pro tips

Always use brand new Sharpies with fresh nibs. Old Sharpies whose nibs have been mashed in or worn down will make larger, more inconsistent dots and your hydrogen atom will not look its best.

If you accidentally mess up or smudge the ink, don't panic! Rubbing alcohol will remove the ink easily, though be aware that some colors will stain the plastic if you wait too long to wipe them off.


Make sure to wash your hands before beginning as the oils from your hands will fog up the Mylar.

Additionally, it is worth your while to clean your disks with window cleaner to remove any adhesive left over from the cutting mat. Make sure to dry with a soft, lint-free cloth that won't leave behind a new, dusty mess on their surfaces.


Step 1: Color

Place one of the disks on the tracing template (or one of the tracing templates, in the case of the 4d_z^3 orbital), aligning the perforations with the solid line. With your first Sharpie color, color as follows: scribble outward starting from inside the solid line to just past the dashed line ("the scribble zone"). Then, fill in the solid line completely.


Fill in the area between the outer edges of your scribble zone and the heavy dotted line with lots of dots. Then, fill in the area between the heavy dotted line and the next dotted line with less dots. Fill in the outermost area with sparse dots. Give your disk a gentle shake to speed up the ink drying, and then repeat this with the seven remaining disks.

To do the second color, rotate your disk upside down so that the uncolored areas are over the tracing template. For the 4d_z^3 orbital, simply use the second template.


Step 2: fold

Once you have colored all your disks, fold them in half along the center perforation, starting from the middle and pinching outward to avoid creasing off-center.

Take two folded disks and align them back-to-back on one side, making sure to match the different color segments together. Use a paperclip to hold them together on whatever end you want to be the top. Continue to clip the segments together until you have them all clipped together into a sphere.

Step 3: sew

While holding the rest of the folded disks in place, pull the unclipped edge of one backwards just enough to see the pre-cut sew holes . Thread your needle through them both and then return that disk back to its original position.


Continue to do this with each successive segment until you have sewn them all together. Don't worry about keeping the thread perfectly taught at this stage, just keep it tight enough that it doesn't get in your way. (And make sure not to accidentally skip sewing a disk! It's easy to do.)


Once you have them sewn together, alternate tugging on the ends of the thread to tighten it, making sure one thread end is long enough that you'll have plenty left to sew up the other side.


Tie the two ends together with a triple knot, making sure the knot nestles itself down between the folded disks. and then trim the ends.


Next, move the paper clips to the other side one at a time. (If you take them all off at once, your disks will all rotate out of place and you'll have a mess on your hands!) Sew up this side just like the other, tie it off, and remove the paper clips, but don't trim the thread ends just yet.


Flatten the two halves of your atom and pull them slightly apart as shown, and then stick the bottom-most thread end between them. 


Nestle the hanger between the disks so that it is perpendicular to the two thread ends.


Stick one of the two thread ends through the circle part of the hanger, then tie the two of them together with a triple knot.


Trim the thread ends.


Enjoy your beautiful handiwork!