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Folding a Letter-size Sheet into 3 x 5 Inch Shape – Single Pocket January 31, 2008

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, filing, H-PDA, Hipster PDA, history, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Moleskine, Origami, Other, Wordpress.

I was chatting earlier this week with prairieflounder, and I mentioned that WordPress had upped the capacity for individual blogger accounts to three gigabytes. I noted that I had purchased some extra capacity from WordPress last year, because I was moving quickly up towards the limit. Pf pointed out that he hadn’t noticed a lot of pictures here. That’s because there are a couple of different types of people who visit this site. Most of the visitors I get are still people looking at folding diagrams, believe it or not. About 90 percent, on average. And the people who don’t visit for those pics, tend not to even notice them.

And that’s O.K., but here’s another post for the 90 percent.

My first funded year in graduate school I ended up grading papers for a brilliant-if-cranky professor who, despite being only 35ish, still took notes on 3 x 5 cards. I’ve noticed that a lot of the history professors who attended top-ten schools (which he did) do this, and I even know one attending a top-ten school right now, who uses 3 x 5 cards. The guy I worked for would often photocopy articles, however, and cut out the relevant sections, parts of a work that he might later cite or quote in his own work, for example, and tape them to a 3 x 5 card, folding them several times, if need be, so that they would fit in his 3 x 5 file.

Yeah, it didn’t look all that elegant. It was pretty messy, actually. But the guy wasn’t all that elegant himself; he was well-published and highly regarded, however.

It has troubled me for some time that there is no elegant way of folding a normal (in the US) 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper so that it stays nice and flat and can be filed away with the rest of your 3 x 5 cards.

Until now, that is. This method is so simple that I hesitated to post it. It is based on the simplest and most common letterfold. But I can’t seem to find any posts of it anywhere else, so here you go:

Start with an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper (all of the pix below expand into their own, larger, window when you click upon them with a mouse or similar rodent). This is especially nice paper made by Gold Fiber, which is not only a pleasing and frightfully absorbent texture, but has lines on one side and a grid on the other. Notebook paper doesn’t get much nicer than this, I’m afraid.


Put a 3 x 5 inch index card in the middle of it, roughly, and fold the top down so that it looks like this:


Then fold the top down, like this:


You want all of these folds to hug the index card as closely as you can. Next, fold the bottom up like this:


Then fold one side in over the card like this:


And then the other, like this:


Then take the card out and unfold the whole thing so that it looks like this:


Fold the top and bottom towards the center so that it forms a flattened tube eight and a half inches wide, and then tuck whichever side is smaller into the inside of the tube on the opposite side, which will, presumably, be larger and more accommodating. In this case, the right side was slightly larger. One side always is, for some reason.


Then, keep sliding it in until the whole thing is flat. If done perfectly, it will be only slightly larger than a 3 x 5 index card, so that not only will it hold index cards itself, it will still fit into files that hold index cards of that size, or even the cool little pocket in a moleskine notebook, like this one.


Not that this history professor could have been bothered to make things tidy like this. But you like to keep things neat.

How to Fold a Westie December 4, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Dogs, how to, Maggie, Origami.

A while back I posted a response to the 19 Things Meme that revealed that the header image you see above is actually a picture of a mirror in my house that has little origami dogs standing on top of it, all facing the same direction. Somebody (Diane) posted a comment a couple of days ago requesting instructions for creating these little origami dogs, and I am more than happy to comply.

I have always felt that the West Highland White Terrier (Westie, for the cognoscenti) is the pinnacle achievement in dog breeding. And this easy-to-fold origami stand-in seems, somehow, proof of that belief. No other dog is so recognizably rendered with a sheet of paper (not to mention the fact that for most every other dog you would have to use colored paper) and a few simple folds. They are the platonic ideal of dog-ness. They are friendly, smart, determined, persistent, cute and fun. And they fear nothing.

I didn’t invent this origami dog. I suspect that like many of the more simple diagrams it was invented quite a while ago. But I here render the folding sequence as a public service to those who would beautify the world with more of such likenesses.

Start with a piece of white paper, the thicker the better. I’ve folded hundreds of these out of business cards, while mired in pointless, endless meetings. Business card stock works really well. First find the center by folding and creasing in the middle so that it looks like the diagram below. (Click to enlarge. I am using paper printed with gridmarks to make the folding easier to follow.)


