Animal Origami For The Enthusiast

John Montroll published an origami book in 1985 titled Animal Origami For The Enthusiast. Some how it reached a woman who I worked with in high school. She passed the book to me and I immediately fell in love with the turtle. I folded it and a few of the other models fairly regularly. I allowed myself to be intimidated by some of the tougher models, and refused to try them. I knew I would need larger paper for some, and others just looked too hard. That was back when I considered myself a casual folder.

As of starting this blog, I have become a bit more serious regarding origami and decided that I should make a special effort to fold the models that intimidated me. Since Montroll's book is the first one I ever owned, I thought it appropriate that fold each model at least once, then move onto a different book and fold each model in it.

The photo of the lobster to the right is the last of the 25 models to be folded! It used a square of paper 25" on a side. Considering I typically use office paper made into a square, it was a bit cumbersome to maneuver the sheet, but it was surprisingly easy when all is said and done.

Now I need to pick a new book to fold through!

[The photo is my own, of a lobster folded by me and designed by John Montroll]


Yoshizawa's Birth

I just wanted a little acknowledgment of the birth and death of Akira Yoshizawa. It was on this day in 1911 that he was born, and on this day in 2005 that he died.


Origami at the Library

A couple of weeks ago I got in contact with Jackie, a librarian at Brookdale. She had taught hundreds of children how to fold a crane and then collected them all so that they could be displayed in the library!

We talked about the possibility of teaching more origami and we thought it would be best to try what is called passive programming. Normal programs are ones where a time and date is selected and announced, sometimes requiring registration. Passive programming is where any announcement is make at the time the event is occurring and the participants are people who are already at the library.

Monday, we tried it out! It went well. I still need to get better at gauging a student's skill level and minimizing confusing advice. Slow and simple usually works, but that's not always what is going on in my head. I want to point out the different folds, the math behind them and such. Or sometimes I'll want to jump ahead a step or two. I need to go at the student's pace. But I must have done something right, because everyone successfully made a box and a rabbit!

I will be there again this coming Monday and I'll teach something else to someone else, and it will be good practice for me as a teacher and good publicity for origami as an art form. Maybe I'll see you there!


Cultural Production

I've been thinking about the ways in which culture is produced. As I think, I am sitting in my bedroom folding origami animals. A giraffe, a walrus, an antelope and more. What I find fascinating is that as I get excited to create these artifacts and possibly distribute them about the city, I realize that most of the people I know have totally different intentions regarding culture. Instead of producing, many of my friends want to consume. Consume TV shows, movies, books, music, video games and such. They want to take what has been created and enjoy it.

I have no fundamental problem with people enjoying what was so painfully created for their enjoyment. What makes a product valuable is that it is consumed. What is the value of a movie no one watches? Or an outstanding meal left uneaten? Consumption gives meaning to production and so it might be considered the more important of the two. But I think they are roughly equal in value, that we as individuals need to balance them. A healthy person needs to interact with their environment, not simply consent to it.

Even though we are in an age where it is easier to disperse culture once it is created (via YouTube, blogs and eBay), the environment is not one that seriously encourages the initial production. With origami as an example, for me to casually fold is time consuming and not economically beneficial. I could just as easily watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (as one friend would like me to be doing right now).

In the days when each tool and each meal and each piece of clothing was custom made, it was easy for the artisan to be an artist. The craftsman would leave a personal touch, whether intentional or not. But now the "craftsman" has little control over the product. There is no customization for the vast majority of products which means in order to escape the standard, people must make an extra effort. That discourages them and encourages a minority of people to over-produce what they can sell to the rest of us. True, the masses have a say. They can vote with their money and they can vote on American Idol, but voting is not the same as singing on stage.

What I would like to see is an increase in hobbies that produce. More casual musicians who don't care if they get a gig. More drawing for the heck of it. More meals from scratch. Because when one produces culture, they are forming their environment, they are becoming a part of it and letting it become a part of them.

[The image is my own, of a traditional Crane]



I have taken the time to study how exactly I came about to fold the octopus I designed and diagram it so that another may be able to repeat it. This is my first serious attempt to diagram a completed model and I understand that it may only make sense to me. If there are any critiques, I am willing to hear them.

I tried to minimize the amount of text, in the hopes that it could be understood universally. I suppose I still relied on Arabic numerals, but I am comfortable with that. I also relied heavily on the repeat symbol. I do not know if using it so often forces too much to happen simultaneously, or if it is appropriately efficient.

Anyway, I am pleased with it for my own documentation.

[The images are my own, hand-drawn]


Did you leave room for desert?

Over a year ago I designed a slice of pie, which a friend requested. I folded one immediately, but it was sort of a rough draft. Finally, I have reviewed that original and cleaned it up significantly to create the beautiful model to the left!

It is a fairly simple design. Basically all the paper wraps around the back. The real trick is making it look neat and clean instead of crumpled.

One peculiar design feature I noticed is that it does not follow the M-V=-/+2 rule. I have two vectors where the mountain folds minus the valley folds equals three. Maybe this is because the model is truly three-dimensional and cannot lay flat. If I were to add a valley fold to each vector (and adjust the crease pattern accordingly) then it would lay flat.

Anyway, I am really excited that I finally took the time to tie up this loose end!

[The image is my own, of a slice of pie I designed]