Martin Gardner (2012)

by Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine

The Martin Gardner print consists of the crease pattern (top) and 3D folded form (bottom) of a folding design.

This print is part of the !AHA! Art Exhibition with a Magical Mathematical Twist, presented by the Gathering 4 Gardner in partnership with the Atlanta–Fulton Public Library System, March 19–31, 2012.

One of the prints is in the Gathering 4 Gardner Collection.


The 3D shape of the folding.

The crease pattern on top of the print folds into two forms of Martin Gardner, as shown on the bottom of the print (not to scale). The rectangular paper sheet folds into the 3D structure of the words MARTIN GARDNER, as shown to the right, while the grayscale inking in the sheet (top) forms the photograph of Martin Gardner in the background (bottom).

Martin Gardner taught us to look at everyday things from different perspectives, in particular through mathematics. We decided to look at Martin Gardner in different ways, using mathematics as our toolset.

The crease pattern was designed using an algorithm by Demaine, Demaine, and Ku (2010), which describes how to efficiently fold any orthogonal “maze” (including word outlines like MARTIN GARDNER) from a rectangle of paper. Red lines fold one way and blue lines fold the other way. To experiment with other designs, try our Maze Folder.

Given the complexity of the crease pattern, we expect it never to be folded. If you want to try your hand at it, though, you can download and print it out.

The high-resolution photograph of Martin Gardner is used with permission from the Archives of the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach. A low-resolution version is available under a Creative Commons license.


Material: Framed print, Rives paper.
Dimensions: 22" × 28"


This piece is part a series of prints mixing folded and inked messages, described in more detail in our first piece, Yes/No (2011).

Last updated May 31, 2012 by Erik Demaine.