At the recent Sheffield maxi-meeting in Wentworth Castle, Dave Venables kindly brought a small selection from the BOS library archives for us to enjoy. Part of this was written communications from the late Philip Shen. As a huge fan of his work, I found these utterly enthralling!
One real gem was a letter from Jack Skillman to Shen, with hand-drawn diagrams and folded examples of his new invention, the legendary Jackstone! It was amazing to be actually handling pages from the history of origami. I can’t begin to imagine what other treasures are filed away in the BOS archives. If only someone would gift us enough money to create a properly funded and staffed resource for this extraordinary collection.
When I joined the BOS in 1984, I didn’t realise how close I’d been to seeing Yoshizawa somewhere near his peak – he’d visited a BOS convention 6 months ago. It was 13 years later when he returned, sadly a shadow of the folder he had been (but inspirational none the less!)
I had a call last night from John Smith, looking for copies of a review he wrote about AY’s visit in 83 (BOSmag 104, trivia fans). I was happy to oblige and thought I’d share a little poem he wrote at the time. John was an early influence on my origami thinking during my formative folding years. He saw beauty where others saw technique.
Being a collecting kinda guy, I’ve got several lever arch files of correspondence from my early origami days (84 onwards) and every few years, I have a read through some. Email may be quicker and easier, but there’s no memory like a hand-written letter from an old friend.
A response from Paul Jackson, then mag editor, to the blue foil slug I sent him – he said “shame about the foil – YUK”!. Brilly, inviting me to my first ever mini-meeting, Yoshizawa, thanking me for some models, regular 8 page hand-written epics from Robert Lang, usually with diagrams on the back, Thoki Yenn’s amazing letters, Vicente Palacios, Momotani, I wrote to ’em all and always had a reply, frequently with folded models.
Here’s a nice little message from Shuzo Fujimoto, replying to a request for models for a convention I organised in ’89. I think it was the first time his “crowded butterflies” had been seen. Click it to see a larger version. You younger folders, it’s still not too late to change your ways; if someone writes to me via snail (such a derogatory word!) I always reply in kind. OK, they will be typed & printed, but that’s because my hand-writing is all but illegible. Instead of firing off emails, why not send a real letter to your heroes and see what happens?
I love these postcards – if anyone sees any going cheap, please buy them for me & I’ll reimburse you…
In 1955, Yoshizawa sent several large boxes of his work to America for an exhibition. Some 50 years later, they were returned to their creator through the efforts of the BOS. I was lucky enough to see these first hand and to appreciate what an awesome touch the Master had. There are few folders even today who could put such life into their folding. Here’s an example (photo by Dave Brill)
Yoshizawa’s Pig, from 1955
At a mini-meeting in Hazel Grove (near Manchester) yesterday, I re-learned a model from the distant past. I can’t remember where or when I last saw it, but it’s a 6 piece modular made from a blintzed bird base.
This got me thinking about the BBB, which few of the attendees at the meeting seemed to know about. Back in the late 60s, the BBB was seen to be the ultimate base – you could make almost anything from it – dragons, horses, beetles, even a grand piano (Pat Crawford). When I started folding in the early 80s, it was still a talisman for beginners. Who would ever want more points from a base? How naive they were 😉
To make the modular, sink the top triangle by half its length, then fold each of the four lower flaps to the top. Open each flap out at right angles to the next. Form a ring of four, ticking corners under sink edges, then add two more to form a cube arrangement. It holds together reasonably well, although smaller versions are tricker to assemble without glue. Almost a joke there.
I did a quick google and found no immediate diagrams for either the module, or surprisingly, the BBB itself, although it’s used in passing here http://www.barf.cc/nuccrane.pdf As you can imagine, it’s a square, blintzed, from which a bird base is folded. The blintzed flaps can then be eased out again. The method I prefer, created via a waterbomb base, is shown below.
update : I’m told the unit is by Nina Ostrun and is diagrammed here although I still feel in my bones I’ve seen it a long time ago.
Many years ago, I was part of an APA (Amateur Press Alliance) known as FOLD. The idea was we each sent 20 hard copies of our bi-monthly article to a co-ordinator, who then collated them and mailed them back to us. There were no limitations on what we could include, folds, photos, cuttings etc, so we had a regular bulging collection of origami news, diagrams and information, with personal comments to each other covering life (my daughter was born and chroncled within!), death (one of our key contributors talked through his terminal illness, origami and anything else we were enthused about. Everyone’s opinion was respected and we were a true community.
Imagine an extended personal letter between 20 origami enthusiasts and remember, this was before the Internet and email. I don’t think anyone would have the patience these days with the net at our fingertips and software like this blog. And what enthusiasts! Mark Kennedy, Robert Lang, Michael LaFosse, James Sakoda, Florence Temko, Rachel Katz, Joanne Ortman and many others came and went in an ever-changing membership roster. Eventually, it came to an end, but the baton was picked up by people who wanted to join us but found there was no room and so started their own version, called IMAGIRO. I joined that as well!
A rare chance brought Florence Temko, David Lister and myself together at a BOS convention (I can’t remember where or when!) so we posed for this photo, which came out very nicely. I think this was the first and last time I met Florence in person, but David, of course, has been to many conventions since then! How young we all looked (well, I did, modestly displaying my latest mask 😉
Tidying out a drawer recently, I came upon this cover sheet from a pack of “Sakoda” foil paper. James included a pack of it in with a signed copy of his “Modern Origami” that he generously sent to me many years ago. I never met him, but he was a fellow contributor to “FOLD” (an APA – amateur press alliance) I was part of in the 80s, alongside Lang, LaFosse, Lister and many other luminaries). He died in 2005 aged 84. It’s interesting for several reasons, a glimpse of marketing design in the 60s, an indication of how popular foil was at the time (enabling Rhom and Elias to produce creations of amazing complexity) and not least, what passed for “modern” origami in those times. For more biographical data about Sakoda, visit David Listers emporium.
An amazing photo of Robert Harbin in action…