Origami Jewelry Using Sonobe Joshie’s Jewels:


Origami  Earrings Take It to the Next Level:

Origami forms can be taken a step further by using them in jewelry constructions. One of the best forms that works well for earrings, necklaces, and bracelets is Joshie’s Jewel made from the Sonobe base.

First Things First:

In order to begin you will have to fold up a couple jewels which require six Sonobe parallelograms, three unit for each jewel. Once you have formed your jewels, you are ready to go to the next step.

What You Need:

You should have on hand the following items to complete your earrings: earring hooks (I found a package of them at Walmart), some thin silver jewelry wire (also at Walmart), a large needle,  some colored beads, a pair of needle-nosed pliers, some clear fingernail polish or spray on clear acrylic, wire cutters, and a lot of patience.

How to Assemble:

Cut off a couple strands of silver wire. Thread one end through the needle and bend it over. Place one bead on the wire and twist it so the bead stays in place at the bottom of the strand. Poke the needle through the jewel from the bottom up out a top point. Pull the end of the wire out of the needle and place another bead on the wire above the Joshie’s Jewel. Now, thread the wire into the earring hook and twist it to secure the wire to the hook. Cut off any remaining wire.


Seal the Deal!:

After you have constructed two earrings it is time to seal them with a coat of clear acrylic spray, or paint the surface with a coat of clear fingernail polish. This will make the form more rigid and render it water-proof. It also gives it a shiny surface.


Now All You Need is a Pair of Ears!

These make great gifts for birthdays, and other special occasions. You could also just surprise a friend with them or give them to a young person who might want to learn how to make her own. I bet the guys would quickly make friends with a girl by giving her a pair of these. He could also make a pair for his mother, a sister, grandma or a teacher.

Try Other Origami Folds:

There are also many other origami forms that would be delightful in earrings. Butterflies, Birds,  Sonobe cubes and more complex forms. The trick is that they have to be small which requires more skill to fold than larger forms. Take a look on-line under “Origami Jewelry” and you can see many other types of earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more.

Sonobe: The Origami Unit That Changed the Art Form

Over the hundreds of years that origami has been developed one unit caused a stir in the origami world. It opened a whole new three-dimensional way of viewing the art forms that could be created using multiple units combined together.

 The Sonobe Cube


The Sonobe Base:


Where It All Began:

It all began, (we think), with Mitsunobu Sonobe when he first published a cube form made from his units in 1968. Once this came out many other origami enthusiasts decided to experiment with module unit Origami. The Sonobe base unit was the key since it could be combined in many ways.

Joshie’s Jewels

Soon thereafter, a new form was developed using only three Sonobe units. Toshie Takahama, in 1970, developed a hexahedron that became know as the Toshie Jewel. It is actually used as a jewel in necklaces and other ornamental structures. In order to form these units the central axis must be inverted so that the middle point goes outward, just the opposite of the former form. This was exciting because it suggested the base could be varied to create more construction possibilities.

The Octahedron Was Formed Using 12 Pieces:

After Joshie’s Jewel came more elaborate designs like Steve Kimbal’s 12 piece Octahedron ball.

These lovely forms were ideal for mobile applications in that they could be hung from a string allowing for circular motion. When strung on string many can be combined to form interesting hanging forms.

This Was Only the Beginning!:

Since the 70’s and 80’s, many new forms have been developed including forms using 30 pieces, 90 pieces, 270 pieces and more. Some create elaborate geometric shapes that have inspired architects and others in building forms. Others have experimented with variations in the forms to create wonderful patterns.

Here Is A Thirty-Piece Form:



New Surface Treatments:

Once the basic parallelogram shape was established it became obvious that many different color patterns could be developed using two-sided paper. By altering the surface color patterns some amazing designs become possible.  I have only experimented with 6 of these so far, but am interested in finding more and even developing some of my own. Below are a few variations combined in a similar cube form.

