1130: Villeneuve Ornithopter v1.2

When I first read Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series of books, it was the mid 70’s and I was a teenager. The expansive universe captured my imagination like little else.

Dune Part 2 has just been released in cinemas, and the Denis Villeneuve adaptation is visually stunning. On planet Arrakis (Dune), a chosen method of air travel is the “Ornithopter”, described as an insect-like flapping machine.

’Thopters in the current movie series are astonishing, if illogical from an engineering perspective. Variously, ‘Thopters have 2 to 12 wings, each move independently in a coordinated buzz to provide controlled lift and thrust.

The origami world has a few simple ‘thopter designs, most modelled on the 80’s David Lynch film adaptation, so I thought I would have a go at designing one from scratch. Initially I thought to harness an existing base, but decided I wanted 12 wings, in groups of 3, and wanted landing gear, some paper for a fuselage and various flaps for some simple detailing.

There are many design methodologies I could have employed. Circle packing (each circle centre representing the vertex of a stickey outer bit), 22.5 folding to facilitate the point-splitting needed for so many separate flaps, but settled on box pleating.

First I sketched out a rough crease pattern (CP). 12 points along opposite edges of a square. The downside of this arrangement was the points ended up tiny – way too small for the wings. Rearranging them symmetrically allowed me to include extra flaps for landing gear, cockpit and more. Designing the collapse along a 2 unit strip of the central axis also gave me the bulk for the fuselage. I calculated I could achieve this with a 48 grid.

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1081: l’escargot

I was doodling with a scrap of 2×1 note paper and arrived at what I think might be an original model:

le escargot

This little snail has a volumetric shell and body, along with some lovely poseable eye stalks.

le escargot views

Originality in Origami is tricksey, as most models recycle techniques from other folds, and the head/eye end uses a fairly standard waterbomb-accordion sink, but I cannot remember seeing it used in this way.

The shell is formed initially by outside reverse-folding the body and as such offers a colour change opportunity if folded with bi-colour paper.

I made a video tutorial if you want to fold it, or read further for a set of photo diagrams.

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1052: Theremin

I am a firm believer that people learn something important when they try to do something they are not good at. I have recently bought a Theremin, and I want to pretend that I am anything but not good at playing it, but, like, it is hard to master:

Origami Theremin

I noticed that a Theremin has a distinctive shape: an upright antenna that you use to control pitch (the high-lowness of a note), and a horizontal antenna loop you use to control volume. To my (not so great) surprise, I discovered that no one had yet done an origami model for this thing, so set about having a go.

I started with the fish base, long flap for the pitch antenna, long flap for the stand, then 2 shorter flaps become the volume loop. Some accordion pleating and the basic morphology is there. You can (I hope) see the development in the sequence below:

It is a start, I might try to refine it (add knobs, refine the antennae, etc). Happy with v1.

1023: Faery Ffolke

So I reasoned that if I mess with the “Superdude” base, I should be able to re-purpose the “cape” into a set of wings … so set about doing that:

Faery ffolke

In relatively short time I had made my first faery, to be told that it was a boy – and that faeries are typically girls which left a dilemma – how does one endow a gender to these little ffolke?

I, sadly, solved the problem by resorting to archetype, and put a “tutu” on my next one – in no way determining it’s gender, but conforming to the “her” stereotype.

Faery ffolke - tiny ones

I reason that fictional critters that fornicate to make more of themselves must have, biologically, distinct sexes, but I in no way wish to say they must conform to human dress standards, albeit antiquated ones.

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991: 2019-nCoV

Human Corona Virus is in the news, the news is alarming:

nCoV macquette

It is difficult to know the extent of the emergency, the effectiveness of treatment, the vector of infection, the spread and infection rate, the facts.

Social media and websites masquerading as “news” agencies love a good headline, and this mixed with Survivor in the jungle, celebrity red carpets, sham impeachment, Corona Virus “influencers” on instagram and fad diets makes navigating the facts difficult.

Public warnings and travel bans aside, what constitutes a pandemic? What is the appropriate response?

I took a 3×1 rectangle of white/natural Ikea Kraft and … well … doodled and came up with an all too familiar image – a face-masked regular person. In an odd bout of synchronicity, Sebastian Limet (@sebl) had the same idea. His fold, as usual has lots of character.

