Saturday 10 January 2015

It’s all Angus’ fault

[You’re off the hook this time Oli!]

Back at the end of November Angus Lavery posted a pic of his latest impossible object – an earbud cube…

Now having had a limited amount of success with some matchstick cubes a little while back I decided to have a bash at making an earbud cube as well … I reckoned that it should be a bit easier than the matchstick cubes in at least one sense – there were thicker bits at both ends and I reckoned that would probably help with getting the right degree of tension set up in there…

So I duly added a few boxes of earbuds to my next shop at Sainsburys (Yes, I got some very strange looks!) and set about having a go at producing one just before Christmas. 

The ground-rules for these objects are simple – you only get to use the objects themselves in the final construction – no glue or threads or Blue-Tac – just the earbuds.

Now the earbuds may well have thicker bits at both ends, but they’re rather light little things and you need to be careful not to sneeze or breathe too heavily when you’re working on them… 

I followed more-or-less the same approach as I had for the matchstick cubes but as I was worried about keeping the first layer in place, I used a sacrificial piece of masking tape sticky side up on the desk to keep the first nine buds in place… working my way up to virtually full height didn’t take very long and I found that the buds tended to stay where I wanted them rather nicely – so perhaps the masking tape wasn’t necessary after all. 

When it came to lifting the cube and compressing it I found that getting it off the tape was quite a delicate procedure, especially while you’re handling around a hundred odd earbuds loosely assembled into a cube, trying desperately not to waste the last hour’s careful stacking and cajoling. If I make another I suspect I’ll pass on the masking tape…

Building the structure outwards once it’s been properly compressed a couple of times was pretty straight-forward and the structure turns out to be quite forgiving – I found I had a side that wasn’t square so had to effectively remove and replace it in-situ and things help up fine… 

Filling in the sides once the outlines of the cube were done was pretty therapeutic, knowing that the hard work and the risky bits were effectively all done by then… and the end-result after an hour or so’s fiddling – an earbud cube to go on the shelf next to the matchstick cubes from a little while back – success! 

…and thanks Angus for posting that pic and reminding me to have a bash at making one! 


On a related theme … I got to meet Sándor Bozóki at IPP34 -  Sándor is one of the leading lights when it comes to matchstick cubes and the like – he not only makes impressive looking matchstick cubes, but he puts them inside bottles as well … and yes, he does them properly! No glue, just matches …

Sándor had a bunch of his pin cubes available for sale at the puzzle party so I picked up two of them… 

Now even though these pin cubes do use adhesive to get them going, they’re still very impressive pieces of patience and engineering … the smaller of the two is made up of 267 11mm pins whilst the larger of the two comprises around 2200 34mm pins … lovely little objects for the shelf of impossibility. 


  1. Cotton-swab Cube

    1. Oh WOW! That is awesome Mine! Deep RESPECT! :-)

    2. Wow! After revisiting the first cotton-bud cube I made (25 years ago now!) and making a couple more, I thought it would be fun to colour the cotton buds and do designs and pictures etc - and now I see that some has beaten me to it!! Damn, they look fantastic! Oh well - I shall just have to go one better with a new cotton-bud construction - watch this space! :-)