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BOS is 50

Highlights from British OrigamI 190-199

Dancing With Paper:June 1998
Jonathan Baxter at Charlotte

For one brief shining moment the Charlotte arts scene glimmered with originality as Dance Central, the communities dance assembly at Central Piedmont College performed a new ballet, a collaboration between Katherine Horne, Director of the College's dance programme and Paul Jackson.

The unlikely duo met at the Southeastern Origami Festival in 1996, when both produced separate pieces as part of an evening of origami displayed as an entertainment and performance art, Paul with a version of his orchestra composed of paper sounds and Katherine with a small dance piece she had composed, entitled 'A dance to paper'. Both saw the opportunity to work together to create an integral piece combining aspects of the paper art form and the beauty of human movement.

In January '98 Paul returned to Charlotte and worked with Katherine to create conceptual ideas, props and devices the dancers could work with to bring a new dance to life. It received its first performance in the winter programme and delighted its audience. There is no question that this was not the Royal Ballet. Barishnykov will not dance it next week. But what spectators encounter is a fifteen minute piece that blends two seemingly unrelated art-forms into a lively, entertaining piece that somehow gives extra validity to both.

With infectiously upbeat music, the dance begins with an almost ritualistic sequence, culminating in the fabrication of a large paper hat. Quickly the action moves on to a piece using the paper snapper followed by wobble boards, frogs and poppers - each sequence with its own expressive movements. These samples from the Jackson toy box give the dancers whimsical tools with which to apply their discipline. Nowhere is this more evident than in the snapper vignette, when the slow motion of the action mirrors the carefully synchronised leg movements of the performers.

The troupe still has three unfinished segments, but it is encouraging to know that both its director and dancers plan to complete these pieces and build on their achievements. The impetus to do so comes from the enrichment they have gained in attempting this challenge and the good results they have been able to attain so far.

Visitors to the 3rd Southeastern Origami Festival in 1998 will have the opportunity to see the latest version.

Paper hats off to all involved!


Serendipity:August 1998
Limerick by Oliver Zachary

   A monk from the Wirral called Cyril
   folded paper to show he were viril.
   When they cried 'Wow - a bat!',
   he replied 'Fancy that -
   and I always thought 'twere a squirrel.'


Pic of the Month: October 1998
The Appeal of Origami

Sam Evison and Suzanne Edwards modelling a hat by Akira Yoshizawa.


Poetry Corner: December 1998
'Growing Old With Origami' by Pearl Derrett

   I first met a Robert Harbin
   When a bookshop had a sale.
   I took it home for study
   And thereby hangs a tale.

   My favourite was an antelope,
   Though now my fingers fail
   At the tricky bits like thinning legs
   And the folds in a squirrels tail.

   I used to make dragons and peacocks,
   Of camels I once had a herd,
   But now I can only manage
   That flipping, flapping bird!


Seen and Heard: February 1999
Flying High on Origami

Many of you may have seen published in previous editions of BO, how origami has been used to fold small packets which can contain various powdery substances. Well, Francis Ow (Singapore) sent me a clip from 27th November 1998 edition of The Straits Times, which certainly puts a new spin on this angle. It states: "Inmates in Britain's Stafford Prison have found a new use for origami - using paper aeroplanes to get illegal drugs from outside the jail walls. Inspectors described how they stumbled on a simple but ingenious drugs supply line: prisoners threw darts over the prison wall to waiting dealers who attached their supplies and threw them back. Drugs were available especially on F Wing which was close to the perimeter wall. Prison authorities had strung up 'snagging lines' to try and stop the paper darts being thrown over the wall, but with little success. Someone's book on paper planes must have been a hit!


Folder's Corner: April 1999
Oriland - The Paper's World

This exciting new Russian web site is the result of two admirers of origami, Katrin and Yurii Shumakovs. They are graduates of Psychology in Rostov and authors of "We study Origami", "Origami - miracles from a paper" and "Useful subjects and decorations for a desk". A Japanese folder presented them with a small paper crane in 1989 during a theatrical festival in France, which led to origami becoming the main passion of their lives. Working from Kasahara's "Origami for the Connoisseur" they mastered diagrams and began to create their own models.

They have studied the psychological and psychophysiological influence of origami up to degree level, and it formed the theme of their dissertation. After much work with children and adults, they arrived at ideal methods of folding models, which allow people to successfully fold even the most difficult models. This approach is reflected in their fascinating and highly visual web-site.

They observed that origami not only gives satisfaction and joy, but also influences mental functions and can be used to develop mental abilities. Origami can benefit:

  • activity of the right and left hemisphere of the brain
  • small and accurate finger movements of both hands.
  • parameters of intelligence (Raven)
  • creative thinking; speed, flexibility and originality.
  • three-dimensional imagination.
  • psychoemotional condition.
  • reduction of anxiety.
  • improvements in eye accuracy.


Convention Report: April 1999
Mette Pedersen goes to York

You would think that after attending a few origami conventions, you would begin to get bored ... this is definitely NOT the case!! Actually, they keep getting better, this latest BOS meeting in York no exception.

