430: Lang’s Spider Conch

Those of you who were guessers for the WTF (What’s That Fold?) #4 will be interested to know that this model was actually a Spider Conch designed by Robert Lang:

I once taught on Palm Island – which is seaward from Townsville, North Queensland. Whilst there I loved to snorkel the reef nearby. Whilst doing so, I managed to find a pair of “spider shells” that I still have today.

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425: Dancing Crane

I first saw a pair of these lovely things, folded in white, clearly dancing to impress each other and put it on my list of must try models by Robert Lang:

A lazy afternoon over the Christmas break, I took a 60cm sq or brown Kraft paper and, over cups of tea, mince pies and chats with my mum, I bent this bird.

This model is everything to do with implied movement and pose, sadly the paper made a limp, lifeless bird and so it crystallised my resolve to try Methyl Cellulose to stiffen the model, allowing me to pose outstretched wings and wobbly backwards knees.

The result is lovely – not sure how I feel about models that require either foil-cored paper or wire armatures or chemical sizes/stiffeners to achieve a presentable figure but I like this one a lot. I made a simple florist wire stand, briefly toyed with (then promptly dismissed) the idea of making it’s pair.

There is much technique to like in this model – as usual, Lang has beautifully convoluted and torturous geometric ways of getting rid of huge amounts of paper to reveal a fairly accurate morphology.

Gifted to Helena, as a symbol of hope, courage and speedy recovery – kindest regards.

MC by any other name

A tool in many origamist’s toolbox is a goopy substance called “Methyl Cellulose” (MC) – it is a chemical that is used as a size (keeps paper crisp/stiff), gelling agent (it is the stuff that makes KY Jelly so slimy – no kids, that is NOT a new aeroplane flavour) and there is even a food grade MC used in cooking (although I think only the Japanese truly like the slimy textures it produces).

I have had enormous difficulty finding this stuff – Oxylades (a local art shop) ordered some stuff, turned out to be Ethyl Cellulose which is not PH neutral and will, eventually discolour and degrade, taking whatever is coated with it.

Digging through my cupboards, as you do, I chanced upon a tub of powdered adhesive goop that we used to use to make finger paint for the kids when they were little tackers. A tiny amount dissolved in warm water makes the most delightful goopy gel-like liquid (that we used to add powdered pigment to to make the best finger paint in the world).

Educational Colours “Mix-A-Paste”, it seems, is Methyl Cellulose – we had some in the house for over 20 years and I did not realise – *Face Palm*

Origamists use it to re-stiffen paper, laminate it with other paper (double tissue is something I must now try), pose models and so on and it was not really until the last 2 models I folded that I realised the appearance of the model would be improved if it did NOT splay open – a common problem with very dense folds and domestic (non tissue-foil) papers.

Up until now, I have been creasing, then while the creases were sharp spraying the models with a clear, matt, lacquer – this at least prevents the folds from unfurling due to humidity but does little to tidy many layers and dense seams.

The last time I tried a bird similar – the Great Egret – when I say similar, the legs and neck/head were similar – very dense, lots of wrangling resulting in limp, broken joints and an un-poseable mess in the end.  The model was relegated to the bin as it almost entirely failed to stand up or stay together. I suspect I could have “saved” the model with MC.

I will let it dry, see how it turns out – I dislike models that do not look after themselves – ie need assistance to stay together, I steer clear of models that are generally not possible with all but specialist papers – the foil cored tissue foil is something I have yet to use – lots of models work only if the folds you place stay folded.

424: Rudolph the Roosevelt Elk

Looking for something festive, inspired by “Robbie the Reindeer” on the telly, I decided to fold this challenging model by Robert Lang:

Masterpiece of design, I had to measure 13 landmarks (by scaling measurements based on 70ths) and then I folded triangles subdividing the surface, using those landmarks as vertices. Then you bisect every angle in each triangle and that gives you the folds for the base.

