Origami: the Art and Design of Paper

Folded paper cranes

Folding 1000 paper cranes and stringing them as pictured is said to grant you one wish from the mystical animal in Japanese folklore. Photo credit edwinasharp.blogspot.com

I remember being about 5 – maybe 6 – and having my dad sit me down to teach me to fold the paper crane. It was a right of passage. I remember struggling with it, specifically step 3-4 (now I absent-mindedly create them out of paper detritus from my pockets while idly riding the streetcar). This is where my life-long interest and admiration in origami art began — I am endlessly enchanted by the seeming magic a square of paper can hold. As a craftsperson, however, I have remained ever the dilettante.

Pretty origami crane

This was not the same kind of crane I folded. Design by modern day Origami Master Roman Diaz, folded using one sheet of paper. Yes it can stand on one foot by itself. Photo Credit Sea-wayblog.blogspot.com

Origami, the art of Japanese paper folding has been practiced since the mid-Edo period (scholars believe it began sometime during the 17th century) and continues to entrance today. In fact this popular Japanese folk art that transforms a square sheet of paper into something representational through folds alone – no cuts or glue allowed for the die-hards – has today gained quite the devout following internationally and is of special interest to scientists and mathematicians. Origami, with its own mythology, with other designers paying respects through their own art, is now the subject of a documentary.

Folded paper elephant

Origami Grandmaster Akira Yoshizawa, created more than 50,000 origami models in his lifetime (the elephant above is one, folded from a single square). Credited with creating new folding techniques, and having published 18 books, Emperor Hirohito granted him the Order of the Rising Sun in 1983 for inspiring a renaissance in the art form. Photo Credit: Orizuka.free.fr

Folded paper dragon

This dragon, by Satoshi Kamiya is one of the world’s most complicated origami designs. Each scale is its own piece of paper, intricately folded into the body itself. Photo credit blog.mckenkie.com

Paper Yoda

60 fold Master Yoda designed by Fumiaki Kawahat. Photo credit: listsoplenty.com

Access the step-by-step here

Between the Folds is a recent documentary that follows 10 fine artists and theoretical scientists who abandon those careers to devote themselves to the art of origami. Reinterpreting their worlds in paper, they bring forth a bold mix of sensibilities towards art, expressiveness, creativity and meaning. Check out the trailer (and good news! PBS will be airing it January 2011 on Independent Lens):

Origami has entered into the western consciousness forever altering the way we see a sheet of paper.

6 Responses to Origami: the Art and Design of Paper

  1. Elli D. says:

    I adore origami – their fragile beauty is enchanting. My problem is that I am somehow not suited to remember all the steps to create something myself. Once my South Korean friend was trying to teach me how to fold cranes – epic fail indeed! :-) And seeing the crane by Roman Diaz makes me really embarrased, it is so beautiful!

  2. Mike says:

    Nice Post …………

    Origami Kit For Dummies gives you all the material you need to get started in origami.

    Download Your Free Copy of World Famous Origami e-book! it’s really Free!!!

    Happy Origami!

  3. Charlene Clingman says:

    Great site! Here’s hoping my karma brings me a curious collectable! :)

  4. Art Wong says:

    One crane down… Nine hundred and ninety-nine to go…

  5. Pingback: What Origami Inspires | The Design Tree by Greentea Design

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