Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Here is a box which began life as an attempt to follow someone's verbal instructions for making a vase. I never did figure it out but was satisfied with the box which I created along the way. Since I began the experiment several days ago, it has been through several variations and ended up with a couple of lids .

The yellow box is version three. It begins life as a square which is pre-folded into quarters. The outside eighth is divided into thirds by the simple expedient of folding the edge in towards the next crease until it looks to be about half way. It is reasonably accurate, if you are careful to check the corners to see that the edges line up.

Version four is folded from a square which has been pre-creased into thirds. In one of the early blogs on this site you will find the URL for a convenient division helper template. It uses the parallel lines trick.

The nice thing about the thirds version is that corner ends which are tucked in around the box in a clockwise direction are lined up well enough to give the impression that the edging is braided all the way around. It is, in fact, an illusion.

Once the sides have been rolled over and the end strips formed, collapse the model into a preliminary base. This will push up the overlapped ends until they form a long point. These points will be tucked into the adjoining side in a clockwise direction.

The slanted sides of the box are found by lining the base of the V on the pointed corner end strip with the middle crease on the side panel. Line up the V and push the piece flat to form a slanted side. You can minimize the creasing by rolling the stip a little before bending it. The wall crease should begin from the pre-crease line below it. In the thirds version you will not need to fold the base up after forming the wall slants as the edge coincides exactly with this pre-creases. However, a little bit of extra creasing at this point helps the final assembly stage.

Unfold the creased flap and move to the next side.

Once all four sides have been creased go around the model again, tucking in each end strip and creasing the tips in line with the slanting crease from the next side panel. Un-tuck and proceed to the next section.

Once this has been done tuck the ends in all the way around and leave them there. The last strip will have to eased over the bend of the adjoining wall.

Finally flatten the floor, firm up the base of the box and gently push the tucked-in strips up as far as they will go. {They slip down a little during construction.}

The first lid is very easy to fold. It is basically a variant of the windmill base. The top square is a little larger than the top entry of the box. In order to lock the box the corner tips (yes, them again) are folded under the lid and then folded back on themselves. I estimate this distance and you can too. Just make sure that the line is parallel.

Finally, put the lid on top of the box and tuck the tips into the corner pockets around the top of the box.

The second lid is almost identical except for the addition of a halving fold which allow the underside of the paper to be seen.


Friday, October 16, 2009


The Sunset kusudama has been modified. I took it apart and added a woven dodecahedron in the center. Then I threaded beads onto fishing twine and pushed the thread through the center of each flower. It looks good, but it was quite fiddly and I am not in a hurry to repeat the procedure on a different model.

Next time I make this model I will reverse the petals so that the seam runs down the middle of each petal and the connecting crease turns up in the center of the flower giving it the impression of stamens.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Here is another kusudama designed to be put together without glue. I almost achieved that goal. I resorted to a little glue on the last flower and its neighbour as the tension of the model at this stage of construction was a little too much for the joints. I also suspect that my folding had become a little sloppy by then. It was late at night and I had spent the entire day on the model.

First came the idea. Next came several prototype foldings to see if the design worked out in practice. I made a couple of modifications as the result. I tried out several slightly different patterns and finally decided on one which was almost the same as the one I started with. Next I cut up some pretty paper and started the folding process. Twelve five-petaled flowers where every petal is shared by a neighboring flower means that I had to cut and fold 30 pieces of paper.

I settled into a rhythm as I folded piece after piece. Nevertheless, it became tedious after the first dozen of them. I kept working because I wanted to see how it turned out.

Some time after midnight I finished the last two pieces. Unfortunately the last flower fell apart when I tried to slot in the final petals. Tired out and disappointed, I abandoned it and went to bed.

This morning I fiddled with the locks on the final flowers for a few minutues before deciding that the paper had lost its firmness and glue was required if I did not want to refold another five petals. Perhaps my readers will be more patient.

Here is the crease pattern for the model. The angles at the base of each petal are 60 degree (hexagon) angles. There are number of internet sites which provide graphic instructions on how to find this angle.

The hexagon angle works in this pentagonal flower because the flower is not flat. The pattern will work for a hexagonal flower as well which means it is suitable for kusadama patterns which use basketball design. The basketball polyhedron uses a mix of hexagons and pentagons.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I have been looking for something in which to store and display my increasing collection of kusadamas, some of which are almost 12 inches (30 cms) in diameter. Clear boxes have one or more of several problems: they are too small, not the right shape, too weak or very expensive.

I decided to make my own.

First I sought out designs for cut out boxes. None of these were entirely appropriate, either.