After a collapse from hell, and some clever manipulation. accordion folds and sinks to raise the points on the antlers, some shaping and a good measure of swearing, you end up with this magnificent beast.

I love Lang models for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that you can “feel” the mathematics in many of his folds. This one was certainly designed using his computer program “treemaker”, and is embodied proof that with a little care it is possible to imagine and design anything of arbitrary complexity in origami.

A glass headed pin to complete the nose and we have Rudolph, then not so much a reindeer as an elk (apparently they are touchy about this – who knew?)

This beautiful model completed my tree setting, bringing in the festive cheer for the family gathering – I hope it found you with similar good will to all mankind.

403: Lang’s Organist

I was reading the chapter on “box pleating” in Robert Lang’s “Origami Design Secrets – 2nd Ed” (one of my cherished origami books) and came across the chapter “homework” which is this Organist seated at her Wurlitzer:

This model is astonishing for a bunch of reasons. The design is clever – one piece of paper to fashion the player and the instrument, the details of both the player and instrument are well controlled, efficiently use paper and are clearly recognisable.

I upscaled, starting with a 128x32cm piece of brown Kraft paper, used a tape measure to lay in the landmark creases (although I could have folded them, it would have resulted in much more disfiguring creases in the end model so I am glad I did). In retrospect, working much smaller would have been very difficult with my fat, clumsy fingers as some of the pleating becomes very fiddly indeed (32nds and 64ths)

Initially, working with paper on this scale is problematic – simple things like “fold in half” take on epic proportions and introduce inaccuracies which seem slight at the time but compound in such a convoluted model.

There was an “ahh” moment when the box that is the body of the organ swings into place, making the keyboards and footpedals slip into place that was very satisfying.

I enjoyed folding this model, probably will not fold it again, but learned a bit about paper properties and wrangling pleats that will make future folds better I think.

What to do with her? there is the question – the resultant model is quite large (16x14x14cm) and in some places one layer thick (others much more so), but it is stable and surprisingly strong. It even has a music stand atop the organ that even “Barry Morgan” would appreciate. Suggestions?

390: Flying wallaby

As a travelling Australian, the “flying kangaroo” is something I wish I could afford to travel using, but we are using the the “flying wallaby”:

I decided that trying to memorise a kangaroo fold would be a good idea for an aussie abroad, and what better than the kangaroo by Robert Lang from the book “Origami Zoo”.

On making, then re-making it I am convinced that this model is much more like a wallaby than a roo, but it is a lovely form none the less.

I can now fold this from memory, but it is very dense and requires thin paper else it gets bunchy early. Will practise it and hopefully, leave a stream of them all over Europe.

387: Happy Wedding Anniversary

April 2, a special day that Jo and I celebrate our Wedding anniversary:

So I thought a schmaltzy, sentimental origami card was in order, so fashioned an origami “valentine” designed by Robert Lang (from “Origami Design Secrets”, a fantastic book). I had not tried this model and wondered how it was possible to sculpt both arrow and heart from the one square of paper – lovely design. I then added a pair of interlocking rings designed by Jeremy Schafer and voila.

Some shiny cardstock, a printed parchment inner with verse and greeting and it is done.

Much to celebrate, some of that celebration will be done overseas. Win Win.

367: Lang’s Tarantula

Now that the 365 challenge is over, I am free to fold (or re-fold) whatever takes my fancy:

This lovely critter is Dr Robert Lang’s Tarantula. I had a go at it earlier, using copy paper, and disliked the result so was determined to make a better one. For this fold I chose a 60cm square of brown paper and, over the course of the day, amongst other things, folded the spider.

I am constantly amazed by brown paper – it is tough, takes folds well and is so lovely and thin – making the legs and those torturous accordion pleats are that much easier with the right materials.

No paper fatigue, I like this attempt much better – lovely legs, great abdomen and thorax and some shapely pedipalps and fang-like mouthparts.