You Can Find More Examples:

If you are interested in exploring  Sonobe Unit Origami, I encourage you to go on-line and see what others have done with this exciting base unit. Some have even designed patterns for hanging on a wall or even becoming a wall. There seems to be no end to what you can do with this origami creation.

Strength In Unity:

As I work with these amazing paper constructions, I am reminded of the need for others. In I Peter 2:5, God’s Word tells us that each believer in Christ is like a living stone that must be combined with others to form a house, His Church. “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” As I form each structure it has no integrity or strength until the last unit is added to the mix. When altogether you can actually make the structures better by adding pressure to the outside, just like a snowball. When together we can withstand the pressures that come our way from the outside and even become stronger.


Here is a side-to-side comparison of a twelve piece and thirty piece ball.

Slithering Snakes: Origami Serpents



One of the interesting things you can make with the left over scraps of paper is snakes. These were all made with left-over strips of paper from other origami projects. All you need is a long strip of paper and knowledge of how to fold pop and hood folds, and snakes are in your future.

Bend Them Any Way You Want To:

As you can see in the above photographs, you can make the folds bend in many ways to create just the look you want. Some are just up and down diagonal hood and pop folds. Others, like the pink one, are developed by combining folds that bend back over previous folds and then back out again. Experiment and you can create several different snake types. I even made some with Cobra Hoods.

Stick Your Tongue Out!    Add A Tongue and Eyes:

If you take a small piece of red or pink paper and slit it down the middle, leaving only a tiny section still attached, you can make a tongue. Curl it up and add a drop of glue and insert it into the head to make the tongue. The eyes can either be added with a felt tip or you can cut smaller pieces of paper and glue them onto the form. You can also add spots by using hole punched paper. Just a tiny drop of glue holds them in place.

You Can Vary The Sizes:

Depending on where and how you want to use them, you can make them any size depending on the piece of paper you start with. I recommend you start with a long strip of paper. Once you reach the size you want you can cut off what’s left and have a snake just the right length and shape.

Use Them To Illustrate a Story:

It’s interesting to note how many stories involve snakes. Usually the snake is the villain! One of the most interesting stories is found in the Book of Genesis at the beginning of your Bible. It is the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall of man. We also see snakes on a pole as Moses raised them up to ward off the plague that was harming the Children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. The serpent being lifted up was a type of the future raising of Christ on the Cross. All who looked on the serpent in faith were healed. (Have you ever seen the medical symbol with a snake on it?) All who turn to Christ as their salvation receive eternal life. In the New Testament we read the story of Paul in the Book of Acts, who was bitten by a poisonous snake after surviving shipwreck and an amazing storm. After he was bitten, the natives of the island where they landed stood around waiting for him to die believing that he was bitten at the direction of an angry god because he was a prisoner. Little did they know that he was only a prisoner for sharing his faith, not for a terrible crime like many of the other prisoners on board the ship. Of course, our loving God (not the angry pagan gods) was quick to use this as an opportunity to allow Paul to share his faith with others on the island. As a result of this snake encounter many came to know the Savior as LORD and Master of their lives.

Isn’t it interesting to note that God can use even creatures despised by many to teach us important lessons. Take some time to look at some of the snake types and recognize their creative beauty. So many interesting patterns and behaviors. Just remember that the reason so many despise them had to do with man’s original sin in the Garden. Even snakes were created with a purpose!

Origami On The Tree: Keep It Simple!

Update on Earlier Post:

In an earlier post I showed you how to make  Eco-balls and suggested they might look good on a Christmas Tree as ornaments. I decided to try it this year and mix my origami balls with some of the other ornaments on the tree. Here is what it looks like:

Take A Closer Look:

Let me show you a few close-ups of some of the ornaments.



Use Large Sheets of Scrapbook Paper:

My wife suggested we choose some colorful scrapbook paper to get colors that would go well together. Since the paper is a little thicker than copy paper it holds its form better and makes durable ornaments. These should last for years if boxed up after Christmas with the other ornaments.

