Highlights from British Origami
David Petty's Modular Dog June 1988
Can you recreate it from the basic unit??
Art and Paper-folding Aug 88
by Jean-Claude Correia
In the article on organised origami, published in the BO magazine, David Lister says (talking about Lillian Oppenheimer and the Origami Center in 1958) that he main cause of success of paper-folding was without doubt the word "origami". The words "paper- folding" were flat, with nothing to arouse curiosity of interest. Origami is more exotic. Thirty years later, I can still see every day how true it still is, and at the same time, how limiting.
I always liked the expression paper-folding better, and today call myself a paper-folder. It is an everyday occupation that I practise as a profession - I make a living out of it. I think "origami" is something special, what I'd call "traditional Japanese art". In 1978 when I founded the French movement (MFPP), people were telling me "Ah, you fold cocottes". I used to answer, "Not really, have you heard of origami?" Today in 1988 when I say I'm a paper-folder, they say "Ah - you do origami" and I answer "Not really..".
Paper-folding is not only a game from Japan to entertain children. Paper-folding only exists through man. It is it's memory, it's creation. When you fold paper, the mark which you place where the material was folded is the fold. With age and worry, folds wrinkle your forehead, your neck, the skin around your eyes, your mouth. An excitement, a depression, a curve, a mountain, a valley, name the folds of the land. The folds of the human heart hied a secret place unknown to us, silent to others. You understand the fold hides in itself more of the man than shows at first sight. We stay too often on the surface of what we see.
Let us take a model, any one in an exhibition. It has all the things I spoke about, but does not necessarily say so. People who don't practise origami will say "Oh superb, a paper Elephant". People who fold will appreciate the technique, the proportion or the uniqueness of this one compared with all those who were created before.
In India, I visited a Maharajah's palace on elephant back. I was wearing a long folded scarf, a turban to protect myself from the sun. I could feel the folds on this big pachyderm - I was rolling on her back. I was folding my eyelids to protect myself from the light. Everything was folded around me. All these folds were bringing me the beauty of the world. Today, I cannot fold an elephant alone; I don't feel like folding either the elephant, the palace, myself, the sun, the scarf in a square of paper. Even if I succeeded I could never convey the moment I lived.
In 1971, Samuel Randlett said; "origami is balanced between art and game. It's an art governed by rules as strict and simple as a game, or it's a game which can produce a work of art". Today in 1988, it is the second sentence which interests me. How can a game produce a work of art? It is difficult to define art. Each one has their own definition. To me, art is a work, an achievement that bears testimony of a man's mind and of the richness of his civilisation. The work of art is an idea expressed through material. Here it is paper. It's a work of mind. To build a bridge, you have to know the art of bridge-building. Some are called works of art, others architectural masterpieces. Each time you walk on a bridge, you don't necessarily walk on a work of art.
In Mauritius Island, I went fishing for marlin. You leave early in the morning and come back late in the evening. All day long in a small boat. You watch the bait, then all of a sudden the monster bites. He is caught and he fights back. Everything moves very fast. The sea is wild, you feel you are in chaos. The folds of the water are a crumpled sheet. An ant could have squashed me like nothing. The next day aboard a small plane, flying above the Indian ocean, same time, same weather, a rough sea. It was not chaos any more. The waves had a specific direction, the horizon was in organised folds. It is impossible for me to fold the ocean, but let us suppose I have enough time and patience to do it. What would I get? A residue ocean, devoid of all the fish I had dreamt about during the chaos.
Paper-folding is not an art. It becomes an art when men, through origami, give evidence of their civilisation. And that is what we are here for.
