Modular origami uses many identical modules joined without tape or glue to make a larger shape. It's a great type of origami to practice, because in general the modules are pretty simple and the result is impressive. This Instructable will show you how to make a Sonobe module assemble the modules into some different polyhedra.
A lot of people think that origami is either about folding animals, or only for little kids. One of my aims in creating this Instructable is to introduce other people to the world of origami, and add a popular and well-known origami pattern to the Instructables library.
I'm sorry that the format is a little awkward -- I made the diagrams in Inkscape and then found out that it's fussy to save them as jpegs and that they look better as pdfs anyway. On the other hand, you can print them out easily.
Let me know what you think!
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Step 1: Bibliography
These modules were created by Mitsunobu Sonobe, and so we call them Sonobes.These units first appeared in the book Origami for the Connoisseur, by Kunihiko Kasahara and Toshie Takahama.
There are many ways to put them together, which you can find on the web at http://members.shaw.ca/gtarigan/sonobe/index.html One of them, using only three units, was created by Toshie Takahama, and so we call this assembly Toshie's Jewels in her honor. Another way to assemble the Sonobes was created by Stephan T. Lavavej, instructions for which you may find on his website, http://nuwen.net/poly.html, since they are much clearer with his photographs.
There are also a bunch of ways you can make the modules which add interest to the final product. Some of these may be found on Meenakshi Mukerji's website at http://www.geocities.com/mmukhopadhyay/creation/sonobe.html The last time I looked, only two of the links worked, but there are some good pictures. Another interesting site is http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/alabama/179/sonobe_unit.html, which focuses on cubes.
Finally, if you want some more pictures of how to assemble the modules and a handy table of some of the things you can make with them, try http://home.comcast.net/~meenaks/diagrams/sonoassm.pdf for another diagram by Meenakshi Mukerji.
Step 2: Origami Basics
The first step is to find some paper. If you're going to fold really small modules, you'll want real origami paper because it's thinner than copy paper. Otherwise, you can choose whatever type of paper you like. I'd recommend starting with squares that are at least 1.5-2", but once you've gotten the module down you can use any size paper you like. Only one side of the paper will be visible in this variation.
The attached pdf file has some basic fold instructions: all origami patterns will use these terms, so learn them well. I've also attached a jpeg version, but it's harder to read.
Step 3: Sonobe Module
In this step, you'll fold your first Sonobe module. How many you fold depends on what shape you'd like to end up with. View the attached pdf for the diagram.
Step 4: Assembly
These pdfs will show you some ways to assemble your Sonobe modules. "Assembly" shows you how to make a cube, and "Octohedron" shows how to assemble a stellated octahedron or icosahedron. And, yes, I do realize that I spelled the file name wrong.