1134: AMOS

1: Knock knock.
2: Who's there?
1: Amos
2: Amos who?
1: A Mosquito. <insert hysterical laughter of a little kid (me) amused by the first dad joke he can remember his dad telling him> True story.

I have bought many sheets of the most amazing paper, all dutifully stored in my “cave”. Over 10 years ago, I purchased a full sheet of black Unryushi single tissue because I HAD to have it, but having NO plan to use it.

Unryushi tissue is beautiful, painfully thin (24GSM) but gloriously adorned with visible mulberry fibres. It comes being about the stiffness of facial tissue – I misted a large window with water, rolled the sheet onto the wet glass (shiny side down) and then added a coat of MC (Methyl Cellulose) to the back side, removing air bubbles from the centre out.

Even wet, the Unryu is really strong, but to make it foldable I needed to crisp it up. I managed to cut a 60cm square, leaving a >12inch selvage for another project.

The latest Tanteidan magazine had a enthralling Mosquito design by Yoshio Tsuda and I knew I NEEDED to try it, but lots of the model is 12+ layers thick, I knew I needed some crazy thin paper … hence the Unryu. I decided to fold Version 1 of the Mozzie, knowing that Yoshio also published a crease pattern for his revised design – that will do for another day.

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1102: The Offering

Tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of the deserted clearing, nestled almost invisibly among the leaf litter, the first signs of civilization were found in the form of a rough-hewn but definitely hominid-worked paper offering. For whom, to what, why … we shall never know:

Followers of the blog will notice occasional references to paper making pursuits. This post looks at the most recent results of a paper making workshop I attended in early July 2023. I had previously (back in 2019) been a member of PAQ (Paper makers and Artists, Queensland) but found full time work made attending events difficult. Now I am retired I have more freedom, so reapplied for membership.

The group’s interests in paper are diverse – from botanical paper making, monoprinting, encaustics, stitching, collage, pulp sculpture and more – my interests are (fairly narrowly?) folding, but it is important to have ones interests informed by a wider palette so I am very much the learner in that group.

Previous workshops I made sheets with finely beaten banana stem and cotton display board, day lily and lemongrass pulp, and still have some of the paper from that session. This session we pulped banana stem (coarsely this time) and mixed it with lemon grass, Philodendron, and South African Pigeon Grass stem, in various combinations. The pulp was added to water, then a suspension-aid made from water soaked chopped okra, which generates a mucilage that makes the vat water more goopy, helping the pulp to stay in suspension longer before settling out. The results were much coarser paper, but it presented an interesting challenge to see what I could fold from it.

I first pressed then dried my sheets, brought home still dripping. I carefully separated them from their couching sheets (old torn up bed linen) and selected sheets to process further. Using a fairly stiff batch of Methyl Cellulose, I stuck sheets to my glass and let them dry, reasoning (correctly it turns out) that the MC would make the sheets more pliable and bind the fibres more closely together (given some of them were very loosely bound, this seemed like a good plan).

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Day Tripping to Zaragoza

So a fairly well known fact in Origami circles is that there are Origami Museums, few compare in size to the Spanish one in Zaragoza.  When Jo and I had decided to spend time in Barcelona, we discovered Zaragoza was doable day trip from Barcelona Sants regional train station, so a plan was hatched.

Barcelona Sants is a regional rail hub, different to the metro. We will from depart here in a few days for Province, but this station also provides access to many other places in Catalunya and beyond. After locating our platform ( via a very helpful man at the Information counter), we had our bags (and everything else) xrayed before arriving on the platform to find the train already boarding.

We boarded AVE-S112 High Speed train, allocated seats a lot like an airplane, and took off. The train sped underground until it cleared the central city and burst out into the light as farmland flew by. For a lot of the journey the train was topping 295 km/h as it hurtled stop to stop.

After a little over an hour, we arrived at Zaragoza train station, and de-trained, got some refreshments then headed over to the Bus Station, to catch a C1 circle line bus, and rode it the remaining half way around to the terminus. After a brief bit of nav we were picking through the back streets to EMOZ, located on the 2nd Floor of Centro de Historias, Plaza San Agustín 2.

