An amazing photo of Robert Harbin in action…
illust. Carla Mihelich. ISBN 187918175-4 A4 hardback 48 pages
Subtitled “An origami Fold-and-Tell story, this is a richly illustrated guide to making the Flapping Bird. Each double page has an evocative and colourful illustration on one side and steps towards the Flapper on the other, accompanied by prose which relates both to the folding sequence and the large illustration. There is a set of concise instructions at the end, and a page about the “lessons of origami”. One of these is “to make each and every fold a contemplative and willed act of beauty.” Now wouldn’t it be nice if we all considered that whilst folding?
The authoress has worked as a speech pathologist, using origami to foster the development of her students’ skills. She also discovered that origami “nurtures spiritual growth”. Overall, I feel the book is a little “new-age” for readers who may be looking for a quick origami fix, but more thoughtful children (and adults) will enjoy the luxuriant images and the gentle, spiritual approach of the book.
Published by Airstrip 200 pages soft cover A5 format ISBN 978-0-9757463-1-8
As one of the youngest origami societies around, Folding Australia seem to be showing the rest of us how to present origami. Their website is superb and this is one of the most attractive convention books I’ve ever seen. This is largely due to the inspired graphical work of my Trinh Ha, ably assisted by Matt Gardiner, Darren Scott and Mike Hopkins. Why do I like it so much? 1) A5 format 2) It has an attractive colour cover and a proper spine 3) the printing and binding is of the highest quality. 4) the layout is consistent throughout 5) 200 pages allows a good selection of models.
The BOS once experimented with the A5 format, (Bristol 1990) but it only lasted for one convention, much to my disappointment. Providing the printing is clear, diagrams are perfectly legible at this size and the package is far more convenient for carrying, storing and posting. The weight is halved and less paper used. Inside the book was a postcard with a hand-written note of thanks, then I saw that the page for my model had a colour bookmark inserted – a most thoughtful gesture. Although I was involved in the BOS council decision to send CDrom versions of our own collection to contributors instead of printed copies, when I see the efforts other societies make, I sometimes wonder whether it was the right decision.
You can see the list of contributors and order the book for the Aussie equivalent of £19.50 at this site www.papercrane.org/index/Shop/109
I was contacted through my site to supply some designs for a series of “Art Attack” interactive CDroms that were to be given free with various Kelloggs cereal boxes. The CDs were; Games and stuff (flying planes, windmills, fortune tellers), My stuff (design your own photo frames, CD cases, calendars), Party stuff (invitations, hats, masks) and Building stuff (puppets, models, theatres, master Origami). They had selected a series of traditional designs and wanted to use my bat, rabbit, pteranodon, leaf and various planes. These were turned into flash-based animations with the facility to draw your own patterns on a virtual sheet of paper, which you could then print out with crease lines present.
Sadly, that was the extent of my input and I didn’t get to see the results until they were complete. The animations are simple line drawings with the usual back/forward buttons and the folding lines are shows as moving patterns along the line. I have to say they didn’t look easy or clear to me, but I may be proved wrong. I found my way around the interface after a while and there is certainly lots to try out! The origami section (on the “building stuff” CD) included 10 designs. The “games” CD includes fortune tellers, bangers, frog tiddliwinks (froggliwinks surely?) and six flying designs.
The interface itself is bright and attractive and there’s certainly plenty to do, but from an origami perspective, it would have been so good to have a chance to comment at the design stage. There seems to be no links or reference to the BOS, even though I asked, although they’ve credited me (not altogether accurately) in the final shut-down sequence. Let’s hope lots of youngsters manage to fold something and get hooked.
Published by Modern Science 180 pages soft cover 18*25 cms ISBN 978-85-7393-630-8
This is an interesting format for a book. It’s essentially a model collection, properly bound, with a colour cover, but published and marketed as a book. There’s an introduction and section on symbols, but the diagrams are still in the original artist’s hand. Some have (Brazilian) text added, some are shaded, others not. To those of us used to the collections published for conventions, this isn’t too odd, but were I to buy this expecting a typical origami book, I’d probably be a little surprised!
