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Here’s an update to the classic fortune-telling ball which you can easily make from acrylic. Same fun play pattern: first ask a question, then shake and tilt to see your answer. But instead of text answers in a murky, fluid-filled ball, this flattened mini-version has emoji faces. For the top label design, choose a classic billiard ball or Makey’s Crystal Ball — or create your own!

The design is a simple three-layer sandwich of acrylic. The middle layer has a cutout where the loose emoji disks slide around. When you shake and tilt the ’teller, one random disk slides down into the slot where it’s revealed by the hole in the label.

Photo by Bob Knetzger

Project Steps

Make It

Download the .svg files for laser cutting. I used a Glowforge laser cutter which automatically sets the power and speed settings to cut the different thicknesses of their Proofgrade acrylic. (The bottom and middle layers are made of thick 3/16″ acrylic. The clear top and the small disks are cut from thinner 1/8″ acrylic. The Glowforge also automatically sets the depth of engraving of the emoji face designs.

Of course with a little trial and error any laser cutter will work. The design is simple enough to be scaled up and could be made by hand, but laser cutting quickly creates perfect miniature parts.

Photo by Bob Knetzger

Finish the engraved emoji disks with some black acrylic paint. Fill the engravings and then wipe off the surface for a clean graphic.

To assemble, bond the middle layer to the back with acrylic solvent cement. Add the loose disks and then cement the clear cover on top. Be careful not to get any solvent on the disks — they need to slide freely inside.

Print the label on some peel-and-stick label paper, then trim and cut out the viewing hole . Align the hole with the slot and affix the label to the clear cover.

It’s a perfect pocket size. Put it on a key ring or necklace. Or add a ribbon and hang it as an ornament on a holiday tree.

Photo by Bob Knetzger

Shake It

Now for the fortune-telling fun. Ask a Yes/No question: Will you get your Christmas wish? Will your New Year’s prediction come true? All will be revealed!

There’s a 50/50 mix of Yes/No emoji outcomes (with two neutral):

Illustration by Bob Knetzger

If you want to temper the fates, you can change the mix of Yes/No emojis to create a more (or less) “opti-mystic” fortune teller.

Will you have fun making and playing with this mini-fortune teller? Signs point to Yes!


This article appeared in Make: Volume 87.