Convention: 12th Annual Convention of the Polish Origami Society

Origami 2017/09/20

There are two annual origami conventions with an established tradition in Poland. Last year, I published a report from the Outdoor Origami Meeting, the English-language convention. This year, I want to briefly discuss the convention of the Polish Origami Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Origami, PTO), held in the Polish language.

The convention of the Polish Origami Society takes place at a different place each year. After metropolitan Warsaw, which hosted us a year ago, this time convention-goers had to make their way to a youth hostel in Wieszczyna, a tiny village in the Sudetes, a mountain range near the Czech border. This remote location may have scared some people away, and I would have hesitated myself if it were not for a bunch of origami friends from Warsaw who were going there by car and whom I joined. Even though we arrived in the afternoon the day before the official opening, quite a few participants were already there.

The youth hostel, in which we were the only guests for most of the time, had recently been renovated and offered a lot of space for folding indoors as well as a porch, a large terrace and a back yard for folding outside the building. In the vicinity a wooden observation tower offered a view of the beautiful mountain surroundings. Since there was no shop or restaurant within walking distance of the hostel, we had to rely on the food served there, but fortunately it was delicious, and the hostel’s crew was very hospitable and helpful.

View of the surroundings.

This convention usually has a rather loose agenda, and the current year was no exception. With the official schedule having only one, at most two workshops in parallel, there was plenty of time for free folding. Since we were all staying at the same venue, folding and chit-chat continued long after midnight. Since the Warsaw group went home together after the convention, we continued folding even in the back seat of the car. Among the models folded during the official workshops, I especially enjoyed the box-pleated sled by Łukasz Petryka, Artur Biernacki’s new hippo and Metal Star by Małgorzata Łodo. My own workshop included the Shamrock Box and Double Spearhead Tessellation.

Left: Łukasz Petryka’s sled; Right: Artur Biernacki’s hippo.

Left: Małgorzata Łodo’s Metal Star; Right: My shamrock box.

Left: Double-spearhead tessellation; Right: Close-up.

Other activities included the yearly meeting of the Society, a bonfire with some origami games and a self-organized trip to the nearby town of Prudnik with a nice market square and several medieval towers, one of which hosts an interesting local museum.

Sightseeing in Prudnik.

While this year’s convention didn’t have any special guests and at first glance only a limited choice of workshops, the unpretentious atmosphere and folding long into the night made it more like a meeting of old friends than an official conference. Beautiful surroundings only made it even more worthwhile.

Michał Kosmulski

COG Spotlight: Greater San Diego Origami Group

Origami 2017/09/20

The Greater San Diego Origami Group was founded under a different name in the early 1990s by two giants of the origami world: the late Florence Temko and the late V’Ann Cornelius. Florence was a colleague of Lillian Oppenheimer and an early promoter of origami in the U.S.A. by virtue of her numerous introductory books on origami and other arts, and her enthusiastic teaching of origami and organizer of origami exhibits. V’Ann, a former Vice President of Origami USA, in 2003 co-curated Origami Masterworks, one of the first major museum-based origami exhibitions in the world, at Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. She also was internationally known for her innovations in the display of origami art.

For many years, the group has met on the first Saturday of each month from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Solana Beach Branch Library. I send a reminder by email about a week before each meeting. The reminder message usually starts off as follows:

Dear Folders,

The next meeting of the Greater San Diego Origami Group will be on Saturday, …., from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Solana Beach Branch Library.

Origami enthusiasts of all ages and levels of origami experience are invited to participate in the mutual teaching of new and favorite old models.

Please bring examples of your recent works, especially those that you would like to teach.

This content is then followed by the announcement of upcoming events (conventions, exhibits, visits of origami notables to the area, etc.) that might be of interest to members.

Many persons interested in origami are led (via Google) to the group website. As the listed coordinator/contact for the group, I receive a steady stream of requests for teaching origami at various events, or folding special models. When I receive a request, I directly contact group members who I think could fulfill it and/or send out the request to the whole group.

There are over a hundred members on the mailing list, although typically about 15 members on average have attended meetings. Over the years, a number of folders have traveled to meetings from Orange County.

Left: Folders at a monthly meeting. Photos courtesy of Judy Jaskowiak.

It has been heartening to see so many talented folders in the 9-12 age range attend meetings. Unfortunately, many drop out when competing interests (music, sports, ….) arise. A notable exception is Joseph Huang, who started to come to meetings and display his original high-intermediate/complex models when he was around 11. He later founded an origami club at his high school, and now, as a college sophomore, participates in the origami club at the University of California, San Diego at La Jolla. Nevertheless, he is still one of the most faithful attendees at our monthly meetings. He will soon publish a book of his highly unique works.

Left: Bruce Gemmell and Joseph Huang; Right: Joseph Huang’s sharks. Photos courtesy of Judy Jaskowiak.

Arnold Tubis

Origami Designer’s Secrets: Rui Roda

Origami 2017/09/02

Rui is a designer. He, himself, is not sure about that though, but I insisted and managed to convince him to participate in my ongoing research to decipher the mysterious process that makes a passive folder create his own models. Since this transformation is still happening with Rui, I felt the need to document and share his experience.

Who is Rui Roda? Please tell me in five sentences what I must know about you.

Rui: I’m married and have two amazing boys already grown up. I have always had a passion for arts; in fact, a while after enrolling in my law degree, I opted out of it and decided to pursue a career in music, which I already was studying on the side by then. I’m a very curious, emotive and playful person. I love diversity and one of my dreams is to live in a world where differences may coexist in harmony. I truly believe that everyone can and should do art.

What is origami to you? Why are you interested in origami? What was your first model to fold? What was your first model to create? Can you say origami changed your life in anyway, or is it just a hobby?

Rui Roda, Portugal.
Photo by Maria José Roda.

Rui: Origami instantly turned into a passion when I rediscovered it at close to 50 years of age. “Rediscovered” because I do have some memories from my childhood and adolescence connected to origami, like I’m sure many other people do. The oldest are from my grandpa making me hats and boats from newspapers; I also hold memories of myself, as a kid, folding planes and boxes. But only a few years ago origami came into my life to stay. My youngest son had an origami activity in school, I joined him to help him out and for about a month we folded origami together.

I believe, the first model I folded in this rediscovery period was a traditional penguin. Since then I have never stopped folding daily, and when I say daily, I really mean daily. After a certain amount of time I started to try and produce some models employing techniques of designers whose work I love. My first attempts at origami as a designer were with minimal faces inspired by Simon Anderson, but I am very grateful to many other creators for the motivation that their work gave me. After folding thousands of models after that first traditional penguin I still am fascinated with all the things we can do by just folding paper. Origami is a marvelous art. It has a language (an encrypted one), it is cheap and gives huge possibilities of expression.

On top of all that, there’s the web and and the way to discover through distance learning, the amazing art of folding and sharing generosity of origami artists through video tutorials. I have met or became aware of amazing people because of it. Origami undoubtedly changed my life. Although I love my work, I have a need of expression that in itself is not satisfied by my day-to-day job; I can achieve that through origami. I may see myself as an amateur in origami but I take it far too seriously to see it just as a hobby. I constantly try to find free time to practice, that even my professional activity will resent this attention. The reality is that nowadays I get grumpy if I don’t fold.

Minimal Face
All origami pictures are by Rui Roda

What is your muse? What drives your creation process? Do you fold other people models? If so, do you have a favorite designer? A favorite artist? If you could go back in time, which art era will you choose to go back to? why?

Rui: I mostly fold other people’s models. There are so many wonderful creations to fold, from simple to complex and across all genres. Fortunately there is always something I’m eager to try. Besides I am lucky enough to have the opportunity of doing many test folds and it is lots of fun. Since I began working for AEP with Carlos González Santamaría, I’ve been getting more and more requests for testing models. Only around 5% of my gallery is comprised of actual models I have created and what generally moves me to make them is a technique or a base I found in another designer’s workbook. It may be a pleated tessellation, a corrugation, a modular or a representative figure. There are so many outstanding and inspiring designers in all origami genres, each one with its own particular language and contribution to art, that it’s quite hard to select one, but I have a special admiration for Giang Dinh. I love his simple structures and magnificent shaping.

Answering the last part of your question. I love variety so the first half of the twentieth century, when artists explored extreme and varying themes in the years before and after World War I, should be the art era I’d choose. We may find in this era Stravinsky and Picasso in great activity, two amazing artists I admire very much who explored many genres.

Owl – Giang Dinh; folded by Rui

Why do you see yourself as a folder and not a creator? What is missing? Any artist uses techniques, most of them are not his own; he learned them from another master. What do you need to be doing in order to see yourself as a creator? an artist? Are you trying to achieve that missing part?

