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
[ ] 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.