Beaded machines, Beadwork, Tutorials

Folding cube tutorial

Here it is – a detailed tutorial for the folding cube!


This is the first tutorial I’ve ever written so hopefully it makes sense! Any questions just ask.


I used the following beads for the original cube:

  • Size 11 seed beads – about 22g – Miyuki, gunmetal, colour 451
  • 4mm crystals – 24 – Swarovski bicones, blue zircon

You’ll also need:

  • Size B nylon (nymo or s-lon etc.) thread – black
  • Size 12 beading needle
  • Curved beading needle (size 10, but I think that’s the only size you can get)

Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW)

The individual cubes are made using cubic right angle weave (CRAW). I’ve written the tutorial assuming familiarity with this stitch, such as how to go round corners and how to build off existing work. If you’re not familiar with it don’t worry – there are many tutorials online! The pattern shouldn’t be too difficult once you master the basics of the stitch.

Modified Right Angle Weave (MRAW)

The hinges on each cube are done with modified right angle weave (MRAW). If you’ve not come across this stitch before you should check out the instructions on the CGB site. They can be found on page 39 of the freely available ‘Basics’ section of CGB volume 1.

Making a model

I found it very helpful to have a model of an unfolding cube to refer to – it makes it much easier to work out which hinge goes where when you have an example right in front of you!

There are several options for making a model. The first is to find 8 small cubes and join them together (see below for the joining pattern). The second is to print out a paper net and make a complete cube all in one go (although this was not the easiest to do!).

Hinge pattern

I’ve used some 20mm wooden cubes and some stickers and tape to put together a model. (Wooden cubes seem pretty easy to get hold off from craft shops or online – or you could also make individual cubes out of paper.)


The stickers mark the faces where the crystals are going to go – 3 on each cube. Each cube is identical until the hinges are added – this makes everything much easier! They look like this – 3 adjacent faces have stickers/crystals, and the other 3 are blank:


Here’s how the 8 cubes go together. I’m going to number them 1 to 8 to make the later instructions clearer.

First join cubes 1 and 2 by making a single hinge by sticking tape along the edge as shown (I stuck a piece of tape on both sides of the hinge to make it stronger):


Then add cube 3 like this, paying close attention to where the stickers are:


Then add cube 4 on the other side, and fold cubes 3 and 4 in as shown on the right:


Then add cube 5:


And cube 6 (still making sure all the stickers are in the right place – although don’t worry if you make a mistake, you can always peel them off and stick them back on!):


Then add cube 7 like this:


And finally add cube 8 as shown:


There’s one more hinge to go – the one between cube 7 and cube 8, which is along the bottom horizontal edge as shown:


That’s it! You should now have a working model, which folds into two different cubes – one with stickers on all the faces, and one with blank faces:


If you’ve made a model as above and rotated it around a few times you may notice you can unfold it into a rectangle so it looks like the photos above but the hinges are all in the wrong places. Don’t panic! This is because there are two different places in the complete folding-unfolding cycle where the cube flattens out to a rectangle, and they have the individual cubes in a different order. Just continue folding and unfolding and you’ll get back to where you started.

Now you have a model, on to the beadwork!

The pattern

The pattern is split into 2 parts:

  1. Making the 8 individual CRAW cubes
  2. Adding the hinges to each cube and joining them together

CRAW cubes

Here are the instructions for making each individual cube. You’ll need to make 8 of these.

The individual cubes are made out of cubic right angle weave (CRAW) units.

Start with a comfortable length of thread and a normal size 12 needle – I use about one and a half armspans length of thread at a time, since CRAW uses up the thread fairly fast. When you need to end a thread, just weave the end into the beadwork following the existing CRAW paths until it’s secure, and cut it off. Join the new thread into the beadwork in a similar way.

I’ve used different coloured beads to the original here to make the photos clearer. The original was made entirely using gunmetal coloured beads throughout.

Step 1

Make a 2 by 2 block of CRAW units, leaving enough of a tail to comfortably stitch back in.

(Right click a photo and select ‘view image’ to see a larger version!)


Step 2

Add another 2 by 2 block on top of this to make a cube.

This will be the centre of the completed cube.


This is also a good point to stitch the thread tail in. (It’s also a good idea not to cut it off completely for the time being, just leave it fairly short so it’s out of the way, otherwise you can end up stitching through it and pulling the end back out.)