Rui: I agree with your point. Nobody creates from nothing. Everyone has a heritage even if the creative attitude is of rupture with the past. I believe that the appropriation of someone else’s techniques is what may make the difference, turning the created products unique and allowing the birth of a personal style. I don’t feel a “Rui Roda style” yet. As in music there are composers and interpreters; in origami there are designers and folders, and as an Origami artist I see myself mostly as an interpreter. I believe I have to invest more time and effort creating to change my self-definition.

My dear friend Yara Yagi is always teasing me to design and I have been progressively working more in this area, but I still have to increase my workload in it. I know your question is based on text I wrote a long time ago in my own designs in the flickr gallery and I believe I have to change it, just slightly. At this moment I’m probably an interpreter who occasionally designs.

Full Moon

Chubby Checker

As a young creator, I can see you are not sticking to a single genre. You flutter from masks, to tessellations, to modular and figurative, either very simple, iconic even or intermediate, more sophisticated ones. What makes you so jumpy? Is there a field you prefer? What are your preferred subjects?

Rui: As I said before I am constantly fascinated with the variety of things we can do with paper and that’s why I jump into different styles as a folder and as a creator. But no matter the field I choose, even if the model looks more sophisticated, I make simple structures that may be folded by everyone. Sometimes they may be a bit more time consuming but they aren’t hard.

The reality is that most of my designs can be folded in a few minutes, especially my minimal faces. I am very prone to designing figurative models and most of all masks and faces.

Being a non creator, it should be hard for you to answer this question. (Yes, I am teasing you.) Please tell us what is your creative process. I know you doodle a lot, but did the Grazing Bull came out of nowhere? Did you first play with a 1:5 rectangle, and suddenly you saw the potential, or were you seeking to make an animal with horns, and the fine details came later?

Rui: All my animals come from a first doodle that is improved later. When I start I really don’t know how it will end. I almost let the paper lead me. From a base I start transforming, making some random fold and step by step I look at the paper from different angles searching for a suggestion that “it” may give me. Sometimes I end up with a fold that I find that has some potential and the next step is to be able to reconstruct it again.

After that I will make some improvements to it. Sometimes I have to do several versions until I get satisfied with it. The Grazing Bull really started from random folds and I don’t remember having any intention of doing it at the beginning.

Dall Sheep

What papers do you usually use? Why? Do you prepare them yourself? How do you decide what paper to choose?

Rui: My paper choices will depend on the model I want to fold. If the design is based mostly on the shaping, then the choice will generally be of a heavy paper (good to wet fold), but if it’s one that is based on the details, then I’ll choose a thin and big one. With tissue foil we can in some way satisfy these two needs, but very rarely I choose to use foil, since I usually like to paint paper. Acrylics and spray inks give amazing effects. And in countries like Portugal where it isn’t so easy to buy exquisite origami papers, they are a great solution when, for example, you need urgently to make a testfold and you have a nice paper with all the features you need but that isn’t bicolored.

Playing With Curves II

Do you have a motto in your life? Is origami part of that motto? Is there a message in your hand work?

Rui: My motto is that passion and hard work are always needed if you want to make the difference. It doesn’t matter the area. It may be arts, science, sports… Talent may help but it’s never enough. We live in a global society with lots of competition, so you’ll have to work hard and remain focused for a long time (perhaps during your whole life), and you’ll only be able to do so if you are passionate about what you’re doing.

I am sure there is one model of yours that you would like to point out for us. Which one is it, and please tell us why you chose it?

Rui: That’s tough to answer. I will use the “voice of the people” to answer this and therefore elect my “Seated Lion”. It’s one of my most folded models, and I think it’s because it has all the essence of a lion though the design and the folding process are quite simple. Besides I feel a great deal of ownership over this model as it isn’t based on or influenced by any other designer’s work.

Is there one last question I should have asked? Ask yourself, but don’t answer. Just let us know what is the question …

Rui: Do you have a new origami project in mind at this moment?

[Left] Seated Lion [Right] Rhino



To really know a designer, you must fold his models. Here are the CP and instructions for the Cattle.

Ilan Garibi

Diagrams: Inside 1

Origami 2017/08/29

For me, the hardest part in creating and making a model is the choice of paper and the most suitable colors! This is a model for which I immediately found the right color combinations: red for the central and black cube for the outer structure. It is a natural consequence of another model (CUBEI), and I loved it for its simplicity of construction of the modules and for ease of assembly. It turns out to be one of my favorite models for the facility of construction and its elegance. I recommend using heavier paper, such as TANT, which provides a tighter lock. As always, for geometric origami, precision is fundamental.

Click on photo for diagrams.

Paolo Bascetta

Story of the Paper Ticket Steam Engine

Origami 2017/08/29

This story began about four years ago, when Sydney Origami (Australia) member Edric Hong organized and managed our stall at the Mini Makers Faire at the local technology and design museum, the Powerhouse. The museum organizer placed us near a full size steam engine for the event. While Edric was teaching visitors how to make the business card cube using old paper train tickets, he came up with the ambitious idea of constructing a steam train with the train tickets cubes and told the museum about it.

When Edric told me about this idea, I was at first horrified, thinking “what did you get us into” and “how will we get enough train tickets?” But since no commitment was made, I was not too concerned, although I did have a brief discussion with Jeannine Mosely, of the Level 3 Menger Sponge fame, who suggested we design on CAD and see what happens.

With a toddler in tow and a full time job, the steam train became a low priority. However, the toddler grew into a little boy who was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. This obsession meant his parents spent hours “appreciating” Thomas books, Thomas toys and Thomas TV shows with him. And two of these books, Thomas the Tank Engine Manual by Haynes, and the Big Book of Engines, take apart Thomas and clearly show the various parts of a steam tank engine.

Another important event also happened around this time last year, when the City of Sydney finally rolled out its paperless ticketing system for public transport. A quick email to CityRail nicely requesting some to-be-discontinued paper tickets for community benefit, led to some 250,000 unused single tickets being made available to our group. Half of these tickets went to our member Kat O’Rouke, who collected the tickets from the warehouse, and kept her share to use in her primary school teaching. The rest went onto my garage shelves, which luckily were mostly empty because my Dad only recently picked up the shelves from a family friend who was moving overseas.

Armed with this important knowledge of train structure and an abundance of paper tickets, as well as Jeannine’s half (diagonal) cubes design documented in Origami^6, I finally decided to have a go at designing the train. A lack of CAD skill was not a deterrent, since paper with square grids did the job.

After a few attempts to work out the correct proportions, a design was finalized on paper. I took advantage of the fact that we had blue tickets (from buses) and red tickets (from trains), and came up with a dual colour steam tank engine. The train requires ~600 cubes and ~100 half cubes, which was too much for me to fold.

Taking another leaf from Jeannine’s playbook, the folding of the cubes and half cubes was outsourced to 15 members of our Group. While the folding was happening, I wrote back to the museum asking if they knew of any events where this steam train might be a suitable display. They came back to us suggesting the DIY Day at the Museum as part of the Sydney Science Festival in August. The Museum also kindly assisted by providing us with some space for construction and storage of the model on-site, since moving the completed steam train could be done easily.

Constructing the train took over 21 hours over a 5 week period in July and August. Roughly 3,500 train tickets were used, and supporting cubes made from acrylic folders were built to ensure the train would not collapse under its own weight. I also made some adjustments to the design during construction, including the addition of a coal loading bay inside the cab (by taking out a cube in the wall between the cab and the coal bunker), and fire box (by changing the colour of a cube from blue to red, then adding an additional flap as the fire box cover).

It was a lovely feeling putting the last cover ticket on the cube on the train on 8 August, in time for the DIY Day on the 17th. We named the work PROGRESS, since it represents the theme of technological advancement and obsolescence.

We still have over 100,000 paper tickets in my garage, which my husband is keen to move to reclaim some space. So if you have any project ideas, we would love to hear from you*.

*These tickets are not as thick as the cards Jeannine used for her designs, since they are meant to be single use tickets. My guess is that they are around 120 GSM. The proportion is also different from American business cards. They are roughly 5.5cm x 9cm.

Click on photo for detailed instructions.

Winnie Leung

Pre-scoring Machines Demystified

Origami 2017/08/27

An increasing number of origami designers use pre-scoring machines. But just as there are many origami artists who use pre-scoring machines, there are many more individuals who may not be familiar with such tools. The aim of this article is to attempt to demystify the use of these tools through a question and answer format.

Q: How do these machines work?

A: This class of machines is called CNC-machines, where CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. The machine has either a laser or knife that is operated entirely by computer, cutting or burning the desired shape.

