Thursday, 24 November 2016

3D Triskele decorative globe

Triskele 3D decorative paper globes by Hilary for for Silhouette UK

According to Wikipedia, a triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of a triple spiral exhibiting rotational symmetry. The spiral design can be based on interlocking Archimedean spirals, or represent three bent human legs - like the Isle of Man legs.

I came across the work of Manja Burton on the internet and if these shapes appeal to you, please check out her wonderful work at Hattifant. She has very kindly agreed to allow me to share this tutorial with you as they are such fun to make.

I love making mathematical sculptures with paper, and there is something very satisfying about taking a flat 2D piece of card and making it curve into a ball or star shape. There are many online resources and books published about 3D modular or mathematical shapes.

I wasn't sure about doing a blog about the triskele until a friend came into my workshop and couldn't stop touching and turning them. She loved them, so I reckon they are simply a fun decoration to have in a bowl around the house, or you could hang them up as Christmas decorations near a window. They consist of three strips of card, and the Silhouette design store has many background patterns to use in the different sections. You can find my free file for the Triskele globe here.

Silhouette Portrait or Cameo, colour printer
Pattern files such as
Moroccan print by Silhouette - one of the free files in your library, and shown in the video below.

  • Open my file and you will see three long strips with semicircles as in the left hand section of Image 1. The semicircles are grouped separately from the long rectangle. 
  • The middle section below shows that I have set the rectangle outline to Cut and the semi circles and end tabs to Perforate.
  • Select the first long rectangle and fill it with a colour or a pattern. Select the group of semicircles and choose a solid colour or another toning pattern. For example, see the right hand section of Image 1. 
Image 1
Switch on registration marks and print on card. The smaller the sphere you want, the thinner your card will need to be. Using A4 card I use weight of 180 - 200 gsm.

Here is a short video I made of the process of putting them together. Make two rings and then the third strip must be woven through as shown. In the video I use sticky tape for ease of use, but you may want to use a less visible glue, or a glue gun. At the end of the video you will see quite a few examples.

Steps for Making 3D Triskele paper model
The dramatic black and white Damask pattern by Rivka Williams can be found in the Silhouette design store.



  1. That looks really effective Hilary thanks for the tut

  2. Only saw this yesterday. Rushed off to make one. It is wonderful, I love paper engineering. Please find some more. Many thanks.

  3. Thank you Julie for letting me know you have enjoyed this. There are masses of free online templates for 3D mathematical models, and with a few tweaks it is fairly easy to make them suitable for pattern fills.