Things began the way all good conventions begin on Friday afternoon, people started to trickle into the main meeting room. Some to form small impromptu folding sessions, while others visited with friends old and new. You'd think we'd be glad to call it an early evening, so that we could rest up for the following two days of folding. But no! You can't waste a single minute at an origami meeting! That would be about as bad as pulling out a pair of scissors and a pot of glue! My late night folding included learning some wonderful modular stars and rings created and taught by Loes Schakel, a group of us eager to learn as many variations on Loes' models as possible.

Saturday morning everyone rushed through breakfast, so as to make a quick purchase from the Origami Supplies Store, run by Ian Harrison (BOS Supplies) and Derek East (Bookends). As usual, I ended up buying a fairly large stack of BOS booklets. At 10.00 a.m. David Brill welcomed everyone to the convention, and Martin Wall explained the location and times of classes scheduled for the day. Thanks for the large neon signs, Martin, I'd have been lost without them!

It had been raining on and off all morning. Thankfully, the weather co-operated with us for our Group Photograph. After lunch we all walked across the street from the University where the convention was held, and tried to gather ourselves on a hill without trampling on too many of the daffodils. As usual we teased and heckled Robin Macey as he tried to get pictures of us with all the different cameras people handed to him. Teasing aside, Robin, we always love receiving a copy of the group photograph you take.

The BOS AGM was held after lunch. Penny Groom and Sam Evison were awarded the Sidney French medal, named after the Society's founder, awarded to members who have given exceptional service either to the Society or origami at large. Unfortunately, Sam was unable to attend York due to ill-health ("Get Well Soon, Sam!" - Ed) but I was lucky enough to be with Dave Brill and Ian Harrison earlier in the week when they presented Sam with his award.

Before dinner, a small group of us actually stopped folding and went for a walk on the old city wall of York. Actually, not all of us walked. Jeremy Shafer rode his unicycle! Jeremy also spent the weekend entertaining us with some origami tricks and stories, juggling, unicycling, and his famous flaming flapping bird ... yes, he really did set the paper on fire! Jeremy also wowed everyone who attended his teaching sessions during the weekend.

Sunday's activities began with Dave Brill's infamous exhibit review. He went around table to table, and each of us that had models on display were invited to say a few words about a maximum three of our pieces. It's so much fun to learn a little about the different models on display. You get to know the folder a little better, and appreciate more about how and why they were folded.

Before rushing off to more folding sessions, a quick origami auction was held. About eight to ten hardback books were bid for, Rick Beech doing a wonderful job as auctioneer (We're in this together!! - Ed). Along with a few other lucky book collectors, I proudly walked off with one of the Yoshizawa volumes.

Having attended origami conventions in different countries, I find it fun to see the different models that keep springing up over and over again at all the various meetings. I saw Valerie Vann's Rose Cube and Yamauchi's Fireworks being taught during the weekend; Perhaps the most popular models of recent times? I wonder what will be next year's favourites? I can't wait to find out! Thankfully, there's always another origami convention just around the corner. So, it won't be long before I'm once more surrounded by all my origami friends!


Newspaper:August 1999
David Cohen at a Crafts Gallery


A: When it's art!! First mentioned in issue 195, I attended the opening of the "Contemporary International Basketmaking" exhibition at the Crafts Council Gallery in Islington, London on 16th June. This touring exhibition had already been to Manchester, and was due to finish in London on 15th August. There was a huge range of exhibits, including 3 of Paul Jackson's "Organic" works, seen by many at previous BOS conventions. They were also described as origami, as a contrast to forms, such as twining, interlaced, coiled, plaiting, etc. Other works to catch my "origami eye" were Spiral Armpiece (Peiling Lee, UK 1997), Newspaper Shoes (Birgitta Wendel, Sweden 1978) and When Is A Basket Not A Basket (Susan Jarnart, USA 1997). There is no doubt that some of these works use origami techniques, especially in the use of ribbons and plaiting - effectively, the folding of a square with almost infinite length. A very impressive display indeed!!


Landmarks:October 1999
Dave Brill Folding Ceramic Paper in Kyushu

You'll have read in British Origami no. 195 about the "Origami Art" competition staged by Toshikazu Kawasaki (famous for his much-loved Rose design), and the Origami Tougei Center in Sasebo, near Nagasaki, on the large island of Kyushu, Western Japan. I had the great honour of being one of the five judges, and I was the only non-Japanese judge of this competition. This meant a trip to Japan, which I combined with a fortnight's holiday in the company of origami celebrities such as Tomoko Fuse, Kunihiko Kasahara, and Toshikazu Kawasaki himself. They were also judges along with ceramics expert Momoyo Yamamoto.

The competition was held to promote several new types of paper developed by Toshikazu Kawasaki and Mr Tajima, the boss of the Origami Tougei Centre, a small firm which specialises in ceramic materials. The new papers included developments of two types of washi, both normally too fine and too soft to fold well; and a new ceramic paper which could by fired in a kiln after folding to produce a surprisingly solid and permanent porcelain origami figure. This ceramic paper has been developed after research by Kawasaki and Tajima over a 2 year period: it is a sort of sandwich of two sheets of thin washi around a core of clay. The paper is burnt away during the firing process, leaving the finished fired model.