Left: Pre-scored paper; Right: Cameo Silhouette 2.

Q: Do you all use the same machine?

A: No. Artists are using different machines to pre-crease, and the prices vary a lot. There are laser machines of varying sizes (e.g., Epilog), industrial vinyl cutters (like Graphtec), or plotters. I use a desktop cnc-cutter (Silhouette Cameo 2), originally sold for scrapbooking. You can buy it at Amazon for about $200. Yes, it’s about the same as an origami convention registration fee. If you have a Maker space near you, you can ask if they have a laser cutter or vinyl cutter.

Q: How does one of these machines score the paper?

Different machines work in different ways. Industrial machines can score the paper the same way one scores by hand: by pressing a rounded tip sharply into the paper, forming a dent on the paper that makes the paper tend to fold at that location. Vinyl cutter-type machines have a knife blade that makes a shallow cut that does not go all the the way through the paper, making it fold relatively easily along the cut. Laser cutters ablate the paper—that is, they burn away some or all of the paper and can work in one of two modes. One can adjust the power level so that they burn away just the surface layer, like a knife-based cutter, cutting only partway through the paper. Alternatively, they can be programmed to perforate the paper: burning many tiny holes in the paper, forming lines that are easier to fold by hand.

Q: Does it pre-crease mountains and valleys?

A: Generally not. Mine actually cuts only on one side. As far as I know, only Chris Palmer has access to a machine that can work on both sides of the paper. While one can usually fold a scored line easily in either direction, generally there is a preferred direction of folding. With knife-based cutters and lasers used in partial-ablation mode, the paper usually folds more easily away from the side that is marked. With perforation, the folds are genderless; they fold equally easily in either direction.

Q: If I buy a machine, would I have the same perfect curves as you?

A: Yes and no. If you can make good folds now, you will be able to make better folds with the machine. If you are struggling now with easy things, the machine won’t help you. After all, you need to collapse the pattern, and here your own hands and skills come into action. I have seen people struggling with my pre-creased sheets. A machine is not a panacea. And everybody surely needs practice.

Q: What is the process of creating origami with the machine?

A: 1. First you need to have a design to fold. Then you need a vector crease pattern of the model. Vector here means that the curves in your file are represented not as a bitmap, as an array of dots (like in a photograph: bitmap formats include bmp, jpg, png, gif) but as mathematical curves defined according to some formula (these include file formats like dxf, ai, eps, and obj). There are also container formats, like pdf, which can contain either bitmap, vector, or a mixture of both.

To get this vector CP you can either use a special origami tool (like Jun Mitani’s ORI-REVO) or Oripa or general-purpose commercial vector image editing software (like Adobe Illustrator, or AutoCad, Inkscape, or Affinity Designer). Some cutting machines work directly with vector PDF files.

Next you need to find paper that works with this cutting machine. If it’s a laser machine, you probably can use any kind of paper (and even non-paper materials like Mylar, wood laminate, and pressed composites).

With a cutting machine, though, the paper cannot be too thin. I usually use Tant paper for its strength, thickness, texture and price. Elephant Hide should also work well, but the price is higher. Some people use watercolor paper or even polypropylene. If you are searching for the latter, try Yupo, a foldable polypropylene. Just note that these materials might be thicker than you expect.

Q: Is it possible to make curved folds without machines?

A: YES! I started designing without any mechanical aid. This is the album of my old works, where I only used a compass and templates. Can you tell the difference from this album. Moreover the hand-scored paper has a huge advantage; you can have mountains and valleys, and you don’t need to reverse anything. And the paper won’t break anywhere, as may happen with machine-scored paper.

Left: Hand-scored tessellation. Right: Machine pre-scored tessellation.

Q: How can I fold/design without machines?

A: You need to make cardboard templates and use some kind of dull needle. Some modeling tools or prickers are fine. (Robert J. Lang recommends a burnishing tool, used in the past for transfer lettering, for manual scoring.) If you have a PDF file, you just print it, glue the curves to more resistant cardboard and get your customized French curve. Oh yes, you can always help yourself with French curves, too!

Q: Why would you use the machine, if you can do without?

A: There are two reasons. First, well, I am not accurate. I do make many mistakes. If you are making a modular, you can discard the bad unit and fold one more. You cannot discard a piece of tessellation. That’s why I avoided tessellations for many years, because I became frustrated by my mistakes. And the second reason is that hand scoring is time-consuming. I have too many ideas, and if I hand-score paper, I won’t make much progress.

Q: Why does everyone keep silent about machines?

A: Well, now many people know about them. At the same time I have heard what people who don’t use machines would say about people who have, that machines do everything for them. I’ve seen people discussing the other person, and I could only add “I use it too. Buy one for yourself and stop judging…” I have also seen people lose interest when they hear I (or somebody else) have used automated pre-creasing. But even if you use a computer to help you, you still need a lot of inspiration and mastery to create a good design. And you still need your folding skills to collapse it. Personally I would be happy if more people have those little helpers, because then I could make a book with tessellations that everyone could fold with less hassle.


Here is a partial list of artists and the scoring machines they use.


COG Spotlight: Indonesian Origami Community

Origami 2017/08/27

Maya Hirai (founder of Sanggar Origami Indonesia) started the Indonesian Origami Community when she created an open Facebook page in 2014. The membership has now reached over 7,000 individuals from all cities in Indonesia and worldwide.

The Indonesian Origami Community activities listed on Facebook include origami works, community activities coordination, and a monthly origami work challenge. This challenge is intended to explore origami capabilities as well as help upgrade skills of members already registered in the group.

Origami Festival

As Indonesia is a big country made up of over 17,000 islands , small origami community groups have developed in several cities, as exemplified by this list of groups.

Sample list of local origami groups.

Given the distance between cities, regular meetings only are held in each origami small community in each city.

Local origami group meetings.

Currently, the Indonesian Origami Community is not yet a formal organization and doesn’t have formal membership for community members. But even under this condition, because of the strong desire to gather and to advance origami in our country, we already have held two Indonesian Origami Conventions. The first Convention was held in March 2015 at Surabaya Institute of Technology (ITS), Surabaya – East Java, with Kiki Emeralda as Chair of the convention. The second convention was held in February 2017 at Indonesia Educational University (UPI), Bandung – West Java, which I chaired.

Origami convention.

At this second convention the Indonesian Origami Community agreed to hold the third convention in 2018 in Solo – Central Java. At this upcoming event we will formally inaugurate the Indonesian Origami Community, which we will call “Asosiasi Pelipat Kertas Indonesia” or, in English, “Indonesian Paper Folding Association.” We now are preparing for the creation of this legal organization. By this action, we hope to secure the future of origami in Indonesia.

Benefits of After-School Origami

Origami 2017/08/27

In Fécamp, France, 700 pupils (50% of the school children) participate in extracurricular activities at the end of the school day. Thanks to a partnership among local associations, teachers and other external projects, children can participate in basketball, tennis, cooking, pottery, puppet workshops, and, of course, origami.

I settled in the city of Fécamp in September 2014, at the time that I became a professional Origami artist. I was able to integrate the extracurricular program into my schedule, working with 15 students each evening of the week, ranging in age from six to 11 years old. The workshop takes place on the school premises. At this time of day, they are not necessarily attentive when they would rather play. Moreover, from the moment they enter my room, and I take attendance, we have a total of 30 to 40 minutes together, during which some turbulence happily animates the group.

Teaching origami in a methodical way by advancing to the rhythm of a model a day, including the “folding symbols and techniques” and the traditional bases over the weeks and bringing the construction of a model under these conditions therefore falls within the challenge over time.

At the end of the cycle (duration between two vacation periods) students are able to reproduce four traditional bases (fish, water bomb, preliminary, and bird) and five to 10 different models from these bases.

Show me what you have.

In this third year I can affirm that the origami during the extracurricular activities has had beneficial effects:

I often tell them that if I can do it, they can do it and the students realize that the success of their achievement stems from their own activity rather than from the “teacher”. To succeed, students should observe and listen carefully to specific instructions and then practice them with clarity and precision. The pleasure comes from the re-creation of the model.

Throughout the sessions I can observe that they develop their patience and ability to concentrate, I enjoy seeing their pride in accomplishing the work and for some a strengthening of self-confidence.

Rediscovering math

Transforming a square of flat paper into a three-dimensional figure is a unique exercise in geometry in space. Origami is also important for understanding symmetry; in many folds, what is done on one side is also made on the other side. Folding allows them to create and manipulate geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles as well as division of angles and lines.

