Here’s a treasured photo of me with my hero, Kuni. Taken in Freising by Paulo Mulatihno 😉
I’m not wildly ego-driven, but it is nice when you get words of praise. I recently had a moving email from Jake E Hobbs, a guitarist (like me) who has gone deaf in one ear. I can only begin to imagine the mental torment he’s having. However, he picked up a copy of my Dummies book recently and it has fired him up to fold as a way forward. he said;
“However, thanks to you and your inspiration, I am able to get out of bed with vim and vigor while challenging myself with the Origami. A bazillion thank’s for that.”
It’s made my day. Something good has come out of a book that was (to my mind) near ruined by random relaying of diagrams.
I found this old photo from Freising when Kuni Kasahara was the guest at a convention. Here are some of my bestest friends in the origami world, at a launch for Kuni’s “The Joy Of Origami”. From L to R we have Paulo Mulatinho, Edwin Corrie, Kuni Kasahara, Heinz Strobl and myself.
At the last BOS convention, I had the enormous pleasure of presenting a Sidney French Medal to my friend Wayne Brown. This award is given by the BOS in recognition of services to origami and the BOS above and beyond the call of duty. Here are the words on the inscription.
“Since joining the British Origami Society in 1973 as a teenager, Wayne Brown has amassed a library and archive of over 5000 origami books, and approximately 30,000 model diagrams. Many of the diagrams he drew by hand, more recently using a computer, and his output continues unabated! Wayne’s private collection contains many unique items and is one of the largest in the world. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things origami: you only have to ask to receive copious information and background on a vast range of origami-related subjects. Many people are unaware that Wayne has also designed over 750 models, with several of these published in commercial books.
He served on the BOS Council and has co-organised many BOS conventions. He has hosted mini-meetings at his home and attended hundreds of others at Manchester, Birmingham, Derby, Sheffield and elsewhere. His teaching is exemplary and he always has a range of exciting designs to offer at mini-meetings. He takes particular care to prepare the models so they can be taught effectively! He has taught at many public sessions, including schools and Institutes. He has voluntarily proof-read diagrams for 13 commercial origami books.
He has been central to our work with the David Lister archive and some years ago manually converted David’s massive hand-written list of books into electronic format, a task that has proven invaluable. He is also involved with the Societies own library and archive, working alongside the librarian to identify which books should be loaned, archived or released.
We are truly fortunate to have such a devoted member and one whose love of origami is as strong as it was forty odd years ago. His thoughtful insight into our art is highly valued. We are delighted to recognise Wayne Brown’s selfless service to origami with the award of this medal.”
To be fair, Wayne says he doesn’t know the individual described above 😉
Having been awarded one myself some years ago, I can sympathise with the shock/horror that Wayne clearly felt when his name was red out. He’d tried to head off for the tea machine and was dragged back on some pretext by a council member. Later on, he put the puzzle together and realised why his wife (who has little appreciation of origami) was so keen that he attended!
I have to say, the pleasure of giving this award was every bit equal to that of receiving it, a moment I will long treasure.
It’s always wonderful to meet old friends at an origami convention. The recent spring convention in Birmingham was no exception, when Brian Goodall came to call. Brian (and his late wife, Margaret) ran the BOS library when I joined in 1984, and for many years afterwards. I was fortunate enough to visit his house in the 80s and admire the amazing library in all its glory. Brian was justifiably proud and put in immense amounts of time and love into maintaining it.
I remember at one of my early conventions, there was an evening of entertainment. Dave Brill, Ted Norminton and I performed as a “jazz trio”, offering “I want you to play with my little paper thing” (a la Chuck Berry). Brian’s act involved a two man physical comedy sketch, where he played both characters. This involved a deal of lying down and jumping up again, hugely entertaining 😉
He passed the library reins on many years ago and I hadn’t seen him for a long time, but at 84, he’s looking amazingly well and was in good spirits. The photo was taken in the gloom without flash, so is somewhat grainy, but it captured the mood nicely.
