Paper Button




Introduction: Paper Button

About: Happiness is invisible? Then you cannot sell it? You cannot copy it nor like it:-) You have to arrive there yourself??? But i am just a consumer! See Baudrillard, La societe de consommation, p60....


A paper button is an interactive element for alternative interfaces with gadgets or computers.
It is like a light switch but than in a environmental friendly material like paper. Paper can be folded, shaped and with a bit of imagination you can create the most wonderful unexpected and hilarious buttons.

See also the instructable soft buttons, for the textile version of this button.

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E-Paper professional examples urls:

Simon Elvins
Nice example of patterns and drawing

Fold Loud
Great example of folding, design, and sound.
Playing Fold Loud involves folding origami shapes to create soothing harmonic vocal sounds. Opened circuits made out of conductive fabric are visibly stitched onto the sheets of paper which creates a meta-technological aesthetic. When the sheets are folded along crease lines, a circuit is closed like a switch. Thus, the interface guides participants to use repetitive delicate hand gestures such as flipping, pushing and creasing.

Nice examples and inspiration on folding, scratching, crunching, cutting paper techniques.
More info;

Graffiti light roller

Interactive paper cd cover
Nice example of technical aesthetics

Audible Drawings

Leah Buechley - electronics and paper

Conductive ink on the body

This instructable is part of the Crosslab courses at the

Teacher Notes

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Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Tools

Aluminum foil (or other conductive materials)
duct tape
electrical wire


Step 2: Make the Button

Cut out a piece of aluminum foil.

Take a wire and remove the isolation plastic, so that about 1-3 cm of the copper wire is visible.

Put the copper part on the aluminum foil and apply the duck tape.

The duct tape reinforces the aluminum foil. (you can glue the aluminum directly on the paper, but it can be damaged quickly)

Now you have one side of the button.
Make another one exactly like the first.

This duct tape - aluminum can be cut into nice shapes, it will be part of your design.

Step 3: Finish the Button

These two sides of the button can be glued upon paper. And when you fold the paper the  aluminum surfaces are brought togetherand touch, you have the contact of your button action.

It is as simple as that.

The paper can be folded in different ways, the paper can even be removed (we had students putting the aluminum on there noses and they made the button touching their noses!

The image shows the layers. You can use a foam shape in between layers if you don't want to fold (for this see also the soft button instructable we made.)

Step 4: Ideas and Variations

Paper is  delightful material to work with. Cutting folding is so easy!
Here some ideas which were used by students doing the e-paper course with Corsslab at the

Tunnel button:
Make a tunnel of paper, the inside of which is made of aluminum foil (wire attached).
Slide another piece of paper, with glued on it also a piece of aluminum foil through this tunnel. When the aluminum pieces touch, you have your contact.

Piano button:
Prepare two elongated pieces of paper with aluminum, the paper being a bit stiff.
Elongated paper, with aluminum in the middle.
Make one of the pieces longer than the other.
Tag of glue the end points together.
Because one piece is longer than the other, it will bulge out.
Pressing on the bulge will get your trigger action.

In the images you see the principle, use paper with a bit of stiffness but not too much, this button won't last a lifetime of course, but you can do a nice project with it. Make it elongated and you have your piano key.....

Step 5: What to Do With the Button?

Designing and making is one thing, giving the button a purpose is the next:

What is triggered?
You could trigger gadgets, connecting the existing button in the gadget with the two wires of your button. Folding the paper will play music, or make a fancy LED light up.

We use hacked keyboards to connect to the computer. The button is like one of the keys on the keyboard, for example the "a". This a is caught with a running FLASH movie, and a FLASH movie can be programmed to do almost anything: play a sound, show an image, start a video.

We also use boxes, making them into 3D paper buttons, books, we even had a class with e-paper Origami!

Have Fun!

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    11 Discussions


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    both are correct. only trolls know the difference


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful concepts. Thank you Contrechoc. I enjoy seeing simple ways to enhance beauty in our world.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The name duck tape was given by the army. They used it to make stuff waterproof, (ammo containers etc) like a duck, whose feathers cause water to just roll off.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Originally it was called duck tape. It's now officially called duct tape, but duck tape is still acceptable. Also, duck tape is one brand of duct tape, so maybe they're using that specific brand.