Developing community life and cooperation

In a mixed age group, folding tends to narrow the gap. Sometimes the youngest are able to teach the older ones. Students who are not particularly motivated at the beginning quickly assimilate the Origami and help their comrades to progress. Thus folding brings students together around an activity, where collaboration for the gratifying realization of a group project takes place. Such truly constructive activities reinforce the feelings of know-how and unity within the group.

Cognitive Development

Learning Origami is an apprenticeship with repeated actions. By folding, children use their hands to follow steps in sequence, producing a visible and pleasant result. The steps must be carried out in order for the success of the model – they acquire a methodology, an important lesson not only for mathematics but also for life.

In this third year of service, I thought to bring them a lot but in truth it is they who bring me much more. When one works every day of the school year, it is essential to arrive with a new subject each day, and all the more the following year, and so on. So I had to renew myself strongly while keeping in mind that my new models had to be done in 30 minutes, so I learned to go to the basics – in short I suffered a lot (while enjoying it).

I have always enjoyed seeing some students from one year to the next and seeing that they have learned the lessons, that some have bought books to continue at home, and that some have even acquired the vision necessary to create their own models. I am convinced that practicing origami has increased their creativity, their logic and an ability to interact with others.

Eric (MadFolder) Vigier

Book review: “Origami All Kinds: Single Sheet and Modular Designs” by Meenakshi Mukerji

Origami 2017/08/25

The book’s cover

This is the seventh origami book by Meenakshi Mukerji, but it is the first that includes models from three vastly different areas of origami: single-sheet designs, tessellations, and modulars. This distinction is also reflected in the structure of the book: after providing useful tips in the chapter Origami Basics, Parts I, II and III present models from the three different areas respectively.

Origami Basics

The first eight pages are devoted to a quite wonderful introduction. Mukerji does not just include the usual explanation of folding symbols, but takes it a step further. She talks about recommended tools and gives insightful tips on how to get the best results for modular designs. It doesn’t stop there. Then follows a list of commonly used paper types for origami and an extended section with details on folding symbols and how to fold bases used throughout the book. The diagrams are, as we’ve come to expect from Mukerji, of a very high quality. Indeed, the whole book is printed in color, which doesn’t just make it visually more appealing, but also helps distinguish the front and reverse of the paper, making the diagrams even easier to follow.

This chapter is nicely finished off with a polyhedra coloring chart, which is super helpful if you want to achieve an even color distribution in modulars. Meenakshi includes colorings not just for the icosahedron (30 modules, triangular faces with 5 modules meeting in every point), but also for cubes (12 modules, square faces with 3 modules meeting in every point), octahedrons (12 modules, triangular faces with 4 modules meeting in every point) and dodecahedrons (30 modules, pentagonal faces with three modules meeting in every point). And for each polyhedron she provides schematics for a different number of colors. For example, for the icosahedron you get a guide for how to place the modules when using three, five, or six colors. Altogether, this chapter gives valuable information and already shows how thoughtfully Mukerji put together this book.

Part I: Single Sheet Designs

Our high expectations set by both Mukerji’s previous publications and the first chapter Origami Basics is easily met as we dive into the first part, which concentrates on models folded from a single sheet of paper. The diagrams are clear and even include paper recommendations (size and color/pattern) where relevant. The chapter starts with a Fancy Frog and a peacock Mayur, then a plethora of 14 beautiful flowers follows. As can already be seen on the cover of the book, Mukerji also includes some stunning ikebana photos, which provide striking ideas for displaying the models. For a sneak peek of Mukerji’s design aesthetic, you can also watch video tutorials on two of the flowers presented in the book: the Hydrangea with Leaves and the Sunflower.

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Part I concludes with a guest contribution by Jorge Jaramillo, the Progressive Flower, which is a recursive design reminiscent of Chris Palmer’s Flower Tower. It shares the same first steps as another model diagrammed in the book, Mukerji’s Star of Wonder. It’s worth mentioning here that Mukerji presents multiple models in the book that share folding sequences up to a point. By referencing the already diagrammed steps, Mukerji manages to pack even more content into the 110 pages of the book than you might have initially expected.

Part II: Tessellations

Star Diamond Tessellation folded and photographed by M. Mukerji

Ten years ago many people did not know origami tessellations. Now they have become quite popular, so this chapter is a really nice addition. The chapter starts with a one-page, condensed introduction to tessellations on a square grid. This might seem short, but it is concise and answers some important questions. In particular, Mukerji gives a formula with which you can easily determine which grid to start with once you have decided how many molecules (repetitions of the common pattern) you want to fold, how much space you want to leave between them, and how wide the border should be. This is extremely helpful not just for the tessellations presented in the book, but for the multitude of other tessellations you might want to fold.

Then follow seven different tessellations on a square grid. Rather than providing full diagrams, Mukerji gives general instructions. Diagrams for the bases of the molecules are provided – six of the seven start with a 4-Sink base, the final one with a Crossed Box Pleat. Then shaping details are borrowed from models diagrammed elsewhere in the book.

To me, this is a great way to introduce tessellations, as it exemplifies how you can start creating your own tessellations: first, find a pattern that meets the basic requirements for a molecule; then tessellate it; finally, play around with the shaping to receive many different finishes.

Part III: Modular Designs

Dream Flower folded and photographed by M. Mukerji

We all know Meenakshi Mukerji for her stunning, modular designs. This chapter introduces 27 of them, plus variations. This should keep modular enthusiasts happy for a while!

Interestingly, only a third of the models start with a square, the others require rectangles of different proportions. Thankfully, cutting the paper to the right proportions is easy in most cases. The rectangles used are usually either variable, so no precise cutting is required, are half squares, or easily cut from strips as also diagrammed in detail in the book. Some models can even be folded from squares, provided they are sufficiently small, as the deviation from the required rectangle is small enough then. The size recommendations given throughout the book are especially appreciated here. And of course Mukerji also added diagrams on how to cut the paper to the exact proportion when using larger paper.

Plus, let’s be honest, when we see the beautiful results, a bit of extra work doesn’t deter us, does it? And as photos are included for all models presented in the book, we can admire the models and whet our appetites for that next fold!


With Origami All Kinds: Single Sheet and Modular Designs, Meenakshi Mukerji has published another great book for us to enjoy. It is particularly nice to see a book that touches three quite different areas of origami. At the same time, Mukerji manages to bring them together beautifully, sharing design concepts and folding steps. In particular, tessellations serve as a pleasantly surprising connecting piece.

The 110-page, full-color book presents 50 models plus variations, providing not just clear diagrams, but also valuable information all around folding – be it on how to get a nice finish on modulars, which paper to use, or how to determine which grid to use for a tessellation, just to name a few. Altogether, a truly wonderful book!

For more information on the book, including a table of contents, photos of folded models and where to buy the book, visit Meenakshi Mukerji’s website and in particular her page on the book. And, of course, Origami All Kinds is also available at OrigamiUSA’s The Source!

Convention Report: Convention for Creators (CfC)

Origami 2017/08/13


It all started eighteen months ago, when I visited Bernie Peyton at his home. While driving to the aquarium in Monterey, we discussed the PRO convention that had happened ten years ago.

Inspiration at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Pacific Rim Origami gathering had been primarily for Pacific Rim creators. The idea was to discuss the theory and not to practice folding. This concept of a verbal meeting seemed very strange to me five years ago, but made total sense at that time. As an active origami artist who decided to do origami for a living, I find I do have the need to talk, discuss, be updated and be inspired by the work of others.

Come to think of it, like every dentist, or teacher, an origami artist can benefit from being part of a supporting community, in which anyone can share his knowledge and ideas. Actually, for us, origamists, it’s even more natural to do just so, since origami is all about sharing, isn’t it?


I realized that this would be a project that could happen only by cooperation. We approached Robert Lang (USA), Jorge Pardo (Spain), Viviane Berty (France), Nicolas Terry (France), and Dave Brill (England), to form a committee of seven, to act as a directorate, for what eventually became the Convention for Creators.

Talking with Nicolas, I discovered that OORAA had thought about the idea of such a conference long time ago, and things started to fall into place. We set the location in Lyon, the same city in which the Ultimate Origami Convention takes place. This also set the timing, since the only open weekend they had in 2017 was the 7th of July.


The first step was to decide who is invited. How do we define a creator? What about heads of organisations? Youtube figures? We decided to narrow it down to creators only. We had to have a line, and we set it those who had designed at least 15 original models; better if they were published somewhere. The list was formed quickly, and I was amazed to see the number is within the hundreds only; less than 300!

We opened registration saying that only 100 creators can join, as this was the limit of the hotel. Building up slowly but steadilyy, by the first day of the convention we had 82 people registered to attend.


