The Rhine valley in early summer is a delight to visit and I spent several days with Alison cycling around the district, taking trains up picture-postcard mountains and sailing up and down the Rhine, trying to cope with the temperature of 32 degrees. We were guests of the wonderful Doris Lauinger in her home in Bonn Mehlem. Fortuitously, she lived but 15 minutes drive from the meeting, held once again in the Andreas Hermes Akademie in Bonn-Röttgen.
The three(!) special guests were Marieke de Hoop (Netherlands), Nicolas Terry (France) and Roman Diaz (Uruguay). Of the three, I met Roman for the first time, a thoughtful, quiet man, whose personality is clearly reflected in his origami. Currently living in Canada, he speaks good English, so we were able to converse over the odd beer. Nicolas and Marieke I knew from previous conventions, both treasures of the origami world. The meeting began on Friday afternoon, with everything in a rush as around 120 folders descended and immediately began folding, talking, arranging their displays and registering.
The OD team coped admirably with the rush and having introduced the guests (and greeted every overseas attendee in their own language!) explained the booking system for the teaching sessions. With up to 6 sessions running at any given time, they adopted a new approach. Anyone wishing to teach had to complete a form detailing the preferred teaching time, level of the model and maximum number of attendees. The session was then added to the board and the form placed on a table, where you could add your name up to the maximum number.
At first (and especially compared to our own relaxed approach) I thought this was purely German efficiency in action, but when I saw how many people there were and how much demand there was for certain classes, quickly realised it was the only sensible way to proceed. Some sessions were in smaller rooms, some in the large hall and numerous ad-hoc classes started themselves.
I took a session early on Saturday and taught some (contain your astonishment) dishes and bowls. The beauty of OD conventions for me is that I can practise my faltering German and there are any number of people happy to tell me how to say it properly. Indeed, there were one or two who spoke better English than I do! As we all know, origami doesn’t need words, but I always try to pick up a few origami phrases in the native tongue.
The food was self-service and excellent – many of us sat outside to dine in the sunshine. In the afternoon we gathered for the group photo and I managed to sample some more weissbier while the AGM was held. Saturday night saw Marieke deliver her “Ori-kadabra” show, always a delight. Each time I see it I feel inspired to build my own theatre and have a go – perhaps this year I shall actually do it.
Later instruction of Susanne Schmidt and her delightful daughters. I retired to our room at the shockingly early time of 11pm, worn out by folding, the sun and the beer. Sunday followed the same pattern, more and more folding! If you had money to burn, there were also not one but three rooms offering paper, books and other goodies.
Fellow Brits David Lister presented a talk on the history of origami and John Cunliffe renewed his fellowship with members of ELFA, the envelope folding group. The weekend folded up in the mid afternoon – many people had car journeys of over 6 hours and so had to leave promptly. As ever, there was the “satisfied yet sad” feeling one always has at the end of a convention.
It had been a very busy weekend, with lots to see and do and impeccably organised by the OD team. They really do their best to make everyone feel welcome and I urge you all to consider attending a German convention.