Little Star



Little Star

This is how to build this sculpture. This design is hereby placed in the public domain, and may be reproduced and modified freely. These instructions have no guarantee: I'm not responsible for anything that may happen or not happen because of them.

This is an STL file of the assembled sculpture.


You'll need some flat rigid material, a way to cut out patterns in this material, and a way to glue or weld or otherwise bond the parts together. In the photos below I used sheet steel, a laser-cutting shop, and silver solder, but cardboard, an X-Acto knife, and Scotch tape should work fine. And to see the spec you'll need some software that can read a DXF file.

12 Flat Parts

Here is a DXF file of the pattern with inch units. 12 of these will make a model 14" tall from material that's 1/8" thick. The pattern can be scaled, but you'll need to adjust the slots to match to your material's thickness.

The picture above is of a star 28" tall from this DXF file, made of 1/4" steel welded together.

Cutting the parts

To assemble this piece I had to cut two of the parts as below. It may be possible to do it with one or no cuts, especially if your material is a little bendable, but this is the best I've figured out for steel.

The cuts should be made with the smallest kerf possible. I used a jeweler's saw. I like to center the cut in the bottom of the slot.


I like to assemble all the parts first, then bond them after assembly. The downside is that all welding or gluing or whatever has to be done from the outside. The upside is that it ensures the piece will fit together: you don't want to make permanent subassemblies and then find they don't quite match up.

Anyway, here's how I put it together.

A. The 12 parts. The two cut parts are at upper right, you won't need them till the end.

B. Take three whole parts and make a "triple". Each part will be at right angles to the other two. Below are three different views of the triple.

Then take three more parts and make another identical triple. Make sure they both rotate the same way! That's 6 parts so far.

C. Fit the two triples together to form half of the sculpture. Below are two views of the two-triple assembly. On the right you can see that where they come together, a square is formed.

D. Put the two triples with the square facing downwards, and add another part onto the assembly. In the picture below the red clamp is on the new part. That's 7 parts.

E. Add another part at right angles to the previous one, shown here with another red clamp. This may take some wiggling; if you're using a very hard material a mallet might be handy to shock things into place. That's 8 parts.

F. Add two more parts as in E, but on the other side. Now the two clamps are on these two new parts. That's 10 parts, so now all you have left is the two cut ones.

G. Take the larger piece of one of the cut parts, and pop it into one of the remaining places. Below, the clamp is on the new part.

H. Take the larger piece of the other cut part, and put it in the last place. I hope it will now be obvious how to put the little ends of the cut parts on.

Now it's all assembled, bond each pair of interlocked slots. All intersections should be at 90 degrees, so if the slots are loose you can true up each joint by holding something square against it.


I favor red, but any color is allowed. If I were painting it two colors, I'd paint each part one color on each side. There are several different ways to do it that highlight different symmetries.

I found it difficult to spray-paint small versions of this object because of the many inward-facing surfaces. The smaller steel ones I painted by brushing on Rustoleum prime and paint. The larger steel one was made by a fabricator (Valley Design in Minnesota, they did a great job!) and it was powder-coated.

For some materials it makes sense to paint the parts before assembly, but obviously not if you're welding or soldering.


The proper viewing angle is shown below.

Important: This piece is shown here right side up. One of the triples that you made in step A should be facing down, so it stands on three points forming a small equilateral triangle.

When Little Star is displayed in any other orientation, I reserve the rights to a) turn it right way up, and b) mock you at length.


...on making it this far. If you've built the thing, I'd love to see it – send a picture.
This is a chicken sitting on mine.