Rolf Harris August
replies to a letter from Paul Groom
I'm not really a mad paper-folding enthusiast - I enjoy it, but in a very limited way. My involvement came when I was first starting on television her in the UK. I was doing drawings of a puppet called Fuzz, shaped like this. His arms were made form those party-blowers - he was created and operated by a man called Robert Harbin. I didn't know at the time what a great creative magician he was, just knew him as a kind man some 20 years my senior. He saw me as he himself had been when he arrived from South Africa years before. He was like a father to me and helped me considerably at the start of my career.
was, I suppose, the starter of all the enthusiasm for paper-folding
in this country and in the mid 50's he and I spent every day for months
sitting at a table while he folded and I drew to create that "Art of
Paper Magic" book. Unfortunately, we did the drawings in sequence where
the drawings went this way (right) on one line and back the other way
on the next line. We though it would be easier to follow. WRONG! Of
course, we are taught all our growing life to read left to right then
back to the left for the beginning of the next line here we two were
trying to cancel the reading habits of a nation in our little book!
Still, if you can get over that, it was the first of many books on the
subject. Bob went on to write AND illustrate several of his own later.
I never had the time later as my entertainment work took off in a different
Well thanks again for the letter, all the very best in the new school!
Diary of a Paperfolder: December 1988
The First Cut is the Deepest by Max Hulme
It was early evening when I received the call, on the telephone that is, from Dave Brill. He'd had a request (no not that sort) from a person in Scotland who needed four origami figures folded with bank notes. Dave went on to explain how, being hard pressed preparing for his forthcoming appearance on the BBC, held little time in which to fold them so, "Could you do it'at short notice?" It was with some trepidation that I agreed, well he had mentioned MONEY, and five minutes later I had another calling!
This time it was the representative from Ash Gupta (of Edinburgh) who explained that the figures he needed were to be folded thus:- the father from £20 notes, the mother from $10 notes, the daughter from £5 notes and the son from £1 notes. The figures were to represent a family, possibly out shopping to promote a credit card called STYLE. Unfortunately he could neither provide me with the precise banknote sizes at the moment nor with the notes until after Christmas, when he would be returning home, situated some 20 miles from me.
Not to be thwarted by such a minor hurdle I used the measurements of Bank of England notes as a substitute. This proved quite successful with the father, mother and daughter but I experienced some difficulty in folding the son. However, after visiting the local shrine and after bevvy or three I managed to
invoke the help from the Scottish contingency who provided me with the shape of a Bank of Scotland pound note.
The next few days appear to be a little blurred, a head cold or something but on the 27th I was given, or should I say LOANED, the money. A total one hundred and forty four pounds in crisp, clean banknotes. I quickly folded it in half thus doubling my money and ... (groan) ... Well O.K. that's not true. What I did
was to run off another £600 on the photo-copier and trim the copies to the correct sizes to give me some working capital. The serious work then started. With a deadline of January lst. four and a half days at most to complete the figures.
December 28th was spent in folding the figures from the various copied notes, resulting in the figures looking as though they'd spent the day heading cannon balls! Their heads were sunk down between their shoulders, they had thick and almost nonexistent necks, their arms were as long as a chimpanzees as too was their stance on short fat, but not hairy, legs. In fact not quite as I'd hoped they'd turn out.
December 29th Other matters occupied the day but the evening was spent deciding how the patterning of the notes could be utilised. After some discussion it was decided to cut the notes if necessary!
December 30th With the limitation of the starting shape removed the figures were dismembered, only mentally I hasten to add, and considered in terms of a head, a torso, two arms and two legs. As paper thickness was no longer a problem this resulted in delicate necks, legs and arms. The heads were then folded starting with the 3D nose technique of the gorilla mask but this produced four heads indistinguishable from apes and that wouldn't do. After all this was no advert for PG Tips.
December 31st The morning produced a reasonable head for the daughter, father and son but because of the complexity and miniscule size the paper became very tired and worn, as did the folder.
