Monday 13 April 2015

Orchid Pennyhedron

A while back, I played with Stephen Chin's Rose Pennyhedron. In my blog post, one reader had also offered an explanation of how the "pennyhedron" puzzles got their name. And there is some other general information on "Rhombic Dodecahedrons"  Over the weekend, I played with another similar puzzle, this time it's the Orchid Pennyhedron, George Bell's IPP34 exchange puzzle. 

The Orchid was designed by George and made by Stephen (or "Chinomotto" as he likes to be known). Quality of construction, fit and finish is very good with contrasting woods used.

Externally both puzzles look rather similar (both have six triangular "facets" to each surface) and both the Rose and Orchid are comprised of three pieces. However while the Rose has three identical (or congruent) pieces, the Orchid only has two. The third piece appears to be a mirror image of the other two.

Like the Rose, the object is to find a way to split the three pieces apart. This is a co-ordinate motion puzzle. The effort required here for the Orchid was no less than that of the Rose. In fact it took me a while longer to both take apart the pieces, and bring them back together again. The fit was so good I took some time to figure out where the pieces were suppose to come apart. Its likely to pose some difficulty to the uninitiated! 

But having played with the Rose previously, I knew what I needed to do. Some pressing at strategic spots and the pieces began to split gradually. I took two tries to reassemble properly as the first attempt did not get a perfect alignment of the three pieces, which resulted in a rather uncomfortable feeling rough edge between two of the pieces.

From what I understand, George and Stephen each have a whole collection of these pennyhedron puzzles, each looking very similar externally but all with various designs and interlocking. If you are keen to find out more or want to get one of these, these two gents would be the people to approach.


  1. Very cool Jerry!! The Orchid is actually the only true coordinate motion 3-piece Pennyhedron. Stephen's Rose doesn't actually go together if made from rigid, exact sized pieces, it goes together in wood with a more interesting "non-linear" coordinate motion (the pieces can't be moving together in straight lines).

    1. Hi George, thanks for this information. How many Pennyhedron designs are there currently?

    2. There are over 20 Pennyhedron designs. An exact count is difficult because there are many minor variations possible, if you counted every small variation there would be over 50 designs.