I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of the origami world will not have known Simon Anderson, a Danish folder who died on May 20th 2013. I first learned about him when I corresponded with Thoki Yenn in the 80s – he would say “have you seen the latest design by Simon? It’s wonderful!”
Simon’s story is one of an intense relationship with paper-folding, which ultimately formed a wedge between him and those who had been his freinds. You can read his story and see some of his work at paperfolding.dk, lovingly maintained (to strict XHMTL standards) by Hans Dybkjær.
I have vague memories of writing to him once, but the fold that I remember him most by was a seemingly innocuous fold from A4 that looks like a waterbomb when finished. “So what”, I hear you say – but trust me, try it and if you have any appreciation of the folding art, you’ll delight in the elegance of the twist the forms the model in a single movement.
In a recent collection of material belated bequeathed to me by the late Ralph Matthews, I’ve found some interesting things. One is an 18 page leaflet entitled “Table Magic” by Robert Harbin. Clearly a play on his “Paper Magic” title, it seems to be a private souvenir created for Swantex Towel company, who have their advert on the back cover.
The artwork is Harbin at his finest, showing how to make half a dozen napkin folds, with a very short history of the subject in the centre.
I can’t recall exactly when I first met Doris, but it would have undoubtedly been at an Origami Deutschland convention, probably in the late 90s. She was quite short and had close-cropped hair, which gave her quite an “elfin” appearance. It’s hard to quantify what it is that makes two people “get on”, but we did and over the years, a close (if necessarily remote) friendship developed. We exchanged emails frequently and I began to make diagrams for some of her designs.
In the origami world, there are the superstar creative folders, who we are generally in awe of, and the vast majority who simply fold and take great pleasure from it. In between these two are a small group who are creative in a more modest way, adapting designs, spreading ideas, making beautiful displays and taking it one step beyond simply folding a model.
Doris was one of these – she followed her own creative muse in origami, generally in the areas of envelopes, wallets, stars and boxes. She took great delight in folding these designs using attractive paper that she found in her home town of Bonn, in Germany.
In 2007 my wife Ali and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Doris at her home. She furnished us with two bicycles from her garage so that we could explore along the banks of the Rhine. We learned that Doris had nursed her husband to the end of his terminal illness and lived alone since then. We joked about trying to find her a boyfriend – she admitted that she had a “thing” about tall Austrians, perhaps even Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Doris had firm opinions and would happily discuss them – she certainly took no nonsense from Englishmen! This made her a very engaging companion – she gave Ali and I a tour of her home town and she pointed out all kinds of historical and architectural features.
Sat round a table folding with Doris was a treat; she had a keen eye for creative options and always thought of the bigger picture, how the finished model would look, rather than obsessing about specific techniques. I published her “Christmas Greetings Card” in my book “World’s Best Origami” and she had several models in British Origami Model Collections, as well as her native “Origami Deutschland” magazine.
I had been exchanging emails about diagramming a design of hers only a few days before the end. This made her sudden death particularly shocking and painful – she had only just come through another long illness and said that she was feeling great.
We will miss her cheerful optimism and her inspired creative touch. Like her other friends, I feel honoured to have known her. I hope to produce a booklet displaying her creative work, if you have any Lauinger designs, please share them with me. Below is the design I was diagramming for her, a typically clever use of a bird base..
I have worked on this for several hours, but it may never say exactly what I want, or properly express my sorrow, so here it is, for what it’s worth.
I first met David Lister properly at my first council meeting, in the attic at Mick Guy’s house. I’d seen him at conventions, most particularly during the AGMs, which he ensured were run to the letter of the constitution. David didn’t get really involved with the day to day issues of the society (indeed, he nodded off from time to time!) but whenever a legal issue cropped up, he turned his full attention to the matter in hand and gave invaluable advice.
For several years, I thought of him as the “legal advisor who didn’t fold very often”. The only time most people heard him speak was during AGMs when he would delight in “taking the chairmans position whilst he stands down to be re-elected”. Everything needed to be above board for David! It was only later I began to appreciate how much work he did as a researcher / historian/archivist.
