Following the wonderful Didactics Conference Wayne, Joan and I went to Basel to check out his exhibition of napkin folds at the Toy World Museum. This building in the centre of the city has a superb collection of wooden toys, exquisitely carved and displayed. They also host Joan’s exhibition until 07/04/13.
The display is simply stunning. Napkin folding on a scale and diversity I’ve never encountered before. Looking through images from old books, you are tempted to think “it looks great, but surely you couldn’t do that with napkins?” The answer is, yes, you can! The type of simple folds I was familiar with are but the entree to this feast of folding, which culminates in a massive pair of lions on with side of a temple.
For many years, Joan has tried to persuade us that Europe has a tradition of folding as deep and rich as that of Japan. This exhibition goes a long way towards proving that. As you look at the dozens of exhibits, you’re struck by how many look like contemporary origami. There’s a peacock straight from a JOAS book, a 3m display of what appears to be Floderer-type folds, but which is 400 years old. Perhaps most interestingly, there was a snake with a tongue formed by what we know as “box pleating”, again many hundreds of years before Elias discovered it.
If you get the chance to visit it, I urge you to do so. Best of all, Joan told us that in January he will set up a similar display in Bath, so us Brits can get to learn from and enjoy his research. You will eb staggered at the work he has done, both in research terms as well as in technique – he has had to re-learn these lost techniques with very little information and has made a superb job of it.
I’ve posted some photos on a new facebook page I set up for Joan, plus you can see more images at the museum website. Finally, there’s a discussion area on the Didactics forum for you to share your knowledge.
For some time now I’ve been taking an ever-increasing interest in the aspects of origami other than the actual folding of models. My two visits to the conference in Freiburg (see my report) have further fired up my enthusiasm for this, so I’ve put together a forum for discussing these aspects of origami.
They key to its success will be the level to which people who join the forum stay within the brief when posting. I really don’t want it swamping (like that of Saj Khans) with photos of every dog-eared model that people have folded, along with request for diagrams and “how do I fold this?” requests. They are fine in the right place, but the Didactics forum most definitely isn’t the right place.
I’m hoping it will become a place of historical debate, tips on teaching, information about antique books, maths, geometry and software. In short, everything *but* folding itself, although inevitably there will be elements of that from time to time. The categories will develop as the posts roll in.
I’m going to be a fairly tough moderator, since I appreciate that stance from other forums I frequent. Maintaining the “on-topicness” is key to attracting input from those who have little time to spare. We shall see!
I’ve set up a topic on the forum to discuss a possible event in the UK.
Here’s a fairly random video compilation from the Didaktiks conference in Freiburg, thrown together with no regard for cinematic principles, accuracy of captions, visibility of captions, choice of colours, audio fidelity or respect for those featured within. It’s just for fun.
As if that wasn’t enough, here’s a link to my report (under “pages”, top of the right hand column) from the conference…
Just back, both knackered and elated, from the (highly succesful) International Convention for Didactics of Paperfolding for Educators (snappy titel, nicht wahr?). Ahead of finding time for as full a write-up as I can manage, here is a photo of a small fraction of the library in Joan Sallas’ room at his flat in Freiburg. This awesome collection dates from the 15th century to the modern day and would take months to wade through.
Next week I’ll by flying out to Freiburg im Breisgau for the 5th International Convention For Didactics Of Paperfolding For Educators. This annual event is co-ordinated by Joan Sallas and a small team. The idea is to spend the weekend focusing not particularly on folding models, but to look at how they are taught, diagrammed and communicated.
For me, this makes a welcome change, taking origami perhaps more seriously as an educational tool, rather than a means of entertainment. There are over 150 people who have volunteered to give a lecture of some kind, which must represent a wealth of skills and ability.
The conference is different in other ways, recognising that not everyone has money to spare for origami weekends away. To this end, they make use of a local school hall where people can bring a sleeping bag and stay overnight at minimal cost. I suspect the majority of paperfolders fall outside the “poor” category and some probably have little idea how the cost of a typical origami convention can be impossible to meet.
Sallas himself is one of those rare folders who loves history. Whilst most folders have no real desire to learn where origami came from, he is forever researching the subject, unveiling fascinating information to us closet academics. His most recent studies are about napkin folding and he may already be the worlds leading authority on the subject.
With Palacios and Lister getting slightly older, he may well be the next generation historian I’ve been waiting for. He’s also the author of some books and has a real twinkle in his eye, he reminds me in many ways of the late, great Thoki Yenn.
So, for a variety of reasons, I’m really looking forward to next weekend and will report back after the event. I hope to meet some of you there.