When I was little, my dad used to make these neat paper balloons for us to play with. He taught me how to do it in about 5 minutes when I was 10 or so. Since then I’ve always been able to impress the kids (My own and those of my friends.) with this little feat, although, I’ve never succeeded in teaching others how it’s done.
Hopefully this tutorial will show others how to easily impress their friends and kids. It’s actually very easy, but until you’ve made two or three, it won’t seem that way. The most important thing to remember is that every step after the third has to be repeated four times and the folds should be as exact as you can do.
Tools? There are none. Only your hands and a sheet of paper. This also makes it more impressive when the kids watch you make it. It’s almost like a magic act. If your paper isn’t square to begin with, you’ll do a little tearing in step 2. While you could use scissors, it would take away from the performance.
I’ve created a printout that should help you the first couple of times. This printout covers an entire 8.5 x 11 sheet and should be printed with a printer that can print to the edge of a standard sheet of paper. My Epson printer does this nicely. Don’t try to get the folds to match up exactly with the lines. It’s more important that the folds be in the exact centers. Remember that it’s most impressive when you can perform the process with a blank sheet of paper. Almost any size will do.
Step 1: Fold the Diagonals
Fold the paper diagonally toward the back of the paper, so that the top and side exactly line up. This is so the edge of the fold, when opened is toward you. Sharpen the edge with your forefinger and thumbnail. Note that all folds should be as sharp as possible. Open the paper and repeat this step with the other diagonal.
Step 2: Remove the Excess Paper.
If your paper didn’t start out square, fold the bottom at the bottom of the two folds of step 1. Again, sharpen the edge with your forefinger and thumbnail. Open the paper and repeat that same fold in the other direction. This will allow you to tear the extra off creating a perfectly square sheet.
Hold onto this extra sheet. You can use it later to make a few tiny baloons!
Step 3: Fold the Horizontals to Make Pyramid
Fold the square across the horizontal exactly in half over the face so that the fold is away from you. Again, sharpen the edge. Repeat this fold right to left. Note that all folds, diagonal and horizontal will meet in the exact center of the sheet.
Pop the center of the sheet so the point is toward you and fold the sides in to create a flattened pyramid. One of the horizontal folds will be unfolded and in the center of the face of the pyramid. (See figure 3 on torn off piece of the printout.)
Step 4: Fold the Pyramid to Form a Diamond
Fold a side of the pyramid so the corner meet the top. The base of the fold should meet the center fold line of the pyramid. (See figure 4 on torn off piece of the printout.) Sharpen the edge and repeat this on the other side. Now, flip over the pyramid and repeat with the other two corners. You should now have a diamond shape (Square on a corner). Always keep the folded edges down.
Step 5: Fold the Diamond Sides Inward
Fold the outside corners of the diamond to the center of the diamond on both sides. Flip over and repeat. (figure 5) You should now have a 6 sided polygon (an uneven hexagon).
Step 6: Fold Up the Bottom Flaps
Fold the bottom loose corners up to meet the center (figure 6) on both sides.
Step 7: Tuck the Tab Into the Slot
Tuck the tab created in Step 6 into the slot created from step 5 (figure 7).
Step 8: Inflate!
That's it! You’ve got an un-inflated Paper Balloon! The last step is to inflate it. Just hold the balloon loosely and blow quickly (puff) into the open hole at the top of the balloon.
Step 9: What Then?
With some careful folding of the inflated balloon, you should be able to make it into a very presentable cube.
A fun thing to do with the completed box (balloon) is to disassemble it and draw a scene on the inside surface. so that it’s viewable from the inflating hole when reassembled. If the center square drawing has a bit of depth with the sides, top and bottom relating to the back, you can have an interesting spy-hole presentation
Another thing you could do with the paper ballon is make interesting christmas ornimants. Just let your kids put design to a square sheet of paper; Build the balloon and don’t square it off. Fit your hanger wire into the inflating hole and hang it on the tree! Nice thing about this is storage is a breeze. No broken bulbs!
I challenge someone to build a large enough paper balloon with heavy enough stock to install a computer into it. Should make a great Mod!