Stellated Triacontahedron

If you have mastered the Slidables from last year and had enough of the past gloomy posts, you are ready for this one.

Let’s begin with the rhombic triacontahedron, a zonohedron with 30 golden rhombi as faces. There are two types of vertices, 12 with valency 5, and 20 with valency 3. In the image below, the faces are colored with five colors, one of which is transparent.


The coloring is made a bit more explicit in the map of this polyhedron below.

Triagraph 01

We are going to make a paper model of one of the 358,833,072 stellations of it. This number comes from George Hart’s highly inspiring Virtual Polyhedra.


In a stellation, one replaces each face of the original polyhedron by another polygon in the same plane, making sure that the result is still a polyhedron, possibly with self intersections.

Newface 01

In our case, each golden (or rather, gray) rhombus becomes a non convex 8-gon. The picture above serves as a template. You will need 30 of them, cut along the dark black edges. The slits will allow you to assemble the stellation without glue. Print 6 of each of the five colors:

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Now assemble five of them, one of each color, around a vertex. Note that there are different ways to put two together, make sure that the original golden rhombi always have acute vertices meeting acute vertices. This produces the first layer.

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The next layer of five templates takes care of the 3-valent vertices of the first layer. Here the coloring starts to play a role.

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The third layer is the trickiest, because you have to add 10 templates, making vertices of valency 5 again. The next image shows how to pick the colors to maintain consistency.

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Below is the inside of the completed third layer.

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Two more to go. Layer 4 is easy:

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The last layer is again a bit tricky again, but just because it gets tight. Here is my finished model. It is quite stable.

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A while ago I tried to start a blog about games and puzzles, which failed, mainly due to time constraints.
I will recycle some of the posts here.

Here are a few crafts of varying difficulty that you can do just with card stock and scissors. The idea is always the same: Use several copies of a simple shape with slits to build paper sculptures. They all make nice holiday ornaments.


The simplest such shape is an equilateral triangle that has been slit as shown below.


Using four such triangles, you can build the following star.

Folds 2

With eight triangles and a bit more patience, you get the following shape, which is Kepler’s Stella Octangula, a stellation of the octahedron, or the compound of two tetrahedra.

Folds 6

I like to curl the tips of the triangles to make them look like flower petals.

You can of course also build other objects.

Pentagonal Stars

Folds 1

Using 12 copies of the slit pentagrams below, one can build Kepler’s Small Stellated Dodecahedron.


This requires a bit patience. Start with one pentagram, and insert five pentagrams successively in all of its slits, thereby also linking the inserted pentagrams together as well. Then insert another five pentagrams into neighboring pairs of the first ring of pentagrams, again linking the pentagrams from the new ring together. Finally, insert the twelfth pentagram into the free slits of the pentagrams from the second ring.

The last steps require some heavy bending of the pentagrams, and careful adjustment at the end.

Triangles and Squares

Folds 7

Using properly slit triangles and squares, one can build a stellation of the cuboctahedron.


The slits in the squares and triangles must have the same length.

This is a bit easier than the previous example. During assembly, the model falls easily apart, but it is quite sturdy when done.

Irregular Hexagons

Folds 4

Twenty of the regular hexagons below can be used to create one of the stellations of the Icosahedron, the Small Triambic Icosahedron.


Escher’s Solid

Folds 3

This is the first stellation of the rhombic dodecahedron, also called Escher’s Solid. It tiles space. You need 12 of the non-convex hexagons below.


A simpler version is a stellation of a rhomboid, using 6 hexagons.

Folds 5

Final Comments

The strategy to design these models is to look for regular polyhedral shapes with few kinds of faces that intersect in a relatively simple way. Then, each intersection of two faces leads to slits on both faces half way along the intersection, so that the two faces can be slid into each other.

There are of course limits to this, but I am sure there are many more models one can assemble.