Crease Pattern Project

I have decided that in order for me to advance as an origami artist, I need a better grasp of how models are designed. My first project will be to take the intermediate level models that I am familiar with, fold them, and as I unfold them I trace the crease pattern. Then I scan them into the computer and print off a hard copy to save in a binder. I currently have fourteen cataloged, and hopefully that will grow!

I am still fairly new to this crease pattern phenomenon, and need some practice getting used to visualizing the final product.

What I have posted here is the pattern for an octopus I designed. It is fairly crude, and I would not be surprised if someone else came up with the same design independently, but it is my first original design and I am proud of it for what it is!

[The image is my own]


The Paper

I just received my membership packet from OrigamiUSA. Inside was a copy of the The Paper, the official magazine of OrigamiUSA. It is a back-issue from the summer, but I have found it very interesting. There is a crease pattern and some diagrams in every issue, and several articles. The summer issue focused mainly on the convention which had recently ended. It makes me excited about attending my first convention!

I am surprised by how small the organization really is. They boast over 1600 members, while the magazine feels almost like a church newsletter. To think that a national organization with international partnerships and an annual convention has roughly 1600 memberships is amazing.


Heavy Rain

I was with a friend shopping for new video games and came across this find. It is a game coming soon for PS3 in which the main characters are trying to find a man who was kidnapped by the 'Origami Killer'. The nickname comes from the fact that each victim is discovered with an origami creation.

Initially, I was disturbed because I do not associate origami with serial killers. And (even worse) if, by some bizarre series of events, I were to become an insane serial killer, I would likely leave origami on my victims. Do I really want to play a game where I am trying to stop my bizarro-self? Too weird.

But, on another level, I am excited that this will likely be a huge success as far as origami publicity. People who never really thought anything of it will be exposed to it, even if it is in a peculiar way. Origami simply does not get much screen time, and this game will help correct that imbalance. Of course, it does seem to only be available for the PS3 which means only a fraction of the gaming community will see it.


Origami USA

I have decided to join Origami USA. It is a national organization for Origami enthusiasts which works to promote the art and facilitate the sharing of information between artists. Already, they have helped me by listing affiliated organizations and by listing upcoming events. In February I will be attending an Origami Minnesota meeting and also listen to a speech by Robert J Lang. I am hoping that being a part of Origami USA will help me stay in touch with the wider origami community.

I have not yet gotten my first copy of The Paper which is the official magazine for Origami USA. I'm not really sure what is published in there, other than some diagrams. I will have to write a post right after I receive my first copy!


First 10 Cranes Complete!

I've finished my first ten cranes and distributed them around the city! I've left one of them in an origami book, but most of them are left in semi-public spaces where someone may find them, in stores and restaurants. I wrote the blog web address on each one, so its actually quite likely that you found out about this blog via such a crane.

I would have folded more cranes by now, but I have been distracted by another project. Specifically, I have been tracing crease patterns of all the folds that I know and cataloging them in a 3-ring binder so that I can compare and contrast different patterns.


Lesson, The Second

The second lesson I ever learned from origami was that all must be accounted for.

In painting, pottery, sculpting or welding the artist starts with nothing and then adds material. They continue to add material until the project is finished. One way to know the project is complete is to see if any more needs to be added. When the artist can no longer add, the work is finished. This is an additive process.

In woodcarving, stone carving, bonsai, and similar works, the artist starts with too much material. They cut, trim, chisel off excess material so that what remains is beautiful. They continue pulling away the extra until there is nothing worth removing. When the remaining material must stay, that is when the project is complete. This is a subtractive process.

There are also those who combine an additive and subtractive process. Sculpture often uses both, carving away at one material, then attaching a new and different material. But origami is one of the few art forms which avoids addition or subtraction. Certainly, some designs are modular, several sheets added together, but the classic examples tend to be of one sheet. The exact same amount of material is present at the beginning and at the end, without significantly changing the underlying structure of the paper! It is metamorphic in that a sheet can become an elephant, yet subtle in that the sheet is still a sheet.

This is such a powerful lesson because it addresses the need to pay attention to the whole. Nothing is ever created or destroyed, it is only found or hidden, both in reality and in origami. Just because you throw it in the trash does not mean it is gone. Just because you need something doesn't mean it will be supplied. Origami hones the attitude that the artist must take what is there and use all of it as it is.


