Kaleidocycle Making Challenge!

Hoi Leong Lee · 184 ·

Hello everyone! This is Hoi Leong @ VIVITA Singapore, the Environment Creator who also likes origami.

The COVID-19 situation is going global. Here in Singapore, we need to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus, so many members are unable to come to VIVISTOP Orchard even though you would like to. To keep your creative and maker juices flowing, we would like to challenge YOU to a mission that you can do at home – of making a kaleidocycle!

What is a kaleidocycle? Watch the video below! A beautiful moving paper sculpture.

According to the Wikipedia page, kaleidocycle is a paper-folded model connecting 6 triangular pyramids (or tetrahedron in a more technical term) into a ring. When you twist it around, it magically shows the 4 different sides of the pyramids in a complex but elegant movement. And what is more amazing is that it is made from folding just a piece of paper.

Want to make one yourself? Let’s start!

Challenge 1 – Assemble it!

Things that you will need are:

  1. Scissors
  2. Glue
  3. Template of the kaleidocycle

You can download the template in PDF format here Download

Print it out, and you will be able to see something like this.

With the help of one of our members trying this out at the stop with me, these are the instructions!

Step 1This is optional but you may want to decorate your kaleidocycle before cutting it up.

Step 2 – Otherwise, you can start by cutting out the pattern along its outer lines.

Step 3 – Make mountain folds along all the diagonal lines that you see to create creases. Make sure that your fold is accurate, and also crease it well. If not it will not twist smoothly.

Make mountain folds along the yellow lines

Don’t know what is a mountain fold? You can refer to this page.

This is what it will look like once you start folding one side. Remember to fold along the lines precisely.
This is how one folded side should look like after several mountain folds. Repeat the same for other side.

After you finish both sides and unfold it out and lay flat on the table, it should look like this.

Step 4 – Make mountain and valley folds along the intersections vertically.

Yellow – mountain fold & green – valley fold

Along the imaginative line that links the cross intersection of the diagonal lines, make 3 mountain folds (yellow) and 2 valley folds (green).

After just the mountain folds …
And after the valley folds.

Now all the creases are done! Remember to crease the lines neatly.

Step 5 – Curl the paper up into a chain of triangular pyramids along the creases that you just made

This part is a bit tricky. You will need some practice, but if your creases are done well it will fall in place naturally.

Following the creases that you have made, roll up the paper outwards and you should be able to make the top half diamond in pink overlaps with the part marked with G. And when that happens, you will see that you have just made 2 tetrahedra! It will nicely fall in place.

To make things easier, while it is still flat you should apply glue to the centre G triangle before you fold it in so it can secure easier when you overlap it with the top half diamond.
Next, flip it upside down so its easier to attach the G triangle to the top half diamond.
This is what it should look like.

After getting this, repeat the same for the other 2 diamonds at the left and right. Apply glue and to the G areas and secure the tetrahedra.

And it should look like this! Now your piece of paper is now in 3D. Almost done!

Step 6 – Insert the tabs at the end to the other side to complete the ring. Complete!

There is a tab at the end of one side. Insert it into the other end of the chain to form a ring with the tetrahedra. Put some glue on it before inserting it so that it will be secured.

Insert this tab to the other side

And…. tada!! You have now created your very own VIVISTOP Orchard kaleidocycle!

Members, if you made it at home, do send us your photo via chatting with us on our Facebook page!

Challenge 2 – Modify it!

Are we hearing – “Too easy? What’s next!”

Do you already have some designs in your mind, for example, something like the one below?

Let’s try!

To do so, first you will need to have in your computer graphics design software. A free and open-source professional software that we use in VIVISTOP Orchard too is Inkscape. You can download it from this website https://inkscape.org/ and install it on your computer. When you open Inkscape, it should look like this.


If you are not familiar with Inkscape yet, you can watch some online tutorials on YouTube and practice the basics. Or you can revisit them when you want to do certain actions (hint hint…) later and you don’t know how to do it.

Ok. Let’s download the editable file of the kaleidocycle that you just made in challenge 1 below as a start.

Sample Kaleidocycle Design TemplateDownload

Open the file and you will see this. This is how it was initially designed.

The hexagonal placeholders made up of 3 diamonds are the frames of your design. Now try to delete away the current designs, and draw something on your own! You can insert texts, shapes, lines, or even import a picture file. You can refer to the YouTube tutorial above if you need help.

Assuming that you drew a star…

Next, you will need “split” the star into 3 parts – imagine each diamond shape of the template. You will need to “crop” the design, to make it into something like the picture below. If you need help check out this video tutorial, and also some in the list above how to copy, paste, and rotate the shapes around.

After you are done with this step for all the 4 designs, it is time to transfer it to the template of the kaleidocycle similar to the one that you made in Challenge 1. Download the template below and open it in Inkscape!

Kaleidocycle Vector Template in SVGDownload

Copy the pieces over, and then put them into the right place. You will find that it does not fit exactly (and there is a reason why), and you need to scale the diamond vertically so that it will fit exactly.

Just fit!

And repeat for the rest!

You will have to experiment a little and think through where and how to put the different patterns. After you are done, print it out, and try to assemble it in the same way as Challenge 1.

So you have completed Challenge 2? Members, do send us your photo of what you made via chatting with us on our Facebook page!

Challenge 3 – Create and Explore!

You have definitely come pretty far to be able to create your own kaleidocycle design. Congratulations!!

Which part of making the kaleidocycle interested you most? If you are still interested to do more, we challenge you to the 3rd stage to create and explore!

There are countless directions that you can go from here, depending on your interest. I don’t know the answers for some of them too 🙂

For the maker in you
– Make it in different sizes! Bigger, smaller, super-mini, …
– Is there another way to make it? Create your own design template, etc. (Do you know – there are different ways to lay out the triangles / diamonds that can result in the same kaleidocycle. What are they?)
– Make it with different materials and textures!
– Tinker around with the dimension to see what happens!

For the artist in you
– Make the prettiest kaleidocycle you can imagine!
– What are the different techniques in Inkscape that you can use?
– Give a story to your kaleidocycle!

For the curious explorer in you …
– What is the math behind kaleidocycle?
– What are the variations of a kaleidocycle?
– Are there other types of paper-folded models similar to the kaleidocycle?
– What happens if there are more tetrahedra in a chain?

For the creator and innovator in you …
– Are there any interesting ways to use a kaleidocycle?
– Can you create other kits and templates for other members to use?

Looking forward to seeing what you will be doing! Drop us a message on Facebook or let us know at the stop if you complete this challenge! Would like to share what you do with all our members!!