Then fold all four corners towards the center.


Then unfold two opposing folds. Fold one outward and one inward, as shown below–near the one-third mark.


Then fold the whole thing in half. It is beginning to look like a dog already. A headless dog . . .


Then fold from one corner to the other, one side at a time. This forms the ears.


Then the other side.


Then unfold the front legs, which are now tucked inside the dog.


Finally, you have to unfold the beard, and crease it flat.

It should look like this:


Notice the resemblance to the real thing (I didn’t have a current action shot of Maggie, who is now a little too big to play table tennis, so I used a shot from last year)?


Tri-fold Paper Wallet with 5 Pockets September 26, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, how to, index cards, lifehack, Origami, Other.

This is just a variation on the other five-pocket index card wallet I designed a few months ago.  I made one because I was traveling out west this hot southwest summer, and decided that I wanted something smaller than 3 x 5 inches to carry around, something that would fit in the pocket of a pair of shorts.  It just needed to be big enough to carry credit card, ID, a couple fo business cards, and some slips of paper to write on.  I find myself continuing with it because I have found that, given my lifestyle and profession, I am rarely far from a larger piece of paper.

Perhaps the best part of this one is that it folds neatly from a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper, the US standard.  For the most durable results, use vellum.  One of these lasted me all summer, touring the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Mesa Verde, and the harsh environs and lifestyles encountered visiting Casa Flounder in Colorado.  The example below uses Southworth 100% cotton, 32# paper, which has been printed on one side with design elements of Persian rugs.

Make some marks 1 3/16 inches in from the two short sides, with the side you want showing up.  Make two other marks 1 3/8 inches up from what will become the bottom of the wallet.  (Click pictures to enlarge.)


Fold the short sides at the 1 3/16 marks and crease.


Fold the long side at the 1 3/8 marks and crease.


Fold the other long side into the crease you made at the 1 3/8 marks and crease. Then tuck this part into the slot made by the short sides.


 Here’s a side-view of that.


And then fold into three more-or-less equal sides, et voila!


Business cards fit, with easy access.  Credit cards can go in the side you fold in, for maximum security.  And you can either cut 3 x 5 cards in half, for note-taking, or you can purchase them that way.  Somebody makes them now, and I’ve bought them at Office Max.

Sticky-note Page Corner Bookmark Redux September 8, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, how to, lifehack, Origami, Other.

Back in December of last year I posted instructions to making a sticky-note page corner, but somebody who calls himself DyNama, King of Post-its commented today about the sticky part touching the pages of the book, which is not something that I would want to happen to anybody.  So, naturally, I had to check it out.  Unfortunately, my original instructions were a little hard to follow.  It took me a while to reproduce what I did in December.  So I’m going to try to clarify a little.  Just doing my bit for Royalty.

Take a square sticky-note and put it face down with the sticky part down and on the side farthest away from you like this:


Fold the side closest to you so that it meets the side farthest away from you and crease it like this:


Then unfold, so it looks like this:


Then fold it in half left side to right, like this:


And unfold that, so it looks like this:


Now flip it over so the sticky part now faces up, but it is still on the side away from you, like this:


Then fold the Bottom Right corner to the top left like this:


And unfold that, so it looks like this:


And fold the bottom left corner to the upper right corner like this:


And unfold that. I have marked the folds that have sticky stuff on them with numbers 1-4, so that it looks like this:


If you fold corners one to corner two, and corner three to corner four, you will get a thing that looks like this:


Then you can fold the stuck together corners into an arrow-like thing like this:


Then put it in a book like this:


And there you go.  Is that any better, DyNama, King of Post-its?  Or is the sticky part still connecting with the book?  That didn’t happen when I tried this again, so I’m hoping that my instructions were so unclear the first time that they just misled you.  If so, I’m terribly sorry.

Shamrock Book Corner/Mark June 12, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, DIY, how to, luck or time, Origami, statistical analysis.

I find a lot of four-leaf clovers, which some people consider to be lucky (um, not the finding, I think, but the possession thereof).  The first couple I found I gave away as presents, after laminating them, but there was nothing particularly elegant about lamination.  And I have quite a few, now–I stopped counting at thirty. And laminating is boring and expensive. 

