Trafford Publishing, softcover 120 pages ISBN 1-4120-4789-7 $19.99, £11.26
The author has been folding for 21 years and is a member of OUSA and kindly sent the BOS a review copy of his new book. What you get for your money is 20 or so pages of techniques, symbols & introduction, followed by eighteen (non flying) origami aircraft, all of which fall into the high-intermediate category. To quote the publishers “The wait is over! Art imitates life, but for this book, paper imitates the beauty, versatility, and potentially destructive power of man’s flying aircraft.” Hmmm.
The designs are all accurate representations (as far as my limited aircraft-spotting skills go) and the diagrams are accessible to anyone with a reasonable origami ability. They are not for beginners. What lets them down (and this is something you see quite a lot these days) is the resolution at which they have been exported from the graphic program in which they were created. Edges are jagged, even the text shows clear signs of pixellation.
To my mind, there’s no excuse for this – it’s a technical issue that publishers should be in full control of. To compound matters, the images for basic techniques have been stretched so that what should be a square is in fact a diamond or a rectangle. Basic proofing should have picked up on this.
However, let’s take it in context. The typical origami/airplane nut will happily ignore such problems and simply fold the designs. If you fall into that category, go buy this book – you’ll love it. There’s lots of technique to go at and the fi nal results are suitable militaristic. For a newcomer or anyone looking for elegance and beauty, this isn’t the book for you, but neither does it pretend to be. It seems to me that Tem has put a lot of time and effort into this book, only to be let down by whoever printed/published it, which is a huge shame – with a few technical improvements, the book would have looked great. If you’d like to buy a copy or read more details (including sample pages) visit www.trafford.com.
Many years ago, I was part of an APA (Amateur Press Alliance) known as FOLD. The idea was we each sent 20 hard copies of our bi-monthly article to a co-ordinator, who then collated them and mailed them back to us. There were no limitations on what we could include, folds, photos, cuttings etc, so we had a regular bulging collection of origami news, diagrams and information, with personal comments to each other covering life (my daughter was born and chroncled within!), death (one of our key contributors talked through his terminal illness, origami and anything else we were enthused about. Everyone’s opinion was respected and we were a true community.
Imagine an extended personal letter between 20 origami enthusiasts and remember, this was before the Internet and email. I don’t think anyone would have the patience these days with the net at our fingertips and software like this blog. And what enthusiasts! Mark Kennedy, Robert Lang, Michael LaFosse, James Sakoda, Florence Temko, Rachel Katz, Joanne Ortman and many others came and went in an ever-changing membership roster. Eventually, it came to an end, but the baton was picked up by people who wanted to join us but found there was no room and so started their own version, called IMAGIRO. I joined that as well!
A rare chance brought Florence Temko, David Lister and myself together at a BOS convention (I can’t remember where or when!) so we posed for this photo, which came out very nicely. I think this was the first and last time I met Florence in person, but David, of course, has been to many conventions since then! How young we all looked (well, I did, modestly displaying my latest mask 😉
I really miss this man. He died in 2004 but I like to think his mischievous ghost still keeps an eye on the ori-world. We first met in the mid 80s, where I found a kindred spirit in his his irreverent approach to life, creative approach and love of linguistic puns. We had a regular exchange of folds and letters and it was the highlight of the week when one of his delightfully decorated envelopes dropped through the letter box.
His designs were often geometric in nature, but he often managed to give them some presentational edge which made them more appealing. His BOS booklet remains the largest printed collection of his work, but he has others scattered about (his “DNA molecule” and “Umulius Unit” are in my forthcoming classic. He was quite happy to build on existing designs and then accuse the creator of having “stolen them before he thought of them” 😉
I set up his first (and last!) website, now archived on the BOS website and I think that he would have really embraced the possibilities of the web had he lived a little longer. We met for the final time at a meeting at the Bauhaus, organised by fellow Yenn-aficionado Paulo Mulatinho. Whilst clearly suffering from a variety of age-related problems, his spirit was utterly indomitable.
During an open-air evening meal by a river, he gate-crashed a wedding party and was dancing with a delightful young woman. On the final evening, Thok took to the stage and gave a talk, always revelling in an audience, who in turn hung on his every word. John Smith has sent me a video/photo diary of the weekend, from which I’ve taken a small clip so you can see and hear Thoki, albeit briefly.
He “told it as he saw it” and managed to upset a number of people over the years, but he was unrepentant to the very end. Creativity such as he had is rarely accompanied by an introverted demeanour!
Aside from his folding and cutting skills, the talent that impressed me the most was his ability to make subtle but excellent puns in a variety of languages and even between languages. His eyes twinkled as he tested your ability to keep up with his alert mind.
I tried to produce a suitable cover for the BOS magazine to mark his passing. Frustratingly, we couldn’t afford colour covers in those days, but I hope he would have approved of the imagery.
I’ve known Iris since my first convention in 1984, when she introduced herself and took me on a guided tour of the convention, introducing me to all the celebrities! She has been a firm friend ever since and I’ve seen her helping out in her own quiet way at every convention she attends. I once complained to her of a headache and she wheeled me into a darkened room and gave me a neck massage!
The train she caught home invariably went through my home town of Sheffield, so we spent many hours together coming home after conventions and they were never dull! She has been a long-standing Council member, president of the BOS and is currently a vice president as well as an honorary member. She deserves no less!
