The Theory of Origami

 My fascination with folded paper started in elementary school with that folded “fortune teller” which were usually made by girls.  Pick a color, pick and number and open up the chosen flap picked by a friend. We made quite wonderful predictions! 😎  “You will be rich.” “You will marry a millionaire.” How many of you remember? Then by the time we hit high school, there were the wonderfully convoluted folds given to the notes we passed.  As if the teachers would never be able to open them and read our private teenage conversations! 😎 How many of you made bracelets out of gum wrappers? Wonderful time, wonderful paper folds.

One year a student gave a folded paper heart to me on Valentine’s Day.  I taught high school, so that was not a usual happening. 😎 I had the kids make Escher drawings on flat paper and then had them fold into the four 3-d shapes that the ancient Greeks thought made up the world.  During that activity, I mentioned that I liked to make 3-D paper shapes so he thought I’d like the heart. He was right! This started my fascination with origami. I actually started small, creating cards using teabag folded adornments.

Last year I started 365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! by Noah Scanlin (see above). There were 365 prompts for each day of the year. I decided that I would make something out of paper each day.  The items I created were not just origami, but everyone had some type of paper.  I did not do the book in order, what fun is that? I also made sure that I wrote something by each creation since quite a few documented an event in my life. One of my favorites was an eyepatch that I designed after I had cataract surgery. 😎 I didn’t complete the project because on the evening of June 30 I received a call from Kern Medical Center that my husband had been in a catastrophic motorcycle accident.  He was stopped on his motorcycle for road repair and a 50 mph truck with the driver on a cell phone rear-ended him. He broke a total of seven bones including his back.   Let me say he is up and walking, the doctors say it’s a miracle that he lived.  With that being said it is a miracle that he can walk, even if it looks like a penguin walk, his neurosurgeon said that 99% of the time people with that type of break are paraplegic.  It took quite a few months of rehab with me helping every day.  Needless to say, there was not any time to work on the 365 journal.  I need to go back and finish it, but the impetus is no longer there. This really is a neat book.  Now that I’ve taken pictures and looked through it again.  Maybe I need to finish! It would be great for kids too!

I found that the modern Origami Grand Master was Akira Yoshizawa.  Google did a tribute to him on his birthday. There is a video at the site featuring Akira and some of his creations.  It is absolutely amazing what can be done with folded paper. He was the first to invent an origami folding notation system.  I’ve used that system a lot and had never given any thought as to who it was invented by or when. Robert J. Lang is America’s Grand Master of Origami. A visit to his site is well worth the surfing time.

While researching on the Internet for some “outside-of-the-box” ideas for origami and other paper ideas while working on the book, not only did I find some absolutely fabulous origami structures but some practical uses for it.  Remember, in origami you start out with something large and fold it into something small. In my research I found that air bags are folded using origami techniques.  Also, there is a heart stint created by Zhong You and Kaoru Kuribayashi.  Their stint is made from folded stainless steel which opens in the heart to keep a blocked artery open. There is also the use of Kaleidogami in the study of robotics.

We love to watch the PBS Independent Lens program.  It really is inspiring.  Last year they showed a program called Between the Folds. The focus of this program was an indie short film about origami.  The site has information on the History of Origami, a challenge on Match the Folds which has downloads, and information about the filmmaker. There are clips to watch The official Between the Folds website describes the film as: “A DOCUMENTARY EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, ART, AND INGENUITY OF MANY OF THE WORLD’S BEST PAPER FOLDERS”. At this site you can watch Between the Folds in its short entirety.  It shows how airbags are folded! The figures on the left are the magical creation of  ERIC JOISEL who was featured in the short.  He was a French artist who passed away in 2010. This is paper!  So amazing.

Origami has also become a knitting rage. Elizabeth Zimmerman actually introduced the idea of origami knitting with her Baby Surprise Jacket which was knit in one piece and then folded into a sweater. There are quite a few books in print on origami knitting.  Have any of you done any origami knitting? Please share! I haven’t tried any origami patterns, Curls and I need to put that on our project list. There is also a sewing rage for origami accessories and clothes. Another idea, what would a piece of dyed fabric look like if it were origami folded then dyed?  Marjorie have you done this?  If so, please share! I’ll have to try that.

Mankind has always tried to make sense of the universe.  Each culture has had rich tales of how the world and it bits came to be.  A few months ago, Hubs and I watched a PBS special on the Unification Theory of the universe or the Theory of Everything.  It was a very interesting program and made String Theory easy to understand.  No seriously! 😎 Now, I’m going to throw all of the String Theory ideas out of the window and believe in the Origami Theory! I mean, if you can fold stainless steel small enough to make a stint….. 😎

4 thoughts on “The Theory of Origami

  1. Awesome post! I love what you were doing with the origami! Also, I’m pleased to hear your husband survived the accident and is still walking. I know how scary events can sap your creativity, but maybe now you’ve been replenished.


  2. Beautiful. And what a great lesson idea, with the Escher drawings and geometric shapes. Wish you had been my teacher 🙂


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