Simple Is Beautiful:

Sometimes just keeping your ornaments simple creates a wonderful look. Origami is wonderful for Christmas Ornaments, don’t you think? Why not make up some of your own to hand on your tree?

Origami Fainting Goats

Got Your Goat

I recently went to a new coffee shop here in Spring Hill, Tennessee called The Fainting Goat. I was immediately interested in the name and looked it up on line and discovered that there really were fainting goats here in Tennessee. When I went to the shop for coffee the first time I was inspired by the t shirts and ball caps with goats on them. I went home and decided to create my own origami goats. I actually used a base from a pig model and worked to modify its head to be Goat like. Here is the finished product:

I added some horns to make them more goat-like. Today I took several to the coffee shop and they thought they looked pretty authentic. I guess You could even make them faint by blowing on them. Ha!

Be Inspired

Origami is such a wonderful medium. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I often see something and think of how I could fold it up with paper. Think of the many origami bases and you can probably choose one that fits the subject the best. Some models may require more than one piece (compound folds), but many can be made with a single sheet of paper.


Share With Others

I have discovered that giving Origami to others is a great way to make friends as well as encourage others to enjoy the hobby and art forms of origami. Today I also took one of my Christmas trees and gave it to the librarian as I checked out some books. I also often use Origami to tell others the stories from the Bible while sharing my faith.  Just about everybody loves Origami. Why not fold some up and find some one to share with.

From Pig To Goat:

Above you can see the pig fold on the left that was used as a base to create the goat. The only part that needed to be modified was the head region.

Waxing Eloquently: A New Way to Treat Origami


Wax Covered Origami

I recently experimented with encaustic wax while in Texas. We took some of the Stars I made from recycled paper and painted over them with hot wax.

Melt Some Wax:

After selecting your origami star, heat up the wax.

Select Your Colors:

Next, you select the colors you want to use and cover the form with several layers of wax brushed over the surface.

Create Texture:

After the coating with a thin layer of wax you can create texture. By letting some of the wax drop onto the surface after painting them with a coating of wax I was able to develop a nice texture.


Adding Pigment:

After letting that dry we rubbed over them with a pigment. Next you use canola oil over the surface and then rub off pigment except where it stays in the nooks and crannies. Here is what the finished product looks like:

Waterproof and Rigid:

Once coated the stars became rigid and shiny. If you add a thread loop you could use them as Christmas ornaments. They would also make cool mobiles. You could just use them as set apart art forms or mount them in shadow boxes.

The Blue and Yellow One Has a Yellow Bottom and Multi-colored Top. I dropped yellow over the blue base color. It works best when the wax cools a little but is still runny.

Origami Christmas Trees


A Favorite Christmas Fold

One of my favorite folds is the Origami Christmas Tree. I love to make these every year to give away and to put on the mantle to create a small forest of trees. I have often used them while giving a devotional about the true meaning of Christmas in which I describe how the tree relates to the first coming of Christ. He actually came to die on a tree for our sins. The Bible has a lot of other things to tell us about trees as well. Check it out.

An Easy Fold

This project is actually quite easy if you take the time to make your creases heavy and carefully.

Let’s Start!

You start with an inverted water balloon base.

To make it you fold an X on one side of the paper, then turn it over and fold a cross in the center of the paper. Interestingly the “X” is the second letter in the Ichthus which is the symbol of Christianity. IXOYE in Greek means, “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior”. When people write X-mas is isn’t necessarily to remove Christ from Christmas since the “X” means “Christ”.

Start With Several Squares of Paper

In order to form a symmetrical tree you need to start with several squares: large to small. You can make as many layers as you like. The more you have the taller the tree.

How to Make the Tree Base

Using the Inverted Water Balloon base you next squash it flat with the open side down.

