Making a Square Unit into a Round Object

I have been sidetracked once again. Rather than continuing with the piece I was working on last week —it will happen eventually— I started playing with a different sort of interlocking square. It can even be used to make an Easter egg!

The plan is for a sphere made in handmade paper, so I began by backing half sheets of paper I made several years ago. The original paper is a good weight and flexibility for the project but prone to tearing, so I backed it with a Thai kozo that is tear resistant. (If you are interested in learning how to do this, there are instructions here.)

Here are the backed papers.

Because the supply of the paper I want to use is limited I did all my experimenting using card stock. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the first test.

Everything fit together nicely, but the joints were a bit prone to sliding. The second test was less prone to sliding, but the cuts were longer than necessary and visible beyond the intersecting points.

Here’s the final version, including a square of handmade paper.

If you would like to play with some interlocking squares, download this pdf and print on card stock or cover stock. (If you have something with a bit of texture, so much the better.)

Cut out all the squares, then pierce tiny holes —I worked with book board under the card stock— at the black dots. I enlarged the holes at the point where the cards intersect when interlocked. That’s the dot/hole indicated by the pointy finger in the image below. The larger holes permit the squares to lock together more securely.

To make the slots, cut along the pink lines first from the hole to the outer corner, then cut from the first hole to the second hole.

To get you started, here are the steps for making a 12 square sphere.

Slot together two sets of four cards each. You should have two x-shaped arrangements that look like the picture below. (The narrower points go on the inside. You can make assembly a bit easier by bending them towards the back before joining the squares.)

The next step is to add four squares to one of the x-shapes. Here is the first square added.

You will need to curve the x-shape to add all four squares. Here is what it will look like with all four additional squares: from the outside

and from the inside. (I like the pattern the cut shapes make on the inside.)

Now join the second x-shape. Connect the outer corners of one square on the second x-shape to the outer corners of two different squares —see pointy fingers— on the larger structure. Join the outer corners of the other three squares the same way.

Here’s the finished sphere. It’s not really round because of the proportions of the individual squares in relation to the size of the finished sphere. A sphere made with more squares will be larger and rounder.

Here’s the sphere again from a different angle.

For your encouragement, here’s half a sphere made from twelve squares. (The finished sphere would have twenty four squares.)

The advantage of my system of interlocking squares is that you can get quite smooth curves when enough squares are used. The disadvantage is that you can’t make sharp angles. If you are interested in making geometric shapes with angles, you should check out the slide-together platonic solids designed by George Hart.

The dutchpapergirl has an instruction video for one made from squares.


Those of you interested in geometric shapes made from paper might also want to check out this post from The Public Domain Review showing the collection of forms made (and catalogued) by German geometer Max Brückner.

In other book arts news:

Fortunately dinahmow mentioned this, so I was reminded that the 2022 Libris Awards exhibition is currently on at Artspace Mackay in Australia. You can see the catalogue of works here.


In 2019, San Francisco artist Zai Divecha created 36 paper sculpture letters and numbers for the annual 36 Days of Type challenge. The piece was later acquired by Letterform Archive for their permanent collection. In this talk, the artist will discuss how she went about creating each paper sculpture, the relationships between letterforms and sculptural elements, and how this project shaped her subsequent bodies of work. She’ll share behind-the-scenes process photos, as well as a video demonstration of paper pleating.

Online Salon
Thu, May 26, 2022
12:00pm–1:30pm PT

You can learn more and register here.


The most recent update of online calligraphy classes is here.


Shawn Sheehy is one of the instructors for Focus on Book Arts this July. You can find the full workshop schedule here.


About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than thirty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
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3 Responses to Making a Square Unit into a Round Object

  1. micklebert says:

    This is very impressive. I would not have thought the paper would have been strong enough, even card stock. Paper is an amazing material!


  2. Pingback: Still Playing with Squares | Byopia Press

  3. Pingback: Byopia Press Advent Calendar 2022: Day Sixteen and Squares with Circles | Byopia Press

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