We opened a Google Form to collect ideas and suggestions for talks, panels and workshops. Quickly, we had 32 approved suggestions that we divided into six categories:

  • Being Professional
  • Design
  • Diagrams
  • Education
  • Exhibitions
  • Paper and Other Materials

We planned to have a very “airy” program, with 20-minute talks in a one hour slots. We felt that the main feature of the conference would be the discussions that would arise after each talk, and so we gave those a lot of time.

For some parts of the day we planned two talks in parallel, to make sure all suggestions would be included.


Participants at the Conference for Creators.

After exploring Lyon on Thursday morning, I was in the hotel lobby just at the right time when the first creators started to appear. It was amazing to see the common feature they all shared — a big, wide smile on their faces. Every newcomer was a creator, worthy to be a Guest of Honor at any convention. We had people coming from Australia, South Korea, Vietnam, USA, Canada, Israel, and all over Europe. Immediately, groups were formed to talk, discuss, and share images of latest creations and adventures.


The next day, we started with a talk by Viviane Berty: “The challenge of simplicity”.

Viviane Berty and her “Archer.”

Presenting her “Archer,” Viviane explained what makes a simple model looks great, and how you need to cheat sometimes and forget about reality. Flat paper can be considered as void, for example, as you can see on the bow.

We had a panel to discuss how can you make a living out of origami, with Robert Lang, as one of the veterans, as well as Dewi Brunet, who only started that a year ago. I asked the panel what obstacles they expected to meet, and what did they really encounter. We discovered that most requests (nine out of ten) evaporate, and one needs a lot of commitment and determination until the tenth truly brings in money.

Another panel, led by Dave Brill discussed the fine art of pricing a commission work. We agreed we all tend to under-price our work and time. A good rule of thumb is, once you have decided on a price, “double that price and add ten percent.” Double it, because we underestimate ourselves, and add ten percent so you can lower your price (but not too much) after some bargaining.

What is the best way to publish your diagrams (if there is a best way)?. We heard about self publication, crowdfunding (Kickstarter, for example), or making a book by approaching a well known publisher.

Bernie Peyton shared his experience with curating Origami Universe, an exhibition presented in The Chi Mei museum in Taiwan, in which many of us participated, never realizing the full scope of the difficulties Bernie and Uyen Nguyen went through to successfully bring it off.

The best panel for me was “My Favorite Paper”. One by one, we had 18 creators stepping up to show their best paper, a model folded from it and an example sheet to allow the crowd to hold and feel it. Unlike my worries that everyone would present Elephant Hide ( I am a tessellator, after all), the list of favorite papers was amazingly versatile. To name a few, we had Japanese calligraphy paper; toilet paper; ARCHES watercolor paper, Vietnamese handmade paper; Kozo paper; a sheet of Jon Gerard’s paper; and last but not least, Dave’s favorite one was Printer paper, highly available with a great shade of white!

Dave Brill talking about paper.


“Never done before” is where the best opportunities awaits for you. And now, after it was done, it is clear how important and needed it is. We all want to to talk, learn and be inspired from our own community. The next CfC will be in 2020, in Zaragoza, Spain! Be prepared!

Origami Symposia in Math, Art and Education in Los Angeles on Nov. 3, 2017

Origami 2017/07/31

OrigamiUSA is offering four origami symposia (lectures) in math, art and education on Friday, November 3, 2017.

The Lectures will be held in Los Angeles at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina, 300 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, CA 90277.

Featured speakers are celebrated authors:

  • Paul Jackson – “Folding as a Topic of Design Education”
  • Miri Golan – “Origametria: Method and Models”
  • Robert J. Lang – “Monumental Origami in Bronze and Steel”
  • Meher McArthur – “Origami as a Global Art Form”

Lectures are $25 each. Descriptions are below. Sign up here.

Please log into a valid web account in order to register online for PCOC Symposia. You do not need to be a member of OrigamiUSA (though we hope you will join at some point), but you must be signed into a web account. If you already have one, you can log in here, and if you don’t yet have one, you can create one here.

These symposia are an event that is being held in conjunction with the OrigamiUSA Convention (PCOC 2017 – Pacific Coast OrigamiUSA Conference). Since these symposia have a wide appeal, we are making them available to non-PCOC attendees. If you are also interested in attending classes that focus on learning to make origami models, please register for PCOC 2017.

Note to PCOC attendees: These symposia (lectures) will be available as part of the regular class ticketing on Friday morning. Please register for Friday classes to attend. Friday classes are not part of the Early Bird Package.

10:00-11:00 am

  • Folding as a Topic of Design Education by Paul Jackson
    Paul Jackson will talk about — and show images from — his 35 years teaching origami and folding to students of Design, including students of Fashion Design, Architecture, Product Design, Jewelry Design, Packaging Design …and more.

11:15-12:15 am

  • Origametria: Method and Models by Miri Golan
    Miri Golan will describe her ‘Origametria’ program, recently accepted into the national curriculum by the Israeli Ministry of Education, which uses origami to teach geometry in Kindergarten and Elementary Schools. She will describe the teaching method, illustrated with typical Origametria models.

2:00-3:00 pm

  • Monumental Origami in Bronze and Steel by Robert J. Lang
    Robert Lang will speak about his collaboration with Kevin Box on metal cast and fabricated origami.

3:15-4:15 pm

  • Origami as a Global Art Form by Meher McArthur
    Asian art historian Meher McArthur will discuss the importance of contemporary origami as an art form worthy of museum exhibitions, collection and art historical attention.

Diagrams: Dinosaur

Origami 2017/04/19

Click on picture for diagrams.

I am an Iranian folder from Shiraz, and this is a new model of mine starting from a triangular sheet. Perhaps you have seen my Right-triangle-bird published here. Around the same time, I designed three similar models with right triangle paper: a bird, dragon and dinosaur. This is the dinosaur model, a deinonychus. Deinonychus was a small and carnivorous dinosaur and was very fast and smart. It was lived during the early cretaceous period.

Reza Sarvi

Diagrams: Sturoyya Star

Origami 2017/04/16

My name is Usman Rosyidhi. I am from Indonesia, and I live in the province of Bali. I am 31 years old and for a living I teach at an elementary school. I started to fold ten years ago. I create my own model by doodling with the paper until a model emerges. I am a member of the Origami Indonesia Club in Bali. We have many folders and designers in the group, and we just had our second convention this February.

Click on picture for diagrams.

Usman Rosyidhi

Diagrams: Evolution of the Tulip

Origami 2017/04/10

Last March 2016 at The Garden of Archimedes, the museum for mathematics in Florence where I work, we scheduled a workshop for families on the theme ‘Origami and Spring’. Since I knew that I had to teach elementary students, often with no prior experience with paperfolding, I selected simple but very effective models. The easiest one was a three-step tulip (Figure 1). According to Gay Merrill-Gross1 and Michael LaFosse2, many modern authors discovered it independently. I think it almost can be counted as traditional.

Figure 1. The simple tulip

Only three steps are needed. You can increase the number of steps if you want to round the tulip petal by mountain folding the lateral points (Figure 2). Or you can decrease the steps if you start from a square cut along a diagonal. In addition, there are no reference points, so every kid can make his/her own tulip different from the others. It is an ideal model for a first-timers workshop.

Figure 2. Simple (left) and “Round” tulip (right).

Once I had the flower I needed a stem. I could choose to let the kids draw it or teach them how to fold one. Of course I decided on the latter route (Figure 3). Also in this case it is difficult to find an original author3. But you need to use glue. This is not a mortal sin, but the risk is to disappoint the audience if in the introduction of the workshop you provide the ‘no cutting-no gluing-only folding’ rule.

Figure 3. Flower and stem glued together.

So I started thinking about how to solve this problem. First of all, I needed a triangle open at the bottom. In this way I could create a hole for the stem. The solution was easy and simple: start with a waterbomb base! The sequence is a little bit longer, because you need to fold the other diagonal and the two middle lines of the square, but it’s not too complicated. Even better, you have other geometrical objects to talk about. So, once you have the waterbomb base, you can follow the original sequence. In order to have a hole for the stem, at step #2 you don’t need to be very precise. This first stage of the evolution allows the model to stand and be visible on both sides (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The evolved tulip a.k.a. ST3.
Click on image for Gay Merrill Gross’ diagrams.

I made a search on Google, and it appeared that no one else previously had thought about this approach. But after I published a photo on my Flickr page, one of my contacts told me that it was very similar to Gay Merrill Gross’ Simple to Teach Tulip published in Creased Magazine Issue 7. I didn’t have that issue, however on the website gallery there was a photo, and the resemblance was noticeable. I immediately wrote to Gay, attaching my diagrams, and she confirmed that the two models were the same. There was only a little difference in the stem. Gay sent me her diagrams, and it was fun to read in the notes that we had the same inspiration. While I was waiting for her answer, I taught the model and it was successful. Maybe not every kid will call it a tulip, but surely everyone sees a flower.