361: Cicada

For me the sounds of summer always include the trill of cicadas:

This is Robert Lang’s “Periodical Cicada” which is similar to the adult form we hear but rarely see. They spend most of their lives underground, emerge as wierd wingless mutants, clumb up something and moult, leaving the most beautiful exoskeletons behind.

Many a summer day was spent as a kid collecting these and terrifying my sister with them … well, kids are kids I suppose.

There is much to admire about this fold – the layer management, proportions of body to wing and ensuring there was enough for some lovely legs is one amazing design. Folded from an ebook on my iPad (why have I not been doing this before???), it was a nice way to spend an afternoon whilst an afternoon storm rolled in. I folded it big (60cm square) and cannot imagine folding it much smaller without extraordinary paper.

It is a relief to have achieve this, as I had a model fail before it (a hand-drawn set of spanish instrucitons started out a bit iffy and after 2 hours went nowhere – you get that sometimes).

357: Get Folked

‘Tis the season when thoughts of old hippies (and new-age trendies) shift to prepping for the Woodford Folk Festival:

I am old enough (and formally a resident) to remember when this gathering was held at Maleny, and how the locals hated this time of year because of the huge influx of afore-mentioned hippy-hopefuls.

Folk guitar is one of my pet hates – I fantasise about “tuning” a folk guitarist’s acoustic guitar with an AXE. I am not ashamed of this viewpoint. Lord knows it was difficult enough to cope with whilst stoned and off your tits on ‘shrooms. Whining, newage plucking and tie-die are the bane of a modern existence – there, I said it!.

This is Robert Lang’s “strumming guitarist” folded from his brilliant “Origami in Action” book. There is much to like about this ingenious model, including a body AND guitar from one square, uncut.

It is an ACTION model – in that it is specially designed to MOVE – you grab the legs, and jiggle the head in and out and he strums the guitar entusiastically – very neat.

I would like to say the instructions were flawless – I am convinced there are 3 errors, having unfolded, re-folded and swore a lot at a couple of junctures. Still, in the end I improvised and it worked fine.

353: Lang’s Praying Mantis

Wow. You know, sometimes a set of instructions for a model are so well designed that it is a pleasure to fold – time just … goes – so it was with this little beauty:

Robert Lang is a design genius, using mathematical and art sensibilities he has distilled what is essentially “mantis” and worked out ways of folding away everything but this essence.

Six beautiful legs, front two “prayey” ones with claspers, glorious head with inquisitive antennae, approporiate proportioned body and, well, wow, just wow.

I am not going to pretend that I did not struggle with this, but after yesterday’s model I was determined to go for accuracy, so necessary with so many accordion pleats. The legs are soooooo thin – painful to fold but amazingly brown paper survived without any paper fatigue.

I am so please with this model – all aspects of it. I folded opened-out paper clips into the legs to give them strength so she can stand freely and so the “knee” joints stay bent – 20+ layers of paper are really hard to bend and I envisaged accidentally snapping off a leg whilst trying to shape it.

I will fold this again, should I ever get some more suitable paper – needs to be tissue thin but really strong – normal paper will just not work. Bravo Mr lang, your figure is a masterpiece and I for one feel honoured to have folded it.

339: Lang’s Scorpion

To Quote Michaelangelo

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

Extrapolating, every sheet has an origami figure in it – the tricky part of super-complex models is to fold away all but that figure:

This is Robert Lang’s Scorpion, folded from “Origami Insects II” and it was a fascinating exercise in managing paper fatigue indeed.

An astonishing set of mathematical and geometric constructions were necessary to find reference points before the base was folded, then collapses, accordion pleats and some seriously sharly tucking away results is a remarkably shapely arachnid (8 legs + claws + a curvey, stingy tail).

I am so chuffed to actually finish these instructions, considered abandoning it twice, had to get up and make a cup of tea twice during it’s genesis. Small inaccuracies compound – a half a millimetre here results in half a centimetre out of alignment later on, so I tried to be as careful as my fat clumsy fingers would let me be.