I began to think of making a rigid frame to which I could attach clear sheets of something. I wondered if the frame itself could be made out of some clear material. I am still wondering about that but do not have a clear answer yet. So far I have not come across anything clear that I would fold well. The closest thing is thin glassine which is not, of course, very strong. Velum cracks. Most plastic will not hold a crease.

I consulted the origami literature on the web but discovered that frames which I might be able to utilize just did not fit the bill. Some of the better ones were difficult to put together, where designed to form balls rather than cubes or had too many visually distracting struts. In other words they were meant to be an art form or their own rather than a vehicle to show off something else.

After weeks of frustration I decided to design my own display cases. I dislike working with huge sheets of material so I decided to make a modular frame which was strong enough to be made in a large size, be stacked up several high and be capable of having a floor inserted into it and acetate sheets glued to the struts or folded into them. I also wanted one which could be made into a cube or a rectangle and have struts where the thickness could be varied from model to model. In other words, I wanted a model which was fairly flexible in the way it could be made up and in the strength of the material which could be used to make it.

After several attempts which did not come out quite right, including one in card weight material, I came up with the model shown here.

The example is made from thin (20lb) copy paper in three colors. In spite of the flimsy paper the model is surprisingly strong. The example has strut reinforcers in the four uprights only and has a thin paper floor which is folded into the struts on two opposite sides.

As my dedicated readers will know, I tend to use copy paper for all my prototype models as it is cheap enough to throw away in bulk as I discard one failure after another.

Successful models are often made up with better paper but sometimes I post the designs here before I get around to that task - especially if the piece is a modular design which takes a long time to prepare, fold and put together. This one is a case in point.
In any case, using three different colored papers helps demonstrate the way the model is put together.

I intend to make the functional models in stronger metallic paper reinforced with relatively thick card in all twelve struts. The disadvantage will be that the last tab in each triad will be relatively more difficult to push in. The acetate sheet walls and floor will be glued on as acetate tends to crack if folded. I will experiment with other types of relatively inexpensive clear material of various rigidities.
Velum may work. Overhead projection slides may work. I doubt, however, that something as thin as the stuff used for wrapping food will be of any practical use.

Here are the crease patterns for the model.

This time I have included thumbnail copies of the folding instructions. The full sized ones will be available in my book when it is published. You may not be able to read all the written comments but the diagrams and images are big enough to allow you to make the model anyway. Have fun.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LaFayette Class

Last week I taught a class of enthusiast first-time folders in the SF East Bay district of LaFayette. Sonia, Carol, Steffie, Bruce and a courtly gentleman who insisted that his name was Paul and not "you": all did a sterling job of folding several models over a three and a half hour period on a Saturday afternoon. The session was punctuated only by a marvellous Japanese banquet provided by Sonia and her local Safeways store.

We commenced by folding the name cards outlined in the previous blog, continued to fold a conventional modular double-petaled lotus flower with a pipe cleaner center
[http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-fold-an-origami-lotus-flower ] and finally, we folded a collection of the wallets which have been featured on this blog in an earlier post.

The completed models of these people are all the more praiseworthy when it is known that one member of this group was legally blind and one had suffered a stroke which has affected the visuo-spatial cortex of his brain.

There were also a couple of people there who show real promise as origami folders. Not half bad, you two. You know who you are.

The session included a display of some of the work I have been folding lately, including a brown and orange kusudama ball which has not been featured on these pages yet. You can see it on the left of the group photo, in front of my right arm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Here are some simple folds which create stable name cards for table placement and title cards for display models. They are both made from A4 or American letter-sized paper.

In deference to my many Spanish speaking readers I have labeled the examples in Spanish. Hola mis amigos.

My many Brazilian followers will wish to translate these as "O Nome" and "O Titulo" respectively.
Olá pessoal!

The dotted crease marks at the top and the bottom of the Crease Pattern for the Name Card are lightly folded marker creases which do not extend into the space reserved for writing (or printing) the name.

They are there so that the side hems can be folded accurately. The model is completed by tucking the side hem at one end into the side hems at the other end. This forms a triangular shape with the floor being the only section showing the marker creases.

This is a very stable model.

The Title Cards are commenced by marking the center on the short side with a short light crease before folding the piece in half in the other direction (lengthwise). Now make a cupboard by folding the short edges into the center. The top and bottom quarters shown on the Crease Pattern will now crease themselves as you crease the topmost sheets (which is why these creases are shown in a lighter color).

Next, mark the diagonals on the sides. I have only shown these on one of the quarter sections. You can fold them on both if you wish, or else copy the sharp folds onto the other side by folding the layers together.

Next we halve the angle made by the side marker creases. Then fold a diagonal from the other direction (as shown) to meet the end of that halving fold. Fold the other side to match (if you have not already done so by folding through all layers.)