Step 3

We’re now going to add the first ‘frame’ face – one that will eventually have a crystal in the centre. This is done by adding a frame of CRAW to the top of the 2 by 2 cube, anchoring it to the edge beads of this face.

I’ve made a new cube with different coloured beads to highlight the edges of the top face. Here’s how the first unit is attached:


First, make the bottom of the new CRAW unit as so:


Then add the sides and top to complete the unit:


We’re now going to work along the edge by adding a second CRAW unit next to the first in a similar way:


Now we’re at the corner. This corner CRAW unit is different, it has no edge bead to start from so is just joined to the previous (blue) unit on one side and is suspended in mid-air!


The next edge and corner is completed as before – just keep working around the next two sides:


Continue around onto the last edge, adding one corner unit and one edge unit.

The second edge unit on this last edge is going to be slightly different, since it has to include a bead from the very first unit we made:


Here I’ve added the bottom of the unit, the next RAW face is at the back and includes a bead from the previous unit, a new bead, a bead from the very first frame unit, and an orange edge bead from the central cube. The rest of the unit is then completed as before.

Finally, make the last corner (easier as you now have 2 units to join it to!):


Step 4

We’re now going to work on two of the three blank faces. Now is a good time to switch to a curved beading needle, as it will make stitching through the existing beads much easier. Start by turning the beadwork upside-down, so the completed frame is facing downwards:


Now start by adding a row of 4 CRAW units along one side, building off the existing beadwork as necessary:


Continue on around the corner, adding 3 more units:


Now we’re going to work another row back the way we came. First add 4 units above the previous row:


Then continue on round the corner, adding 3 more units to finish that row:


Now we have two more faces almost complete!

Step 5

Rotate the beadwork around and add 2 units along the remaining edge, separating these two faces into two frames:


That’s two more faces almost complete!

Step 6

We just need to add the final blank face on the top to complete the cube. I found it easiest to start in the middle and work out. Start by adding 4 CRAW units in the middle on top, like this:


Once all 4 are done it will look like this:


Just the outer edge left to do! Work around the edges, adding a single row of units all around the outside:


Keep going until the top face is complete:


And that’s it for the CRAW! The cube should now have 3 blank faces that meet at a vertex, and 3 frame faces that meet at the opposite vertex:


The last thing to do is to add the crystals!

Step 7

We’re going to add a 4mm crystal to the centre of each frame face. With the cube orientated as shown in the left-hand photo below, we’re going to follow the thread path shown in the right-hand photo from ‘a’ to ‘b’ to add a crystal to the top face:


This is shown in more detail in the photos below. First work through the beadwork to exit the bead shown, then add the crystal and continue:


Work around through the beadwork following the threadpath shown above and stitch back through the crystal, like this:


Now add a crystal to the other two remaining faces. Note that point ‘b’ in the threadpath of the top face is point ‘a’ for the next frame (as shown in the right-hand photo above). Once you’ve completed this second face, the thread will be in the correct place to start the frame on the left-hand side. You should end up with all three crystals pointing towards the top vertex, like this:


Don’t end the thread yet, you’ll need it to complete the hinges.

Up to this point all the cubes are identical, so just repeat the steps above to make all 8 in the same way. Then it’s on to joining them together!

Adding the hinges and joining them together

We’re now going to add some modified right angle weave (MRAW) hinges to each cube and join them together. I’ve followed the same sequence of joining them as I used for the model, so you can refer back to the photos at the start of this post while joining the beaded cubes together.

Cube 1

The hinge pattern for cube 1 looks like this:


The number next to each hinge is the cube it joins to. The first hinge we’re going to add is the one labelled ‘4’ in the photo above. Turn the cube so it’s orientated as shown in the photo below and work through the beadwork to exit from the bead shown:


Now we’re going to add the hinge beads along the edge using the MRAW thread path (see the beginning of the post for more about this stitch). I’ve used orange for the hinge beads so they show up clearly.

First add one bead and continue on through the top of the next MRAW unit (left photo). Then loop around the top of this unit, through the beads indicated in the right photo:


This extra loop makes sure the hinge beads are held in place nice and securely. Continue along the edge adding in two more hinge beads, following the thread path as shown:


You want to keep a fairly medium tension here – too loose and the hinge will be unstable, but too tight and you won’t be able to join it to the next cube.

Turn the beadwork so you’re looking at the hinge from the other side. Work along through the beads following the MRAW thread path as shown on this side:


The hinge beads should now be held in place with stitches on both sides.