In the end, a 60ish cm square collapses down into a lovely little 18cm model. I only had a tiny bit of paper fatigue right on the last step (typical) when attempting the final tail curl through 30+ layers of paper – it really did not want to bend – you get that.

Lithography paper is strong and fairly resilient, but it is still a little thick for this model – not sure how I acquire thinner/stronger paper as I want to fold more complex things – might try brown paper, I have a nice wide roll of that, will see how it goes.

255: Turtoise or Tortle?

I have never been able to discern the difference between a tortoise and a turtle:

Sure there are superficial morphological differences but they both are reptiles, both carry their shell around etc.

This is Robert Lang’s turtle and it is a lovely, simple, figurative model that abounds tortoisness. I like the simple curve of the shell, the hint of claws and the expressive neck/head.

I deliberately folded this small scale for two reasons – (1) I used to have a “penny turtle” called, sadly enough, “Myrtle” – I actually found her in a creek near home (I grew up in Maleny); (2) shits and giggles – you get that.

Slow and steady wins the race is where I was going here – hare and tortoise/turtle/whatever – so much to do, so little time, procrastinator set on full and we are away.

226: It’s a Mammoth

I have always loved oddball humour, and when I discovered the panels by Gary Larson I became an addict, buying everything he published. His acerbic observations of scientific concepts amused me greatly, combined with his caveman humour and we come close to my fav Larson comic of all time – the experiments in early microscopy shown in this panel. This is doubly accurate as, unlike dinosaurs, Mammoths are a relatively recent extinction, with frozen specimens found still to have plant material in their gut and butchery marks on their bones – I guess Mammoth burgers were tasty to early hominids.

Looking for elephantine, I came across a Woolly mammoth in “Origami Zoo” by Robert Lang thus completing a “hat-trick” of models by him:

this figurative mammoth is lovely – seemingly correct morphologically, the hunched and raised shoulders and relatively demure hind quarters, lovely curly tusks, placid expression and gently curling trunk

This model was nearly a fail, using copy paper – some very thick layers inside make shaping the body very difficult an the paper fatigue nearly split at the shoulders – gently gently was necessary at the collapse stage.

Very happy with this as a first fold, and will fold it again I think with some nice textured paper – this would probably work in large format also as you could model toes and a more complete facial expression. I used a square cut from A3 copy paper and the final model was small and tight – thinner paper would have helped I guess.

225: Lang’s Green Tree Frog

When I first saw this model, in “Origami Design Secrets” I knew I wanted to try it:

Such a torturous but interesting fold, initial pleating followed by some amazing swivel and sink folds to get the body differentiated from the legs, this is my pose for this model – I like that it looks like ti is crawling and I thought much more interesting that being symmetrical.

there is much to be in awe of with this model – I am and I managed to fold it; the toes, the eyes and the overall accuracy of the morphology are simply amazing – more proof that Robert lang is a maestro mathematician and true artist in his designs.

This model took ages as I was fastidious with my folding, accuracy mattered but wow, no I mean WOW! What a difference good paper makes – I did not attempt this with copy paper – there is a spread/sink/swivel move that would shred the paper early on so I used a sheet of tissue foil and am glad I did.

224: Lab Rat

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Science Week and I thought it appropriate to mark the occasion with a lab rat:

This delightful model by Robert Lang has a lovely shape but is very cruel on the paper it is made from (so much so that it split due to tension and fatigue along the neck and back)

I like this base, and am satisfied with this as a first fold of the model – I learnt a lot attempting it and will fold it again with more suitable paper I think – copy paper is a cruel mistress sometimes.

