I found this lovely example of my XYZmbe design folded by Michal Pikula. It was a planar module named in honour of Sam Evison, a delightful man who used to run the Hazel Grove mini-meetings in the 80s when I was a regular attendee. He was awarded an MBE for services to children. I created a series of diagrams for simple models in the BOS magazine for a column in his honour.
The origami world has lost one of its genuine stars. An ever-present at conventions until her health began to fail, I wonder how many people had their first “hello” from her when they went to their first convention? She actively sought people she didn’t know and did her best to make them feel welcome and introduce them to people they may not have known. Her innocent love of paper-folding was infectious and she was a surrogate Aunty for many of us.
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 was a firm friend ever since and I saw her helping out in her own quiet way at every convention she attended. 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.
In the early days of the society, as BOS member #83, she was editor of the very first proper BOS magazine and produced the next 45 issues until 1974. The newsletter was typed on stencils (personal computers were not yet invented!) and printed with a Gestetner machine, stapled together and sent out to members by Iris.
What many people probably do not know is that during the 60s, she played an important role in the development of folding and the BOS. She was in regular contact with Neal Elias (her initials appear on diagrams he sent to the few other folders he knew) and developed a series of models that were ahead of their time in many ways. Subjects included a cannon, a helicopter, a flexagon, a sports car, a dog in a kennel, a ball within a ball, a blow-up 3D star and many others. She beat Fred Rohm to making the first 4-link chain from a single square. You can find many of her creations in the superb (and essential) DVD collection “The Origami World of Neal Elias” by Dave Venables and Marc Cooman
Yet she never promoted herself or her work and much of this has been buried in the BOS archives for a long time. She was President of the BOS from 1992 – 96 and was deeply honoured – she denied that she was “worthy”. She was later made a Vice President and also an Honorary Member.
Even in her 80’s she was still fiercely independent, walking a mile a day to keep fit. She travelled alone for many hundreds of miles to conventions, yet had time and energy for all when she arrived. I set her up with a computer and tried for many years to teach her how to access the internet, but like many of her generation, she never quite “got it”.
She lived less than a mile from an Aunt of mine and so I took the opportunity to visit her. Her small house in Hull was a treasure trove of origami history. She was always happy to sit and talk about the early days of folding and to discuss fine technical points and historical opinion. She lost her husband and had many other personal difficulties in her life, but her innate optimism kept her going, although her emotions were rarely hidden and she became misty-eyed at the drop of a hat. She was the special guest at my Wentworth meetings in 2011 and everyone was delighted to see her.
Iris had a stroke in 2015 and moved into a home, where her prognosis was uncertain. She had lost a large part of her memory although her general health was good, it was clear she could no longer live independently. She didn’t really recognise us when we visited her, but it clearly gave her pleasure and she proudly showed the BOS magazine to everyone when it arrived.
The Society arranged for her to attend the Bradford Convention in 2017 and the 50th celebration but it was clear she didn’t really understand the affection that was showered on her. The staff who cared for her were amazed at the reaction she caused and soon realised she was a very special person to many people.
Our world is much the poorer for her loss.
Some of her designs can be seen here
Words cannot express what a wonderful human being Mark is. His friendship is a true gift and his personal generosity to me cannot be repaid. I have been lucky enough to know him for nearly 30 years and know just how much of himself he gives to the origami world, many of whom are his good friends. He has a massive spirit and a huge heart – I hope for a positive outcome.
If you know him, please take a picture of yourself with one of his many 1000s of “origami pins”, or a model that has taught you, or anything else, and send with a message to [email protected]
Sadly, Mark has now lost his fight for life.
Pictured en route to the BOS 50th convention with his favourite reading book 😉
We are all shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Jeff Beynon on January 19th 2017 following a heart attack. I first met Jeff in the mid 80s (he joined in ’81) when I was still getting to know the BOS and its members. He was a quite, shy individual, but we shared a similar taste for music and discussed origami at length. We started to correspond by mail (this was pre-internet) and rarely a week went by without a multi-page letter from Jeff, always including his characteristic hand-drawn diagrams. Luckily, I kept a file of these.
In the early days, he was obsessed with “twisted” designs, often sequence-less crease patterns and hints. As time went by, he added further strings to his bow, including stylised birds, containers and a variety of modular designs.
His work was always informed by his training in Graphic design at Bath academy of art and had a high degree of “character” – elegant, efficient yet rarely straight-forward to fold. His diagrams were functional rather than clear, he generally left it to the folder how to add the requisite pre-creases that were usually needed, although some textual clues were usually given.
He is probably best remembered for his “Spring into Action, a superb (and fiendishly challenging) tube-like design that flexed in and out. It is mentioned on the Wikipedia page of ‘action origami’. John Smith was moved to write a short poem about it.
How many years, how many days
How many folds and folders known
So many forms, so many ways
To shape the virgin paper shown
Yet with this, what can compare
It pulls my heart as I share
A secret now which once I sought,
Of magic far beyond all thought
A subtle art has shaped each wheel
So at gentle touch they fly apart
Their spiralled splendour to reveal
Then collapse again to hidden heart
Jeff’s models were featured regularly in the BOS magazine and he was widely published in convention books and overseas magazines. He published 4 BOS booklets, Origami, Morigami, Jeff-Ori3, Fourigami and Multiplication – all have proved very popular over the years and are well worth investing in.
During the 90s, like many other prolific creators, Jeff began to suffer from “burn out” and his passion for origami began to wane. Eventually he dropped out of the Society and kept a low profile, working by day as a gardener for his beloved Hartham Park near Corsham in Wiltshire. He was made redundant in 2007 and struggled somewhat to readjust his life after that.
Frustratingly, he could not be tempted to visit a convention (even in his home town of Swansea!) – he felt that he had nothing to offer and people would not know him. How wrong he was, he was much loved by those who knew him and greatly admired by his many fans in the origami world.
We kept in touch, particularly after we connected on Facebook and whilst origami was pretty much off-topic for him, we talked often about life, politics and especially puns and music, in which we shared very similar tastes. His friendship, wit and humour will be sorely missed.
He formed a close friendship with José Meeusen, often visiting her in Holland and they sparked each others creative muse. She writes: “Yesterday I read the news that our good friend Jeff passed away. I’m so sad to hear this. He had a special place in my heart, the holidays I spent with him at Hartham were the most wonderful of my life. In his last email he said he wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t mention anything serious.”
If you wish to help remember him, Jeff’s chosen charity for donations was Ty Hafan – a children’s hospice helping children and families throughout Wales. www.tyhafan.org
For many a long year, I’ve been friends with Zsuzsanna. We used to write, then latterly communicate via the internet. She’s been an amazing ambassador for Hungarian origami and is a true artist in the field. We met at the recent Hungarian Convention and I had the pleasure of giving her grandson a copy of my DVD kit and in a few minutes, he had completed one of the models!
Here are two lovely photos of M Wu folding from my 1992 airplanes book. I’m glad his Dad has good taste in books 😉
Had a lovely email from Amir…
Dear Mr. Nick Robinson,
Once I sent u an email and ask a question about a diagram of your designs. It was about the “container” of your book “Origami Bible”. You answered me patiently. I succeed to complete it. The other one was “star dish” which was amazingly nice. I like the simplicity and at the same time complex feature of your design. I wrote all of these as gratitude and appreciation. I live in Iran. 59 years old mechanical Eng. origamisophy (one who likes origami).
Happy folding and Best wishes