Then SALV(ER)ATION!, as Salome may have said, the sketch produced by Ash Guptas visualization artist came to the rescue. In it the heads of his origami style drawings were transformable into genuine origami designs. With the New Year fast approaching I decided to commit myself.... to starting with the real bank notes. So armed with only my notes, a trusty guillotine, a tube of clear glue and the optional blindfold I began. Carefully placing the £20 note on the guillotine - am I sure this is the right way? - I tentatively pulled the cutter across the note.
Wheeeeee .... BANG! BANG! BANG!!
What was that? Had I triggered some unseen alarm? Had the Bank of Scotland launched an attack on this lowly Sassenach for daring to deface their banknote? Surely not. If so would my family name protect me from their wrath? ..... Five minutes later, after the New Year revellers had finished with the fireworks, I resumed cutting. Feeling in no fit state to chance spoiling a £20 note I opted out and folded the son with £1 notes before retiring for the night.
D-Day Fully recovered from the New Year celebrations, production started early and within four hours most of the folding was complete with one hour to spare. A telephone call, a few finishing touches and the figures were packed and collected for their camera call the following day. Upon reflection it's strange how nervous and apprehensive I'd been as that first cut gave me change for a £20 note and I'm sure that when you try it you'll think "After all, it's only paper!" eventually.
Story based on fact (loosely) by Max Hulme.
Letters: February 1989
MINI-MEETINGS - A Beginner's Guide by Nick Robinson
When I first joined the B.O.S., a mere 4 years ago (although it seems like much longer, such are the bonds I've established) I thought that the most important part of the society was the convention; a weekend of non-stop folding and admiration of others' work, a stimulus to both creation and folding in general.
As the years have passed by, I find myself doing less and less folding at conventions and more time talking to friends, exchanging theories and generally making a nuisance of myself. The only problem is that two days is never enough time to talk to everyone, the bar always shuts well before midnight and there is a long, tiring journey home to come.
In keeping with my wild radical way of thinking, I now feel the true basis of the society is its mini-meetings. As Council members breathe a sigh of relief, I'll attempt to justify it. Folding is (usually) a one-person exercise and a matchless way of passing many happy hours locked in your study, but consider the merits of mini-meetings.
There is the "I'll show you how to do step 17 if you show me step 22b" aspect. Little in life is more infuriating than an origami move that defies understanding. How much simpler to see the move performed in front of your eyes.
If you want a mental challenge, try the Financial Times crossword - when I start a fold, I prefer to finish it! Should things be getting a little heavy, you can always stop and chat; conventions are often too tightly structured for much chat. At North-West meetings the chatting is more often stopped to do some folding!
The six months between conventions is too long for an avid origamiphile such as myself. Holding your own meetings and attending the next nearest means two folding sessions a month! Knowing that you will meet fellow folders is a great inspiration to fold something new, dig out some news, display your latest
'find' from the bookshops, pass on tasteless jokes and much, much more. In addition, most mini-meeting hosts seem happy to supply biscuits, fruit juice and tea. Some even stretch to beer and home-grown tomatoes!
The best way for you to test out my theory is to check the back page of this magazine and ring up the nearest meeting; you will be welcome anywhere! Should you live too far to travel (Renato Esack makes a round trip of well over 200 miles to the Sheffield meetings!) then why not start your own? Don't worry about numbers, it may take years to have a regular attendance of four or five, but the effort is worth it. If you live in a origami desert, even meeting one other person "of the faith" is rewarding. After a while, you build up lasting friendships; surely the point of any society.
All you need is a room (even a bedsit) and a few hours in the evening or at a weekend. It numbers exceed your space, book a nearby hall or meeting room; costs can be shared and if too much, contact a member of the committee, they might be able to help.
If you are new to the society, or simply haven't met any other members, check out the nearest meeting to you and give them a call; the host is always pleased to hear from unfamiliar folders and will do their best to make you feel comfortable.
There is never any folding beyond the level of the least experienced folder, so don't feel you'll be "out of your depth". As with conventions, I'm sure after you visit your first mini-meeting you'll regret not doing so sooner. Give it a try!
