Origami books tend to fall into a few specific categories; the most common being collections of diagrams. Some cover the techniques required for folding and a few focus on the artistic qualities of work by master folders. Here, at long last is a new category, an autobiography of a talented but relatively unknown folder from Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The author is Laura Rozenberg, herself an Argentine, who is a volunteer managing editor for OUSA’s “The Paper” and is in the process of setting up a museum of paper-folding in Uruguay. She is thus perfectly situated to research and write this book.
Montoya (1920-1967) was a recluse who spent her time in her room, obsessively designing and folding new models. Thankfully, she shared these during correspondence with several key figures of the origami world, including Yoshizawa, Harbin, Elias, Oppenheimer and Legman. All of them greatly admired her work and her untimely death at the age of 47 surely robbed the world of a major creative talent. Legman in particular had a close relationship over many years. The book tells her fascinating story with both empathy and objectivity.
The book is beautifully presented and makes us of photos, diagrams and more artistically presented images. It covers Montoya’s life, but also presents it as a fascinating social history. Rozenberg’s researches have unearthed some fascinating archive documents and anyone with the slightest interest in the history of paper-folding will find this utterly fascinating. There are a few diagrams, but this is primarily an academic text, albeit written in a style that younger readers would easily be able to understand. I can easily see how this book would fit into several different areas of an educational curriculum.
I read the book from cover to cover and will undoubtedly do so again. Montoya’s work is graceful and inspiring. You can find a list of her published designs at www.giladorigami.com/origami-database/Ligia Montoya and many diagrams can be found on the “The Origami World of Neal Elias” DVD written by Dave Venables and Marc Cooman (available at www.nickrobinson.info/origami/elias_dvd)
Lacking the economies of scale that commercial publishers can enjoy, the book costs £20 including free delivery and if you have any interest in the history of paper-folding, I urge you to invest in a copy.