To fold the ceramic paper requires certain new skills: it must be dampened before folding, much more than in conventional wet-folding techniques because the clay within the sandwich must be well-penetrated by the water. Kuni Kasahara and I found during experiments that the clay tended to be squeezed out of the sandwich during the folding, and heavy creasing could mean that there could be gaps in the finished fired model. We learnt that we could replace this squeezed-out clay by painting back lost material with a brush, loaded with a clay mixture of creamy consistency. We soon agreed that origami designs created with conventional paper in mind usually didn't convert well into ceramic models, and so we concentrated on developing new designs specifically for this material. Being surrounded by the beautiful porcelain dishes and artefacts which abound in Japan, I found myself folding dishes, cups and containers: not subjects to which I am normally attracted. I found that I achieved decidedly mixed results!

The competition was held during a weekend convention in the nearby city of Fukuoka, in a suite of meeting rooms on the upper stories of a department store. About 40 folders attended, many of them members of the Nippon Origami Association, and I was particularly pleased to meet Yoshio Tsuda from Nagasaki: a folder whose work I had admired for some years. His recent masterpiece is a superb pair of shoes complete with laces, which he was able to realise in ceramic paper, putting paid to any suggestion that this new material was only any good for simple designs. Drawings for Tsuda's shoes appear in our Bristol Autumn 1999 Convention book, now available from BOS supplies. Contact Ian Harrison (not Bookends).

Entries for the competition numbered about 90 spread over three classes, one for each type of paper. Not surprisingly the ceramic paper class wasn't particularly well- supported, because of lack of knowledge about the new techniques required. However in the other classes for the more conventional paper types there was lots of fine work. Japanese folder Koshiro Hatori cleaned up many of the top awards with superbly-folded versions of designs by Lang and Engel. Each judge had to award a special prize to one entry in the competition, and mine went a very neat and elegant multi-piece pagoda by respected folder Noriko Nagata: diagrams for this are also in the Bristol Convention book! Ms. Nagata taught us some elegant box variations: one with a neat crane handle.

After the convention and competition, I spent a wonderful relaxing week in a magnificent log house owned by a Nagasaki beer company boss. This was situated in the hills above the bay of Omura, overlooking Nagasaki airport in the distance. I was accompanied throughout this time by Kuni Kasahara, and we were joined periodically by Tomoko Fuse, and Toshikazu Kawasaki. Much folding, discussions and theorising took place, punctuated by frequent delicious meals, sampling of the local brews of beer, whisky, and shochu, a light spirit made from wheat. All around were spectacular views and colours. Just paradise!

I send my most grateful thanks to my very kind hosts and companions, who treated me like royalty, and enabled me to experience many of the extraordinary delights of Japan.


Desert Island Books:December 1999
Paul Jackson on a desert island, presumably with a limitless supply of paper!

This is a description of books that are important to me, listed in order that the titles were introduced to me, so that a chronology of influences may be traced. If I were to compile such a list next week, it may be different.

Paper Magic by Robert Harbin was the first origami book I ever saw. It awakened my interest, so it may be the most important book to me. The reasons it got me hooked are as relevant today as when I first saw it in the late 1960's: Joyful enthusiasm that I find infectious; The tone of both text and drawings suggest that Harbin and Rolf Harris (the illustrator) are excited about the models they are finding or creating. Harris' energetic drawings and the ebullient tone of Harbin's writing made me want to have a go myself. The book is a remarkable combination of authority, breathless enthusiasm and creative inspiration that supersedes its now rather old fashioned layout. It is a book that speaks directly to ME.

Philip Shen: Selected Geometric Paperfolds (BOS booklet). Dr. Shen's work is so important to me, as his was the first creative voice that made me understand that creative origami is not just a technical exercise, but that it could be the realisation of philosophical ideas. Crucially, the lesson here is that beauty comes from a synthesis (an overview) of form, not from an analysis (a collection of folded details). This appreciation, sadly lacking in a vast majority of modern designs, often illustrates that less is more.

Pliages by Jean-Marie Delarue : A 24 - page academic dossier I first saw in the 80's, featuring photographs which show the occurrence of folding/creasing in nature, followed by photographs showing paper folded/creased using various techniques which mimic these occurrences. This inspiration eventually lead me to my "One Crease" and crumpling techniques. It also lead to a separation in my mind between 'origami' (which for me is the making of representational models by folding paper) and "folding paper" (which is everything else). When my brain is bereft of creative ideas, this is the one book I turn to for inspiration and reassurance.

Petit Museum d'Hietoires presque Naturelles by Vincent Floderer. This collection of photographs and sketches of the French paper folder's work, between 1989 and 1993 is a unique volume assembled by the artist, not a published title. It documents an extraordinary range of experimental projects, using a wide range of papers, patinated foil, even aluminium mesh. Much of Floderer's work displays an unorthodox exuberance and wit.


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