Only a few people seem to know her creative contribution to origami. Back in the 1960s she was creating helicopters, cannons, flexagons (in Kenneways “Origami In Action“) and 3D cars with wheels (in my self-published and hand-drawn “One Dozen Folds“). She beat Fred Rohm to making the first 4-link chain!
Whilst less active these days, her love of any kind of puzzle is as strong as ever. She lives a widow in Hull and retaining her love for folding in that origami desert can’t be easy. She is in her 80’s and still fiercely independant, walking a mile a day to keep fit. She travels many hundreds of miles to conventions, yet has time and energy for all when she arrives.
I have taken a lot of photos of her, but this one from the recent York convention perhaps captures her spirit better than the others. If you see her at a convention, please ask about the “olden days”, she has a deep and possibly unique well of knowledge about origami – have a look at Elias’ original diagrams – you’ll see a small “IW” on many, indicating she was on his mailing list at the time. We are indeed fortunate to have her!
Just back from the BOS York convention. Ahead of a fuller review, here’s a nice pic of our special guest, Róman Díaz. It turns out he’s a huge fan of the Irish singing (?) group “The Nolans” and was delighted when he picked up this LP, long out of print in Uruguay.
I’m deciding which folds to make for the exhibition table at the York BOS convention tomorrow. I always agonise over whether things are worth displaying, since my tastes veer towards the simple side and put next to an ultra-complex model, the two styles don’t quite complement each other.
I’d be tempted to arrange tables by complexity, so like can be compared to like. Here’s one I’m taking – I finally found a use for the pack of “opalescent” paper that’s been gathering dust for years – gaudy but effective 😉
“Is it original?” is a question often heard in origami circles. We all want our latest creation to be a quantum leap in origami design, but what are the chances? For many long years, Brilly, Wayne and I have debated the eternal question “is the golden age of origami over?” The two concepts are interlinked – if most of the “good” designs have already been discovered, there’s less opportunity for newcomers to find original ideas.
It’s certainly true that starting from a bird base, you’re highly unlikely to derive something radically new. The same probably applies to all the common bases, although I feel in my bones that the fish base may have more to offer. However, the longer I live and breath origami, the less often I see something I consider to be revolutionary. The tenancy to become jaded is all too common amongst experienced folders. Even the super-complex designs, whilst mind-blowing in their execution, can seemingly be broken down to crease patterns that an experienced folder can refold without diagrams!
Over the years, we’ve had creative explosions in new areas, such as modular, twist, golden (cough) venture. The Jackson “crumple” technique was dismissed by many as “not origami”, but Vincent Floderer has comprehensively blown that judgment out of the water by utilising origami techniques in his amazing organic folds. Giang Dinh is another who has a style all his own.
Originality in a design isn’t based solely on folding technique, but also on that vague concept of “character”. Giles Towning is a good example. Whilst his designs may not offer radically new techniques, he has a clear vision of what to fold and in doing so, stamps his personality onto his work. Edwin Corrie is another whose work can generally be recognised without a name-tag.
So perhaps today’s creators should be working on character as much as technique. How might they achieve this? Perhaps by looking at an area of their life that specialise in – Stephen O’Hanlon (a surgeon) has come up with various medical-themed ideas (see his hip replacement) alongside plenty of other impressive work. Vincent Floderer turned to his love of mushrooms (he’s a fun guy) to inspire new creations. It’s also important to try and focus on your own perception of origami and not to worry too much about other people’s reactions.
Only you can decide when a model is complete and I often find it difficult to decide whether to add an extra step to further “refine” the result. I think there’s a point in any given model when it has reached perfection, not necessarily in terms of “all points present”, but at a more personal level. Some people go past that point, so don’t quite reach it.
Tidying out a drawer recently, I came upon this cover sheet from a pack of “Sakoda” foil paper. James included a pack of it in with a signed copy of his “Modern Origami” that he generously sent to me many years ago. I never met him, but he was a fellow contributor to “FOLD” (an APA – amateur press alliance) I was part of in the 80s, alongside Lang, LaFosse, Lister and many other luminaries). He died in 2005 aged 84. It’s interesting for several reasons, a glimpse of marketing design in the 60s, an indication of how popular foil was at the time (enabling Rhom and Elias to produce creations of amazing complexity) and not least, what passed for “modern” origami in those times. For more biographical data about Sakoda, visit David Listers emporium.
I was recently invited to attend a book-signing as part of a “local authors” week at Waterstones (probably the UKs biggest high street book retailer). The event also helped promote a new Paper Chase department, but nobody told them I was there, so they had no origami paper to sell. Hmmmm….
I’m always slightly concerned people might mistake me for Jeremy Clarkson (a UK TV presenter renowned for his ignorance) , but since it looked like fun, I errrr signed up. My daughter always encourages people to look for unsigned copies of my books, on the basis that they are rarer, but truth be told, other than at origami conventions, nobody knows who I am and I hope to keep it that way!
Signing books is an honour, people have invested their cash in one of my products and I’m always delighted. At this particular signing, lots of people brought their children over and said “this nice man will make you some toys while we look round the shop”. So despite being busy for two hours, I only managed to deface one book and I suspect even that purchase was out of pity 😉
The table I was given turned out not to be a table, but a box, so I was unable to position my legs underneath it. This meant folding was rather taxing, leaning forward and trying not to look weird. However, the monstrous jugs of hot chocolate helped ease my pain.