UPDATED! 6/17/10: Beta testers urgently needed!

June 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm (art)

Arghhhh… I was so tired last night, I screwed up the file.

Download this. It will work. I promise. My apologies to all who tried to make this work last night… I am totally mortified.


You know what it’s like when you work and work and work on something to the point where you can’t see it anymore? I’m at that point.

I am trying to make a working phenakistoscope. It is driving me insane. So I had the idea that I would make a working copy available free for download for a few days, to see if I can enlist your help in getting it to work.

Note that the drawing is rough and there are definitely little things that need to be cleaned up. But what I need to know is: Does it (at least vaguely?) look like the girl is doing a very grand somersault?

If you’d like to help me, I would appreciate it immensely. Here’s what you do:

1. Download the file.

2. Print it out on 8 1/2 x 11″ paper, preferably in color, and preferably at work (because it’s free there) and preferably on heavyweight paper. Note those are all preferences and this whole thing should work if you print it out in black and white on lightweight paper… it will just be better with the above preferences.

3. Cut around the border of the phenakistoscope (the hard, black line) as well as the super-annoying slits that ring it (also hard, black lines).

4. Put the phenakistoscope face down in your lap, and poke a dowel or chopstick through where the dead center is (you should be able to see it a bit through the paper).

5. Go to your bathroom (trust me).

6. Stand and face the mirror. You will be looking directly into the mirror and holding up the phenakistoscope so that you see the reflection of the girls somersaulting coming right back at you.

7. Now, stand behind the wheel (it’s still facing the mirror) so that it’s like you’re hiding from your reflection by ducking behind it, and you’re going to peek through those annoying slits and spin it on your chopstick. When you’re peeking through the slits, you ought to be able to see the image reflected in the mirror and it should look like it’s moving (within reason; this is based on a very old optical toy, so it will be a little choppy).

If you’re still reading this, you deserve a medal. But, if you are, and if you actually do all the above steps, email me or leave me a comment telling me if it worked.

I have to go to sleep now.

Special bonus video for putting up with my mistakes: what to do in the bathroom mirror after you’re done watching everything spin:



  1. rumplestick said,

    not downloadable but exciting

  2. amywilson said,

    GAH. it’s wonderful when box.net starts having issues right when i need them. sorry about that.

    i’ve fixed the link to one that will hopefully work and if not, give this a try:

    Click to access webproject.pdf

  3. onegiantleapforkids.org said,

    Mirrors help the room appear larger, ideal for a small room in the house. They can also help to provide extra lighting in the room represents.
    Not only do you hold a big mirror. You can have several small mirrors and hang them together to create a wall feature.
    Mirrors can also add additional characters for the bedroom or living room of mirrors by adding decorative art.

    • amywilson said,

      big mirrors make you look like a creep. stop spamming my blog.

  4. siouxsielaw said,

    I am having trouble printing this out. I think I need a better printer. I’ll try again from a different location.

    • amywilson said,

      no, your printer is probably just fine; you need a file that actually works. i’m so sorry siouxsie – i totally screwed it up last night. what’s up there now should work. i was just so tired…

      • siouxsielaw said,

        It is printed! Do I cut the little rectangle boxes?

  5. amywilson said,


  6. siouxsielaw said,

    Totally works when you spin it fast!

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