What exactly is Origami? The art of paper folding really has survived centuries of intrigue, and even to this day, millions of people take part in creating unique pieces from just one or two sheets of paper. It’s really fascinating to see what people can come up with!
However, Origami runs deeper than you might imagine. In this fact file, we’ve lined up an array of brilliant facts and figures which might just surprise you about paper folding and art installations based around this traditional Eastern practice.
Grab yourself a sheet of paper and see what you can make – but before that, make sure to take a look at the facts we’ve lined up for you here.
The word ‘Origami’ comes from two words in Japanese, ‘Ori’, which means folded and ‘kami’, meaning paper.
It is unsure whether Origami originated in Japan or China.
Folding materials, such as leather, damp leaves, and cloth, before paper was invented, has been found on ancient records and Origami practices have passed down through generations.
Origami today is enjoyed by many people globally. There are classes and competitions hosted all over the planet.
It’s thought that a child as young as eight years old can learn to master the art!
Restaurants across the globe, often fashion serviettes into recognisable Origami style shapes. The lotus flower, for example, is popular as a table decoration!
One of the easiest shapes to create in Origami is that of a crane (the bird). There are only a few folds in this simple angular model, and it’s great for beginners.
Students of Origami are told that their wishes may come true if they make more than a thousand paper cranes!
Origami is used in multiple applications in modern times. Models can help civil engineers with construction projects, and even scientists and biologists studying DNA.
Origami models are easy and cheap to manipulate. It’s one of the most affordable hobbies around!
Origami as a craft is unique. It only requires a single item to create a three dimensional figure, though imagination is a must!
Origami models can be created in any size manageable by the person crafting the model.
The quality and size of the paper available often determines the viability and longevity of the creation.
Origami has been used in therapy, to release the mind of negative thoughts and bring a sense of calm and positive creativity.
There are competitions for creators of Origami. Some of these are timed and given a theme.
Others simply set a task and supply the paper, together with restrictions on time. Japanese TV broadcasts Origami competitions!
The UK even has a national magazine dedicated to the art of Origami! The British Origami Magazine posed challenges for readers starting in the 1970s!
The Design Challenge at OrigamiUSA is now an annual event. In recent years, the competition has required contestants to produce models of crabs, ships, prehistoric animals, plants, apes, cars, and trucks!
At Redpath Museum in Montreal, Canada, a remarkable four metre Origami model was placed as an exhibit of ‘Monumental Origami’. This term refers to Origami creations which really do go above and beyond!
The four metre creation at the University in Montreal, was of a Pteranodon with a 16 foot wingspan!
As with smaller pieces, ‘Monumental’ pieces are made from single sheets of paper.
The paper for the Monumental exhibit in Montreal was ‘custom made’ by Papeterie St. Armand.
Monumental models are hung, rather than posed on a stand for display. This is due to the fact that small models can be more easily displayed as self-supporting creations. The larger dimensions of Monumental pieces are often not so easy to balance or have strength in the size of the paper to support their weight.
Hanging Monumental pieces requires skill in choosing the best points in which to attach the supports without interfering with the visual attraction of the piece. Sometimes, near invisible thread can be used or supports can form part of the display.
Touching the often valuable and sometimes very fragile models can cause irreparable damage! However, Monumental Origami creations are often hung high for display purposes and are only ever touched for cleaning or adjustment.
Lighting can affect the visual impact of display pieces. Angular shapes can create interesting shadows and spotlights can transfer images onto walls and screens of Origami models.
This effect becomes most dramatic in larger models, and though the models may be of a plain color, changing and moving lights can create stunning visual effects.
For theatrical purposes, Origami models have been known to suddenly ‘appear’ and ‘disappear’, by the use of carefully positioned powerful spot lights!
In Las Vegas, a staged sequence of apparently ‘moving’ models, was created by simple paper models with more intricate lighting effects!
Robert J Lang is an expert in the field of Origami and is commissioned by many clients to produce pieces for private and commercial use. Several of his pieces are on public display and he has gained international acclaim as an expert in the craft.
Akira Yoshizawa was the man known as the ‘Grand Master’ of Origami. He was born in Japan in 1911, and it is reputed that during his life he had made more than 50,000 Origami models!
In 1954, Yoshizawa produced illustrations and diagrams to show how his models were made and to help encourage others to practice.
The son of a farmer, Yoshizawa was self-taught in the craft of Origami, beginning to ‘play’ with paper as a child.
Yoshizawa pioneered the method of ‘wet folding’. This enabled him to bend and create differently shaped models never successfully created before! He gave away many of his models and exhibited many of his master pieces.
The Grand Master was famously quoted as saying “When your hands are busy, your heart is serene”.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Origami that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!