Bar Straw and Pipe Cleaner Polyhedra
Plastic bar straws and classic pipe cleaners make elegant and inexpensive polyhedra frames - if you don't mind the fuzzy corners!

When you dip these frames in a soap solution, the soap films that form on the frames are both fascinating and colorful (see Soap Bubble Shapes for details). 

Bar straws are also known as bar sips, stir straws, straw sippers, sip 'n stirs, and so forth. They have a narrow opening (about ¹/16 inch), just wide enough for two pipe cleaners placed side by side. The straws are usually 4 to 5¼ inches long. Four inches is a satisfactory length for polyhedra frames, although I prefer a 3½ inch length for bubble exercises. Longer straws can be cut to a more appropriate length with scissors.
Pipe cleaners are also referred to as chenille stems. The usual length of these fuzzy creations is 12 inches.

Both materials are available in a variety of colors from specialized retail and wholesale outlets, as well as on-line. (See Bar Supplies and Discount Art Supplies respectively.) Ideally the straw and pipe cleaner color for any model should match.

The tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, cube, and dodecahedron will require 6, 12, 30, 12, and 30 straws respectively. Use the selected straw length for the tetrahedron, octahedron, and cube. Cut the straws in half for the icosahedron and dodecahedron. The pipe cleaners should be cut into sections the same length as the straws. Twice as many sections of pipe cleaner as individual straws will be required for each model.
Bend each pipe cleaner section in half to form a flexible "V" shape. To join two straws, place one end of a pipe cleaner section in one straw and the other end in the other straw. The "V" will form part of the fuzzy corner. Each end of each straw should be fitted with exactly two pipe cleaner V's.
Three pipe cleaner V's and three bar straws should surround each corner of the tetrahedron, cube, and dodecahedron. Four V's and four straws should surround each corner of the octahedron; five V's and five straws should surround each corner of the icosahedron. The assembly process will require a bit of care and patience - particularly toward the end of construction.

Of the Platonic solids, only the tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron will be structurally stable, since they are the only ones made of triangles. The cube and docacahedron can wobble and flatten - but that is a small price to pay for the elegance of the models.



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08-December-2015
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