I had been in contact with the museum ever since there seemed a chance for me to visit, and it was lovely to finally meet an online friend named Jesús Artigas. We nerded out a bit, talked about the current exhibition and about Yoshizawa’s works, and particularly the work of Eric Joisel. 

The museum has, on display a number of Joisel’s original works, including one of his gnome orchestras, his large-scale Rhinoceros and his large scale Pegasus.

Jesús let us sneak peak in the store room at Joisel’s large Hippopotamus also, all master works from a genius artist much missed. 

We talked folding, design, and it turns out he is working on an interesting origami publication of endangered Spanish animals, and asked if I was interested in test folding closer to publication date. What an honor indeed, naturally I said yes. That should be fabulous and something else to be involved in when I finally return home.

We parted company with the promise of future collaboration, then Jo and I took our time appreciating the many rooms of exhibits. It was good to see so many original works from legends in the field, including Victor Coeurjoly, Robert Lang, Junior Fritz Jaquett, Kashiwamura, Jozsef Zsebe, a host of different Vietnamese designers, and even a tiny work from Yoshizawa himself. We are not worthy.

The museum also offers informative information about the paper/folding traditions of many countries. It is interesting that many different schools of folding crafts emerged independently with the introduction of paper and paper-like materials. We also saw some very early traditional folds pioneering skills from historical giants that modern day origami designers stand on the shoulders of.

The feature artist at the moment is Vivian Berty, with a number of rooms devoted to her colourful, figurative and representational varied art practice. Such a riot of colour and range of simple to elegant models, compositions and modular works.

It felt like home for me, to be surrounded by an art form I have spent a lot of my life exploring. Nerd-feasts come in every flavour, and this was one of mine. 

After leaving EMOZ, we reversed our journey to Zaragoza Delicias rail station, grabbed a late lunch and then our train back to Barcelona. I am sure I gushed, Jo was very tolerant of a very happy nerd. If I get the opportunity I would like to visit again, as well as explore the other origami museums of the world.

Bitter Sweet

As I approached the date of my retirement, I genuinely struggled with how I could sum up my work-life, and how was going to say thankyou, personally, to so many people I have loved working with.

Collapsed blooms get shaped

It occurred to me that Origami could be my savior, and something hand-made and precious was the order of the day, so set about making Naomiki Sato’s pentagonal “Hybrid Tea” roses – in my opinion the zenith of his glorious rose designs. From a pentagon, with some skill, you sculpt a spiraling bloom of some 25 petals – genius as it is folds only – no cuts, no glue. Originally I was going to present them stemmed, but re-worked the idea to have them sit on calyxes instead.

I gave myself 3 weeks, and it turned out that was not really enough time, as each bloom from go to woe takes just over an hour – even when batch folding. It was a labour of love, and I got it done, and resulted in an amazing coincidence. I listed the recipients, and it totaled 33 – this number corresponded to the number of years I have been working at this current school – it was clearly meant to be.

Exacting pre-creasing

Acquiring paper, cutting perfect pentagons, calculating the relative size different between flower and calyx was the first task. I found if I cut the largest pentagon I could from an A3 sheet for the bloom, then the corresponding largest pentagon from an A4 sheet was perfect for the calyx.

Production-line techniques then ensued – precise pre-creases, pre-collapse wrangling and locating landmarks for secondary petal separation all have to be done first, and at this scale it is fiddly folding, and you need about 7 fingers on all of 3 of your hands. Once the dissected spiral collapse is complete the really hard part starts – shaping the petals to be soft curls in staggered cascades – quite a knack.

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Showing Off 2022

I was approached by the Holland Park Library again this year to mount an Origami display:

origami curated collection in progress

I decided to showcase based on 2 criteria: (1) Pushing the one square, no cuts to the limit; and (2) Using different shapes and modulars.

Collection location

Ferreting out archived models from various boxes, bags and cabinets, I put together a pleasing collection of origami models, designed by luminaries like Satoshi Kamiya, Robert Lang, Brian Chan, Eric Joisel and many others.

The collection gets locked up in glass cubes near the reading area of the main library, designed to be viewed from all angles, I am happy with the mix, location and visibility of this collection.

collection detail

I welcome you to come view, in the flesh, some astounding models.