart made a limited edition of 19 unique examples of these). It took a couple of leisurely hours to build and glue, and with supervision was surprisingly easy to make. It can be assembled inexpensively using wooden pencils (conveniently sold in packs of 72!), a few rubber bands and a little superglue, in pretty much exactly the same way as Alejandro makes his Hexastix sculptures (see below for the video). The hexagonal cross-section of the pencils make them a very natural fit for this geometric form, as the holes in the lattice are themselves hexagonal. The erasers are arranged tetrahedrally with respect to one another; the volume enclosed by the pencils is a rhombic dodecahedron. It's a neat piece of art that I'm pleased to own; many thanks to George W. Hart for the inspiration and Alejandro for the instruction!

I made a variant of this sculpture using 76 pencils, in which the pencils form six-pointed stars rather than hexagons. I used colored pencils for that one, but couldn't find a nice set of exactly 76. There are good sets of 72 colored pencils available, though.

Video: Follow Alejandro's instructions, but build only as far as a hexagon consisting of a ring of 18 pencils, removing the inner pencils as you go. If you find the erasers aren't arranged tetrahedrally (as I did), just invert one ring one pencil at a time until your sculpture looks like the original. Superglue the joints before removing the rubber bands.

Step 1: Builds

Happily, lots of people have made this sculpture, and some of them have shared their builds with me. They've often been very creative too, using among other things BBQ skewers, copper pipe, pvc and toothpicks! Thanks to guerroloco, jayefuu, EVM, akarod79, palmsco, mrpesas, XP1 and innovationcreation for sharing.

3 People Made This Project!


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50 Discussions


4 years ago

Saw this and thought what a great project to do with my son (9 yrs old). Of course I left him do 95% of it. He then told me "gluing is going to be tough, so you can do that." So here is our completed project. We had a small accident where son...we broke a pencil and the only other pencil we had was a green one. We decided to keep it as memory.

1 reply

5 years ago on Introduction

So I had to make one of these. It was a lot easier than it looks. I have absolutely no need for it at ALL but I just had to try it. Luckily, my sister-in-law is a teacher so I gave it to her and she loved it.

Next step, build this using PVC pipe for a huge yard sculpture. ;-)


5 years ago



6 years ago

I'm gonna try it tomorrow


6 years ago on Introduction

I could not find 72 pencils at my house so I made it out of toothpicks and used rubber bands from when I had braces.

1 reply

6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you so much for the Instructable and video. It took a while; however, I finally figured it out. Now I just need to get some Super-Glue.

1 reply

Just like to let you know that I built one of these and that it works as a vary unique pencil holder.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I think pencils are probably easier. Straws would tend to deform too much.


7 years ago on Introduction

HEY just btw, this geometric sculpture pencil thing made it to Failblog, and it was categorized as WIN!
It then made it to teh featured section of iFunny.
So kudos
Ppl think that u b epic