2010/07/29

Fiber Arts Festival

On July 24th and 25th I was at the Fiber Arts Festival in West Fargo. When most people think of fiber arts, they think of wool or cotton, which is not entirely wrong. In fact, there is a strong wool contingent at the festival, including shearing sheep, carding the wool, spinning the wool, knitting, crocheting and felting the wool. There were also a variety of other fiber artists there, who taught embroidery, weaving, nålebinding (check it out!), dyeing, quilting and other things.

But what people often forget is that paper is a collection of fibers. Someday, I might be able to do a posting here about how paper is made, but suffice it to say, each sheet is made of untold millions of tiny fiber lengths. In fact, the way to form a crease is to break the fibers in a line (unless you are wet-folding, in which case the moist fiber bends instead of breaking).


At the festival, I spent a lot of time teaching people how to fold a variety of things. One thing I noticed was that a lot of the children had a really solid understanding of space and geometry. I was able to give an instruction once and it would be understood. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that this craft comes as their third or fourth, not their first. A lot of spacial reasoning is transferable from craft to craft, even if people don't realize it right away. Also, I think that there is a cultural difference between the families in Fargo and the ones in Brooklyn Center, where I teach at the library. I suspect that children in Fargo have more opportunities to learn and are encouraged to do so. It reminds me of an organization called Learning Dreams, where the idea is that if you can get the parents and adults to get excited about learning, then the children will follow the example. I wonder if my teaching origami in the library is one small encouragement for students that seem to be struggling.
Of course, I need to be careful that I do not mix up individuals with statistics. Each student is different.


I realize now that I should have taken a lot of pictures, but simply did not. Maybe I will see about getting photos my friends took and doing a follow up posting.

Before I end, I must give mention to a woman named Caron that I met at the Fiber Arts Festival. She is an artist who is working on a memorial to honor those who have died in our current war. It is titled and still counting. She is making small colorful squares that each represent an American soldier who has died, and on each square is 212 knots or beads to represent all the Iraqi citizens that have died. It is a bit overwhelming to think about the numbers involved. I am glad that she is honoring them in this way.


[The image of paper fibers is from wikipedia; the second image is taken by me, of the models I had on display, most of them traditional designs.]

2010/07/19

Bookfolding

I often go to the Ridgedale Library to meet with a Socrates Cafe group (I totally recommend you attend). I arrived early one week and wondered about the library, suddenly noticing this:


Each object is a book that has been designated to be thrown away. They are folded, front cover to back cover and then each page is folded in a special way in order to form an interesting whole! Some books, all the pages are folded identically, some alternate in a 1, 2, 1, 2 pattern to create a wavy effect. 



I asked a librarian about it and was given a pamphlet:


It also included a website with an interview with an artist who has made many such sculptures.
I'm not sure what to do with this discovery. I might have to try making one. I suppose I could even bind a book for this purpose specifically, but I really like the recycling nature of the project.

2010/07/15

Pop-ups!

Recently, I was killing time in a bookstore and thought I ought to see what origami books they have. Just like most stores, their selection was not particularly impressive, intended to introduce people to the art, or for people who are focused more on other crafts, but want to include a little bit of origami. 

Looking through, I came across a book by Paul Jackson, who I recognized from the film Between the Folds. I was excited to see what origami he had designed, only to discover that it was a guide on how to make pop-ups. I immediately thought of my dad's birthday, and how I might make a possible card. 


I drew a quick sketch so that I could visualize what it would look like at the end. 



Then I figured out where all the cuts would need to go.



Then I made a prototype to see if it could work (I found a couple of mistakes).



Then I made a new cut pattern to accommodate the changes I learned from the prototype.



Then I made a final draft and glued it to a second sheet to make a complete card! 
(Next time, I'll do a better job on the glue.)

2010/07/13

Programmable Matter by Folding

I read through the article on self-folding origami and found it to be pretty neat!

They designed a square sheet with 32 rigid tiles that are connected by 20 actuators/hinges to form a crease pattern. Actually, the pattern is the basic windmill base that was so important in the European side of  paper folding! This pattern can make boats, planes, windmills, the Pajarita, horses, fish and such. 


Windmill Base Crease Pattern

They used nitinol which is a metal that can be programmed, via an annealing (heating) process, to a specified shape. For example, if I bent it into a tube and clamped it so that it could not unbend, then annealed it, the tube shape would be locked into the nitinol's memory. When cool, the nitinol can be bend into a different shape, like a cup, but if it were to be heated up again, the nitinol would take on the memory shape, which in the example is a tube.

So anyway, the nitinol was given a memory shape of the hinge being closed, then it was bend open. Once the hinges are heated up, they will close, forcing the sheet to fold. The way they heated up the hinges is to run electricity through them, allowing the resistance of the nitinol to create the heat. This means that they could use electricity to close the creases, but would have to unfold them by hand.

If you want to know more about it, I suggest you read the article!

2010/07/02

Self-folding Paper!

A video, made by the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, was brought to my attention. It shows a sheet of circuitry that has pre-made creases/hinges build into it and magnets so that once a fold has been made, it will stay in place. The sheet seems to be designed to take advantage of the windmill base that became so popular in Europe. The base is highly versatile, used to make animals, vehicles and toys including the famous Pajarita. You can read more at Make: Online and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) site.This particular sheet is programed to fold into a boat and an airplane, which shows that programed digi-gami is a real possibility in the future. 

I have a copy of the article and it is very exciting! It refers to an earlier paper where they discovered a universal crease pattern. I must admit I am in a bit over my head at the moment, so I will leave this post as an introduction to the idea and then write a few posts later when it all makes more sense to me!

The video, for your consideration:

video

I downloaded the video from the PNAS website.
I do not believe there is any audio, so if you don't hear anything, you're not necessarily deaf.