Flicking through a box of old ori-photos (real photos!) I found this nice shot from some time in the mid 90’s. I then had to digitise it in order to post here – it’s hard to remember the limitations of colour negatives given our amazing digital age. And to think I used to have my own darkroom, actually printing from negatives – how quaint is that?
12th February 1946 – 3rd December 2011
I first met Dave Petty during my early days in the BOS around 1985. He was one of the regular attendees at the mini-meetings hosted by Dave Brill at his parents house in Bramhall, in Cheshire. I owe my entire “career” to the encouragement and education I received from the regulars there – the two Davids, Wayne Brown and Ted Norminton – what a wonderfully stimulating and friendly origami environment it was and I’ve been fortunate enough to count them all as friends since those days.
DP hardly changed across the years (aside from becoming more “distinguished/grey”). He was never an extrovert and seemed to think long and hard before saying anything, so you rarely had trivial conversations with him. Instead, you enjoyed the opinions of a man who loved origami to the core and enjoyed the analysis and discussion as much as the folding.
Along with the rest of the core team, he invariably had a new model to teach every month and with DP, you rarely got just the single model, he explored most, if not all, of the variations a design might offer. More often than not, he’d actually calculate the number of variations and produce diagrams of them all. He’d exploit any new technique with almost ruthless efficiency, thus a zeppelin would mutate into a Mills bomb, then into a cactus, finally a cactus in a pot!
Like many of us, DP enjoyed the collecting aspect of origami and amassed an amazing collection of images of origami book covers, as well as origami telephone cards. Another of his passions was looking for (and diagramming) traditional designs. For many years he has presented a new discovery on his site as “Model of the month”. His willingness to put in the diagramming hours then freely share the results characterised the man.
He produced several booklets for the BOS, including two for folders who were to die tragically young, Jan Willem Derksen and Stephen Palmer. Each was illustrated in his own unique hand-drawn style.
30: Paper People and other Pointers
40: The Genius of Jan Willem Derksen
45: The Origami of Stephen Palmer
46: Modular Construction and Twists
48: Making Faces
65: Planar Modulars (CD-Rom)
He was later to use Windows Paint (yes!) to produce diagrams, against every logic I could throw at him, but David was ever his own man. He self-published a book called Hearts 3D in 1991. This arose from correspondence between DP and several others (myself included) with Francis Ow, who began the quest for origami hearts, eventually publishing 3 books of them! We were happy to take up the creative challenge, especially DP, who diagrammed the best for this spiral-bound book.
He also wrote some colourful commercial books, combining traditional designs with his own and others work. These were Origami 1-2-3, Origami A-B-C, Origami Wreaths and Rings, Origami & Creative Paper Projects for Everyone
Everything DP did had his own individual stamp on it. His earlier (and better, I would contend) diagrams were painstakingly hand-drawn, even down to adding shading by drawing 100’s of dots to represent the coloured side of the paper. The Convention Packs he prepared as publications officer had a unique layout style all of their own.
Perhaps his most singular characteristic was in his teaching. I should give some background information here – at the early mini-meetings, there was a tendency towards joking, irreverent comments, mickey-taking, heckling and even on occasions, rudeness – naturally, I took no part in this. So, you were a brave man to teach your latest classic to this hyper-cynical audience.
DP had the ability not only to consistently teach at about a sixteenth of the speed the group was capable of, but was also completely impervious to the ribbing we gave him (and each other). He just taught at his own tempo, with quiet dignity. I don’t think I ever saw him rush a model in thirty years. He was a thorough teacher and set us all an example.
His services to origami were manifold – he was general secretary and later publications officer who produced many Convention Packs and booklets. He also undertook a lot of research work on behalf of the Society and for his own satisfaction. He was a regular attendee of both mini-meetings and conventions and maintained correspondence with a wide variety of folders around the world. He was awarded the Sidney French medal in 2007 and at that point stepped back from the Society to enjoy his retirement.
As a profession, he worked for the Dutch electronics company Phillips, working with circuit boards (or something!) for as long as I knew him, and delighted in spraying us with his best Dutch. He formed close ties with the Netherlands origami folk and even lived there for a while. Almost everywhere he went, he was accompanied by his wife Lillian. Whilst not a folder herself, she generously allowed him the time and space to pursue what must have seemed like an obsession to her.
