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So much time at your desk, so much raw material in the office supply room. What to do? Make monitor juju, decorate your geekosphere, construct marvelous models that’ll delight and confound your coworkers. Here are a few of our favorite projects we’ve run into over the years for turning office (and corner coffee shop) supplies into ingenious little display models.

And if you’re in an office setting and you get caught building a space ship on your desktop, tell your boss that studies have shown that doodling, freeform thinking, and working puzzles and tactile toys on the job actual improve creative problem solving. So, you’re not actually goofing off, you’re working up to your next big idea!

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This amazing Mario Cart was built by Flickr member Donald Kennedy, aka ekoala. It’s made out of colored paper clips, binding clips, push pins, and loose change. See the rest of his Flickr pics here and see more projects on his website KodyKoala.

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This original series Star Trek Enterprise model has become something of an iconic representation of brilliant workplace makery. Couple of binder clips, an old CD, a couple of ink pens, and you’re ready to warp out of mundane reality to boldly go… okay, you won’t really be going anywhere, but you can pretend all you like. The bottom of the two was built by someone who followed the original Instructable and improved upon it. The bridge dome on the saucer was made by forming some wax into the bottom of a wine glass.

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Here’s another version of the Enterprise, with removable saucer section, made from a wall clip, binder clip, and some tape. Instructions here.

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Wired magazine photographer Dan Winters created this stunning Star Wars Tie Fighter model out of Starbucks cups, cup insulation jackets and coffee stirrers. This thing looks like in came out of a Hollywood prop shop.

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On Deviant Art, papercrafter Tom Cockeram offers a template for making these Muskins and then shows dozens of variations on the model.

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Tom Cockeram has plans for other papercraft projects, like this Trevor robot, on his website.

Papercrafting is a really fun kill-time activity and there are hundreds of free papercraft models and instructions available online. Just Google the word “papercraft” and you’ll scoop up dozens of great sites like Sci Fi Paper Craft, devoted to amazingly-detailed sci-fi paper models.

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[Paper models available on Sci Fi Paper Craft Gallery]

On many papercraft project sites, you just download a PDF with instructions and colored templates for the models, print, on paper or card stock, grab your scissors and white glue, and you’ve got hours of tedious cutting, folding, and gluing fun ahead of you. Tip: Rubber bands and binder clips make great clamps to hold parts together while gluing.

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And if you really have some idle time on your hands, and 25 sheets of 4 x 8 single-ply cardboard, you can construct a 17′ tall model of Gandhi!

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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