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950: Urchin Kusudama (Priceless Artwork #2)

Riffling through boxes of stuff from our kid’s Kindy years, we came across a cache of artworks my Son painted. Being too precious to throw out (and long since removed from the fridge), I set about cutting it up into 2:1 rectangles – LOTS of them:

Urchin kusudama

I then arbitrarily folded them into a modified unit based on one I used that was designed by Tomoko Fuse.

paper prep
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Plan B (or “Home is where the hive is”)

I was approached by a mate mid 2018 with the idea of an original origami commission, but was given no real timeline (which for an OCD procrastinator like me is a recipe for a little crazy time.

framed picture

The end result, finished near the end of February 2019, is vastly different from how I had initially envisaged it. It was actually really hard to part with this one – so much creative energy went into it’s genesis.

the new happy owner
A new home, Happy Birthday Paige (albeit belated, sorry)
Depth, scale, detail.
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944: I Love Lamp

Playing with geometry, it got me thinking about lampshade forms. Correct me if I am wrong but there are the sort of “hang-down” and the “stand-up” types common?

Using 15cm Kami, I began doodling, the blue square form came first – a simple corrugation on the middle half of a sheet, folded in eighths only in the middle section it curves perfectly and creates a rather regal “ruff” – imagine nice/interesting/handmade paper and diffuse light in the middle of that.

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941: Home is where the Hive is…

Over the last few years I have played with origami tessellations – the theory of a repeatable pattern that interacts with other repeats (molecules) is fascinating and a real testament to the accuracy of the pre-folding. As part of another project, I have been exploring triangle grids, and a devilishly tricky to collapse hex-cell tessellation by Robert Lang he calls “Honeycomb”.

Robert Lang’s Honeycomb Tessellation

After folding this a number of times, and then schematicizing the molecule, I noticed that “cells” were deep and, due to the nature of the collapsed layers inside I did not think they were very tidy nor kept their shape nicely. All to often, in origami design, paper thickness is disregarded in the theoretical collapse – in this case hiding away most of the paper in canyons between cells deforms them in ugly ways.

Original Lang molecule (right) and my shallow modified one (left) – same size paper

I started playing with the corner mechanism, and discovered I could halve the height of the cell wall, making the tuck much less bulky and doubling the size of the resultant folded field on the same bit of paper. Additionally it held itself together nicely with edges that are easy to stabilise. With a little practice (I am sure my work colleagues thought me obsessed, given the number of times I folded this tessellated field) I was ready to scale up … well, down in truth as I folded a “tiny” triangle grid on my target mustard leather-grain paper and then set the corner widgets before collapse only to then realise that folding this small was a real challenge with my nerve damaged, fat clumsy fingers.

CP of molecule (red=Mountain, blue=Valley) Thick lines are visible edges, thin are hidden
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937: Diamond Bracelet

I hate throwing things out – having cut the biggest 2×1 rectangle possible from an A2 sheet, I was left with a lovely thin strip of scrap:

I was playing with a corrugation, with the view to design a millipede, but stumbled across a molecule that I then tessellated along the length. Continue reading

910: (360/365) After Christmas Sales

Retailers really have a nerve when you think about it. Right up to Christmas they hike up their prices. We dutiful drones pay top dollar for loot which we wrap and give away. Come “Boxing Day” prices plummet in almost obscene ways and it can get hectic as people clamber for bargains:

We went early, with a list and an idea of what we would regularly pay for the items on that list. In, bought (from the then still full shelves and racks), and out again in an hour and a half – this is the stuff of legends. Continue reading

883: (333/365) Cake Tin Liners

…then my wife casually asked if I could line some cake tins:

A simple fold, unequalled as a way of protecting a fruit cake from extended baking – the outer layer is 35cm square kraft paper, inner is 25cm greaseproof paper, they fit snugly in the tins. Later they will protect the maturing cake as it regularly bathes in rum. Continue reading

881: (331/365) Nativity Scene

People I work with know my OCD tendencies. When it was casually suggested that I might consider folding a Nativity scene for the end of year celebrations, it was a forgone conclusion that I would:

The assembled figures (each nearly 30cm tall) form quite a striking display – hopefully one that works for the display space – we shall see. Clearly Christmas is just around the corner, with this scene, it is beginning to look a lot like … well … christmas.

We have on the left, 3 kings, bringing gifts (bronze waterbombs are quite the thing this year). Centre there is an angel, looking over a mother, father and child. Bringing up the rear is a random shepherd … because … the scene needed balance.

880: (330/365) Seated Mother

So the challenge to render a more feminine figure, seated, as if tending something was on:

Using a variation of the generic judaian I managed to change the head, add knees and change the posture so sitting is suggested. Continue reading

879: (329/365) No Crib for a Bed

So, I needed some furniture, and thought of a feed trough, but had to invent one:

Folded from a smallish square, this has trough and some rather nice legs, but does not look very comfortable. Continue reading