22 February 2013

thing-a-week 8: flexagons + quick tutorial

I wanted to do something with the grocery bags that are piling up in my place, so I made some flexagons.

Wikipedia says that these are "models", though I don't know what they're models of. I just think of them as paper toys that change faces when you fold them a certain way.

Here's my flexagon with abstract, bacteria- and coral-inspired designs:

Face 1…

…folds back to show…

…face 2, which…

…folds back to show…

…face 3, which, …

…when folded back…

…brings face 1 back again.

I used pencil and markers for the lines and colored pencils for the fills.

Originally, I wanted to do a "town and country" theme, so I came up with the flexagon below. But, I didn't color it all the way, because I wasn't happy with the way the crayon looked on brown paper.

Skyscrapers for face 1…

…fold in to show…

…townhouses on face 2, which…

…folds in to show…

…a tiny farm planet on face 3 (which folds in to show face 1 again).

Now, flexagons are pretty easy to make. The ones in this post are actually called trihexaflexagons, because there are three faces. But, you can make flexagons that show even more faces; I've seen dodecaflexagons.

Flexagon.net is a pretty good place to start. You can either download a template from there and print it, or draw the templates manually like I did.

If you do make a template by hand, I suggest using a protractor to make sure that each triangle is equilateral. I also had to use the Pythagorean theorem to figure out the height of each triangle.

If you're impatient to give this a try but don't have a printer and don't want to use math (boo!) my triangles had these dimensions:

length of side = 3 cm
height = 2.6 cm

For a trihexaflexagon, draw the triangles in two lines like so: (PDF). Follow the folding instructions there as well. I wrote the guide letters really tiny in the corners and then erased them after the glue dried.

Once you're ready to design, decide whether your flexagon will fold in or fold back:

Folding in: Face 1 goes inside; face 2 appears outside.

Folding back: Face 1 goes outside; face 2 appears inside.

If you fold one face in and one back, at least one face will come up inverted (of course, that could be just what you want).

UPDATE (022613): After going home and checking the flexagons, I realized that what I really wanted to advise you against was designing one face, flipping it over, designing that, and then folding in/back and designing the third face. That's what gets you an inverted flexagon face. Fold in or back, it doesn't matter, as long as you fold before you design.

Design each face in the order you want. The design for each face is up to you, of course. Last year, I gave a flexagon instead of a birthday card. I also read about a teacher who taught his students to make flashcards out of flexagons, with each face featuring a different word and definition.

Let me know if this post is useful to you or if I could clear it up somehow.

So far, I've made only trihexaflexagons. I tried a tetrahexaflexagon once but couldn't figure out how to get the fourth face to appear. I guess that's something for another day.

19 February 2013

Letter No. 14

We know Dad for his sense of humor and his mechanical knowhow, but he's stoic when it comes to pretty much everything else. The e-mails he's sent in preparation for and during this trip to the US offer strange but welcome glimmers of his head. I take note of what he notices; it allows me to imagine what he might be thinking or feeling. I can't help feeling a little sad myself. There's something haiku-like about his plain sentences, but that might just be a little undercurrent of melancholy.

Dad notices that his brother's voice sounds hoarse.

Dad says it's awkward to discuss his brother's funeral arrangements with said brother, my Tito Bo.

Dad says he's glad he'll get to see Mon in the school play before he flies to the US but will miss out on seeing Mon get ready for junior prom.

Dad gets to drive around the California town where we lived, and he recognizes places where he took Mikko and me when we were small.

"Those were fun times, looking back."

Dad says his goal is to bond with KB (Tito Bo).

Dad tells us what the collar of his jacket smells like now.

Dad describes playing with Ethan, Tito Bo's first grandchild.

Dad describes the cold in Chicago.

Dad goes out to get some pho with Tito Bo and Tito Vic. They stop at an auto supply store, and Dad experiences falling snow for the first time.

I feel that a personal update to this blog is overdue, but given everything that people around me are going through, it also feels inappropriate or insensitive to panic some more about not having kids or muse about my future in general. The impulse to do either has subsided since other people's concerns have come up.

I like this little thing on Thought Catalog, though, about what happens when you're 26. I found myself nodding at the last three things in particular.

My brothers are really cool people, and I feel regret every time Mikko brings up something I did or said when I was petty or pa-cool. There are certain people I haven't stayed friends with, and I don't regret that at all. And while it exerts a weird kind of pressure, the increase in engagements, weddings, children, job changes, and other life changes among the people I once went to school with just helps to sharpen my own perspective on where I'm going.

Mostly, though, right now, I miss my dad.

