Coffee shops are great places to explore your creativity and come up with new ideas. A little caffeine, some time to play, and the materials at hand can go a long way. With a bit of imagination you can use this construction method to build many other kinds of forms, and this basic component can be combined with other elements to create larger and more impressive pieces. The baristas don’t tend to mind, especially if you tip generously.



Step #1: Collect and cut.

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  • After you’ve customized your caffeinated beverage of choice at the condiment bar, pick up a few extra items: 12 coffee stirrers and 3 straws. Cut the straws in half, creating 6 connector pieces (if you don’t have scissors, you can do this with 6 full-length straws as well).
  • TIP: Soak the stirring sticks in water if you have trouble getting them to bend.

Step #2: Build an element.

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Build a basic triangular element with

3 coffee stirrers and 3 straw pieces. Push 2 coffee stirrers, pressed flat against each other, into the end of each of the straws to connect 3 coffee stirrers together.

Step #3: Combine the elements

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Build and attach 3 more triangular elements together until you get a larger triangle. Fold the structure upward, and connect it with the final 3 stirrers. This should give you a cube-like structure.


This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 35, page 97.
Ian Gonsher

Ian Gonsher

Ian Gonsher is a artist, designer, and educator at Brown University. His interests include the interdisciplinary intersections of design process and creative practice, with a focus on the ways we can learn and teach to design better experiences for everyone. He enjoys collaborating with students on design projects, with current interests that include STEAM, critical design/critical futures, and making things like robots and furniture.

  • This is simple but great, simple but great. I always take a few more stirrers to the table to make things, of course now the straws allow for connection!

  • We will have to make an example and leave on the counter for our patrons! This is a pretty cool little idea to further conversation over coffee!

  • It took a little more effort than I expected, but it looks cool on my desktop

  • adstiles

    Awesome. I showed the basic triangle element to my five-year-old and he built the whole model himself, very proudly. Do you know of other projects that use this shape or did you make it up yourself? i.e. at bigger/smaller scales. I’m planning to make larger sticks to recreate this big enough to climb inside of, so curious what other applications are out there. Thanks.