Knot had several lovers: April 1989
John Cunliffe ponders which fold is the Lover's Knot
If Paper Magic (R.Harbin 1956) and Art of Origami (S.Randlett 1964) are correct, the outline depicted at 'A' is entitled The Lover's Knot. But the Harbin reference obviously came from Paper Toy Making (M.Campbell 1936) and the latter may have got it wrong particularly since the fold utilises the 'stretch' procedure, is quite complicated and unlikely to be used as a letterfold. The outline at 'B', on the other hand, is well-known to schoolchildren and is
mentioned in The Art of Chinese Paper Folding (M.Soong 1964) and Paper Folding and Modelling (Van Breda 1964). An extract from the latter reads: 'This is the quaint but very old-fashioned way in which letters used to be folded. Such a
curio is exhibited in the De Waag Museum at Deventer in Holland. It dates back to the early 19th Century and contains a recipe for English biscuits'.
Complete Origami (1987) by the late Eric Kenneway, has no mention of the fold. Like other omissions, this was probably for space reasons. But his ABC of Origami has two references - in BOM91 under Lovers' Knot move (flattening a
point by stretching) and in 107 under True Lover's Knot, the reference here being to Tricks and Amusements with Paper etc by H.M. Abraham (Dover,1964). In the latter it is depicted as a spiral cord plaited from a long straw or strip of paper. However, on the opposite page there is a diagrammed instruction for the Billet Doux (Love Note) and the fold is similar to that depicted at 'B'. Previously in BOM's 1975 Ori-Comment, Eric Kenneway quotes Mother Bridget's Dream Book and speculates on the form the knot might have taken.
Recently a third version has come to light entitled KOB, see outline at 'Cl, This was kindly sent in by GAY MERRILL GROSS for possible use in the Envelope and Letter Folding Booklet (B.O.S. 1988). Gay writes that it was in regular use
in the classroom in Pennsylvania, USA, attended by Joey, niece of Lillian Oppenheimer (founder of the Western origami movement.) The procedure is to write a message on a long oblong of paper, fold over lengthwise several times, divide
the strip into five equal squares and, by alternate diagonal and vertical folding, produce one of the outlines at 'Cl. A friend is asked to deliver it to the addressee and hence KOB or kindness of bearer.
None of the foregoing explains why Margaret Campbell, authoress of the first major book on paperfolding in England, should have given the title Lover's Knot to the Stretched Bow fold. In fact very little is known about the history of the
stretch procedure despite being one of the most ingenious in origami and utilised for, amongst others, the Chinese Junk, Flower and Sullivan's Box. Even today its full potential may not have been realised and any information about its origin
and first appearance would be of immense interest.
Origamusic: June 1989
An Origami Top 20!
Remember Roy Hobb's origami Top 20 in B.O.M.117? Here follows a further selection (Compiler: Jeff Beynon)
- 'Paper' --- Talking Heads
- 'Wrapping Paper' --- Cream
- 'Yesterday's Papers' --- Rolling Stones
- 'Hollywood Squares' --- Bootsy's Rubber Band
- 'Square Dance' --- Material
- 'Paper Glider' --- David Crosby
- 'Paper Sun' --- Traffic
- 'Paper House' --- Can
- '3 Pieces In The Form Of A Pear' --- Erik Satie
- 'Song Of The Valley' ---- John Cole
- 'Down In The Valley' --- Otis Redding
- 'Save A Mountain For Me' --- 10 c.c
- 'Blue Skies Over The Mountain' --- Beach Boys
- 'It Was Up In The Mountains' --- Laurie Anderson
- 'Step By Step' --- Joe Simon
- 'Bend Me, Shape Me' --- Amen Corner
- 'We Can Work It Out' --- Beatles
- 'Tear It Up' --- Johnny Burnette
- 'You Tear Me Up' --- Buzzcocks
- 'The Real Ripper' --- Kirsty MacColl
Dye-ing for your art: October 1989
Mark Kennedy on colouring paper
Why dye it? Do you need more sheets of that one special
color or do want a special color(s) for a special model?