Between The Folds

I recently watched a video on the topic of origami that was produced by Independent Lens titled Between The Folds (now, to be fair, when I say recently I mean some weeks after its air-date... but whatever). The exciting part about the video is that it gives a quick introduction to the wide variety of artists out there using origami. They each have a unique interpretation as to the importance of the art form and they express themselves in radically different ways. There are the rule-makers and the rule-breakers. There are scientists, teachers, rebels, sculptors, ad infinitum. Okay, so there are a finite number of folders in the world, but this video tries to shed light on all of them!

The video also shows how origami is coming into the 21st century with amazingly practical applications in mathematical theory, space travel, medicine and other fields. Origami is on the cutting edge of technology.

If you look around the room or out of the window and list how many things fold, the obvious thing: this sweater, my shirt, my collar is folded, the skin here on my eye. If I talk to you on to the camera then the air is folding going into your ear. Even the galaxies, sort of wheeling around and folding itself over eons as it goes around. That [a crumpled sheet of paper] looks like mountains and valleys for the reason mountains and valleys go through the same process. Even DNA is folded. You and I are born from folding!
-Paul Jackson
To study origami is to study the universe. Or maybe that's too grand, but the point is that there are many applications to the study of folding, and some are explored in the video. See, it all comes down to the simple fact that "Origami is a metamorphic artform," says Michael LaFosse. Nothing added, nothing subtracted, all accounted for.

And so, I recommend the video to anyone who is even vaguely interested in origami, and especially to people looking for a place to start!


Origami Notebook

One way to record a folded design is to map out all the creases necessary for the final product to emerge. Creases that are a by-product of some other fold, for example a crease that is used only as a reference point for another fold, need not be recorded since they are not folds in the final aspect.

Here I have a scan of a crease pattern that I traced for the traditional crane. There is an awful lot of symmetry for this design. Some patterns have more symmetry than others. An octopus I designed is perfectly symmetrical on four planes while the crane is perfectly symmetrical on only one plane, and nearly symmetrical on the other three. Some patterns are not symmetrical at all.

If I properly mapped out this crane, it should be possible to set all the creases along the traced lines, making the solid lines into mountain folds and the dotted lines into valley folds (or vice versa), then collapse the sheet into a crane in one epic fold!

[The image is my own, of the traditional crane]


Lesson, The First

Thinking on all the lessons that I have learned from practicing origami, the simplest and most profound has been from junk-folding. Junk-folding is the practice of finding junk paper like old receipts and fliers for origami. Any sheet of paper that has lost its original purpose and has become trash can be considered junk paper. When one takes this paper and re-purposes it, they are taking trash and turning it into something beautiful, and with very little effort.

It is by no means a lesson unique to origami, and many origami practitioners never use junk paper and so then the lesson may be lost on them, but for me it is an ever-present truth. I love folding in public spaces, but rarely carry paper with me. That means I hunt for paper that is looking for a new life. This constant searching for renewal reflects an aspect of reality. Nothing ever ceases to exist, it is only re-purposed. We must keep in mind that the only way to get rid of something bad is to transform it into something good!

[The image is my own, of a model I folded. I do not know who designed it]


First Project!

There is a popular belief that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, you may have one wish granted, much like finding a magic lamp. If you know of this, it is likely because of the children's book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, which follows Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who became ill with the "atom bomb sickness" (leukemia) after the United States nuked Hiroshima. She folded cranes while in the hospital, hoping to fold 1000. According to the book, she reached 644 before passing away. Her friends and classmates completed the other 356 so that she could be buried with all 1000.

In many ways, this is such an important aspect of origami in the world. This story is what has solidified the paper crane as the peace crane. It is one of the reasons people even are introduced to origami in the first place. And so I have decided that I will fold 1000 paper cranes to pay respects to the tradition.

I have no idea how many cranes I have folded thus far in my life, so for this project I will begin at 0001 and work my way up. I have been known to abandon origami in public places, and therefore cannot expect to possess all 1000 cranes at the end. Instead, I will write which crane it is, and then leave it so that someone may find it. Sometimes my origami comes back to me, so I guess I will see if that happens again!

Without Instructions

I consider myself a casual origami artist. I have designed very little and what I have mimicked is not going to win great fame. But origami has taught me many things through the patient act of folding. I want to explore these lessons here and provide a space to look at fun and interesting ideas regarding origami. Maybe I will post videos, links and what-not or maybe pictures and life lessons.

Now that the first fold is complete, let's see where this takes us!