Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: Japanese Origami Kit for Kids by Michael LaFosse

Japanese Origami Kit for Kids is packed with models and papers that are so much fun! It is a great beginner kit for young children around age 7 and 12. It comes in a box containing a booklet, a variety of unique print origami paper, and "practice" dollar bill paper. The origami papers were most exciting to me; they are so unique, I've never seen anything like these elsewhere. There are 72 double-sided papers, which come in 12 different patterns and color variations. Most of these prints are Asian-inspired, such as beckoning cats, pandas, fans, sushi, rice bowls, tea pots, fish, etc.

I loved the panda print paper so much that I folded it in Miura-ori and used as a background for Kasahara Panda (note: neither model instructions are included in this kit).

I got to share this kit with the campers that I taught at Willowbrook Arts Camp and Grace Art Camp recently.  The fan model became popular and practical (folded out of scrapbooking paper, not included in the kit) during the summer heat. The modular wheel was another popular one, since it's simple to fold and assemble, yet the result is satisfying. The wheel units get assembled securely together so unlike some modular models, this one won't fall apart easily.

A fan folded out of fan print paper.
A modular wheel folded out of fish and sushi print paper.
I must've been hungry.

recommend this kit to anyone, even to adults, and especially to crafty children on travel, since this kit has all that is needed to entertain a child on-the-go, without any messes or tools.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Mind-Blowing Modular Origami by Byriah Loper

On Instagram I see tons of people posting modular origami, and many of them seem to only post this genre of origami. Personally, I'm not particularly into modulars; I prefer to fold out of one sheet, or when I fold modulars, it's folded out of less than 6 units. Well, because I'm a rather lazy folder. I tend to get tired of repetitive folding. But when I received Mind-Blowing Modular Origami by Byriah Loper from Tuttle Publishing, I felt inspired to try my hand at some of these models, since they look literally mind-blowing!

There are instructions of 19 modular models in this book. 7 of them are kusudama-like decorative modular models, and the rest are interlocking wire-frame models.  The range of units are anywhere from 4 to 650! Most are 30 or 60 unit modulars.

The only model that I've folded out of this book so far is Triakis, a 30-unit kusudama. Honestly, I enjoyed folding this model more than I thought that I would. It was soothing to fold each unit repetitively, and it was also a fun challenge to tackle the assembling, sort of like working on a puzzle. I got a better sense of how addicting modular origami can be.

"Triakis" folded out of copy papers in 5 pastel colors.

The diagramed instructions are clear and well explained, including the assembling parts. Basics and other resources are also covered.

Another "mind-blowing" fact about this book is that the author is quite young (I'm guessing in his early 20s) and has started folding only 7 years ago at the time of his writing.

I recommend this book to any origami enthusiasts, but especially those who enjoy modular origami!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Advanced Origami by LaFosse and Alexander

Advanced Origami by Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander was first published in 2005 as a hardcover book. I didn't own it but had once borrowed from a friend and loved it. So when I received a pre-released, complimentary copy from Tuttle Publishing recently, I was pleasantly surprised to acquire it and learn that it was re-released as paperback. This updated version is lighter weight and includes a DVD. 

Newly re-released paperback Advanced Origami
has a new cover design too.

15 projects, which are all natural history subjects, and LaFosse's signature models are included in this book. "Advanced" Origami doesn't necessarily mean complex models; in fact, some of the included models are rather simple, and most are intermediate to high intermediate. They are realistic, aesthetically pleasing models. Rather than focusing on complexity, this book is more about higher quality in work, such as by carefully choosing paper, preparing, and folding with special techniques. It is written for experienced folders who are seeking to advance their folding techniques.

Simple yet elegant model with color change,
North American Cardinal.

Happy Good-Luck Bat
folded out of black TANT

This tiny Origamido Butterfly was added to a bouquet
I brought to a friend recovering from sickness.

Aside from the included projects the authors explain in details with photos about curved folding and wet folding, paper qualities, how to choose the right paper, back coating tissue to foil, adding surface color, how to make paper and paper pulp recipes. Everything is very well informed with photos. These info are so valuable, since there aren't a lot of such resources available in other books or online, as far as I know.

For each model there is a beautiful prototype photo, an explanation as to what inspired LaFosse to create the model, and paper suggestions. Diagrams are very clear and well explained, but just in case that you get stuck, or want to add that finishing touch that's missing in the diagrams, there is that DVD.

Overall, I am quite impressed at how much content this book offers. Any origami enthusiasts would be enjoy not only the 15 beautiful models but also the special techniques that aren't offered elsewhere. It seems like such a bargain at less than $20!

I look forward to trying some new techniques, including wet-folding, back-coating and adding surface color, and perhaps making my own paper as suggested in this book this summer. Advanced Origami may very well become my summer time textbook.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: New Expressions in Origami Art by Meher McArthur

"We are living in the most exciting era of origami!" is a quote by my origami friend and a storyteller Kuniko Yamamoto, whom I've interviewed in Summer 2015 issue of The Paper. This art form has come so far since the 1950s, thanks to Akira Yoshizawa and recent technology advancement. I cannot agree with Kuniko more. This book New Expressions in Origami Art by Meher McArthur really proves it.

It introduces 25 foremost origami artists, including: Joel Cooper, Erik and Martin Demaine, Giang Dinh, Vincent Floderer, Tomoko Fuse, Miri Golan, Paul Jackson, Beth Johnson, Eric Joisel, Goran Konjevod, Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander, Robert Lang, Sipho Mabona, Mademoiselle Maurice, Linda Tomoko Mihara, Jun Mitani, Jeannine Mosely, Yuko Nishimura, Bernie Payton, Hoang Tien Quyet, Matt Shlian, Richard Sweeney and Jiangmei Wu.

It is not only a beautiful hardcover, full-colored coffee table book to flip through and admire each and every magnificent artwork. The book is also incredibly informative. I enjoyed reading about each artist's unique background, inspiration, approach and process for his/her origami work. 

It is not all complexity that makes each origami art significant. I love that there is a very wide range of expressions covered in this book. LaFosse and Alexander, for example pursue realism in their models, given LaFosse's natural history background. Beth Johnson on the other hand has her unique figural style that is inspired more by geometric patterning than by the physical characteristics of the creature itself.

Some featured artists, such as Miri Golan, Sipho Mabona and Mademoiselle Maurice use origami as a way of expressing their concerns about social and political issues. I really appreciated these artworks, but perhaps I shouldn't give away too much of what's in this book;)  

Any origami lovers would be captivated by this book, but even people without any interest in origami for sure would get impressed by the magnificent works in it. I look forward to using this book to show off, tell stories and promote origami to anyone who isn't familiar with the art form.