Dyeing or coloring your own paper can be the solution. The
finished models can be very realistic by judicious use of
colors. Some of you may have seen some of my finished
creations at the London or Sheffield convention.
Paper dye-ing in the U.S. was introduced by David Shall and
Nate Segal; each credits the other. David started out applying
liquid water colors to foil paper using a cotton ball
held by homeostasis clips. David was producing multiple
sheets of a solid color. Nate Segal expanded on this by a
technique he calls "wanding". The wand is a thin bamboo
skewer onto which are wrapped several cotton balls. Each
cotton ball has a different color. When the wand is drawn
across the paper, brilliant stripes appear. When done in two
directions, a bold plaid is produced.
At a FOCA Special Sessions Class taught by Michael Shall, I
was introduced to paper dye-ing. Michael gave a brief
demonstration. Instead of a homeostasis clips to hold the
cotton ball, Michael recommended wooden flat top, spring
action clothes pin. He then handed out pre-dyed paper to fold
the model of the day. It was wonderful being able to have the
exact color I wanted for the model and as many as I wanted in
This brief introduction cost me $40 as I immediately bought
10 bottles of assorted colors. As recommended, I use Dr.
Martin's Synchromatic Transparent or Radiant Concentrated
Watercolors. Other brands of liquid watercolors are available.
The dyes come in one or two ounce bottles with eye dropper
stoppers. I have tried other liquid colors such as
acrylic, but did not care for the ease of application or
range of colors. On occasions, I will add some very diluted
Luma Pearlesence to the Dr. Martin's for a little sheen. More
than a little of the Pearlesence has a tendency to clump.
When mixing the two, I use a styrofoam meat tray as mixing
I generally use the white side of foil paper, since I prefer
foil and the finished model can be shaped like a wet folded
model. Any type of paper can be used. I have used regular
bond typing paper, onion skin paper for a translucent effect
brown paper bags and regular origami paper.
I very quickly decided that while cotton balls held the dyes excellently, they were not designed to give up their contents readily. This led me to
try the common ordinary kitchen sponge. This worked more efficiently and had some hidden bonuses - I could use the texture and designs of the
sponge for additional patterns. The fine holes of some sponges produced a filigree pattern. The waffle treads on other sponges produced distinctive
pattern. These textures could be superimposed in one or more directions for spectacular effect. The effects can be enhanced by following the natural pattern of some models to align with the diagonal or horizontal.
Gay Gross suggested the use of wedged shaped make-up sponges which can be used for fine lines or cut into shapes. When I go to the market, I now buy my sponges for their designs. If in a package of sponges, I get a not so good design, there
are always dishes waiting. When I start to dye, I first cut the sponges into little rectangles approximately 1 x 2 inches.
It is best to cover
the work surface with newspapers, which are cheap and absorbent. Michael Shall recommends lightly attaching the paper to be dyed to the newspapers with a little spot of glue stick so as to prevent the paper from slipping or curling. (I don't
bother.) The dyes can be applied directly to a premoistened sponge with the eye dropper or by dipping in a mixing tray. It is best to have the sponge premoistened with cheap water than being moistened by soaking up the expensive dyes. The dyes can be applied to either wet or dry paper. Start by applying a base coat of a light color. It is best to work from light to dark. A light color will not show up on a dark color. For a deep, even color, the base coat should be applied both vertically and horizontally. Depending on the effect
desired, the second coat can be applied while the first coat is still damp. This will cause the second color to spread in interesting and unpredictable patterns. The drying process can be hurried with a hair dryer. If the sponge for
the second coat is very wet, the colors will bleed more than if applied with a slightly damp sponge. The pattern from a slightly damp sponge will be crisper. By applying the sponge designs in two or more directions, interesting patterns and
designs can be formed. The best way to learn is to play with it and enjoy.