However the evolution was still in progress, and there was more room for creativity. If you try to fold the tulip starting from a square cut along a diagonal, you remove a step and also get a bicolor flower. How to achieve the same result on the model with the hole? You cannot reverse fold the petals because they “break” the waterbomb base. You need another base: the blintz base with a slight modification. If you make a classic blintz (with four corners of the square to the center) you only have a flower that is half the size of the one made with the plain square. You need to make an alternate blintz (I don’t know if it has a specific name). You valley fold two opposite corners and mountain fold the other two corners. After that, it’s the same sequence. I wrote right away to Gay and she told me that she hadn’t thought about that approach. I published the photo on Flickr, and this time nobody recognized it (Figure 5).

Figure 5. The bicolor evolved tulip.
Click on image for Mancini’s diagrams.

You can change the combination of the colors by changing the way you fold the waterbomb base in step #5.I didn’t have the chance to prove it with the kids yet, but I taught it at the 2016 MFPP (Mouvement Français des Plieurs de Papier) Convention, and they liked it. I hope you like it too.


1. Gross, Gay Merrill (2005). Minigami: Mini origami projects for cards, gifts and decorations. Ontario, CN: Firefly Books, p.48.

2. LaFosse, Michael (2004). Origami Spectacular. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, p. 59.

3. Gross. Ibid. p. 49.

Francesco Mancini

Crease Patterns: Distorta2009

Origami 2017/04/09 is one of my favorite patterns as it’s quite unusual. It cannot fit on a classic triangle grid due to the squares; therefore this is a “distorted” approximation as the hexagons and the triangles have different side lengths, so there are rectangular twist-folds instead of square ones.

Paper: Use a regular hexagon, at least 20cm side to side, with a grid in 32nds. You can obtain nice results with semi-transparent papers such as tracing paper or glassine.

Click on pictures for Crease Patterns.

Editor’s Note: Alessandro Beber is self-publishing Paperceptions: Explore visual perceptions with paperfolding! through a Kickstarter campaign that ends 17 May 2017.

Alessandro Beber

Book review: “New Expressions in Origami Art” by Meher McArthur

Origami 2017/04/09

Masterworks from 25 Leading Paper Artists

A stunning cover for a book presenting stunning origami work

Usually, in an origami book review, I’d focus on how many models are presented, what complexity they are, and crucially the quality of the diagrams included. Not for this book. It is not about teaching you how to fold models. Oh no, “New Expressions in Origami Art” by Meher McArthur is about bathing in the joy of viewing works of origami art and getting more insight into what motivates and inspires their creators and their origami journey.

And you get plenty of that on the 192 pages that constitute this book. Even when just leafing through the book, it becomes clear a very diverse selection of artists was chosen. Correspondingly, the articles have very different focus points, which makes this book all the more inspiring. Getting a glimpse of the inner workings of individuals with fundamentally different backgrounds and views on the world allows you to view the world, even if just a little, in their shoes and thus opens up a whole new horizon. And all that is paired with extraordinary origami work, presented in very high quality. The full-page photos let you appreciate the art without distraction. And the background given on the artists and the techniques they use multiplies the impact of their work tenfold.

Artists presented

After my enthusiastic introduction, I’m sure you’re all curious who is highlighted in the book. As the cover already reveals, 25 origami artists were selected. They are:

  • Joel Cooper (USA)
  • Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine (Canada/USA)
  • Giang Dinh (Vietnam/USA)
  • Vincent Floderer (France)
  • Tomoko Fuse (Japan)
  • Miri Golan (Israel)
  • Paul Jackson (UK/Israel)
  • Beth Johnson (USA)
  • Eric Joisel (France)
  • Goran Konjevod (Croatia/USA)
  • Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander (USA)
  • Robert J. Lang (USA)
  • Sipho Mabona (South Africa/Switzerland)
  • Mademoiselle Maurice (France)
  • Linda Tomoko Mihara (USA)
  • Jun Mitani (Japan)
  • Jeannine Mosely (USA)
  • Yuko Nishimura (Japan)
  • Bernie Peyton (USA)
  • Hoang Tien Quyet (Vietnam)
  • Matt Shlian (USA)
  • Richard Sweeney (UK)
  • Jiangmei Wu (China/USA)

This list already gives you an insight into how much diversity you can expect. Even if you just look at the first three chapters, it’s so evident. Joel Cooper, the master tessellator and creator of the most striking masks using tessellation techniques; Erik and Martin Demaine, whose scientific findings have pushed the boundaries of origami, while at the same time producing breathtaking curved crease sculptures; and Giang Dinh, who I’d say doesn’t crease paper, but helps it reveal its soul with his often soft and minimalistic shaping using wet-folding.

Some of these artists I’ve had the privilege to meet in person and talk to, so I had some prior insight into their journey. I still learned more about them here, or appreciated revisiting their development and take on things. Other artists I had already read about, and this gave me a fuller picture of them and their work. But – and I may be admitting to some ignorance here – I did not know all of these artists. Some of the names I’d actually never heard of before. Especially these artists were a pleasant surprise to me. For example, I had not been aware of Mademoiselle Maurice and her breathtaking origami murals, which she has created all around the world. By the way, I encourage you to visit her website, if you have not seen her work before. So this book is not just a treasured collection of work by origamists I love and appreciate, it is also an invitation to letting more artists join that group.

Who is this book for?

It doesn’t matter at which level you fold. This book is for anyone who loves origami, looking at beautiful folds and learning a bit more about the creation process. More generally, actually, I think it’s a wonderful book for anyone who appreciates art. You do not have to fold paper to enjoy viewing and learning more about a selection of extraordinary origami works and their creators. So to me it also makes a perfect present for people close to you to show them the potential of origami and its not always recognized place in art.

You can buy this book directly from Tuttle or at OrigamiUSA’s TheSource, retailing at $29.95.

Sara Adams

Origami Designer’s Secrets: Rebecca Lynn Gieseking

Origami 2017/04/06

Just like artists who can draw a whole world on a grain of rice, Rebecca manages to create a flourishing portfolio from a single object – a pot. With a unique approach, a skillful brush, and strong fingers, her works are standing out in the origami world. We have never met, and this interview was a great opportunity to understand how she works.

Who is Rebecca Gieseking? Please tell me in five sentences what I must know about you.

Rebecca: I’m very interested in the intersection of art and science, whether that’s applying scientific processes to art or using visual approaches to learn or teach science. I spent two summers doing art conservation, where I developed an interest in the science of paints and other art materials. I tend to be a bit overly organized and analytical, sometimes to a fault. I can easily get drawn into new, interesting puzzles, especially ones that require visual logic. I’m quiet and introverted, but I love talking about my designs and sharing ideas with other people.

What is origami to you? Why are you interested in origami? What was your first model to fold? What was your first model to create? Can you say origami changed your life in anyway, or is it just a hobby?

Rebecca Gieseking, USA.
Photo by Christina Gieseking.

Rebecca: I started origami at a very young age, and by the time I was six, my favorite model was the traditional samurai hat. I didn’t start designing until 2011 and very quickly found the style I still work in. At the time I needed an artistic outlet that fit into my grad school schedule. What keeps me interested in origami is the ability to keep innovating and developing new folding approaches that create new and interesting forms. It’s always exciting to figure out an elegant way to fold something I’ve wanted to do for several years, and when I figure out something new, I come up with all sorts of ideas of how to use it.

Origami (and art more broadly) has actually been a big help in my full-time job doing chemistry research. The research process is mainly a cycle of coming up with ideas, testing them out, and figuring out what worked and what didn’t, often on a time scale of months. In origami, I’m able to practice that whole cycle in a few hours or days, which helped me learn how to do research well. It’s also helped me develop my skills in thinking in three dimensions, which I use extensively in chemistry.

Spiral bowl
All pictures are by Rebecca Gieseking

What is your muse? What drives your creation process? Do you fold other people models? If so, do you have a favorite designer? a favorite artist? if you could go back in time, which art era will you choose? why?

Rebecca: Most of my inspiration comes from innovation, figuring out new folding techniques and ways of using them. I rarely fold other people’s models, but a lot of my design work is built on the pleating techniques developed by many origamists, including Chris Palmer, Robert Lang, Philip Chapman-Bell, and Jun Mitani. I’m also inspired by many of the people working with corrugations and tessellations, including Eric Gjerde, Paul Jackson, Christine Edison, and many others.

A lot of my inspiration also comes from art history. Alexander Calder’s mobiles have been a long-term inspiration, how he creates both physical and visual balance in a three-dimensional form. I’ve also drawn inspiration from Surrealist artwork, particularly René Magritte and his interplay between the realistic and the impossible.

