Modular Origami: Getting Started with Sonobe Units

Step by step instructions to help you make your first Modular Origami model with Sonobe units. Models are easy to fold. No glue is used for assembly! Models are surprisingly sturdy. All you need is square sheets of Origami paper. The fruits of your labor will surely bring you joy!

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Origami symbols like mountain / valley folds.

Step 2: Make a traditional Sonobe unit using the diagrams by Helena Verrill and Dave Mitchell. If you are new to Origami notation and these instructions are confusing, check out photographs at Instructions for making Sonobe models by Stephan Lavavej.

Step 3: To assemble multiple Sonobe units together to make a model (cube / octahedron / icosahedron / dodecahedron / spiked pentakis dodecahedron), read Instructions for Assembly with Sonobe units (PDF) — this is a free chapter from Meenakshi Mukerji's book: Marvelous Modular Origami (2007, 92 pages).

Step 4: Try out "Sonobe Variations". Over time, folders have discovered variants of the traditional Sonobe Unit. Instructions for Sonobe3 by Meenakshi Mukerji. Instructions for Two-Thirds Sonobe by Meenakshi Mukerji. Instructions for Daisy Sonobe by Meenakshi Mukerji. Sonobe Variation by Victoria Babinsky.

Step 5: Take a picture of your model and post it on the web! Below are pictures of some models from Sonobe units that I have assembled — without any glue — the units fit snugly together.

Books: Sonobe variations are found in the following books:

» Unit Origami by Tomoko Fuse (1990, 240 pages).

» Modular Origami Polyhedra by Simon, Arnstein & Gurkewitz (1999, 64 pages).

» Mette Units by Mette Pederson.

» Marvelous Modular Origami by Meenakshi Mukerji (2007, 92 pages).

Links: History of the Sonobe module by David Lister at the British Origami Society. Origami Sonobe Photos at Flickr.

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