You should have triangular points on both ends made by two side flaps. Tuck the shorter one into the longer one on both sides. (See the photo of the back of the card for an example.) The resulting model should now slant at an appropriate angle for reading when placed on a table. Adjust the sides and the angle as you wish by folding the back triangles inwards or outwards.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I have been working on this model for several months now.

There were some design problems to overcome in the early stages. One of them was solved while waiting to see the eye surgeon Dr Todd Severin. His assistant, Tamie, left me in this dimly lighted man's office after dilating my eyes. Bored, I grabbed a sheet of paper from one of his notepads and worked on solving the problem of how to make the carrier case of this flower look like petals. The insight gained from this fiddling resulted in a solution which looked pleasing.

In appreciation for the use of his notepad and his office (among other things) this lilly-like flower has been named after Dr Todd Severin. I have named the ensuing kusudama ball "The T Lilly" after both Tamie who is also know quite simply as "T". Of course, the "T" title can be used to cover both of these T-beginning names.

The Severin practice is one of the most pleasant medical establishments I have ever visited. All the staff are relaxed and fun to be around. It is clear from the beginning that this is a place where miracles of vision happen on a regular basis.

There are artists in the Severin family and this shows in the decor. Sitting in the downstairs waiting room is like sitting in a comfortable lounge room in an artisan's house. I would recommend a visit to the bathroom. It is the nicest bathroom I have ever had need to visit in a doctor's office: art, flowers, dried plants pieces, wallpaper, interesting tables and decorated cupboards. It is a wonder the staff don't charge an entrance fee.

The petals of the Todd Lilly are made from paper of two different tones of the same hue. The photos of the red flower do not show this well. It is easier to see in the original. The tonal difference gives depth to the flower.

The pink and red flowers are the original design. They have flower connectors which do not include "leaves".

The red flower ball was my first kusudama from this series. While I was completing it I used it as a model to teach folding enthusiasts at the July WCOG meeting in Los Angeles. You will find a record of that meeting and my mini "class" on Michael Sander's blog. http://havepaperwilltravel.blogspot.com/

Here is a link to Michael's video of that meeting. As you can see, it was a fun-filled meeting.

Michael is an amazing chap. He now posts from the future. Here is the evidence.

The second version of the Todd Lilly uses connectors with attached leaves. Here are two differently colored versions of this. The white and blue flower with copper, navy and aqua centers and teal connector leaves was made to fit the decor in the Severin Clinic. The blue petals do not contrast well with the teal petals and I am in the process of making a different, and much larger, kusudama using copper colored petals instead.

Here are the Crease Patterns for the model. For the sake of clarity I have omitted drawing the reflected creases in the center of the pattern for the central stamen. They will reproduce themselves if you fold the shown creases after blintzing the paper as shown.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The rectangular box by Clemente Giusto, featured in an article a couple of months ago, has similarities to a square-based box diagrammed in Florence Temko's book Origami Boxes and More (Tuttle, 2004). (The domed box made from daisy flowered paper is the model shown in Tempko's book.) Both boxes have double layered roof sections. In both boxes paper strips are "woven" across the lower roof to form the upper roof.

Similarities in origami are common. Many would-be origami artist has been irritated to discover that the creation they have just proudly designed has merely reinvented an origami wheel.

The problem with both the Giusto box and the Temko box is that the walls are relatively weak compared to the roof sections. This can result in wall collapse during construction.

Yami Yamauchi
solves this problem by placing an acrylic block in the center of the pre-creased paper so that he can support the walls around it and squash the roof sections firmly on it. The problem with that solution is that you either have to make all your boxes the same size or you have to cut a new block every time you want to make a box of a different size.

My solution to the Giusto box has already been documented in a previous blog. My solution to Florence's box was to add a simple double thickness box in the center.

I also redesigned the external roof section so that it avoided the central hole and folded down flat. In order to achieve that purpose the ends of the protruding strips are tucked inwards.

The variation, showing the color on the back of the sheet, was achieved by turning a larger section of each corner under. A look at the Crease Patterns and a consideration of the photos showing how the boxes open up should explain the differences.

If you make this box from the crease patterns provided here, start the internal box by dividing the paper into an 8 x 8 grid with two diagonals. Then bring the corner points into the center (blintz). Proceed by folding the model according to the crease pattern shown in the central diamond. During assembly the walls are folded over each other from left to right all the way around. The last wall needs to be lifted so that the corner section can be tucked to continue the pattern of its neighbours.

Although this makes a box with walls that are thicker on the left half than the right half of each side this is disguised by the decorative outer shell.