The creators featured inside are Andre F. Sánchez Restrepo, Ary Fialho, Boleslaw Gargol, Bruno Ferraz, Francis Ow, Greg Suarez, Hideo Kumayama, Jeremy Shafer, Jorge C. Lucero, Jose Tomás Buitrago, Karla Matos, Lena of the Foldings (whoever she may be!), Mari Kanegae, Mukhopadhyay, Rita Foelker and errr Nick Robinson. It’s an interesting venture and with the increasing availability of “print on demand”, I suspect we may see more of the same in the future. If you can handle the distribution yourself, it’s now possible to produce a professional-looking book without selling your soul to a big publisher. Nic Terry has produced many books using similar tactics and Bruno is already working on a follow-up volume. You can see the contents and buy a copy ($30 including postage) at this site http://brunoferraz.googlepages.com/home
Published by CreateSpace, 114 pages softback, 8.2 x 8.2 inches, ISBN: 978-1438218045
As the author of a book felt by some to be “near the knuckle”, I thought I’d probably be a suitable person to review this book. In terms of content, it’s past the knuckle and halfway up the arm, but the title doesn’t mislead and more sensitive folders will undoubtedly pass hurriedly by. The cover shows a playboy bunny, but most of the contents are indeed hard-core origami. I won’t dwell on specifics, but the models range from intermediate to advanced in terms of technique, are excellently diagrammed and the photos give a clear guide to the standards you can achieve if you use the right material to fold with. There’s useful information at the end about foil backing and wet-folding.
I hope and trust that origami in general is able to handle this type of book – the wider world of art has long since come to terms with erotic material and so, in my opinion, should the world of origami. It’s niche stuff, but deserves its place. Certainly you wouldn’t show it to children (and some adults) but that’s not a criterion for rejecting it out of hand.
Editorial Salvatella ISBN 978-84-8412-446-7 56pp hardback 10”x9”
It’s always frustrating when you discover an excellent book that has somehow fallen under the radar – this one came out in 2007 but I’d never heard of it until Edwin Corrie graciously sent me a copy. What we’re in fact looking at is basically a book of Edwin’s work; 15 models, alongside a single model by Ivern, Caboblanco, Arroyo and Derudas and a trad design. Whilst the other designers are talents in their own right, I’d have been tempted to make it exclusively Corrie – he surely deserves it. Most of Edwin’s models in the book, if not all, have been previously published, and the artwork is a line-for-line trace of the originals, but that should prevent you from tracking down this book, since it’s a real delight to see his work in glorious colour and in hardback format.
A new book of original designs is always to be enjoyed and Edwin’s work is recognized the world over as top class material. The other designers work fits into the general theme and overall, it’s a fine collection, attractively presented. Vicente Palacios has worked tirelessly for many decades to present quality origami to the world and he’s succeeded once more! It seems to be available only in Spain at the moment, for just under €16. Don’t get confused with a similar title by a different author!
Trafford Publishing 122 pages US letter size, softback ISBN 142513421-1
The second book on the subject of “realistic” flying planes by Tem, it follows the pattern of the first book – complex (but not overly so) designs that actually look like modern jet planes. Over half are imaginary, the rest well-known models such as the F16, Mig, Sukhoi etc. The designs are made entirely from half a sheet of US letter paper (8.5 * 11 inches), giving proportions of about 1 : 2.5. In the introductions (which covers history, flight theory, flying tips etc) the author says each of the designs has been tested to fly between 30 and 70 feet indoors. Not living in a mansion, the models I made easily made it from one side of the room to the other.
The use of a strip of paper allows relatively complex looks to be achieved with relatively modest folding abilities – a big bonus for younger or less experienced folders. You can both buy the book and fold a sample design on the publisher’s website (http://www.trafford.com/07-1310) but I’m sorry to say, as with the previous volume, that the resolution of the printed diagrams is poor. What looks perfectly good on a website at 72dpi becomes pixelated and unattractive when printed at high-res. This doesn’t present any problem in following the diagrams, but these days I can see no reason why diagramming software can’t output at high resolution. I can only think that this will reduce sales, which is such a shame since the models themselves are excellent. I urge Tem to look into this before volume 2 (I may even be able to help) and do himself justice in print. It might make the price of £14.73 ($28) excluding postage slightly more palatable.
