Fractal Tree Card

Years ago when I taught with the Kaleidoscope Cooperative for Science and Math, we investigated fractals. As part of that study, we explored Sierpinski’s Triangle, a fractal in which equilateral triangle shapes are removed according to a specific set of rules, forming a repeating pattern.

I wanted to extend the 2D version we made in class to a 3D project. Luckily, I found the Fractal Foundation and their instructions to create a triangle fractal cutout. By making repeated cuts in the folded paper you can create a shape similar to a Sierpinski’s triangle. And when you’re done, it looks like a Christmas tree. Which makes it a most excellent holiday card!

The kids had a great time making these, but I wanted a little more refined version for my nerdier friends and family members. So I pulled out my craft supplies.

For this project you need:

  • colored cardstock,
  • a ruler,
  • a pencil,
  • scissors,
  • a glue stick,
  • a star punch,
  • an embossing folder and embosser,
  • assorted inks.

I started by cutting a piece of green cardstock to 8.5 x 5.5 inches. I folded this in half to create a 4.25 x 5.5 inch card. Using my ruler I marked the middle of the card and drew a line from the folded side to midway across.

Then I cut along the line, folded one section away from the folded edge and creased well. Then I unfolded the flap and inverted the tab, pushing the fold inwards.

Refolding the paper, and tucking the tab inside, I once again used my ruler to measure the halfway point on each of the side “steps.” I drew a line halfway across the step. Then it was cut, fold, invert.

I repeated the cycle once more. After this point, the paper was too thick to fold and cut neatly. If you want more detail, consider using copy or origami paper.

Once all the tabs were done, I used the edge of my ruler to crease them really well. Then I un-inverted the folds to flatten the paper and ran the card through an embosser. I also trimmed the paper by 1/4″ all around and inked the edges. When that was done, I carefully refolded the tabs to create the pattern and sprayed the front with gold ink.

I cut a piece of red cardstock to 8.5 x 5.5 inches, folded it into a 4.5 x 5.5 inch card and embossed that as well, inking the edges when it was done.

I applied glue to the back of the triangle tree and carefully attached it to the inside of the red card, pressing down well and being sure to center the green card. I punched a little star from yellow cardstock, folded it in half and used the glue to attach it to the top of the tree. I then decorated the front of the card with some scrap green cardstock and another yellow star.

All I need to do is add a cheery sentiment and this card is ready to add a bit of geek chic to someone’s Christmas.

After making a few of these cards, however, I realized that it was going to take a long time to handcut enough for my large family. So I used Inkscape to create .svg files, which I cut on my Silhouette digital cutter. You can download them for free.

This post was originally published NOVEMBER 14, 2013 at http://klcnj.blogspot.com/2013/11/fractal-christmas-card.html

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