Valentine's Thaumatropes




Introduction: Valentine's Thaumatropes

This Instructable covers how I made two Valentine's Day thaumatropes for my girlfriend instead of a card.

What is a thaumatrope? Here's the wiki article, but basically it's a disc with strings attached. On either side of the disc is an image. By twisting the strings you can make the disc turn over. When the disc turns fast enough the two images merge into one through persistence of vision. It was a popular toy in Victorian times.

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Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools

You don't need much:

-Nice stiff card
-String or two rubber bands
-A ruler
-A pencil
-A hole punch (you could manage without this, it's just neater)
-Lots of colourful crayons and pens (red is a classic)
-A CD (love songs would be appropriate. I used a linux liveCD)

Step 2: Cut Your Disc and Draw Some Guidelines

Get your nice card and draw a circle using the CD as a template. You could use compasses but the CD is a good size and a lot less fiddly.

Mark the centre of the circle. It doesn't need to be perfect, use the hole in the CD as a rough guide.

Cut the circle out.

Now you have your disc. Using the centre point, rule a straight line across the diameter of the disc. Now draw another 90 degrees to that one so you have a big +.

Step 3: Punch Some Holes Draw More Guidelines and Thread Some String

Using the hole punch, make a single hole on one of the lines, a little way in from the edge of the disc.

Do the same at the other end of the line.

Now flip your disc over and draw another +. It needs to be aligned with the one on the other side. Use the holes to help you position the first line, find it's midpoint and then draw another line at 90 degrees.

Thread a length of string through each hole and tie it on securely.

Alternatively you can use rubber bands or elastic. I did this because you don't have to continually twist the disc, you can just wind it up and let it go.

Step 4: Get Arty

This is the most difficult step. Not because it requires any great artistic talent, but because you have to line up your drawing so that they merge properly through persistence of vision.

The thing to remember is that once you've drawn on one side you must flip your disc over top to bottom. In other words, turn it over as it would turn if you were spinning it with the strings. This ensures that your images will be the correct way up.

The guidelines are there to help you position your artwork so that the two sides merge properly.

My designs of two figures embracing and a loved up face seemed like good ones for Valentine's Day, but you can do anything where one thing merges into another. Be creative and romantic!

As an extra final step I laminated one of my thaumatropes to make it a bit more rugged.

That's it! Have fun and be lovely.

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    9 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    ClayOgre's statement is true, it just says the video doesn't exsit.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I got rid of my YouTube account and forgot there was a video linked here.

    I've edited it out, so at least there's no dead link. Sorry about that.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I totally stole your idea from the 2nd one to make a thaumatrope for my wife. Thanks for the videos!


    haha it a great idea, but i am really bad at drawing...=/ is there any alternatives than drawing? how bout printing?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Have fun making yours. I'd love to see how it turns out.