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…
Matthew is best known for his exemplary work with Folding Australia and Oribotics, his robotic origami artwork. Here is his first book, written with the help of members of the Melbourne Origami Group. Cunningly described as “8 books in one” (for “books”, read “chapters”), it contains instructions for over 60 models. You get a section on bases, then traditional, decorations/flowers, toys, boxes, animals, geometric and dinosaurs. Matthew’s wife, My Trinh, is a highly talented graphic designer who produced the diagrams. Other contributors to the book include Jonathon Baxter, Darren Scott and Steven Casey, Australia’s long-standing and leading creator.
The diagrams are exemplary and easy for beginners to follow and the chosen models are simple to intermediate, with creators chosen from around the world, with (naturally) a decent Aussie representation. Each set of diagrams has a beautifully shot image of the final model. The spiral bound format is perfect for origami – I wish more books came like this. The large page format (11”x8”) allows for clarity of layout and a feeling of space. You get a free pack of paper!
Unusually, there’s no list of credits at the back, but each designer is named on the page and there’s a list of societies within the introduction. The best news is (or was) that the Works chain of cheapo books was selling it for around a fiver! It’s still only six quid at www.bjbooksco.uk – unbelievable value at that price and highly recommended both for your own collection and as a gift for others.
A4 softcover 56 pages. Self-published using lulu.com
Those of us who were folding in the 80s may remember Jean-Jerome, the self-confessed “Mad Corsican”. I still have the full set of issues of the Corsican Origami Society magazine (total society membership 8). It was believed that JJ was struck down by “other interests” and for time out of mind he lay hidden in the mists of time. However, for some months there have been dark whispers from out of the West that he was gathering models to himself for a return and here it is, my precious!
Minimal origami is a concept suggested by John Smith, who provides a couple of pages explaining the whys & wherefores. JJ offers the following rule; “You cannot use more than four folds”. He also suggests you need a lot of imagination and a small dose of humour”. This is MO in a nutshell – it can be like seeing faces in the clouds – a figure may elude you for some time, but once you “get it”, it’s clear as crystal. I shan’t delve deeply into the relative merits of MO, you either get it or you don’t.
The book is divided into sections; 4, 3, 2, 1 then zero fold creations, letters of the alphabet and flags. Some subjects require a bit more imagination than others! As you can imagine, simple models are likely to be created independently by several designers and I spotted 2 or 3 credited to different people from who I’d expected. Rating the designs is entirely a matter of personal taste, but “man with bouquet” by Ryan MacDonell was new (to me) and very impressive, worthy to feature alongside Paula’s “Santa”, which graces the cover.
The book is laced throughout with large dollops of Corsican humour, yet the basic subject is treated seriously and discussed sensibly. Brilly’s forward, using a mere two words, fits the theme nicely. If I had to be picky, the lack of contents page and page numbers is slightly irksome and the layout haphazard. However, as the first comprehensive collection of MO, JJ is to be congratulated – his time in the origami wilderness has not been wasted.
Boxed pack ISBN 0-8048-3904-2
More origami packages from Tuttle! This time you get a wide, thin box containing two 32-page illustrated booklets and a more than adequate 96 sheets of folding paper. Both volumes are identical in format. The paper is fine for trying out the designs, although one wonders where the figure of 96 sheets came from? The two booklets in each box are 32 page volumes 15cms square and it’s clear on flicking through all four books that they make a slightly higher demand on the reader’s folding abilities than you might expect from the tone of the packaging. Blintz bases, frog bases, squash/collapse moves, reverses – there’s plenty to keep a modestly experienced folder busy. I fear that a raw beginner might find it hard going – there’s a very basic page devoted to the symbols, you’re expected to pick up the required techniques as you go.
Due to the size of the page, some of the diagrams have been condensed more than would be ideal, which can only add to the perceived complexity. However, there are simple designs in there, with one (the traditional sailboat) inexplicably cropping up as the last model in book two! Most designs are by the author, who has no hesitation in using scissors to achieve a more complex perceived result. As you’d expect with a designer of LaFosse’s calibre, there are interesting little folding ideas to be found along the way, if you know what to look for. A street price of £6 seems reasonable.
As with the other Tuttle books, packaging seems somewhat “enhanced” for such tiny booklets, but throw the box away and keep them in your pocket on a long train journey, they are fun. So, perhaps not classics, but someone needs to write this type of book and nobody is more experienced or talented than LaFosse to do so, providing he also writes classics like “Origamido” as well! Far better than a collection of trad or ripped-off designs drawn by a jobbing illustrator. I also know from bitter personal experience to set aside any control over the finished project as soon as you sign the contract! I should also add that these reviews are from the (somewhat cynical) perspective of an experienced folder and not from someone simply wanting a colourful gift for a friend.
Florence Temko has the knack of seeing origami like a child. Not for her the ultra-complex crease-pattern challenges, she likes it simple and so you know what you’re going to get with her books, of which there have been hundreds! So here we have the latest entries to her bibliography.
Origami Note Cards
Boxed pack : 22 x 22cms 48 pages plus paper Tuttle Publishing ISBN 0-8048-3880-1
First impressions are that the cardboard packaging is attractive and it would make a good gift. Second impression (upon lifting the lid) is that the contents don’t reflect the size of the box. When you buy food in bags, allowance is requested for “contents settling during transit”, but with packages like this, there’s no such excuse – the package has simply been enlarged to make it appear better value for money. The box is 32mm high, of which 22mm is empty space. I should point out that a) the author has no control over the format of the book and b) almost every other origami publisher is currently doing the same thing. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I like a book to be hard-backed with a spine.
The softback book within this package is “elegantly” slim and comes with 48 sheets of double sided paper. The book begins with ain introduction to greetings cards and a brief history of origami, where the Treemaker software gets name-checked. There’s a section on types of paper and (hallelujah) a section about copyright and use of origami designs, somewhat unexpected in a beginners book. Next come the designs, all of which fall into the simple category, rarely extending past 6 or 7 steps. As the title suggests, the designs are either cards/envelopes or decorations to put on the cards.
Aimed at either younger folders or lovers of really simple designs; the diagrams and text are both simple and unambiguous, reflecting Temko’s long involvement with the subject. Once you accept the misleading packaging, both the book and paper are admirably suitable for the intended audience.
Origami For The Heart
Boxed pack : 22 x 22cms 48 pages plus paper Tuttle Publishing ISBN 0-8048-3879-1
Following a similar format to the previous review, the packaging here is a conventional box where you open one end. Why it doesn’t match the companion “Note Cards” format is a mystery. Once again, you get paper and a slim softback book containing instructions for 16 “fun-to-fold” projects. The introductory text is the same and the models share the same simplistic charm. The diagrams are clear, colourful and you get a colour (sorry, color) photo of the finished project. The illustrator probably wasn’t an experienced folder, since the “fold behind” arrowhead isn’t quite standard, but it’s a minor niggle.
With a UK street price of around £8, I feel these products are at the upper end of their expected price. In a magical world where publishers didn’t try to wring every buck out of a book, I’d have combined both volumes and given them a hard back, included the paper and still sold it at the same price. I also wonder how many people retain the fancy packaging, or simply slide the book between two more substantial volumes and forget it’s there! However, in a world where books need “bigging up” and putting inside boxes in order to sell in sufficient quantities, Temko’s books are always honest and reliable presents to give to anyone who would like to try simple and fun origami.
This review was written before her death.