So I’ve been looking for some other way of presenting them to people.  Because what am I going to do with all these things?  It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I could put them inside paper, onionskin or tracing paper, possibly translucent vellum, so that they could be used as bookmarks.  Problem was that unless you put some sort of tassel on them, they will stick out of the book and part of the mark will get mushed.  They might get knocked loose, which would also suck.  Anyway, yesterday I finally happened upon a solution, which is to make book corners out of them. 

The design for this is that of a letterfold, the K-Letterfold, which is diagrammed here, at my favorite letter and envelope folding site.  I don’t use the K-Letterfold much for actual letters, because it comes out too small to actually post through U.S. mail when you use paper of standard dimensions.  But it is perfect for this particular purpose (see below, click to enlarge).

Front View

Back View

The book is Nicholas Rescher’s Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life.  Much better, printable, concise, instructions and diagram are at this site (look under K-Letterfold on the side-bar), but I am putting step-by step instructions below so that you can see where the shamrock goes in the folding process.

Step 1: I started out with a 6 inch by 8 inch (15.24 cm x 20.32 cm) sheet of tracing paper.  The pictures below are for the same size white sheet, which shows the folds and the position of the shamrock.  It is best to fold the thing first, then unfold it and place the shamrock (or whatever flat keepsake or flower or whatever) inside and refold it.  It is less likely to damage the delicate dried plant if you wrestle with the paper and crease it first. 

Step 2: Fold one corner snug against the side.

Step 3: Fold the top side down to meet the edge of the paper.

Step 4: Fold paper in half and then unfold.  Then fold it in a quarter towards the crease in the middle.  Yeah, I know that’s two steps.  Second one is like 4 and 1/2.  O.K.?

Step 5: Fold the other quarter to meet the center crease.  Now comes the tricky part. 

Step 6: Tuck the pointy part at the bottom into the slot in the middle.

Step 7: Then slide it all the way to the top inside, so that the little crevasse (seen in the picture below in a not-quite-closed-but-almost-closed state) closes as completely as it can.

Step 8: Turn over and tuck the remaining untucked corner into the other inside slot . . . carefully.

Of all the letterfolds this is one of the most stable.  It simply does not open accidentally, even when sent through the mails without any adhesive devices to keep it closed.  And as you will see, it can be used vertically or horizontally, so that the side with the clover is always on the page that you are attempting to mark. 

DIY Sticky-Note Pen-Loop Bookmark May 8, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Books, DIY, how to, lifehack, literature, Origami, Other, writing.

I conceived this design to enter it in the contest over at Kimbooktoo, which closes on June 1, 2007.  I’m sending Kim a note this morning with all of this stuff attached, but I couldn’t tell from her instructions whether cross-posting our inventions was O.K.  I hope so.

Anyway, I am always looking around for pens and pencils when I need them, and it is usually when I have my journal or a book open and don’t want to put it down to get something with which to write in the margins, etc.  I have often thought that books should come with pen-loops, but many people hate to see books defaced.  That’s O.K., because you can also use the sticky note pen loop as a piece of note paper.  It unfolds quite easily to accomodate note-taking, then closes up again for later. 

Kim’s contest requires people to think of a name for their inventions, so I’m calling this the Bookloopenote.  It looks like this:


Or, when you use a purple sticky, looks like this:


Easy step-by-step instructions:

Step 1:  Start with a large sticky note (this one is 4″ X 6″)  Stick it to a flat surface.


Step 2: Fold it in half, bringing the long sides together, but only crease the fold about 1/3 of the way, starting on the non-sticky side.


Step 3: Fold the two non-sticky corners down so that they meet the crease, like you are going to make a paper airplane.


Step 4: Cut the corners off and discard.


Step5: Fold the pointy part up about 2 centimeters past the sticky side, fold and crease.


Step 6: Flip it over and fold the pointy part so that it sticks to the sticky side.


Step 7: Insert pen or pencil.


Step 8: Holding the thing by the pencil part, stick to the page you wish to mark, either on the top or the side of the book.


And this is a slightly better picture of the yellow-sticky version:


So, there you go.

DIY 6-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs-Side-opening Version March 5, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, lifehack, Origami, Other.