Fold Up Each of the Four Points on the Bottom


Next We Will Create the Smaller Branches

You can already see the basic tree form in the previous fold. To enhance the look we will create four smaller branches in between the four larger ones. Flatten the base and fold the top layer both to the right and to the left as shown below. This will create a “rabbit ear” fold.

This Will Do In a Pinch!

To create the small branch all you have to do is pinch it out like this:

Repeat this process on all four sides and then use your fingers to squeeze the form into the shape of the tree again so it looks like this:

Start Large and Work Down

Next, take your largest unit and place it on the bottom. Take the next largest one (or one of the same size, if you have made two or three of each size), and continue to add them as you go up. In order to hold them in place you put 8 tiny drops of glue on each surface at the top. Don’t use too much glue! A tiny drop will hold it and set more quickly than a big drop. Pinch the outside to get it to hold its position on top of the previous unit. Squeeze and hold and the glue will set almost immediately. Continue to stack units to create your tree.

Start Your Own Forest



You can also make a trunk for your tree, but that’s another story.

Here Are Some Fun Ways to Use Them:

I often like to give trees away around the Christmas season. I once made several trees and gave them to a neighbor who took them to a hospital for the elderly and gave them out to the older patients who were not able to have a real tree in their rooms. They really enjoyed them. I made several for my daughter-in-law to use at a Christmas tea for women. She used them as center pieces and then let each lady take one home after the event. They make great center pieces for the table as well as fun decorations for the table top. I suppose you could add a string and make them into a mobile. How will you use them?  Have fun and be creative. Remember that this is the season for giving so make a lot of them!



Here is another type of origami Christmas tree:

Don’t Stir Up A Hornet’s Nest!



Not Just an Old Saying! “Don’t Stir Up A Hornet’s Nest!”

Have you ever heard this expression? It is often said to discourage people from entering an argument or engaging with an angry person. However, there is some substance behind the origin of the saying. How do I know? Personal experience!   On two occasions I have accidentally stirred up a hornet’s nest.


I remember several years ago in Idaho, walking down the edge of the creek while fishing. My pole tip was out in front of me and I was watching the stream looking for a likely place to catch a nice big trout. Next thing I know I hear a lot of buzzing. I discovered that the tip of my pole had run into the large hornet’s nest that was clinging to some branches near the shore. I took off trying to avoid the mad hornets out to get me for disturbing their nest. The only safe place I found was the creek where I submerged for a bit hoping the hornets would leave. After holding my breath for as long as I could in the cold water I emerged and the angry creatures had returned to try to repair what was left of their nest. Needless to say, I am much more careful when walking along steams these days.

Too Close For Comfort!

I recently had an even more dangerous encounter here in Tennessee. Our Community Group from church was helping a person in our neighborhood who has cancer. We were working to clean up and care for his yard around the house. While cutting back the brush way back near the house I accidentally struck another hornet’s nest. These guys were even bigger than the Baldfaced Hornets I had encounter in Idaho. These were the largest hornets in Northern America, the European Hornets, AKA “Giant Hornets” They got to me before I noticed their attack. I was stung a couple times right through my gloves and on my arm. Painful!  The pain lasted for the rest of the day and the next day the spots where they had stung me itched terribly. Eventually the pain went away.

After doing some research on these hornets I discovered some interesting things about their behaviors and life history.

They Are Not Called European For Nothing!

These Hornets came from Europe via New York. They were first discovered in New York in 1840. Since then they have spread to all the states East of the Mississippi River and have even extended their range to parts of South America. Their nickname “Giant Hornet” has to do with their size. Many are as large as 1 1/2 ” (2-3.5 cm).  Interestingly they are not as aggressive as some of our native wasps and hornets….unless……..you threaten their nests! When they are in close proximity to homes they can pose some danger. If you find them near your house it is probably wise to call a professional to deal with them since they know how to manage them without getting harmed.