Floating diagonal shift vase

I am always amazed to see how creative a person can be, even when s/he chooses a very narrow field of creation. It seems that you are very focused in what you do – can I call them mutated vases? Why did you choose that? Have you ever tried other areas to explore? What fascinate you so much by this theme?

Rebecca: I was drawn to pleated bowl and vase forms very quickly when I started designing origami in 2011, and I started adding geometric distortions to the forms within my first year of designing. I was drawn to this style because of the interplay between simplicity and complexity, and between creativity and logical engineering.

The basic design principles, even for the distorted vases, are much simpler than they may appear, and I can usually imagine how the crease pattern will fit together as soon as I come up with an idea for a new design. Getting the math right and actually folding the models is far more challenging. For many of the geometric distortions, an error of a millimeter can be enough to be noticeable on the final model.

Diagonal shift variant vase

Four-part intersections vase

It seems that all you need to make it work is a PC and the right software, such as those Jun Mitani has created. But we know better; one must choose wisely one’s final destination before one chooses the right parameters. Can you shed some light on your work process? What happens in your head before you turn on the computer, if you do use the computer as I think? Do you doodle with the paper first?

Rebecca: I generally go back and forth between phases of doing new engineering and phases of creating new models using the new units I’ve engineered. When I’m engineering new things, I’ll tend to do a lot of test-folding to figure out what type of folding approach will work, and go back and forth between the folding and the math until I have something I can use in more complex models. I’m especially interested in figuring out conceptually simple ways of folding complex-looking shapes, even if the folding itself is quite challenging.

When I’m designing more complex models, I’m using units I’ve already engineered, so I know what the crease pattern will look like as I’m sketching. I do most of my design work on paper and only use a computer for a few things where the math is more complicated than I want to do by hand, like generating sine waves. For that I write my own scripts, using mostly Excel and Mathematica. Yet, I score the paper manually.

Since most of my designs are based on a cylinder, it’s fairly straightforward for me to stack different units of folds in different combinations, and a lot of my designs are based on exploring new combinations of those units. Once I start running low on interesting new combinations to try, it’s time to start engineering new things.

What papers do you usually use? Why? Do you prepare them yourself? How do you decide what paper to choose? Your work stands out not only for the folds, but also for the paint you use. Unlike with tessellations, when another pattern made by colors just confuses the eyes, your touch of color and paint just increases the beauty of the result. Can you say a few words about that? What colors do you use? Did you study art?

Rebecca: I almost exclusively use Elephant Hide paper, since it’s heavy enough to hold its own weight but still fairly thin, tough enough to hold up to complicated folding, and wet-folds well. I’ve experimented a bit with other papers, but most only work for the simpler end of the models I like designing.

I paint the paper using watered-down acrylics. Currently I use Jo Sonja brand paints, but most brands that are at least at the high end of student grade should work. The painting is the first step once I have the model designed, and I measure out a lot of reference points and use masking tape to get clean edges. Once the paper is painted, I flip it over, measure reference points on the back, score the creases, pre-crease, collapse, and wet-fold. Since most of the painted designs can take 10 or more hours to fold, most of my designs only ever get folded once.

The colors work well in my designs because the designs have a simplicity about them, and the lines in the painted designs echo the folded edges. Sometimes the painted pattern visually reconnects the pieces I divided in the folded fold, and sometimes it repeats shapes similar to the geometric distortions. I studied art along with chemistry in college, and I’m very interested in approaching origami as an art form even if my tools and techniques are different from what other origamists use.

Doubly bent vase

Do you have a motto in your life? Is origami part of that motto? Is there a message in your art?

Rebecca: The main message in my work is the interplay of beauty and logic. As both a scientist and an artist, I appreciate the beauty of a sunset or a tree or many other things in my daily life but also think about the complex science and engineering that makes these things possible. I hope the people who see my origami will both notice its artistic qualities and think about the engineering of how it’s folded, giving them a glimpse of how I see the world.

Split vase

I am sure there is one model of yours that you would like to point out for us. Which one is it, and please tell us why you chose it?

Rebecca: I chose my Uphill-downhill diagonal shift vase. When I first started trying to design the diagonal shifts in 2013, I originally wanted the shifts to go downhill, but uphill worked much more easily. It took me until 2016 to figure out the engineering to make the downhill shifts work, and this was one of my first models to use that.

Is there one last question I should have asked? Ask yourself, but don’t answer. Just let us know what is the question …

Rebecca:What new shapes are you working on designing next?

[Left] Uphill-downhill diagonal shift vase. [Right] Curved-neck vase.

Name Rebecca Lynn Gieseking
Place of residence Evanston, IL (USA)
Profession Postdoc in chemistry
Email rebecca.gieseking [at]



To really know a designer, you must fold her models. Here are the CP and instructions for the Ornament.

Ilan Garibi

COG Spotlight: Plateau Origami People (P.O.P.) and Origami Knoxville (OK)

Origami 2017/04/02

In a small town of about 12,000 residents sixty miles west of Knoxville, TN, beats the heart of the “origami scene” in Tennessee. Read what the founder of the group, Marge Hofknecht has to say:

Plateau Origami People have been folding actively since about 2005. We’re all a little shadowy on the exact establishment date, but I remember meeting Patricia Westerfield during an art exhibition here in Crossville, TN. I was demonstrating origami, and she sat down at my table and folded several models with me. Later, I met with her at her home, and together we planned our paper folding group. I am a founding member of the Greater Philadelphia Paper Folders (GP^3) and was actively involved with the group when I lived there. I based much of the planning around the format of that group. We put short articles in our local paper about our group and posted flyers in the Art Circle Public Library. And soon, the group came together. Most of our members were new to origami and eager to learn. We first met at Patricia’s home where we came up with the name. After awhile we wanted to be more visible. so we began to meet at a senior center, then moved to the library, an art center, an art gallery, and now we’re back at the library.

Basically we are a hobby group, but we also participate in community activities at the library and in connection with the art community and their functions. Last summer we had a booth at the Asian Festival held in Knoxville. That was fun and we met so many people who stopped by our tables to fold some models.

Asian Festival in Knoxville. Photo courtesy of Cyd Riede.

We also participate in Crossville’s Parade of Christmas Trees that’s hosted by a local bank. Working on the ornaments affords us opportunities to learn new models and try different papers. Occasionally, members (like me!) sometimes go solo or with another folder for demonstrations at schools, other libraries, and so on.

P.O.P. Entry in Crossville’s Parade of Christmas Trees. Photo courtesy of Cyd Riede.

Periodically, we meet with a group of folders in Nashville. Malachi Brown is the organizer of that group. He is one interesting, dedicated, and patient teacher.

For the last two years, we have presented what is called The Origami Tsunami at the library. Our third one is coming up on June 9th.

Origami Tsunami. Photos courtesy of Cyd Riede.

Our organizer is Alex Matthews, a young origami author and someone I’m very proud to know. He came to origami when I was teaching it at his home school co-op. Just a few months ago he published his first origami book, A Fold Above the Rest Origami. He will have a book-signing day soon at the library where he will teach a model or two from his book.

Alex has this to say about his experiences at P.O.P.:

I have enjoyed attending the P.O.P. meetings for the last nine years, because I am inspired by the other attendees to design higher quality models, and I enjoy stimulating their origami abilities to new heights. I can proudly say there is no other place to be from 1-3 pm on Folding Fridays. Plateau Origami People are special to me, because without their help the largest completely free origami festival in the U.S. would never exist. Origami Tsunami is a local origami festival held annually in Crossville, TN, allowing folders of all abilities to take part in one of ten simultaneous classes, watch and listen to videos on origami given by top origami artists and professors from around the globe. So, if you are in the area on June 9, come to the best folding fun in the South, down in middle Tennessee.”

— Alex Matthews

What’s ahead for P.O.P? Besides the aforementioned Tsunami and making ornaments for the Christmas tree, we are hoping to participate once again in the Knoxville Asian Festival. Each of our members continues to explore origami and to share with each other what we learn. Throughout, we have fun! We meet once a week on Friday afternoons, 1 – 3 pm, at the Art Circle Public Library.

Marge Hofknecht

Further to the east in Tennessee, Origami Knoxville (OK) is a sputtering start-up group looking toward its fourth second-Saturday meeting next week. After two previously failed attempts to organize a folding group for Knoxville, this time we are focusing on more extensive publicity: a front-page newspaper article in the neighborhood Farragut Shopper-News, listing the group in the community events section of the public radio station, posting flyers, holding one-day workshops at the local KnoxMakers facility, and distributing email notices to anyone who has shown an interest in origami. Hopefully, we can locate some of those “lone folders” and establish a vibrant group of origami enthusiasts in Knoxville. In the meantime, I will continue to drive the sixty miles most Fridays to fold with the wonderful members of P.O.P.

