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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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With paper and scissors and patience, you can make an amazing variety of mathematical forms. The paper sculpture below consists of twenty identical components that form a complex linkage. They lock together without glue in a very symmetric arrangement.

modular kirigami meanders Math Monday: Modular Kirigami

If you want to try this, the template for the construction is the blue shape below. Twenty copies are required. Note that there will be twelve 5-sided openings like the one at the center of the above image.

modular kirigami templates Math Monday: Modular Kirigami

With sixty copies of the above “3”-shaped template, one can make thirty copies of the “8” shape, which interlock to form the construction below. It also holds together without glue.

modular kirigami eights Math Monday: Modular Kirigami

“Kirigami” is the Japanese art of paper cutting. Because these constructions involve many identical copies of a single module, I call them “Modular Kirigami.” For more examples and larger-scale templates, see this paper [PDF].

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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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