Monday, December 22, 2008


Here is a sample of another type of paper connection. It is similar to, but different from, a recent model in this blog.

I intend to post a crease pattern for the units some time soon. Unfortunately, the Silly Season is eating into my blog preparation. I promise only that you will get them when I post them.

The unit connections are sturdy, reasonably quick and decorative. The main failing is that instructions for the unit connections will not be easy to diagram. I am not looking forward to that task.

In cases like these, access to a 3-D version of the units and a 3-D example of connected units would probably be much easier to follow than traditional diagrams.

"Step folds" are another good way of showing how the method is done. As some of you already know, I arrive at conventions with "teaching boxes" containing sets of step folds which can be turned over and around by the student folder. According to the feedback I receive, these are quite useful.

It is possible that a good video clip would explain the method as well. Unfortunately these are time consuming and hard to develop. There is no shortage of excellent examples of horrific how-to-fold videos on the net. They suffer from a variety of problems including distracting backgrounds, bad choice of table top or cloth, poor illumination, poor framing of object, object partially or totally out of range of the camera, object too small or too large, angle of view unhelpful or confusing, annoying sound or music, inadequate, inappropriate or unnecessary verbal instructions and colors which are garish or insufficiently contrastive for the medium.

Exceptions, such as instructional videos made by Michael La Fosse, are a joy to watch. I am under no illusion that countering the usual problems takes quite a lot of time and effort and probably the presence of good video equipment, expensive lighting and a suitable uncluttered space. I would have a hard time matching such expertise but one day I might try.


I have been experimenting with the weaving grid and have come up with a kind of faux origami quilt.

I began by making the subsections and then connected them into long strips. Then I began weaving and twisting.

It was not long before I became hopelessly tangled and twisted. The solution was to remove all the dangling bits which were not necessary for the next step. This is making it easier.

In general, twisting the pieces together is not easy. The paper (cheap 20lb copy paper)is too bulky and not strong enough to cope with a lot of folding and upfolding. Some of it is getting a little thin. Very little of it is ending up with the same crisp folds with which I began the project. Some units are definitely a little crumpled around the edges.

I have been utilizing mini "dog clips" to clamp selected folds together while I arrange the folds prior to twisting. The clips work well but my arthritic hands find them difficult to squeeze and un-squeeze.

I think the piece would benefit from thinner prettier and sturdier paper. At the moment it suffers from the constraints of cost as well as the usual pitfalls of developing a new model and method of folding.

This is definitely not a fast method of paper connection. The benefit is that the intrepid (and arguably insane) folder can end up with a multi-colored flat piece of decorative origami of theoretically endless dimensions. As with any kind of quilting or pieced work, patterns and "pixel art" can be worked into the decorative sheet: all it takes is a little planning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Here are some diagrams which have grid lines superimposed on them. They should make better sense than those posted yesterday.

Yesterday's upload was rudely interrupted by a major coughing attack and breathing impairment. (I still have some residual 'flu symptoms which are causing me distress). Consequently my cognitive editing module failed to note that the diagrams had been screen captured without the important grid guidelines.


Here are diagrams for the thin woven strips in the origami weaving piece. As yet, there are no diagrams to show how they look when folded. You will have to make do with the photographs of the back of the work. These give you some indication of how they are slotted into each other and into the centers of the grid pieces but do not show the details of the locking diamonds which are buried in the slots.

In each case the piece ends in a diamond shape. Generally the diamond is one the back. Sometimes it is on the front. Sometimes the diagonal is connected along a seam in the horizontal direction and sometimes in the vertical direction. It depends on where the respective end is going to be connected.

Over the next few days I will try to construct some diagrams to clarify this.

You will have noticed that there are different designs for both the grid pieces and the strip weavings for different thickness of material. If you are working with thin paper, then use the design for thin paper. If you are using thicker or sturdier paper then use the design for thick paper.

The locking square twists are difficult to fold cleanly or neatly with thick paper, especially if you add extra thickness at the sides and ends. The downside is that your woven strips will strain the single thickness side of the slot in which they are locked.

The shorter version not only saves on end thickness, it saves paper as well. It will look the same from the front but is a little less interesting from the back. The downside is that it is a little more difficult to connect the pieces together because the pieces are slightly less stable in the process. It's not a big problem, however.

Try out both designs and choose the one which best fits your paper. My preference is to use thin strong paper (Salago, for example) and the thin paper version. In practice, I find the thick paper version more useful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Here are instructions for making the grid section of the origami weaving showpiece.

There are a variety of ways of connecting the pieces to make patterns. Here I show patterns for two four-color patterns which work well.

The general connecting principles can be applied to other weavings and quilt-like creations. There is a "short grid" version of the original "weaving" which I am in the process of trying out in various paper weights and types of material.
Examples will appear in future postings.