-Susan Wettling

Diagrams: Cat

Origami 2017/03/20

Who am I?

I am well known on the internet under the nickname of MadFolder. The story of the Mad Folder is told in two parts.

The first part began in 1997 with my fascination for this art, through my first, fairly classic creations in 2002, and expositions from 2003 until 2013. I spent almost 18 years folding every day, deepening all styles and techniques and thus refining my artistic qualities.

This passionate immoderation opened the door to the second part. Indeed, it was in 2014 that I became a Professional Origami Artist: my spirit freed itself from conventions and influences. From then on my creations became my image, a part of my personality, which knows imperfection, because the search for perfection leaves no room for the imagination in creation. My soul as an artist learned to suffer from this contradiction, because the success of an act is not linked to its perfection.

The design of this cat comes from my classic period of intermediate level creations. I offer two images: the original model and an improved version, both derived from the same diagrams. I obtained the latter through more modeling, and I invite you to do the same.

Click on pictures for diagrams.

Qui suis-je ? L’histoire du Plieur Fou se raconte en deux parties.

La première, de la fascination pour cet art en 1997, en passant par les premières créations en 2002, assez classique, les expositions dès 2003 et ainsi jusqu’en 2013. Quasiment dix-huit années à plier tous les jours, approfondissant tous les styles et techniques et ainsi affiner mes qualités artistiques.

Cette démesure passionnelle ouvre la porte de la seconde partie. En effet c’est en 2014 que je vais devenir Artiste Professionnel Origami: Mon esprit se libère des conventions et influences. Dès lors mes créations deviennent à mon image, une part de ma personnalité qui se sait imparfaite car la recherche de la perfection ne laisse pas de place à l’imagination dans la création.Mon âme d’artiste à apprit à souffrir de cette contradiction car la réussite d’un acte n’est pas liée à sa perfection.

Eric (MadFolder) Vigier”

Exhibit: Tsunagu Gallery Meets Tomoko Fuse

Origami 2017/03/19

The Year of the Rooster certainly began auspiciously! In addition to visiting Chimei Museum’s Origami Universe exhibition, I had the good luck to be in Tokyo during Tomoko Fuse’s exhibition at the Tsunagu Gallery, on display from 6 February 2017 through 31 March 2017.

For those people who can read Japanese, here are two posters describing the exhibition and providing background information about Tomoko Fuse and her art:

Given the short period of time the exhibition was available, here is a slide show of the beautiful artwork on display. Press the left and right buttons to flip through the images.

Patsy Wang-Iverson

Exhibition: Chimei Museum’s Origami Universe

Origami 2017/03/18

Serendipity strikes again! I had the good fortune to visit Chimei Museum’s Origami Universe exhibition just after the release of its accompanying catalog at the start of the Lunar New Year. Weighing in at one kilogram and formatted exquisitely with beautiful photographs, the catalog is outstanding, and priced at < US$20.00! All artists are represented, with a brief biography and up to four pages each, although not all artists’ works are included. Having photos of all the works of art in the catalog would have provided a complete vicarious experience for those not able to visit the exhibition, but it would have doubled the size of the catalog. Fortunately, I had taken photos of some pieces not included, while the catalog offered photos of works I had not photographed. The ultimate experience is to visit the exhibition and take home a catalog to continue to savor the exhilarating experience quite unlike any other exhibition.

Reading others’ exuberant reviews of the exhibition made me want to go see it for myself. Two factors sealed the deal for me: (1) Robert Lang’s post in an email dated 11/16/16: “I think the Chi Mei exhibition would probably take the cake; it is pretty darned impressive.”, and (2) it turned out to be cheaper to stop in Taiwan en route to Tokyo than to fly round-trip to Tokyo. So—for those of you planning to visit the Far East, check out the prices for a multi-city itinerary before May 30, 2017, when the exhibition closes after seven months.

What made Origami Universe so special for me? I have visited a number of origami exhibitions over the years, and what immediately struck me was how this exhibition heralded the continuing growth of the artists with whom I am familiar—both in their creativity and mastery. It also supported my own growth in introducing me to a number of artists with whose work I was not acquainted.

What else makes this exhibition unique? It is the largest exhibition I have visited—featuring works of 63 artists from 21 countries—and Chimei Museum devoted ample space, accompanied by good lighting, to all the contributions. When one purchases entry, one is handed a rectangular ticket. At the entrance to the exhibition, a small rectangle is removed, leaving a square that one can fold. Each visitor also is presented with a long rectangle containing a summary of the exhibition and with pre-creases that encourage the visitor to fold it into a small booklet.

The exhibition is organized in different rooms by category: representational, geometric, and applications. The representational category is further divided into three parts: human figures in Folding Ourselves, plants and animals in Natural World, and imaginary beasts in Fantasy. For Natural World, let me quote the curators extraordinaire, Bernie Peyton and Uyen Nguyen: “Animals have been a favorite subject of origami designers for hundreds of years. However, it is ironic that the greatest expansion of animal origami is at a time when many animal populations and their habitats are threatened with extinction.”

Some of the models in the Fantasy section were displayed whimsically in cylinders built into the walls.

Little Demon by João Charrua

The geometric category includes tessellations, corrugations, modulars, curved folds, and curved surfaces generated by pleating that leave one breathless.

For the category of Applications, the contributions range from jewelry, decorative vessels, furniture, and fashion at one end to the use of origami in cutting-edge research. Included in the exhibition is the Foldscope, an Origami based print-and-fold paper-microscope. Unlike the rest of the exhibition, where one is asked not to touch, Foldscopes are available for visitors to explore and visualize the possibilities with this low-cost tool.

Here is the list of artist/researcher contributors in the Applied category:

Photograph courtesy of Larry Howell, Brigham Young University.

Included in the exhibition are videos distributed across the rooms that delve deeper into the art and the research inspired by origami.

At the end of the exhibition, one exits into a large, high-ceiling room containing different stations that encourage visitors to fold their own models. One can choose from among a range of options: folding from books (including Tom Hull’s Project Origami), folding from instructions on iPads, folding from step-by-step instructions on large boards affixed on the walls. Upon completion of their models, visitors can either keep them or contribute them to cylinders embedded in the wall on one side of the room. One then exits through an isosceles triangular opening.

Chimei Museum Folding Room

Following is a slideshow of some of the art to whet your appetite either to make a trip to Taiwan or to purchase the catalog:

This article is dedicated to my cousin, Wilma Wang, who planned every step of a most memorable visit to Taiwan.

Patsy Wang-Iverson

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  • COG Spotlight: Indonesian Origami Community

    by on 2017/08/27 - 0 Comments

    Maya Hirai (founder of Sanggar Origami Indonesia) started the Indonesian Origami Community when she created an open Facebook page in 2014. The membership has now reached over 7,000 individuals from all cities in Indonesia and worldwide. The Indonesian Origami Community activities listed on Facebook include origami works, community activities coordination, and a monthly origami work […]

  • Origami Symposia in Math, Art and Education in Los Angeles on Nov. 3, 2017

    by on 2017/07/31 - 0 Comments

    OrigamiUSA is offering four origami symposia (lectures) in math, art and education on Friday, November 3, 2017. The Lectures will be held in Los Angeles at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina, 300 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Featured speakers are celebrated authors: Paul Jackson – “Folding as a Topic of Design […]

  • Benefits of After-School Origami

    by on 2017/08/27 - 0 Comments

    In Fécamp, France, 700 pupils (50% of the school children) participate in extracurricular activities at the end of the school day. Thanks to a partnership among local associations, teachers and other external projects, children can participate in basketball, tennis, cooking, pottery, puppet workshops, and, of course, origami. I settled in the city of Fécamp in […]

  • Diagrams: Inside 1

    by on 2017/08/29 - 0 Comments

    For me, the hardest part in creating and making a model is the choice of paper and the most suitable colors! This is a model for which I immediately found the right color combinations: red for the central and black cube for the outer structure. It is a natural consequence of another model (CUBEI), and […]

  • Book review: "Origami All Kinds: Single Sheet and Modular Designs" by Meenakshi Mukerji

    by on 2017/08/25 - 0 Comments

    The book’s cover This is the seventh origami book by Meenakshi Mukerji, but it is the first that includes models from three vastly different areas of origami: single-sheet designs, tessellations, and modulars. This distinction is also reflected in the structure of the book: after providing useful tips in the chapter Origami Basics, Parts I, II […]

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