Brown and Yellow and Red

As you might be able to see from the pictures these hornets have more of a yellow and brown striped look. Sometimes their heads are more reddish than brown. If you are familiar with the Bald Faced Hornets, they are usually more white and black banded. Our native Yellow Jackets have yellow and black stripes.

They Eat Big Things!

These hornets like to eat larger insects and spiders. One of their favorites is grasshoppers. They also prey on dragonflies, mantises and robberflies. They also like to eat other types of meat….Spiders.

A Neat Trick:

Scientists who have observed them for many years have discovered that these hornets like to specialize in preying on the large orb weavers (like the Zipper Spider in my earlier blog). Here is what they have observed them doing. They sometimes intentionally run into a spider’s web and pretend to be trapped. They actually have cut through the webbing that usually holds the spider’s prey until it is bitten and  then eaten. As soon as the spider comes out to enjoy his freshly trapped meal the tables are turned and the hornet strikes the spider and paralyzes it and then carries it off to the nest to be eaten.

What’s With the Rings on the Trees?

Another interesting behavior of these hornets is what they do to trees near their nests. They go out and chew the bark and mix it with their saliva to build the paper for their nests. They have a habit of returning to the same tree over and over again creating rings around the trees where they have stripped off the bark. The paper they make is very good at protecting the nest from water and cold and heat. If they build their nests outside  they also build a wall around the nest to protect the cells inside. Since they often build their nests inside of hollow trees and in the walls of buildings they do not always have these external protective walls, however. You might see the paper around the openings where the insects enter and exit the nest. I wonder how they learned to make this paper. I think it was a talent given them by God.

Watch Out for the Females!

Interestingly it’s the females that sting you. The males do not. So…….how do you tell the difference? Well, if you really want to know, there are several differences. The males are usually smaller in size than the females. The males have seven segments on their abdomens while the females only have 6. I doubt that you could see these differences until it was too late to avoid the stings however, unless they were already dead. Apparently their antennae also have a different number of segments but you would need a magnifying glass to see this characteristic. Best to observe them from a distance and photographs!

Often Harmful to Honey Bees

One of the draw backs of these hornets is their appetite for the common honeybee. Did you know the honeybees also came from Europe so there seems to be some history here. If you are raising honeybees you probably don’t want these guys around. Even though they eat many harmful insects that might threaten your garden they also eat many beneficial ones.

Best To Leave Creatures Where You Find Them!

When God created the many different creatures He put them in areas where they were helpful. It seems man has often moved creatures thinking they might benefit them in places other than their native habitats. This almost always creates a problem as time goes on. Many times the non-native species compete with the native ones, sometimes even leading to their extinction. Non-native species often are brought into the country accidentally attached to food products and plants. This is why there are many people employed to check items brought across state and country borders. We need to be careful to check our items carefully and help prevent unwanted pests. Though they are not so great out of place they were created for their native environment and serve a purpose there in controlling the populations of harmful insects. They are interesting creatures to examine up close…when they are dead! I suggest you look at pictures of them online and read all about them in the many articles you can find written by experts who have studied them for some time.

Here Are Some Things to Research:

Find out how the females over-winter to start new nests in the Spring.

What are Pheromones and how are they used by these creatures?

How painful are their stings compared to other bees and wasps?

Do hornets die when they sting you like honeybees?

A Special Thank You:

I would like to thank my friend Heather Davis for capturing this specimen for me. She lives near the house where I was stung earlier this year. She also is a blogger with interesting posts.


Here’s a Walking Stick Not Used for Hiking

Stick With Me!


One of the most interesting of all insects is the Walking Stick. It so closely resembles a stick that it can hide in plain sight. It is good that  God has given these insects this talent for hiding since they are considered fine food  for birds and small mammals. Could you find it when hiding in the sticks?

Hint: Look for antennae.