14 February 2013

thing-a-week 7: seal of love

This week's craft was a Valentine card for Cris. That's why this post is scheduled for late in the evening, to avoid spoiling the surprise, and doesn't feature photos of the completed craft, to keep it a little more special.

Instead, I offer you pictures of the template:

as well as links to this and other templates:
I may have cheated a bit by using a template this week, but if it matters, the final card's design is a little more elaborate than the samples you see above and in the links.

Here, have a Batman valentine, too, courtesy of my friend Vikki.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

13 February 2013

Leavings: Liebster Award

Lance tagged me in a meme called the Liebster Award, only neither Lance nor I really know who's giving the award and why, so let's just go with it. Anyway, it's been a while since I've filled out a meme.

Share 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the awarder’s 11 questions.
Ask 11 questions of your own.
Tag 11 people.


I like to sing. I sing a lot when I'm home alone. I am shy about performing on a stage, but if we happen to be at home watching American Idol, Glee, or a musical movie, or if a song I like comes on the radio, or if someone has a guitar and starts to play, I will sing along if I know the words and you are someone who will not judge me for it.

As my friends Nina and Vikki can attest, I'm not a hugger. The only people I make it a point to hug are my parents, my lola, Cris, and, occasionally, my brothers and cousins. The circle of people whose hugs I reciprocate is only a little bigger.

It's not you; it's me.

I attend church with my brother and consider myself a Christian, but I also consider myself agnostic. For all my belief, I still disagree and question, and for all my disagreeing and questioning, I still, somehow, believe. I just don't like to talk about it much, don't blog about it, avoid talking to conservatives about it, and have never talked about it with my parents, because I don't want anyone worrying about me going to hell.

Mostly, I hope no one back home reads this and blames my parents. They raised me well, but my faith is my own. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong, and if there's a God, then I'll work it out with him.

I like watching bad TV, but it has to be "good" bad TV. The Kardashians, Gossip Girl, and America's Next Top Model are "good," for instance, but I can't sit through The Millionaire Matchmaker, True Beauty, or TMZ without wanting to throw something at the screen.

I love green things and grew up in a really green place; my mom is an excellent gardener. I don't think she passed her green thumb on to me, though. Every plant I've been given to personally care for has died.

I love to bake, but an oven won't fit in my apartment, so I just use Cris's when I can. I love baking cookies in particular, but I'd like to learn to make bread.

I prefer old hymns to contemporary worship music. Singing hymns somehow makes me feel closer to the community, while contemporary worship music seems very much a very individual thing. As it is, church is one of the few community things I do, and my involvement is minimal at best, so it's nice to have something that makes me feel a little more connected to other people at church.

I learned to play the ocarina late last year. I bought a four-hole pendant ocarina in Beijing just for fun, but if I'd known just how much I'd enjoy it, I would have splurged a little on a 12-hole sweet potato ocarina so I could play songs with more than one octave. I might ask someone to get it for me if they go to China or Taiwan this year.

I write, eat, and use my craft knife with my left hand but use scissors and kitchen knives with my right.

I like nice things, but I hate shopping. I also hate being badgered by sales clerks; I prefer clerks who let you browse in peace and help you only if you ask. I actually leave stores with badgering clerks even if I like the things inside. My idea of going shopping is wandering around, looking at things, and telling myself (and the clerks!) that I'll come back some other time. This is partly why very little of my wardrobe has changed in four years.

If something needs replacing, I spend a long time agonizing over whether to replace it with something durable but expensive or to just get something cheap to tide me over till I feel more ready for a costlier purchase. When I run out of time, because I spent so much of it being indecisive, I often end up buying something that is neither as cheap nor as durable as I'd like, and my dislike for shopping only deepens.

I wish I could have a dog, but no one would take care of it while I was at work. Besides, look what happened to my plants.


1: Do you dream in color?
Yes. I read somewhere that this depends on what kind of television you grew up with. I'd be more surprised if someone told me that they dream in black-and-white.

2: What did you do with your first salary?
Spent it on food, transpo, and books. I know you're supposed to send it home to your parents, but I felt uncomfortable with the idea. It's not that I wanted to keep the money for myself, it's that sending the money home would have meant asking Dad for money for two more weeks.

3. What are the books that you've read more than once?
There are a lot; these are just a few favorites.

American Gods
Good Omens
The Graveyard Book
Brief Lives
— all by Neil Gaiman; Good Omens was co-written with Terry Pratchett. Gaiman was a favorite author for a while, and I still like these books.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, and the rest of the series

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, and the rest of the series (but not the Eoin Colfer continuation)

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen; a recent reread, because I've been following the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Youtube

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

4: Your dream job?
The protagonist of Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson, makes a living off a strange physical sensitivity to branding. In one scene, an agency flies her to London to show her a logo on a piece of paper. She takes one look at it, says, "No," and then spends the rest of the day enjoying the city (and spending her money).