To buy or not to buy? If you like folding paper planes and have a supply of US paper handy, go for it. If presentation is important to you, then probably not. Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy to present to the BOS library!
Tuttle Publishing 96 pages, hardback 22x28cms ISBN 1402752512
Engel is a science writer, graphic designer, and architect, perhaps best known to us as author of the seminal work “Folding the Universe: Origami from Angelfish to Zen” (1989), one of the first origami books to tackle the academic and philosophical aspects of our art. This raised high expectations for his new book! The title suggests the models inside require no more than ten steps to fold. This is disingenuous; the goose has steps 2, 2A, 4, 4A, 4B, 4C, 8, 8A, 8B, 8C – 18 steps in all. The wedding ring has 16 steps and after the early simple designs, few actually meet the 10 step limit. However, publishers rarely let the facts get in the way of a sales device and the author will have had no say.
That aside, how are the models? Pretty good, to my eyes. Engel calls his models “playful art and artful play”. Following the almost obligatory “trad” chapter, the original work (all by Engel) is organised into categories Wild Kingdom, Delectables, For the Romantic and Just for Fun. Models include a high-heeled shoe, a butterfly, a rocket ship that Engel originally devised as a child, a complete breakfast with eggs and bacon, and a hatching chick. My favourite is a penguin, chubby yet elegant. The designs vary from simple to intermediate and most require some degree of “by eye” skills to complete, with plenty of crimps throughout. The diagrams (presumably by the author) are clear and uncluttered, with a subtle but pleasing touch of 3D to show how layers are arranged. Each step has accompanying text, as you’d expect. The photographed designs are attractive and engaging.
All in all, it’s an elegant book with a lot of original work inside. In their quest to maximize profit, I feel Tuttle are sometimes guilty of poor presentation, so it’s great to see them do such a fine job with this book. I hope the sales persuade them to use this approach for all ori-books in the future. At $12.21 on Amazon, it’s a great buy, but not currently on their UK site. Tesco UK are charging £18 for it – a fascinating if predictable exchange rate.
64 pages (over two booklets) Tuttle Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0804840279 30.8 x 15.6cm (the box!)
Origami Butterflies is a collection of twelve designs by origami artist Michael LaFosse. Along with 96 sheets of paper, you get two small booklets with the diagrams, contained in an attractive card envelope. The authors system for folding butterflies requires some competence with subtle crimps and swivels, so it’s good to see page devoted to techniques such as squash, colour change, wing and head variations etc. Once you’ve mastered these, check out the section on “upper and lower margins”, where much of the amazing diversity stems from – you’ll soon be creating your own variations <irony>and opening up webshops to sell them.</irony>
I suspect the contents are pretty much identical to the book “Michael G. LaFosse’s Origami Butterflies”, self-published through Origamido in 06, but it’s been repackaged for a mass market. Tuttle have produced several LaFosse “box sets”, where the contents are divided into two very thin, very small booklets. Whilst the envelope itself looks inviting, I’d far rather have had a single book, at double size – the diagrams, whilst of exemplary style, are pretty small for my ageing eyes to deal with. Also, the volumes quickly get lost in a bookshelf. I also feel impulse buyers new to origami will struggle pretty quickly, there’s just too much technique required.
However, for folders with even modest abilities, a whole world of beautiful butterflies opens up for you. As ever, the amazon price of $10.17 becomes £10.44 on the UK site – an exchange rate of 1:1 makes the maths easier. Once you’ve used the paper, you don’t get much physical product for your money. However, the origamido version sells at $34.99, so it’s a relative steal if you can live with the format.
It’s perhaps too much to hope for ethical publishing in the mass-market, but I’d have loved to see Tuttle donating a small percentage to suitable butterfly charities – three-quarters of UK butterfly species have declined over the past 30 years, the main factor being the destruction of habitat, with a similar story being told worldwide. These inspirational and beautiful little creatures deserve our help. Perhaps I should put my money where my mouth is and write such a book…