Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mixed Signals

People have different ways of self-expression. Some people express themselves through poetry, dance, music, theater. I have, strangely enough, found a great outlet in folding paper.

This semester, I am taking a course in comparative literature titled "Literature of the Self". We were recently given an assignment to produce an autobiographical work. I wanted to express a particular sentiment, and I thought, What better way to put my thoughts to paper (I couldn't help myself) than by making a few expressive paper sculptures. I am not a poet or a dancer, but my medium can be just as effective in conveying some messages.

This blog is by no means turning into an artsy experimental statement. I do not want to scare my readers away with this pedantic blurb (I'm just trying to survive grad school), but I thought I can probably be forgiven one idiosyncratic post.

I have been thinking for a while now of how many mixed signals we receive in our day-to-day existence. People around us who are not forthcoming and honest, always trying to be politically correct and polite when they actually just want to shout at you, people who can't make up their minds about what they want. I don't know about you, but sometimes it makes me sick. Sometimes you can't even tell if a smile is just a smile, or an attempt to hide some ill-feeling. There's nothing worse than hypocrisy, and I have been told that I do not pick up on the mixed signals people sometimes send off. I am apparently very bad at decoding friendliness and understanding what people are really feeling when they are trying very hard to hide it. Silly me. Why can't people just say what they mean? I could probably do very well living in a cave somewhere away from people. But there wouldn't be any paper, and I would soon get bored.

My frustration with these things found an outlet in a particular form of origami. Kusudama is an ancient practice, the history of which I will let you read about on your own. It is a modular form, each model requiring several pieces, or modules, that fit together in perfect geometrical harmony to create a whole. The juxtaposition of the various pieces here illustrates perfectly whatever I was blabbing about earlier. People can be layered, just like the models I am about to show you; they can be multifaceted, and show different faces at different times. They are sometimes beautiful and soft, and sometimes very ugly and sharp. And if my little experiment here has failed in all other regards, the hours of work that went into the making these models will have at least served as a distraction from my troubles and woes.

Without further ado, and to end this endless somber blurb (which you can just forget about in a minute), I will leave you to enjoy these beautiful models to which I do not do justice.

Kusudama by Nina Ostrun
6 modules

Origami Cuboctahedron from Herman van Goubergen's Curler Units
12 modules

Kusudama Star Holes by Francesco Mancini
30 modules

 Kusudama UVWXYZ by Francesco Mancini
30 modules

Revealed Flower by Valentina Gonchar
90 modules


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Use Less Paper This Earth Day

The amount of brochures and flyers I have received since coming to this country hurts my heart. It seems to me that we can do without all of the paper we waste every day. It pains me to throw a portion of it away, because let's face it, I'd drown in it if I didn't. And recycling is not always available.

Or is it? It is in the very spirit of origami to reuse paper when you are done with it. In ancient Japan, paper was not as cheap as it is today, so people made pretty things out of used paper so as not to waste it. 

So this Earth Day, try to use less paper, and instead of your expensive patterned origami paper, why not try reusing some old flyers you have lying around? All those extra sheets and leaflets you've accumulated would be perfect for making a kusudama or other modular origami that requires several pieces of paper. Check out my Earth Day kusudama from last year.

You can also use it to make your 1000 paper cranes. Honestly, who has the money to buy special paper for a project like that? Or simply try these nice Earth Day-appropriate models!


Origami jumping frog by Toshikazu Kawasaki

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter

I realize this is very late in the day, so I will keep it short and sweet. Enjoy with me these little easter-inspired models!

This basket is not strictly origami as it involves some *cough*cutting*cough*, but it is a lot of fun to construct. Here is a tutorial on how to make it. For the handle, I twisted some thin strips of paper then braided them together instead of the simple handle shown in the video.

What I learned from this project: I do not like licorice-flavored jelly beans.

And for the wonderful egg masterpieces you will have by the end of the day, here is a nice flower stand you can display them on. FabergĂ©'s got nothin' on you. Learn how to make the egg cup designed by Kunihiko Kasahara here.

As for your Easter Bunny needs, I've got you covered. Check out these previous posts here, here, and here.

I am not Christian myself, and I don't care what religion you are. We've all painted eggs and stuffed ourselves with chocolate on this day as children. So Happy Easter to you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools'!

Happy April 1st everyone!

In France, when someone plays a prank on you, they triumphantly declare "poisson d'avril!", which means "April Fish". I am sure there is a reason for this, but as a kid, we always just went with it. If you grew up a Frenchie, you'll remember spending the whole day cutting out little paper fish to stick on your friends' backs when they weren't looking. Once again, I never questioned these traditions as a child. Just enjoy this meta-fish and don't judge.

For all of you non-Frenchies, here are some other things.

So I don't have students to torment this year (how I miss those days). I thought I'd regale all of you with some paper tricks instead. These neat little models are not what they appear. I have made GIFs to prove it.

 Here's an old favorite: the amazing modular transforming ninja star. If you would like to make this model, check out my tutorial.

And what's this? A box? Nop.

Check out Jo Nakashima's tutorial for Valerie Vann's Magic Rose Cube.

Are you amazed yet?

How about thise? Here's a cool folding exercise: the Magical Transforming Octahedron by Jeremy Shafer.

Ok, so I ain't fooling you. You're too smart. But the mechanics behind these models are very interesting, and not because I'm writing this at 5am.

Fine, I'm sorry. You wanted neat pranks to play on your friends, didn't you? And I blew it. Truth is, paper is meant to make people happy. Unless you don't know how to hold it and get paper cuts. I guess this whole post was some kind of bad April Fools' joke. But before you go, take a look at this neat trick inspired by origami (this one's legit).

Leave me a comment if you can figure out how he does it. And good luck finding ways to make other people miserable!