The completed model should be sealed with a fixative such as Krylon clear acrylic spray paint, which will retard the color fading, protect the 'colors, and add durability and stiffness to the finished model. The Krylon comes in either a gloss or matte finish. Any clear spray paint will work. It is best to buy this
at a hardware of DIY store as it will be half as expensive as the same can be purchased in an art supply shop. Watercolors have a tendency to fade in bright sunlight, due to chemical interactions with the sunlight and evaporation; sealing will slow this process. The second advantage of sealing the paper is that
it prevents the colors from running or splotching if they get wet. If several coats of sealant are applied, the model will be stiff and harder to damage. The coating should only be done to a finished model; if done before folding, the foil has a tendency to split along creases while folding.
Teaching Tips: December 1989
Teaching considerations from Sarah Goodall
What do you need to consider when preparing to teach?
When you teach it's important to remember that people learn in different ways. Some people understand best when they see what is happening while others need to hear what is said. Some people fold by knowing what a model looks like before
and after a move. Others need to see the move happen. The way you teach needs to be understood by all these people. You are aiming to do this when you learn the model to teach.
How do you approach learning the model to teach?
When you have decided which model you are going to teach you need to practise folding it until you know it very well. As you learn it, you need to make a note of which moves are difficult to fold. If you can, try to find an easier way of making them, or even the whole models The easiest way to diagram a model is usually not the easiest way of folding or teaching it. Some moves are quite easy to do but difficult to explain. Try to think of ways of explaining those. If
possible don't make any valley creases if they are going to be mountain folds because that leads to inaccuracies, (sometimes you have to though). You need to find the most accurate method of folding because an 'inaccurate' method
will lead to a mess and failure. YOU might be able to fold well using an 'inaccurate' method because you are an experienced neat folder, but imagine (or try it) folding slightly inaccurately and see what happens. You need to find
the method where a fairly large inaccuracy will not affect the model too much.
How do you explain the model in words?
Try to describe the model and move in several ways. This means that you talk about colour and shape, top and bottom and sides etc. of course 'top and bottom and sides' doesn't mean anything unless everybody has their paper the same way
round. Tell everybody to put their paper in a certain position eg. 'Put the model in front of you so that it looks like a house,. Don't talk about 'points, when you mean corners. 'Fold this point to here' doesn't mean much if
someone can't see what you're doing. Imagine you are teaching someone on the phone and explain as you would to them. Try to say something like "make
a crease from the place where the diagonal crease meets the folded edge of the paper to ....." Explain the technical terms before you use them eg. "Fold
the paper in half from side to side like a book so that you get a coloured rectangle .... unfold.... If I shook salt onto your paper it would fall into the crease. That's called a valley fold because.... Don't expect people to do the same again or remember what a valley fold is, they may do but be
ready to explain again.
"Put the paper white side up" positioned for next move.
- Get everybody's paper in the best position for the next move.
- Say what you're folding, from where, to where and how.
- Describe the shape/colour of the model when the move is
completed using the example of a valley fold above.
"fold in half" what you're doing.
"from side" from where
"to side" to where
"like a book" how
"so that you get a coloured Colour/shape after move"
If a model has the same move repeated such as folding 2 corners to the centre, only tell everybody to fold one in to start off with. Keep things simple and don't rush as that leads to PANIC and panic leads to failure and not enjoyment.
How do you teach people who learn through sight?
- Show the model in the position you want it for the next move
- Point to the part of the model you are going to fold.
- Point to where you're folding to.
- Perform the move.
- Show the model with the move completed.
Repeat 1-5 if the move is complicated. Don't hide the paper with your hand so that no one can see what you're doing or where you're pointing to. Try looking in a mirror to see how to hold the model and fold it so that everyone can see what you're doing.