The initial folding for these units is not especially difficult. It takes practice, however, to get the
to get the "knots" undone and the pieces refolded together quickly and smoothly. Try the folds out with scrap paper until you get the hang of it. If you fold a lot of square twists you may be confident enough to skip the practice period. In that case, congratulations!

I believe that the Princeton Public Library group of origami enthusiasts is considering embarking on this model or another of the flat sheet connecting methods outlined on this site recently. Hopefully they will supply photos of masterful achievement as proof.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The weaving piece is complete. It's been an interesting experiment.

I rotated the central diamonds for some added interest.

The back of the piece is interesting in itself.

The prototype model is very tight and getting the last few strips together was tricky. There were a few minor tears. Sections of the wider strips buckled.

The result is a piece which is not entirely "square".

I covered the piece with a damp paper towel and ironed it. (See the last photo for the result of this procedure.) This helped, but did not entirely fix the problem. A side effect is that the shape of the underlying locking diamonds showed through on the front in several places. If you look carefully at the photo at full resolution you may be able to spot this.

The next version would benefit from a few modifications which might fix this. The narrow strips, which are made from standard letter-sized copy paper, would benefit from being a fraction narrower and longer to allow for the thickness of the folded paper in the wider strips. This would provide a little more ease of adjustment.

I still do not like the colors and am considering painting the whole piece with a bronze Pearl-Ex wash in an attempt to tie the colors together and give it a sheen which will lift the flatness of the copy paper.

I got a shipment of differently colored (and rare) legal sized copy paper today. This means that my next copy paper version will use colors I like better. I am also considering printing leaf, bark or crumpled patterns on the sheets before I fold them in order to provide the illusion that I am using expensive hand-made paper with "inclusions" or "texture". Although they provide visual interest, these extras often make the paper difficult to fold accurately.

Another possibility is using printed kraft paper gift wrap. This type of wrap is stronger than the usual gift wrap and generally does not suffer from color cracking on the crease marks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The paper weaving has progressed still further - and so has the learning.

Yesterday there were two versions of the main frame strips: a short version and a long version. The difference in lengths is necessary to stagger the pieces so that they weave properly.

Today there are three versions of the narrow interior strips: two long and one short. The second long version tucks into the back of the first version in order to extend it. The triangular points on the back of the work show where this happens. The locking fold is different on these ends.

The short strip not only has a different lock on each end but one of them is on the other side. This enables the piece to be looped over the edge of the work and slotted in on the back side. You can see two of these strips in the photo of the back of the work: at the top and the bottom of the piece respectively.

Slotting the locks into and under the longitudonal slits in the large strips puts quite a strain on the edges of those strips. Several of the single thickness edges tore slightly.

One edge was badly damaged to the point where it began to affect the locking ability of two of the thin strips. I resorted to strengthening it with invisible tape.

Now the interesting question is: Does the work remain origami if it uses adhesive tape in its construction? I maintain that it does if, as in this case, the tape is not part of the design but is used to strengthen a damaged part, not to connect the pieces together. Of course, since the tape is invisible, I can probably deny that it is there to anyone who cannot detect it by sight. Can you see it?


The weaving continues.

There have been several challenges.

The first concerned where to store the increasingly large piece. This was solved by pegging it to my kitchen wall spice rack.

The second has been the difficulties arising from trying to ease the locking diamonds into the horizontal slits on the back of the work. There have been a couple of paper tears, fortunately hidden under the strips. I need a better method of gently separating the slits than a chopstick. I tried toothpicks, but these tend to poke holes in the paper. My pliers are too big. I think I will try tweezers tomorrow.

A design improvement might be to add paper at the sides of the strips so that I can have a double hem on the back slot. There is a lot of tension on that central slot on the back of the work.

My concern over adding extra paper is that the result will increase the thickness of the paper strips too much. I will try out the idea using thinner paper on the next model and see how it works out.

I am starting to consider how I might edge the model when it is completed. It looks a little bit untidy around the edges for my liking. I haven't solved this one yet.

The result so far.

BTW, these are the real colors. They are looking better as my influenza improves :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The origami weaving model has progressed since the last posting.

Now I have the first intermediate strands locked into place. They look good.

I am not entirely sure about the method of connecting the second set of intermediate strands. I have one in place. (See the back view). I may have to redesign the lock if it remains able to slide down its connecting channel a little.

I have discovered that the model is easier to assemble if I leave the lock squares on the main strands unfolded until they are assembled with cross piece. The blue strip poking out the top is longer than its neighbour purely because the visible pre-creased squares have not yet folded up.

The smaller end sections are lock folded in place so that I don't lose the pieces. They unfold relatively easily with a little gentle care. Forcing them can mangle, crumple or tear the paper.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


While fighting the latest influenza epidemic I have been experimenting with origami "weaving". The problem of how to do this has helped to pass the time when I have been unable to sleep because of the effects of this very nasty virus.

