Saturday, 31 May 2008

Horseshoe Crab

(Click to enlare image)

Of all the techniques that have become part and parcel of modern origami, Wet Folding must be the most indispensable. This involves dampening the paper slightly before making the creases. The added moisture temporarily dissolves the sizing (the water-soluble adhesive that holds the paper together) allowing the fibres to be shifted and then set in a slightly different position. In essence you are manipulating both the shape of the paper and its underlying physical structure. This enables folders to sculpt the material, creating softer, longer-lasting creases and curves, which add an element of realism to models.

Wet folding was the brainchild of Akira Yoshizawa - the father of modern Origami, whose goal was to create lifelike, three-dimensional animals and plants. One of the first western folders to embrace the technique was Michael LaFosse.

This Horseshoe Crab, designed by LaFosse, is eight inches long. Evidence of wet folding can be seen in the curve of the prosima, which is a little more pointed than I would like - I was hoping for something rounder. My addition to the model is the triangular bulge on its back, which is supposed to represent the raised part of the shell that runs along the centre of the opistoma. This was also achieved by wet folding.

I made the model from Elephanthide paper. I like the way that the camera flash reflected off the shiny surface of the paper, giving the crab the appearance of having just crawled out of the water.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Grim Reaper

(Click to enlarge image)

Folding Miyajima Noboru’s Grim Reaper is the most fun I've had with a piece of Origami in a long while.

The skull is absolutely tiny - a mere centimetre across and two centimetres in length. I re-folded it three times until I achieved the gaunt appearance I was after.

In positioning the hands I encountered a number of problems. The digits are only white on one side. Furthermore they all the same length and also rather thick. You are very limited in what you can do with them. I attempted a beckoning gesture, which I thought was appropriate given the subject, but couldn’t get it right and compromised with an open-handed grasp, awaiting perhaps the arrival of an origami hourglass.

I sculpted the robe using a dilute solution of wallpaper paste.

One of the hidden strengths of this model is that there is enough spare paper at the back to pinch into a triangular stand, enabling it to remain upright without the need for wire or Blu tack.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Pattern Break

(Click to enlarge image)

Veteran origami designer, Michael LaFosse, (whose butterfly you can see on the right of this photograph) also designed a very elegant Koi Carp, which he makes from white watercolour paper. He decorates the fish with blotches of red, black and orange paper. You can see an example of it here:

I wanted to do something similar but a bit more random, hence, before folding Peter Engel’s Octopus (pictured in its very early stages to the left of the butterfly), I glued some roughly torn pieces of turquoise khadi paper to a square of black, silk threads tissue. Some of this vivid blue will be visible in the tentacles and the body of the finished model. I hope that it will effectively represent either the play of light in the water, or the octopus’s natural skin pigmentation.

In the same vein, I am folding Jose Maria Chaquet Ulldemolinsversion of the iconic WWII fighter plane, The Spitfire, using a square of brown paper decorated with green strips, in an attempt to mimic the wartime camouflage.

I am also planning more ambitious, regimented collaging that will emulate, for example, the patterning on a giraffe’s hide. It’s an extension of back-coating, whereby two sheets of differently coloured paper are pasted together to produce a bi-coloured model. I think that it’s a much better way of adding colour and texture to a piece of origami than painting.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Canada Geese

(Click to enlarge image)

A lot of the origami I make ends up hanging from my bedroom ceiling. My idea is that, as you cross the room, you journey through different habitats, beginning in the sky (the area around the door) and ending on the seabed (represented by the ceiling above my bed).

The avian population currently consists of a bat, a pterodactyl and this flock of Canada Geese designed by Roman Diaz. I made them from 20cm squares. The completed models are about 10cms in length. It took me ages to get them all pointing in the same direction.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Hammerhead Shark

(Click to enlarge image)

Daniel Robinson's impressive Hammerhead Shark is an anatomical study in paper. The primary and secondary dorsal fins, pectoral, pelvic, anal and caudal fins are all present.

Unfortunately the anal fin (not visible in the photo) is a weakness in the design. Formed from the tip of a very thick flap of paper which lies inside the model, it proves to be an obstacle when it comes to shaping the body of the shark. I was able to round the tail-section by dampening the paper with water and dilute wallpaper paste and then holding it in place while it dried. Even doing that I never really achieved the slender look I was after. The head is fun to sculpt. I spent ages messing around with it.

I folded this model from an 11 inch square. The end result is about 5.5 inches long from head to the tip of the tail.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Tree Frog

(Click photo for larger image)

This Tree Frog was designed by Robert J Lang – one of contemporary Origami’s great innovators. I folded it from a 15 inch square of Khadi paper. In posing the model I was inspired by a version of it that I saw on the front cover of an origami calendar some years ago.

Lang is a former physicist turned professional origami designer. In addition to his many amazing animal sculptures (you can see extensive galleries on his website) he has also put origami to more practical uses, developing folding patterns for car airbags and the lense of a space telescope, known as the Eyeglass, which is designed to unfold to a diameter of 100m in orbit.