With the Sticks Gone:


When alone, it looks like this:

Family Ties:

The walking stick insects belong to the family of insects known as the Phasmidae. These insects are mostly found in the southern regions of the United States and many forms exist in the tropical regions of the world. Some grow to immense sizes. Some are as small as 1/2 inch, but others reach sizes over a ft. in length. One of the newest species, found in Borneo, out-did the others in length. It was actually 22 inches when its legs where extended. Wow!

I’d Give An Arm or a Leg for That!

One of the most interesting things about these insects is that they often drop a leg when some other creature is attacking. They have an amazing God given ability to regrow these parts through regeneration. Since these insects must shed their skins several times during their development, whenever a new skin is in place it is complete with the missing legs that were broken off in the earlier stages. This process is known as molting and is used by most insects in their development.

Why Are You Eating Your Old Clothes?

Immediately after molting is the most dangerous time for walking stick insects. At that time their skins are very soft an need to harden in the air for a time before they become more durable. Many of the tiny nymphs actually eat their cast off skins since they are a sure sign to predators that their owners are nearby. In this way the protein that makes up their old skin gets recycled as well.

That’s Nothing! Wait Until You Learn About This Trick!

One other amazing feature of these insects is their ability to reproduce parthenogenetically, without the need for males. Since this is possible, the majority of stick insects you will find are female. However, they still can mate with the few males that are out there. When they do only about half of the babies will be male. A captive walking stick insect can give birth to around a hundred female babies. “Why so many?” You might ask. Even though these insects are good at camouflage, they still are eaten by a wide variety of other creatures. Only a small portion of the offspring will make it to maturity.

Here is a baby one I found on a Coleus plant on my front porch. It is only 1/2 ” long.

Another Cool Trick:

It has been observed that these insects further their deception as twigs by moving back and forth with the wind like the surrounding vegetation. By rocking back and forth they look just like part of the plants they are on.

What About Offensive Weapons?

Though the walking sticks are exceptionally good at hiding they still are not defenseless! Some species, mostly tropical, even have the ability to shoot out a foul-smelling fluid that is also very bitter and in some instances even irritating to the skin of the predators seeking to eat them. This fluid is often aimed at the eyes and can cause discomfort though usually not lasting effects on the creatures sprayed with it. The species in the U.S., however, are not usually known for this behavior. 

As you can see in the above and below picture, this walking stick is not harmful.

We Don’t Bite….Just Tickle!

Is It Raining?

In some areas of the forests the dropping “seed-like” eggs of the walking sticks are so numerous that it sounds like rain drops falling. The tiny eggs fall into the leaf litter below and hatch out in the Spring time. (It has been discovered that a few species of walking sticks actually produce a glue-like substance which they use to attach their eggs to stems and leaves.)  When they emerge, those on the ground,  crawl up trees in the surrounding forest and feed on leaves. Walking sticks are vegetarians, herbivores.

Calling All Ants!

Some walking sticks have a neat way to get ants to protect their young. So how do they do it? The eggs of some species of walking sticks are covered with a fatty tissue called a capitulum at one end. This substance is highly desired as food for ants. When an ant finds the egg she takes it back to the nest where just the capitulum is eaten. The rest of the egg stays inside the ants’ nest where not many predators will wander due to the stings of the insects in the nest. In this manner the walking sticks remain protected until they hatch and climb out of the nest and into the trees around.

If All Else Fails….Just Play Dead!

Some walking sticks actually have another trick up their sleeves. They have discovered that by playing dead birds and other creatures find them uninteresting as food.  This behavior has a special name. It is called “thanatosis”. Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day!

What Else Can You Find Out About These Strange Insects?:

Some of this information was found by reading an article written by Debbie Hadley entiltled: 10 Interesting Facts About Stick Insects. You can find this and other articles on line with a simple search. Why not do some research on your own to learn more. See if you can find some in your neighborhood. Hint: I often find them in the fall on the outside of my house. It seems they are near the end of their growing seasons then and climb high to drop their eggs. They are much more visible against the siding of the house.