People seldom comment on my paper-folding posts, although they still form the bulk of the traffic on this blog most days.  It still surprises me when someone comments.  This last weekend I got a comment from someone calling herself Charo that made me think a little.  Charo writes:

Hi there! I found your post while I was searching the web for an origami pocket briefcase. I must say, your idea is just what I was looking for! :)

I made the dimensions a bit wider, using a page from a size B4 sketch pad. I now use the outside pockets to keep addresses and blank sheets, organized with index card tabs. I use the inside pockets for my calendar and todo stuff. :)

I’m now thinking if there’s a way to turn this into a six-pocket holder :D

Six pockets, I thought to myself.  That’s a lot of pockets.  Maybe too many pockets.  But it is not for me to judge.  It is for me to give the people what they want.  This one is for Charo.

Like 95% of people in the world, Charo uses ISO-dimension paper.  I don’t have any, but I wish I did.  This design works much better with A3 paper.  Anyway, for those using the idiotic US-UK-Canadian dimensions, start with a piece of 11 x 17 inch paper. 

Step 1–Mark about two inches from each of the short sides.  Fold these toward the center and crease (N.B.: click images to enlarge).


Step 2–fold one of the long sides in slightly less than an inch toward the center and crease.


Step 3–Fold the other short side so that it meets the crease that you just made and crease that fold.  Here’s a side view of that:


Step 4–Step 5–Tuck the section you just made into the other one.


Step 5–Do it carefully to avoid tearing the paper and it will look like this when you are done.


Step 6–Then fold the short sides towards one another and crease in the middle and the unfold.


Step 7–Then fold each of the short sides towards the middle and crease. 


And step 8:


It opens up like this and has six pockets for index cards. 


And you can clip a pen to it, just like the other design:


Thanks for the idea, Charo!

DIY 4-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs-Side-opening Version February 6, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Origami, Other.

It occurred to me yesterday when posting that this Index Card Wallet could be folded vertically or horizontally, depending on one’s preference.  So here are instructions for the side-folding version.

Step 1–Start with a piece of 14 x 8.5 inch paper (mine has printed stuff on the side facing down, so that the steps are easier to follow.  I use relatively heavy paper, 32 lb., so that it is opaque.)  Mark one inch from each of the long sides.


Step 2–Fold these toward the center and crease.


Step 3–fold one of the short sides in 3 1/4 inch toward the center and crease.


Step 4–Fold the other short side so that it meets the crease that you just made and crease that fold.


Step 5–Tuck the section you just made into the other one as shown in this side view:


Step 6–Do it carefully to avoid tearing the paper and it will look like this when you are done.


Step 7–Just fold the short sides towards one another (top to bottom side in the diagram above) and you are done.  It has four pockets for index cards:


And you can clip a pen to it, just like the other design:


DIY 4-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs February 5, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Origami, Other.

It has been a while since I have posted a new practical origami design.  So I present the four-pocket (two verticle pockets, two horizontal) Hipster PDA index card wallet.  It may be the simplest and most useful design yet.

Step 1: Take a piece of legal-size (8.5 inch by 14 inch) paper and mark a spot 1 3/4 inches from the short edge.  N.B.: I have printed on one side to make the drawings easier to follow.


Step 2: Flip it over, fold the short sides in, and crease them at the marks.  Then fold one side 2 inches in from the long side (I know this should be a separate step, but I forgot to take a picture of that step.  So sue me.)


Step 3: Fold the other side down so that it meets the crease you made in the other long side.


Step 4: Insert the longer of the two sides (the one you just got done folding) into the shorter one (it has to go inside so that it is self-locking.)


Step 5: Fold the short sides so that they meet.  It should look like this with a pen clipped to it:


And it has four pockets, like I said before. 


So there you go.

See some other designs here.

Index card stuff on Squidoo January 20, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, lifehack, Origami, Other, web 2.0.
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My Hipster PDA stuff and index card stuff, which is filed permanently here under the origami page (see the header, above) got a mention, just barely, kind-of, I think, on a squidoo lens.  Plus it has plexo, whatever that is, yet another wrinkle in social networking that I don’t seem to have the brain cells to understand.

At least it has the word “squid” in it.  So there’s that.