Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Jewelry

This is the second book about origami jewelry that came across me.  The first was Origami Jewelry by Ayako Brodek.  While Ms. Brodek's book is filled with feminine and intricate designs, this new Origami Jewelry by LaFosse and Alexander includes bold and striking designs.  Understandably, Ms. Brodek is a woman and Mr. LaFosse and Alexanders are men thus the difference in the same topic.  I very much enjoyed this whole different take on Origami Jewelry.

There are 25 different models that are introduced as "beads," or more like "folded gems" in this book.  They are geometric designs, some of which flat and others three-dimensional.  Some of the 3-D gems have beautiful curbed shapes to them.  As far as I know these designs are all new that had not been published elsewhere.  These gems can turn into earrings or necklaces, and the book explains in details as to how to turn these gems into certain kinds of jewelry that are shown as examples.

As always, LaFosse/Alexander's instructions are very clear and easy to understand, and the book comes with DVD just in case you get lost in diagrams or you prefer to follow video instructions.  For each model, they show the size comparisons between the paper and folded model so you will know what size of paper to use for the size of a folded model that you want.

The book goes into details on how to mount these folded beads, how to connect them and their variations, selecting paper and materials, back-coating to strengthen the paper, cutting and trimming paper to size, and all other details on tools and materials needed for making origami jewelry.

Furthermore, the authors "offer all of the jewel designs present in this book to the public for their unrestricted use, without obtaining any commercial use license or design royalty."  In other words, LaFosse/Alexander are OK with the readers selling jewelries made out of the designs included in this book.  However, you have to be aware that any other original designs by LaFosse/Alexander or by any other origami artists are intellectual properties so if you are to use them for commercial purposes,  you must first obtain permissions.

Here is an earring that I've made out of a design called Wolverine Claw in the book.  I think it looks more like the Eiffel Tower.

I've made an ornament out of another design called Square Rhombus Beads, which is used on the cover of the book as an earring design.  I think a lot of the designs in this book are also great to use as ornaments or garlands.

Lastly, I loved the analogy that the authors made in the book about musical performance and folded art, so I want to share: "Well-chosen paper is the instrument.  If the paper is patterned, the scale of the patterns, colors, and textures will provide tone, and even play their own notes, too.  The design is like the musical composition that provides the strength and substance necessary for durability.  Elegant results demand a careful, heartfelt execution, or a cogent interpretation during your performance.  Refining your folding skills take 'practice, practice, practice' as does playing any musical instrument artfully."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: Origami Ikebana by Benjamin John Coleman

"Origami Ikebana" by Benjamin John Coleman is the second product by that author that I am reviewing.  I wrote a review on Coleman's "Origami Bonsai" kit about a year ago (review can be read here).  "Origami Bonsai" is a great product, and Coleman's new book/DVD, "Origami Ikebana" is just what you'd expect based on the last one.

Origami flower sculpture that I made,
using the Origami Bonsai book as reference

Although the actual ikebana and bonsai are two different forms of art, these two products by Coleman cover pretty much the same topic: how to create realistic origami flower sculptures.  However, the Origami Ikebana is a more recent product than the Origami Bonsai so I see a lot of improvements and greater depth in the newer book.

What are the improvements, you may ask?  First of all, there is a wider variety of flower and leaf instructions offered in the new book.  His new book has 8 types of leaf models and 34 types of flower models, whereas the old one had 4 types of leaves and 6 types of flowers.  What's even more exciting is that the author explains how to cut paper into decagon and dodecagon, which allows you to fold 5-petal flower and 6-petal flower respectively.  Previously in Origami Bonsai, every flower model had four petals.  By cutting paper into decagon or dodecagon, each included flower model could have more petals.  This opens up a whole new set of possibilities, and I look forward to not only folding his flower models but also experimenting with decagon and dodecagon for my own models.

Coleman's primrose models that I folded,
out of decagon (5-petal) and dodecagon (6-petal)

Furthermore, the author gives step-by-step detailed instructions with photos on painting leaves and flowers, making base rocks and boulders, painting them, rolling paper for stems and stamens, assembling the parts for a finished sculpture, and even packing it for shipping.  Indeed, it is A LOT more than just an origami instructional book!

To tell the truth, I am usually hesitant to do messy projects so I haven't tried painting paper, making rocks or rolling paper, but his examples in the book all look beautiful so I plan to try it someday.

8 types of leaves (left page)
and an example of flower sculpture (right page)
Pages that show different kinds of flower assemblies
By far, this flower sculpture example is my favorite!

