Wednesday, November 09, 2011

origami for the tree

I am partway through teaching a three-week class on origami ornaments at the public library, which is quite a bit of fun. Our tree has had origami on it for decades, but I have found some new beauties that were not invented back then. And I have even invented one of my own.

In the first week, we covered some of the classics. The crane, of course -- any tree can benefit by having a flock of colorful cranes, or perhaps ones made from gold wrapping paper.

The crane has always been a symbol of health and good wishes, but since the time of Sadako Sasaki they have become a symbol of world peace, making them particularly appropriate for the Christmas tree.

Other classic designs we covered, from my 50-year-old Japanese-language origami books, were the pinwheel and the Chinese lantern. The lantern can be modified to a cross form, with four pockets that can serve as photo corners. In this way a promissory photo of a gift that hasn't arrived yet (common in our family) can be decoratively presented.

The cootie-catcher, familiar to most second-graders, can be jazzed up with foil paper and small Christmas balls. Also, if your tree has good stiff twigs, it can be used to hold little treats like Hersheys Kisses.

Another design familiar to many grade-schoolers, the water-balloon or paper ball, makes a nice three-dimensional unbreakable ornament.

Moving to more modern creations, tomorrow we will do Tomoke Fuse's beautiful Espiral. This is remarkably easy to do. The four modules are quite simple and straightforward to make and combine, and what looks like a really complex spiral is just a bit of repetition of a simple fold.

Next week we will do the Artifact, the three-color embellished cube that shows in the first two photos. As I was trying to learn this last spring, and kept having it fall apart on me, I developed a simpler octahedron made from only two of the six pieces used in the Artifact, which we will practice tomorrow. Made out of foil, these are pretty striking. But they are actually more difficult than the Espiral, because the paper crumples where it isn't supposed to. I think I will see how it works in cardstock. It's never thicker that two layers, so this might work well. But the foil is awfully pretty. Shiny!


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