Math Monday: Modular Kirigami
JUNE 14, 2010

by George Hart



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.

Blue Modular Kirigami Meanders

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

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

“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].


This article first appeared on Make: Online, June 14, 2010.

Return to Math Monday Archive.