We maintained email contact and a few years ago, I was delighted to offer him free space on my web server after his site had been partially lost by a poor internet company. He uploaded vast quantities of files (over 2,500 images, 100s of diagrams!) and he worked on his site to the end. The site will remain online as a tribute to the man.
So, how to summarise the last 27 years? My abiding memories are of a deeply private and modest man, but fiercely independent and proud of his work. His slightly taciturn demeanour disguised a wry sense of humour and a deep love of all things origami. I’m delighted to have known him and send all my deep condolences to Lillian.
I’ve recorded a piece of music for David – very much doubt it would have been his cup of tea, but there you go…
Below is one of his many modular designs, taken from my Ori for Dummies book.
Sam Randlett has become an almost mythical figure in the world of origami over the years. Born in 1930 he wrote The Art of Origami at the age of 30. His first wife Jean illustrated the book and (in 1963) the other half of this classic pair, The Best of Origami.
Apart from these two seminal books, Randlett’s most significant contribution to origami was a collaboration with Robert Harbin to produce a comprehensive system of symbols and terminology (including the preliminary fold, waterbomb base, blintz base, fish base, bird base and frog base) which are still the de-facto set today. These were used in his books (which every serious paper-folder should have in their collection, IMHO) and in almost all Wstern books since then. He edited the origami newsletter called The Flapping Bird from 1969 to 1976, but since then has kept a remarkably low profile in the ori-world.
I’ve had a couple of brief (written) encounters with him over the years, asking for permission to publish his work. He once sent me an unpublished Jack Skillman design for use in a BOS convention pack (“Table salt” in the Autumn 1986 collection). He explained that he’d found this model in Skillman’s apartment shortly after his death. This wouldn’t mean much to today’s young turks, but I was seriously impressed – it was like a window into the early days of origami.
Biographical detail is hard to find, but it appears Sam still teaches piano (music being the other love of his life). There’s a fascinating article written by Jean-Claude Lejeune.
Here’s a list of his published models extracted from the wonderful origami database.
|African Mask||Art of Origami|
|Angel fish||Art of Origami|
|Binary star||Flapping Bird|
|Blintz Birdbase||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Blue Whale||Art of Origami|
|Boston Terrier||Art of Origami|
|Brontosaurus||Art of Origami|
|Bull||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Bull mask||Flapping Bird|
|Butterfly||Art of Origami|
|Camel||Art of Origami|
|Chalice||BOS Magazine 81 April 1980|
|Christmas Ornaments||Art of Origami|
|Dachsund||Art of Origami|
|Dog Variation||Art of Origami|
|Dove||FOCA Origami Convention 1982|
|Duck||Art of Origami|
|Fish||Teach Yourself Origami|
|Flapping Bird||Origami in Action|
|Flower||Art of Origami|
|Golden Eagle||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Goldfish||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Goldfish – veil tail||Flapping Bird|
|Goose||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Grasshopper||Art of Origami|
|Green Pepper||Art of Origami|
|Hooded Cobra||Art of Origami|
|Knot Bat||Art of Origami|
|Leaf||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Longhorn Bull||Art of Origami|
|Moth||Art of Origami|
|Mouse||Art of Origami|
|Necktie||Folding Money II|
|New Flapping Bird||Art of Origami|
|Ornament||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Owl and the Pussycat||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Parrot||Art of Origami|
|Pelican||Art of Origami|
|Pheasant||Art of Origami|
|Polar Bear||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Polar bear Cub||Art of Origami|
|Presentation Box||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Rabbit||Art of Origami|
|Rabbit with cottontail||Art of Origami|
|Randlett’s flapping bird||Story-gami|
|Red Pepper||Art of Origami|
|Reversible Fish||Art of Origami|
|Rooster||Art of Origami|
|Sea Turtle||Art of Origami|
|Shorthorn Bull||Art of Origami|
|Shrimp||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Small Bill||Folding Money II|
|Snapping Wolf||Art of Origami|
|Song Bird||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Springer Spaniel||Art of Origami|
|Star||Complete Notebooks of Neal Elias|
|Stegosaurus||Art of Origami|
|Trojan Horse||Art of Origami|
|Turtle||Art of Origami|
|Vampire Bat||Art of Origami|
|Veil-Tailed Goldfish||Paper #086|
|Waterbomb||Art of Origami|
A video interview with my origami friend, artist and mentor for pushing 30 years. He’s been an inspiration to me as a designer and is just a thoroughly wonderful gentleman (that’s your 30 quids worth Dave).
