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.
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.
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.