1117: Mod on a Moped

When you talk of “box pleating”, the young kids in the origami design sphere seem to think they invented it. I was fishing around on the web, for origami-related things as you do, and stumbled across an astonishing scanned page from Neal Elias’ notebook from 1968 that features box pleating:

This is Neal’s “Boy on a motor scooter” – an amazing proto-design from 1968!!!!! (this is all there is, you have to fill in the gaps – it was his personal notebook, the diagrams were all HE needed to fold the model) but what an historical gem of a design. It is doubly interesting because it was designed 3 years before I began my journey in origami as a wide-eyed, clueless 11 year old.

Further research suggests this page was “ripped” from a BOS Publication Booklet 35 (still in print?) called “Neal Elias Miscellaneous Folds – II “, edited by Dave Venables. I have purchased the previous Neal Elias volume but was unaware this treasure exists – it has prototypes of some very famous and completely revolutionary designs indeed (like “The Last Waltz”).

Back in the “early” days of western origami, Elias was a pioneer, realising that by gridding a sheet of paper, then using gridlines and 45 degree connectors you could pleat astonishingly complex structures that could then be shaped into complex figurative models. As a kid, the few models I had access to from him were like crack to me. I mastered the “Elias stretch” (these days I think they call it a ‘pythagorean stretch’) and “Elias base”, making skiers and knights in armor, all from squares.

Many of his designs use odd shaped paper – this model uses an 8×22 grid, and the colour change base is particularly wonderful, leaving all the bits of a person in one colour and a lovely long pleat bundle of alternate colour emerging from him. I can see so much potential of all sorts of things here.

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1115: Typeface

Determined to fold something, I came across some diagrams in Origami Dan (an origami-focussed Discord) and figured I would give it a go:

Base unit

The idea behind the the fold is interesting – making, from a square, a 3×4 matrix of “pixels” that can be colour changed either whole or in part. From this base you then strategically reveal colour to form letters of a typeface.

Designed by Jason Ku, it is a clever and flexible shape and I then set out to form all the letters of the alphabet and digits of basic numbers.

Some of the letters represented more challenge than others – some had little fiddly 1/4 triangle components, others had reverses contrary to the underlying structure, requiring some strategic swivels and reverses. the more observant among you will realise I stuffed up the colour conventions and got a few letters in reverse colours to the others (I, J and L for those that did not notice) – meh.

The most time-consuming part of this fold was compiling the photo record and stitching it together – happy I managed it however.

1100: Steven Casey’s “Clownfish”

I have the privilege of being asked, from time to time, to test fold origamists new models. Steven Casey (designer of the BEST origami echidna there is) asked me to test his new design for a clownfish, naturally I jumped at the chance:

I took a 6″ square of regular origami paper (orange on one side, white on the other) and, armed with disbelief that this was the suggested paper size, began folding.

My fold approach over the years has changed markedly – I fold until either (1) I get to the end or (2) it fails, and I learn something. I FULLY expected this to go wrong – my fat clumsy fingers do not normally fold those small squares of origami paper people keep giving me (with every good intention), and for LOTS of this model I resorted to my favourite set of bent-nose tweezers just to keep it sharp (and not mush with said fat clumsy fingers).

It became pretty apparent early on that the fold sequence was entirely achievable with 6″ (15cm) squares, resulting in a charming little totally recognizable nemo. I made a few cosmetic suggestions to the diagram set (sometimes the designer lets me edit their diagram directly) and repeated the fold on 17cm square – I liked the smaller one better but it was prolly because I rushed the second fold while paying attention to the telly instead. I would like the head/gills to lock on to the body a little more and the fins also to stay together, but these are minor unimportant quibbles.

I am hoping Steven is planning a book of his new designs, this one is lovely and reminds us all that “you just gotta keep swimming”.

1080: Invention of the Crane

This is a very personal fold, as well as a lovely meta design:

Boice Wong's "Invention of the Crane"

The first thing most people learn when they start out in Origami is the traditional crane. This fold speculates the genesis of this model as a happenstance some time back in the mists of time. Interestingly, the first model I was taught, as an 11 year old, by a Japanese exchange student, was the crane.

Designed by Boice Wong, released as a crease pattern, I was decided to give it a whirl. If I am honest, I am not really happy with my first fold, and will probably attempt it again (having learned heaps in the folding). The CP can be found here: https://www.obb.design/cp#iocrane

Using a single square, no cuts, we have a lady in a traditional kimono, kneeling in front of a low table on which there is a single crane. The genius of this design is the model is complete – it looks finished all the way around (indeed I fashioned a lovely “bow” Obe at her back. There is a colour change making the table/crane a different colour to the girl (I decided the focus of this fold was the crane, so it ended up white – next time I might just paint it, or perform an additional colour change which is possible with this design but results in a clumsier crane I think).

Boice Wong's "Invention of the Crane" Views

This has taken me an age. Initially, I attempted to collapse the base only to discover it was inside-out, then trying to sort out what flaps did what job (kinda aided by sorta advice from Boice himself), and decided on the current flap assignment when trying to ascertain how to compose the kimono and hide the internal layers, yet still give me the hair fringe. Quite a wrestle in the end.

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1059: Riccardo Foschi’s “Gnome on the shelf”

One of many benefits of being a member of Origami USA (OUSA) has been the “Origami Connect” online classes program. For Christmas, members were treated to a free workshop with Riccardo Foschi, who taught his delightful “Sitting Gnome”:

Riccardo Foschi's Gnome on the shelf - folding along with OUSA

Due to the tyranny of international timezones, their 1pm EST workshop meant I had to join them 15 hours later (for me, 4am the day after). It feels weird to be in their future, but there you go. I set an alarm, made a cup of tea, folded along then attempted to go back to sleep again afterwards (fairly unsuccessfully, annoyingly).

Riccardo Foschi's Gnome on the shelf

This model is a lovely figurative representation of a gnome – hat, nose, moustache, beard, stubby body and stickey outey legs and feet – a little like the “elf on the shelf” idea – it is a pity he has no hands (I might mess with the design a little as there is LOTS of paper not doing very much that I may be able to encourage some arms from).

Riccardo was a delight, his models have a real cuteness charm, and he is very generous sharing CPs with the community, many of which I have folded, I love his design sense, and the fun his models are to fold – often cartoonish happy things they are.

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