215: iBaby 1.0

Now I was asked to speak publicly today to farewell a work colleague about to begin a period of maternity leave and so thought a Baby was appropriate:

Robert Lang, in “Origami Design Secrets”  has a box pleated baby I was interested in trying. When I had done the first fold, I decided the presentation fold (to be mounted on cardstock) should be blue because everything associated with Amanda is, then I decided the little blue baby beeded a teddy bear (having already mastered Kirschenbaum’s fluffy teddy bear) so the card project was on

When it came time for the speech, I am a very nervy public speaker but I got a little geeky – below is most of the speech (well those bits I did not make up on the spot) –

As spokesgeek, I was asked to “get my geek on” and talk on behalf of Rablin and Rablin in the prototyping of an all new product:
iBaby 1.0
Making a baby takes time, here is a prototype I prepared earlier [reveal baby] although I have not worked out where the USB cable goes yet.
This prototype may not be to scale, may appear bigger in a rear vision mirror than it actually is, is available in any colour so long as you want BLUE, represents a choking hazard for small children but does not contain any traces of nut, so I am lead to believe (having seen the scans, it is a little girl you see).
iBaby1.0 is being prepared for release at the Rablin household September 4, developers Amanda with seed funding by Travis are busily planning for the release. We hope the download proceeds without issue but believe there us a bad language and drugs plug-in available to assist with the data transfer.
Those of us who are experienced users know that iBaby1.0 may be incompatible with realLife3.0 and may cause the sleep process to behave erratically for a while but that is within normal parameters.
We would like to warn of the potential newtooth incompatibility causing iBoob 1 and 2 to crash erractically. We are also unsure how compatible the iBaby capsule is with the blue vw, but work arounds and kludges are being investigated.
We look forward to iBaby’s first tweet, and are confident she will post photos of herself on Facebook for her legion of iGen friends to drool over whilst they are teething.
Can you join with me in wishing Amanda, Travis  and accompanying iBaby all the best in the exciting journey towards parenthood.
It seemed to be well received, quite happy the speaky part is over however.

214: A Great White Pointer

Apparently it is “Shark Week” – yeah, I did not know either until I looked it up.

This ferrocious little beauty is a variation of the blue shark described by John Montroll and Robert lang in their book “Origami Sealife” and there is much to like about the basic form (not sure the picture does it justice).

Lovely gills, beady eyes and toothless jaw, strong fins, shaped tail and a slightly 3d body make this model look like it should swim well and eat big chompy bits out of everything as it does.

Quite happy with this as a first fold – learnt lots along the way

185: Bald Eagle for July 4th

After abandoning a search for a decent “statue of liberty” model, I decided to settle on an American Bald Eagle as a symbol of independence, what the 4th July is celebrated for in the US:

After looking around, I settled on a figurative bald eagle by Robert Lang from “The Complete Book of Origami” and happy with many aspects of this fold.

Difficult to complete with copy paper, the thickness and brittle nature of copy paper means that several steps are likely to distress the paper severely and the body thickness makes shaping late in the fold difficult – quite happy with this as a first fold. I added pleats on teh wings to suggest feathers as I thought the wings needed it, and modded the talons a little to make them less clumsy.

Should I fold this again, I now know what becomes what and so would approach some of the steps a little differently, but living/folding is learning – right?

183: Hummingbird Feeding

I have the greatest of respect for Robert Lang, his models are discussed mathematically and with great artistic intent also, and when I saw this hummingbird in “Origami Design Secrets” I knew I had to make it:

Having never actually seen a hummingbird (except on the telly), I am amazed and in awe of their size, industry and life habit. After folding the bird I decided it absolutely needed a flower to feed from, found a simple blossom in Harbin’s “Origami 2” by Toshie Takahama and fixed them together with the wire from a straightened paperclip and a (shhh) little double-sided tape.

Hummingbirds use huge amounts of energy to fly, and so feed voraciously on high-energy foods like nectar, so I can imagine my little bird about to plunge into the nectary of this flower for a much needed energy boost.

Am really pleased with this model – beautiful beak, breast and wings, the tail was a surprise as it came from a tortured sink early on. A masterful design that, from what I can gather, captures the intent of the bird mid flight. this makes it difficult to pose (as it has no legs) and, interestingly, every picture I have seen of this completed model is posed adjacent a bloom (presumably using the same support trick I used.

You may, collectively, go awwwwww now, as that was my reaction when stepping back from the handiwork.