Unfortunately, I do not feel physical revulsion upon seeing pictures of Bibendum, so something else will have to do.

I'm actually pretty happy with my current job, but if National Geographic or LEGO came calling, I'd be out in a second.

5: What's the greatest moral issue of our time?
I think human rights will be a big deal for as long as humans somewhere are denied them. It sounds generic, but really, when you talk about causes like women's rights, gay rights, children's rights, or ethnic minority rights, you are talking about human beings not being treated the way human beings deserve.

6: Describe how you look to a blind man.
I am an inch or two over five feet; I don't really measure because most other people are taller than me, anyway. My face is heart-shaped, with bony cheeks and chin, and I don't weigh much, but my body is starting to go soft from lack of physical activity. My hair is short. The skin on my face is uneven because of some mystery problem that comes and goes. The skin on my legs is a bit rough because of some parts that I scratch, stubbornly. I still think I'm pretty, but you know, that's just me.

7: Name three words you have a hard time spelling.

8: What are the places you like to visit someday?
Incomplete and in no particular order:
New York
Singapore (again)
Beijing (again)
Davao (it's been a while)
Sagada (again)
Mt. Pinatubo
Vigan (the last time didn't count)
Hong Kong
California (again)
and Kalsangi with kids, before my parents retire and move out.

8: Your greatest frustration?
That I didn't have a sport or sustained extracurricular activity as a child.

When we were in the US, I never asked my parents if I could go to gymnastics, be a cheerleader, or join something like Brownies or Girl Scouts, because they seemed like things only American girls could do. I didn't explicitly think that then, but it was something I felt deep down. Finally, when I was in the fourth grade, I joined the track team on an impulse and was kind of good, but then we moved back here.

I had piano lessons both in the US and here in the Philippines, but they stopped because we couldn't find a teacher who could teach me and Mikko after school on weekdays, and I didn't want to give up Saturdays doing other things.

9: How do you cope with loss?
The last time, I listened to some sad music (Adele, anyone?), then some great music (Ceremonials, by Florence + the Machine). I cried and wrote in my diary a lot, and wrote blog entries, semi-cryptic and not. I prayed. I worked on some crafts. I just kept working. I realized I could now enjoy people, activities, and ideas that, before, I'd felt compelled to make second priority. I looked for friends both old and new. I hung out with my brother and saw my family a little more. I learned Mandarin.

I'm thankful I haven't had to deal with the death of a loved one yet.

10: What's the next language you want to learn, and why?
Probably a southern Chinese language, like Hokkien or Cantonese, or Spanish. I think I should learn Spanish because it seems important to being Filipino (though I won't think you less Filipino if you only know one language), and I chose the Chinese languages like I chose Mandarin; they might be useful to me one day. But at this point, studying any language is more out of nerdiness than any actual career plans.


What is your favorite cheese?

Do you have a favorite building?

Any plans for Valentine's Day, or is it not your thing?

Tell me about an interesting scar or blemish.

If you were to go out without any identification and suddenly die, how would it happen, and where should we start looking for your body?

Regardless of whether you actually regret your major, if you could go back in time, what would you study instead, and why?

Complete this sentence: "When I was 10 years old, I thought I'd be __________ by the time I reached my current age (__)."

Describe your ideal dwelling.

How do you keep your current place tidy?

What's the most important decision you've made in the last five years?

If you had the country's or even the world's attention for one minute, what would you say?

Audrey T.
Eush T.
Petra M.
Nash T.
Zoe D.
Dom C.
Carina S.
Nina D.
Joey R.
and anyone who comments and is not on this list (and not Lance).

If I've tagged you, it's either because you're more likely to actually blog or because I'm just curious. Kindly leave me a link to your post if you accept this award.


08 February 2013

things-a-week 5 and 6: washer necklace, future library

I was out a lot last week, so I didn't have a lot of time for crafts at home. I was able to throw together another washer necklace, though:

The one with the wine bottle label is something I made late last year, while experimenting with DIY gift ideas for some friends. The one with the street signs is the one I made for last week's thing-a-week.

I'm not too happy with it; I actually salvaged a botched washer piece to make it, but that made trimming the edges of the paper difficult. That's why it looks a little rougher than the wine label piece.

For this week, I made another popup building. This one came out of a doodle, but I started to imagine a library. I kept imagining monks with winged hats coming out of these doors while water or fog flowed under the arches and spaceships flew overhead. Kinda retro, kinda not.