Add in the second hinge (the one labelled ‘2’ in the photo) in the same way, so you have a cube that looks like this:


Weave the end of the thread into the beadwork so it’s secure, and trim it off.

Cubes 2 – 7

For cubes 2 to 7 you’ll add one new hinge, and join to another on a previous cube. For each cube I’ve marked on the photo which other ones they join to, and indicated which is the shared hinge with a circle around the number.

Cube 2

Here’s the hinge pattern for cube 2:


This cube joins to cubes 1 and 3, as labelled. I’ve put a circle around the shared hinge – you don’t need to add this one, just join to it.

So for cube 2 we’re first going to add the hinge labelled ‘3’ using MRAW, just as for cube 1. We’ll end up with a cube that looks like this:


I’ve made it a slightly different colour so you can tell which cube is which! Now we’re going to join it to the shared hinge on cube 1. Bring the two cubes together as shown on the left:


The edges we’re going to join are marked with a dot. On the right I’ve moved the cubes so these edges meet.

Join cube 2 to cube 1 following the exact same MRAW thread path as before – only this time you don’t need to add an extra bead, just use the one from the hinge on cube 1:


The MRAW thread path is exactly as before:


Once you’ve done one side, rotate the hinge so you can reinforce the other side:


That’s it, you’ve joined the first two cubes together!


Cube 3

The hinge pattern for cube 3 is shown below – this one joins to cube 2 using the existing hinge (marked with a circle).


Cube 4

Cube 4 joins to cube 1 on the hinge labelled below:


Cube 5

This cube joins to cube 3 as shown:


Cube 6

Cube 6 joins to cube 4:


Cube 7

This cube joins to cube 5:


Cube 8

The final cube is a bit different – you don’t need to add a new hinge, just join it to the existing hinges on both cube 6 and cube 7 as shown:


The finished cube

That’s it! You should now have a complete folding cube!


If you want to share some photos of your completed cube I’d really like to see them! You can always head over to my facebook page and post them there!

Beaded machines, Beadwork

Folding Cube

So I finally managed to finish the new machine I was working on! This time it’s not a kaleidocycle but a folding cube made using cubic right angle weave. Here’s a video:

I can’t find out if these cubes have a technical name, but they seem to generally be known as magic folding cubes. They’re actually quite similar to kaleidocycles, since they’reĀ  a ring of eight linked cubes that can be rotated around back to the original starting point. However, they’re also very different since they alternately form two larger cubes during this rotation. I made the faces on each of these bigger cubes distinct – one is just the plain cubic right angle weave surface:


and the other has crystals embedded in it:


Each individual cube is a 4 by 4 block of cubic right angle weave, with a 2 by 2 gap for the crystals on three sides. Each of these cubes are joined to the two neighbouring cubes using modified right angle weave to make a hinge. I used size B nymo, size 11 seed beads and 4mm crystals (although 3mm or a flatter bead might have been better as the 4mm is just slight too big). I also found a curved beading needle a big help for some of the later rows!

If you want to try making one then I recommend making a paper model first for the hinge pattern – there are a lot of websites with instructions for making paper versions and having a model really helped a lot when I was putting it together.

Eventually I’d like to try making one out of 8 stellar octangula (a polyhedron that looks like two intersecting tetrahedra), since they have the same layout of vertices as a cube so could be fitted together in a similar way. Worked out that I’d need to make 192 triangles to do this though – might take a while!

Beadwork, Polyhedra

Warped polyhedra

So I’ve finally finished the pair of beaded shapes I was working on over the last few months! Here they are – a rhombic hexecontahedron and what is probably best described as a hyperbolic dodecahedron:


So around the start of July I was reading about various polyhedra and I came across a rhombic hexecontahedron (the shape on the right) and realised that I could make one out of warped squares. I then realised that I could do a similar shape using warped hexagons and end up with the shape on the left. This isn’t really a polyhedron as the faces aren’t flat, but it’s similar to a hyperbolic dodecahedron shape, which is also known as spikey, the Mathematica logo (while a hexecontahedron is currently the Wolfram Alpha logo). I used Mathematica a lot when I worked in research, and spikey was one of the first ‘mathematical art’ polyhedra I encountered!