Interviewed by Sara Adams, he talks about what inspires him, how he creates and his philosophy of origami. You can see how beautifully his exhibits have been displayed by Paulo Mulatinho in their Origami Galerie. Here’s the direct youtube link where you can view in higher res.
A new book by John Montroll is now available – “Origami World Wide”, featuring two of my own designs (frog and dish). You can see it and buy it here. When my copy arrives, I’ll do a full review, but it looks to be an essential purchase, judging by the wide variety of the contents.
John is, of course, a legendary figure in the origami world, but his creativity stretches back a lot further than many people know. Here is a photo of him at 17, fresh-faced but still producing extraordinary work. Did you know that Elias’ wonderful Peacock is largely based on an earlier design by Montroll?
I recently had a nice email from a German folder called Christian Saile. He said he as a big fan and hoped we could meet at the next Origami Deutschland convention. I did some googling and found his website – discovering not only is he young (12) but he’s also written an origami book!
Impressive modesty that he didn’t mention this in the email, the book looks a lot of fun and he features prominently on the cover. This got me to thinking how my sales might be affected with a photo of me on the cover, but after 15 seconds of reflection, I realised it would not a be good idea.
I get the impression Christian has a great future ahead of him, whatever he chooses to do with it…
Several years ago (1999, to be exact) Kunihiko Kasahara was a guest of the BOS for their Bristol convention and afterwards, we invited the Master up to a meeting in Hazel grove, near to Manchester. The venue was a small church hall and it was probably one of his more surreal experiences of the UK.
About 25 people turned out on a cold night to attend a special evening meeting, with several of us lugging a great pile of books for him to sign. Kuni did some teaching, then a few of us stood up to be counted.
I wonder if the young child on my right ever grew up to love origami and realised he’d met one of the finest origami creators of all time. I’ve worshipped KK for many years and was utterly delighted to meet him in person.
I thoroughly recommend everyone new to origami to invest in a copy of “Creative Origami”, still a complete classic nearly 40 years after he wrote it. He set the standards that I aspire towards.
Had a delightful surprise yesterday evening, whilst teaching a class of disabled students. One of their parents dropped by with a pan full of curried dahl, some rice, veg pakoras and chapatis! I’ve long been a fan of curry with ori (see the POPPADOM® club) but you don’t expect it in the middle of a class! We quickly adapted our boxes into “pakora-holders” and ate the lot!
Here’s a nice photo of my friend Anne, teaching at the BOS 40th anniversary convention in 2006. Her capacity for work is legendary, having been involved with setting up the OUSA website, maintaining the o-list (alongside Joseph Wu), she proofreads origami books, assists the Tanteidan with translation and helps prevent visitors to Japan (like myself) from making too big an ass of themselves. She does all this (and much more) without ever seeking any recognition or reward. She’s also a dab hand with anything that floats and has been studying welding “for fun”. Anne sometimes “doesn’t get” my British humour, but she’s by no means alone in that – the list starts with my wife and daughter 😉
I recently had a very friendly email from Mari Michaelis and followed the link to her site in the signature. It reminded me of everything that’s good about the web – enthusiasts like myself and Mari can craft little homes for ourselves where we invite people into our origami worlds.
The site is full of interest – videos, diagrams, images and lots more – the site just oozes with a love of origami and its great to see! Some of the images are simple gif animations showing models as they rotate – a really good idea!
Mari is clearly a major enthusiast and even has a car license plate saying “origami”! She’s a member of the Long Island Folding Enthusiasts (LIFE), for whom I still possess a black t-shirt, over 10 years old, which now, sadly, has a few moth holes in it 😉