Beginning modular origami with the Sonobe unit.



Above is a Spiked Pentakis Dodecahedron! If you had shown this to me a few weeks ago and asked if I could make one, I’d have laughed and said,’NO!’ But what I have learned while ‘playing’ with Modular Origami, is that once you have mastered the basic unit, you just need to keep practising. I used ‘Youtube’ and watched various videos about the different shapes you can create and began to practise putting them together.

I had started out wanting to find a fun way to make a cube, with out the need for glue. Looking on line, I discovered, Modular Origami and the Sonobe Unit.

The Sonobe Unit was first created in the early 1970’s by Mitsunobu Sonobe and since then there have been many different variations created. These units are then put together to create a wonderful range of polyhedra.

The instructions I used for creating the Sonobe Unit were from this weblink –

These images might also help you work through the making of the unit and can be used to explore and talk about the Maths you can see at each step of their creation.

51PR4GpAYkL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_This is a wonderful book with many stunning creations and the first two chapters are all about creations using sonobe units and variations of them.

These charts by Meenakshi Mukerji, which appear in the book were really useful and helped me to know how many units were needed for each shape.



sonobe2Click on the images to open them up. You can also see that some of the sonobe units I made were with paper that was coloured on the reverse and for these units I folded the paper slightly differently to create the coloured stripes.

The trickiest shape I created required 90 units to create a dodecahedron.


IMG_0225 IMG_0226

Now, I want to learn how to make some more modular origami creations and I have started playing with a variety of different papers. The black and white papers work really well and created shapes with an ‘Escheresc’ feel to them. I’ve also had a play with using tracing paper and gluing decopatch paper to it before cutting it into squares.

The ever evolving nature of the learning journey I’ve gone through in these early days of playing with modular origami has been fascinating and now I want to keep learning and producing more creations.


Leave a Reply