It seems that July was a month for making shapes out of warped squares though! While I was making this I saw Joy Davidson’s 3-star beaded box on facebook, and later saw Kat Oliva’s lovely patchwork rhombic hexecontahedron as well. I also ran across a photo of one on pinterest shortly after I finished it, which turned out to be a pattern by June Huber (Juniper Creek Designs). So it seems that I have just reinvented the wheel on this one!


I really like the hyperbolic dodecahedron, although it was at times challenging to make. I managed to make the tension a little too tight on some of the points and there were a couple of broken beads that had to be fixed by removing a section and repairing it, but I finially managed to finish it last week. I was also worried that it would be very difficult to stitch the last few pieces together, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be (curved beading needles are an awesome invention!).


Beaded machines, Beadwork


I’ve been making slow progress on beadwork over the summer, but I have had a bit of time to learn more about kaleidocycles and plan out my next project! Unfortunately I haven’t quite finished the current project (more on that soon) but meanwhile I realised I only ever posted a video of my first kaleidocycle and not any photos, so here it is in more detail!


And here’s the opposite set of faces:


Finally, here’s a view from the side:


Can’t wait to start the next one!

Beadwork, Polyhedra


I’m busy making a new geometric sculpture, so I thought I’d take a break and take look back at an older piece. This is an icosahedron I made almost 2 years ago now.


I say icosahedron, but it’s really half way between an icosahedron and a dodecahedron. If you think of the beaded ovals as the edges, then you can find groups of three that make the triangular faces of an icosahedron, but you can also find groups of five that make pentagons and overall look like a dodecahedron. However, I based it on a icosahedron when I was making it, so that’s what I’ll call it!

Unlike my beaded dodecahedron, this piece has a chirality because of how the ovals are arranged to make each face. Chirality just means that a shape looks different to its mirror image. You can see that here – the ovals all point out clockwise around each triangle, but the mirror image would have them all pointing anticlockwise. One day I’ll make the mirror image version to match!

I’d also like to try this pattern as a truncated icosahedron (which is an icosahedron with the vertices cut off, so it’s made up out of pentagons and hexagons – like a football). I think it’d look good as a larger shape, but I’m slightly put off by the 90 edge pieces I’d have to make!


Bangles, Beadwork

Mookite Rick-Rack

Work has been slow on my next geometric shape, so I thought I’d revisit a piece I made about this time last year: a double rick-rack with a Mookite cabochon. There are some great bangles with tear-drop stones in the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project — see the CGB facebook page for a photo of an amazing one by Cate Jones! When I saw this cabochon I knew what I had to make with it!

It’s a bit of a departure from my normal work as it’s the only bangle I’ve made in the flat and the only one I’ve made with size 11 seed beads instead of delicas. I really like the effect of the seed beads though, and their larger size made it possible to mix in a row of 2mm stones as well.


It’s a standard rick-rack built off an MRAW base, with a slightly larger peak in the centre than the sides. The bezel for the Mookite cabochon is also a simple MRAW band with a few rows of delicas and size 15 seed beads on the back and front. It’s joined to the band using a few extra stiches and beads at the sides of bezel.

When working in the flat there’s always the question of what to do at the ends. I decided to finish them straight and use that edge as a base for a few rows of herringbone stitch on both the front and back. I then joined the band to a simple toggle clasp with a couple of jump rings.


I was worried that it might not sit well when worn, but the cabochon seems to balance quite nicely and stops it twisting round. I’ll definitely be making more bangles with seed beads in the future!


Beadwork, Polyhedra


As you may have guessed from the kaleidocycle, I like making geometric shapes out of beads! The first shape I tried was a dodecahedron (or an icosahedron, depending on how you look at it). Here’s a photo of the finished piece.


I made this a few years ago but it’s still one of my favourites. The shape is made up of a lot of individual peyote ovals (like a triangle but with only two points, I learnt about them from Diane Fitzgerald’s book Shaped Beadwork).

If you think of it as a dodecahedron then five of the ovals (or rather, five half-ovals) make up each hexgonal face, while if you think of it as an icosahedron then each oval corresponds to an edge.

Each oval is one of five colours, but they occur in a different order in each hexagonal face. After a bit of reading I found out that this is because the symmetries of a dodecahedron (or icosahedron, they’re essentially the same) are the same as a particular permutation group. (Or in full maths detail: its symmetry group is isomorphic to the alternating group A5, which is the group of all even permutations of a set of 5 elements.) So not only does it look cool it has some pretty neat maths behind it as well!