How to Make a Crazy Paper Thing: Step by Step Instructions

Over the weekend, I came across a fun post on MetaFilter about how to make a mesmerizing paper toy. Check it out (jump to 0:58 if you want to see it in action).

Over my lunch break yesterday, I sat down to give this a go. The video, while incredibly helpful, zips along at a pretty fast clip. As a result, I had to stop at several points, rewind and pause repeatedly. I decided to photograph the steps I took, and am offering up a slower, step-by-step walkthrough of how to make this guy.

A few notes. First off, you don’t need to be particularly skilled to make one of these crazy paper things. My wife is, by far, way more crafty than me. And given my bumbling thumbs, I was able to make one of these guys in about 15 minutes.

Also – make sure you use a slightly stiffer paper, like card stock. Avoid using regular computer paper, as it won’t be sturdy enough. I think it’ll still work with computer paper, but it won’t be as durable.

Before I jump into dimensions, I went ahead and created a PDF that has all the cut and fold lines marked out. It’s based on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, so it’s pretty printer friendly. Hopefully this will save you a bit of time.

Download Crazy Paper Thing template (PDF)

If you don’t have a printer, you can still create this bit by hand. Dimensions are

Overall paper: 12cm x 24cm
Individual strip: 12cm x 3cm
Fold lines per strip: 5cm, 9cm

In the image above, the vertical lines are the cut lines, and the horizontal are the fold lines. When you’re done, you should have eight matching strips, measuring 12cm x 3cm.

Next, fold each strip along the fold lines. You’ll end up having eight pieces of paper that look roughly like this.

Then, tape each piece to form a triangle like so. In my head, I kept thinking of these guys as “ramps,” as it helped me match what was happening in the tutorial video.

When you’re done, you should have eight of these guys.

Line them up like so: two columns, four ramps per column. If, like me, it helps to imagine a miniature Excitebike motorcycle jumping over these… feel free.

Next, take two pieces at a time and add a bit of tape down each ramp. You should end up with four connected pieces, like what’s pictured above.

As a reference, each piece should bend a little, like this.

Almost there! Next up, connect two pieces together with a bit of tape on the back of the ramp.

You should now have two large pieces.

This part was where I got confused in the video. Take the two columns, and place them side by side in your palm. Make sure the smallest side of the ramp is pointing up, and that both pieces mirror one another.

Add some tape across the bottom two pieces (near the wrist), and another piece of tape across the top two pieces (near the fingertips). Once you’re done, flip the whole thing over.

// Edit: Per a request from smileysarah04, here’s another view of where to put the final pieces of tape. It’s been a few years since I made this, but I believe this is where the final two pieces go.

You’re ready to play! If all went well, you should be able to do this:

Once again, if you’re interested in making one… I made a Crazy Paper Thing template (PDF), which should help cut down on the overall time.

If you end up using this guide to make your own, I’d love to see photos or video of your creation. Have fun!

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. More paper fun – Thank you
    Element is the familiar 3,4,5, triangle used to configure a right triangle. Kayak builders use it to make foot blocks.
    Instructions: all went well until the final connection. If you re-do your posting, perhaps you could use colored tape.

    George Steed Reply

  2. More – Increase the strip length by one or 2 centimeters. Use the added length to make a tab. Fold the tab under the open end and glue it in place. I am using contact cement. After several mistakes I now check that each piece folds to form a right angle.

    George Steed Reply

  3. that’s really good and easy to make.

    deep eyes Reply

  4. i got really confused at the end…:( m pretty sure i did the whole thing right but i just cant figure it out where you taped it at the end… please respond because i was so close!!!! haha thanks you(:

    smileysarah04 Reply

  5. its only not awesome its tooosomeeeeeeeee

    Vishal Reply

  6. I used this project as a fun way to incoporate art into a design lesson. I added matching numbers every where the tape goes. This made the project easy for my 8 to 15 year-old students. Email me if you would like the modified template.

    Steven A Reply

    • Hi Steven A,

      I have just been shown this activity to use with my Year 1 students at school and I saw your comment. I know it was nearly 18 months ago but would you still be able to email me the modified template – it would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks heaps, Judy

      Judy Reply

      • Judy – Emails are not visible to the public, and are only visible to me (behind the scenes). I took the liberty of removing your email from your comment… and I’ve sent a message to both you and Steven, in the hopes that it helps connect you two.

        Hopefully, he will receive the email and can share his modified template. Hope it works out for your Year 1 students!

        avoision Reply

  7. OMG this is awesome. Tnx :)

    Antonio Ax Reply

  8. awes

    sandeepksharma Reply

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