For my second-to-last origami post during World Origami Days, I am going to address a popular misconception (and at the end put in another plug for a Christmas origami class here in Gloucester).
Often when I mention that I do and teach origami, people say something like, “Oh, that must be great for working with kids!” While it is certainly true that children often like origami, and that many origami books and kits are aimed at children, it is a mistake to reduce origami to a children’s activity. That would be sort of like saying that drawing or painting is for kids because there are a lot of crayons, magic markers, and watercolor kits are marketed to children.
One’s enjoyment and ability at origami have little to do with age. For example, at the annual origami convention in New York City, participants range in age from small children to senior citizens. There are active origami clubs at prestigious universities – some of the most impressive origami I’ve ever seen has come out of the MIT’s origami club, OrigaMIT. Check out OrigaMIT member Brian Chan’s “Attack of the Kraken” (the photo is from his website):
Over the past couple of decades, origami designers have brought complex math skills to bear upon the difficulties of creating complex models, with stunning results. Some of the greatest origami masters are trained mathematicians and scientists. One of the most well-known is Robert Lang (PhD in applied physics from Caltech). Here is one of his models:
Again, that’s one square sheet of uncut paper. Lang has written an in-depth work on designing origami models using mathematical methods.
It’s not just the case that origami benefits from math and science; the same goes the other way around. Origami ideas and principles have been used in fields as diverse as biology (“protein origami”) and space technology (foldable satellite solar panels, etc.).
Origami really can be a refined art. Take the works of the recently deceased French sculptor Eric Joisel:
Or this alligator by Michael Lafosse, who, with his partner Richard Alexander, has his Origamido studio in Haverhill, MA:
Michael Lafosse has come to Cape Ann a few times to give classes.
These are examples of some truly outstanding origami artists who are using special materials. They are not alone: there are many more than I have mentioned here. However, most people are happy with much simpler work. My point is that, the next time you see an origami class offered, don’t just think, “that would be fun for my (grand)children.” Anyone who enjoys artistic activity, and maybe math, logic, etc., can find joy in the creativity and the challenges of origami.
That said, please leave a comment or contact me in some other way if you would be interested in the Christmas origami class that I mentioned in an earlier post. I’d like to get a feeling for what whether or not there would be enough participants to make it worthwhile. I would probably offer the class on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 2, or thereabouts.
Tomorrow, my last “World Origami Days” post: Origami on Cape Ann.