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Real materials 15:
12-Clown Dodecahedron Tessellation

12 sided 3D dodecahedron tessellation made from paper

Seth Bareiss a.ka. "Sethness", Tessellations.org's webmaster, made this 12-sided "Clown Ball" from cardboard in the spring of 2007.

platonic solid dodecahedron

The ball in the colorful photo at right is about 13 centimeters wide. It is a "dodecahedron": a box made of 12 pentagons. A pentagon is a 2D shape with 5 equal sides and 5 equal angles (72 degrees each) connecting its sides. A dodecahedron is one of a handful of "boxes" made from regular polygons. These boxes are called "Platonic Solids".

The cardboard is the ordinary stuff which comes with freshly dry-cleaned shirts.

Coincidentally, below the dodecahedrons is a slab of relatively soft green stone which you can see will eventually become a bas relief tessellation of four chess knights.

Teachers, Would you or your art /geometry students like to make your own tessellation dodecahedron with this clown theme? You can download a free do-it-yourself papercraft kit from this page. All you need to do is print, cut, color , and tape or glue. Download the right version for you, from the choices below.

Download in any of these sizes and file formats:
8.5"x11" PDF or picture *.GIF  |  11"x17" PDF or picture *.JPEG  |  A4 PDF or picture *.GIF  |  A3 PDF or picture *.JPEG

You don't have a PDF reader? Don't bother with the 100 MegaByte security-risky Adobe PDF Reader. Instead, I recommend this small (5 MegaByte), free one: Foxit PDF Reader...and here are 50 more free PDF readers, editors, and creators.

clown-tessellation-dodecahedron-papercraftsmall picture of this print-out kit for making your own dodecahedron with a clown tessellation theme

In these printout kits are complete dodecahedron papercraft kits, with all 12 clown pentagons arranged in two flower-like patterns and instructions for the students to color, cut out, and tape-or-glue them into a dodecahedron ball shape. You supply a) magic markers, b) scissors, and c) double-sided "scotch" tape or glue.

Teachers, if your students are doing this papercraft project, you may want to keep a single hole-punch maker handy, to make holes in the dodecahedrons' handles for kids to pass a string through, so the kids can easily hang and carry their papercraft creations.

I made one myself, using this print-out kit. Based on that, I have a couple of observations to make:

I'm recommending magic markers rather than crayons or colored pencils because the glue or tape may have trouble adhering to the waxy surface made by crayons and colored pencils. I'm recommending double-sided tape rather than glue because it's less messy and the liquid content in glue might cause the paper to warp and your inkjet ink to run.

Fair warning: these things are LIGHT when they're finished. They blow away in even a small breeze. You might put the crumpled remains of the paper leftovers inside their dodecahedrons, just so the things don't float away on sneeze breezes. My ceiling fan makes mine twitch constantly, and every once in a while I have to retrieve it from the far side of the room.

I'm worrying whether I made the smaller printouts too small for young hands to build easily. What's your opinion? Notice the pencil, in the photo at left. It's there to provide a size reference. The dodecahedron in that photo is made from the smallest printout, which is A4 (8.5"x11").

I'd reeeeally like your input on whether it's too hard for kids, and how I might make it better suited to your needs. You can contact me here.

  1. Is it too complete? Should I just provide a pentagon shape and a loose outline of a clown?
  2. Is it too small for kids to cut, color and glue/tape?
    Should we go to a bigger size like 11"x17"? Print only one or two pentagons per page, and let kids assemble the dodecahedrons from 12 separate pentagons?
  3. Is regular paper too flimsy?
  4. Some of the tabs get taped/glued inside the dodecahedron, as it's assembled. Is that too hard for kids? Should the tabs always be on the outside?
  5. Is it too hard for kids to paste some of the tabs inside? Should all the tabs go outside?
  6. If kids color the tabs with magic markers, there's no problem. If they use crayons or waxy colorpencils, and some of the tabs have to be glued or taped on the colored side, will the glue or tape come unstuck too easily?