The idea was to develop a method where I could add units to the length and breadth of the model while keeping it firm and stable. I needed to be able to lock two strips together at their ends and then lock this joint at right angles under the middle of a third strip.

My early attempts all proved unsuitable for one reason of another, mostly because the result was not sufficiently firm or stable. I finally settled on a modified square twist which is three sheets thick.

The photograph shows how this is coming along. I am developing a grid with the twist square locks at the intersections. I've used several different colors of paper so that the transitions between one piece and another are more obvious. Take a look at the orange and mauve strips. There is a different color projecting from either side of the middle of these strips.

Because this is a prototype folding I have been using cheap 20lb bond/50lb text copy paper in legal and ledger sizes. The color offerings are rather limited and I do not like them. The 'flu is making me feel sick enough without having to stare at a photograph of the model in its original colors of blue, green, pale yellow and goldenrod. I admit to the cyber crime of color changing the results to that which you see here.

I have plans for filling in the gaps with thinner woven strips. I think the result will be quite interesting. I plan on connecting these intermediate strips together using the discarded methods that I developed during the early phases of this project. Because the frame work is relatively rigid these methods should be suitable this time.

Although folding the strips is relatively easy putting them together is a little tricky. I am improving as I practice. The initial folding methods have been improved and modified. I have stopped tearing paper or getting hopelessly muddled with ridges which aren't where I thought I wanted them. I can now get the pieces together without tears in under a minute - well, mostly. At this stage, however, I would rate this piece as "advanced".

Monday, December 1, 2008


I find the mathematical naming system for polyhedra to be somewhat cumbersome, especially when the full and precisely accurate term is used. According to the text book definition this box is officially a form of sunken rhombicuboctahedron. A slightly less complicated version identifies it as a cantellated cube or cantellated octahedron. I prefer to refer to the model simply by its general class name: an octahedron.

It has eight faces around its sagital plane and eight faces around its coronal plane.

But now we are getting complicated again. The neurological terms are just as confusing to the average Jill or Joe as the formal mathematical terms.

The original version of the box divides the rim of the lid in half so that the model appears to be in two equal halves when closed.

A fan prefers to make the box without turning the rim over. (See the red box which she folded.) It makes for a less bulky lid which is useful when the box is made from thicker paper.

For text weight paper use two squares, one about half an inch smaller than the square which will be used for the lid. I use one 8-1/2 inch square and one 8 inch square. It works rather well in Stardream paper which is 81 lb text weight.

The model works in other weights as well. The white and gold box was made from light weight pearlized text paper on the bottom (about 60lb text) and even thinner velum for the top. I generally try to avoid using velum as it is somewhat brittle and has a nasty tendency to crack, especially in areas where it is stressed or the crease is folded and unfolded regularly.

Izumi, the woman who made the red full rimmed version, is Japanese. She married a Mexican friend of mine and now speaks fluent Mexican Spanish.

She teaches the Japanese language to Mexican locals. In her teaching area she displays a vase of paper flowers which I folded from traditional patterns when I stayed in that house a couple of years ago.

The irony is that, although Japanese, Izumi could not show her students how to fold these models because she was almost entirely ignorant of her native art. She begged me to teach her while I was there this time.

Believe me, it felt very strange teaching a native born Japanese how to fold origami models.

She turned out to be a very good student. When I woke the morning after I taught her to fold the octahedron box I was amazed to discover the table littered with increasingly sophisticated models. Unfortunately most of my photos of her models were blurry or they would have been displayed proudly on this blog.

Fortunately her face was in focus, and here she is displaying two of her newly learned and folded models.

Way to go, Izumi! Buen trabajo!

Here is the crease pattern. The green shaded areas are hidden when the model is finished.

Annual L.A. Japanese Gardens Event

In the summer months of the U.S. year there is an annual origami teaching event on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles. To be precise, it is held in the Japanese Gardens in the grounds of the California State University at Long Beach. Origami enthusiasts from the region set up tables in the gardens and teach young and old how to make a selection of models. There is a small entrance fee to cover costs and there is an equally small "donation" paid to the teachers. I have traveled to L.A. to join the enthusiastic teachers for the past couple of years. It has been a tiring but satisfying experience.

The event is well-photographed by one of the group's enthusiastic origami photographers. This can present risks to some contributors. This year I was playfully photographed in possession of SCISSORS. I have not seen the results of this snapping and presume that it will be used as blackmail material at a later stage.

There were other less damning photographs taken. The one on this page shows me before my hair went gray. (In other words, the dye grew out again.) The student is one of the other contributors. Before the hoards arrive there is sometimes time to try out someone else's creations. I just wish there were more time to do this.