David was what I think of as a “quintessential Englishman”, he personified a time seemingly now long gone when gentlemen were polite, reserved and impeccably dressed. As a former lawyer, he possessed a sharp intellect and the ability to weigh up different interests and arrive at a considered conclusion.
His natural reserve made it difficult to get to know him well, he took life seriously, it seemed. However, we shared several train journeys to and from conventions, spoke at council meetings and slowly, I began to discover the warm, friendly and considerate personality that lay behind the quiet exterior.
For several years we were both members of a small group known as “FOLD” who circulated a privately produced collection of origami material every two months. With other contributors including LaFosse, Lang, Sakoda, Temko and several others, I was in heaven every time the latest issue thudded through my letterbox. In it, David would knowledgeably expound on a particular subject, making for fascinating and authoritative reading. David, Florence and myself met once at a BOS convention, it was a happy event.
Like any sensible historian, he would never make claims that he could not authenticate and was always eager to read responses to his propositions and amend them accordingly. (I have recently had permission from his family to extract and share the text from these pages via the BOS site.)
Like many people around the world, our relationship blossomed with the arrival of email. Despite professing few technical computer skills, David took to email like a duck to water and sent out countless long, considered and interesting emails to anyone who asked a simple question of him. He was seemingly unable to give concise answers to questions and I wonder where he found the time to do this. It seems David also kept a printed copy of every letter he sent or received, doubtless a habit he developed as a lawyer, so there are rich seams of origami gold that may yet emerge.
The BOS council nagged him relentlessly to produce some kind of book or booklet, but he felt that his knowledge was incomplete and that he lacked key information in order to write anything definitive.We never succeeded in this quest.
Some years ago I wrote a book called the “Origami Bible” and asked David if he could write an introductory chapter on the history of origami. I think I said something like “We have around 10,000 words to play with”. His reply was “Only 10,000? I can’t begin to give a meaningful summary in so few words.”
Eventually, I persuaded him that the publishers would not devote more space to the chapter and frankly would rather have included a few more models and he relented. Having sent me the text, amendments came in regularly right up to the printing deadline. Sadly, this may be one of the few things that he wrote for a commercial printing (he also contributed a chapter to a book about Martin Gardner).
He willingly gave permission for me to start the “Lister List” and was amused that he shared the same name as a character from “Red Dwarf”. Since then, I have sought copies of anything he posted to build up what is an impressive archive. If you have material to share, please let me know.
David professed to be “not creative”, but when I once remarked that it was unusual to have folded for so long and never have created a single design, he indignantly informed me that he had created “a single design”. It was a model called “4 thirsty birds”, which he taught to me and I later included in my “Origami For Dummies”. This was, however, his only creation!
As he became older, David began to try and make plans for his remarkable library. I was lucky enough to browse through the origami section this extraordinary collection – never have I seen the like! When questioned about the size of it (imagine 3 large rooms with wall to wall book shelves!) he shrugged and said “As soon as I could reasonably afford it, I bought a book a day and all these years later, this is what you get!”
Along with others, I tried to conceive of a way in which his collection could be properly managed. Following a trip to Grimsby with Joan Sallas and Wayne Brown, we got as far as producing an electronic listing but sadly, the end came before any sensible plan had been agreed with David.
In truth, I suspect he was finding the idea of parting with his archives far harder than he could have imagined. I can only sympathise – it’s a situation we will all reach one day and there is no easy answer.
As well as losing a dear friend, the origami world has lost perhaps its leading historian and with him, untold amounts of knowledge and research. The work of cataloguing and assessing his collection and personal archives may well take years, but I hope at some point his studies will be available for the world to enjoy and for future historians to build upon.
I was talking recently with a friend about a small point of academic origami interest and we remarked that in normal circumstances, we would have asked David for advice, but what do we do without him to rely upon? No answer was forthcoming, but David was an eminently pragmatic man and would surely have told us to knuckle down and do the work ourselves.
I have set up a page where people can leave written tributes to the man. It can be found here http://www.britishorigami.info/academic/lister/tribute.php
You may wish to read a some rare information about himself that David shared in from an email exchange with Lisa Corfman.