Overall, I am very impressed by both the quality and quantity of the content in Origami Ikebana.  The entire book is filled with beautiful examples, in full-color and even comes with a DVD!  I think that any origami enthusiast would enjoy this book, but especially those who like to go a step further than just folding and to find ways to sculpt the model for a beautiful display, as well as to experiment with their own folding patterns.  If that sounds like what you like to do, this book is for you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Hokusai & Hiroshige Print Origami Paper

When I first received the Hokusai and Hiroshige print origami paper packs from Tuttle Publishing, I was just too afraid to fold these beautiful arts.  I didn't want to ruin some of Japan's finest arts in history by folding!  I just wanted to keep and admire them, without folding.

But then I started seeing it as a fun challenging opportunity that will help my creativity flourish.  And well… I needed to review the products for Tuttle!   With some help from my origami friends, and inspired by some of the world's foremost origami artists, I came up with several fun ideas.

Here are some things I folded (in order of me folding).  Note: if you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen most of these photos/video clips below.  You could skip to the bottom of this post that's more of a review of this product, which maybe more helpful.

The model below, called Bird Dish, is designed by Jonathan Miller and was taught by Kayo Kurata at the Origami Tanteidan Convention 2014.  It is based on a traditional paper crane but each wing is like a pocket that can hold little trinkets.  I used a Hiroshige print paper with cherry blossoms.

Traditional mass box displaying three geisha ladies by Hokusai.

Sea turtle reflecting the water that he swam in.  This Hiroshige print is called "Whirlpool and Waves at Naruto, Awa Province."

"The Plum by Garden in Kameido" by Hiroshige, turned into a kimono.  The kimono model's designer is Makoto Yamaguchi.

The next three things that I folded are the type of models that flash open and close.  I took short video clips for these models.

The first video clip, below is a model called Origami Flasher, which was designed by Jeremy Shafer and Chris Palmer.  (The instructional video of this model by Mr. Shafer can be found on Youtube: HERE.)  I thought this would be a fun way to present Hokusai's most recognized print of Red Fuji.

The second video clip was of something I folded while experimenting with different kinds of corrugating "V" shapes.  I used another Hokusai print with Mt. Fuji.  

I love the crease pattern of this symmetrical model.

Last but not least, the third video is of "Miura-fold."  In case you are not familiar with Miura ori, it is a folding method developed by a Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura.  In this method, a flat surface such as a small sheet of paper is folded into a small area, with repeating crease patterns of parallelograms.   Miura-fold is applied for various uses throughout the world, including maps and solar panel arrays.

The photo below is an one-minute Kawasaki Rose, which took me about 30 times more than it should have.  I used Hiroshige's landscape print with a variety of colors and some texture of waterscape.  This is the only model I folded that isn't showing much of the print, but I like the way it came out.

Another origami kimono, from another Hiroshige's print of a beautiful scenery.

The idea of folding the shape below came to me when I was folding some ornaments.  This generic crease pattern, which starts with the traditional lily base, is geometric and versatile, I love it.  I thought that exhibiting this Hiroshige scenery print with this pattern makes it look like a perspective of a special lens.

I could easily keep folding more out of these paper and share more photos, but the main purpose of this post was to review this product, rather than to exhibit what I've folded.  So I better give you more info that would be helpful, in case you are interested in these products.

Hokusai Prints Origami Paper come in the size of 8 1/4" and 48 sheets.  8 different ukiyo-e prints by Hokusai, including Tsunami and Red Fuji.

Hiroshige Prints Origami Paper comes in the size of 6 3/4 and 48 sheets.  8 different ukiy-e prints of Hiroshige's landscapes and sceneries.

The back side of the paper is solid color that is complementary to the art printed front side.  The paper is thin like a full-color magazine page, but not too glossy or matte.  It's something in between.  It folds without ripping or fading on creases very easily.

Each pack comes with an instructional booklet, but they are not models inspired by the types of prints included.  The booklet is just a generic one that comes with all of Tuttle's origami packs.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with these products.  I grew to love them, even thought I was a little intimidated by what they are at first.  As Japanese and and as an artist I inevitably wanted to pay respect to some of the greatest Japanese artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige.  But I am glad that I found many uses of these prints that bring out the beauties in them.

I see on Tuttle website that there are also other types of old Japanese art print origami paper, including: Geisha, Samurai, and Floating World, all of each come in two different sizes.  Those sound really cool too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Travel Origami by Cindy Ng

Travel Origami: 24 Fun and Functional Travel Keepsakes by Cindy Ng is one of those books that were gifted from Tuttle Publishing for me to review before it was published.

To be honest, I probably would not have picked out this origami book personally myself.  But this would be a great book for someone who has never done origami but curious, and wants an out-of-ordinary activity while traveling.  The concept of folding paper souvenirs into fun and functional keepsakes is fantastic.

As an avid traveler I often find myself with a bunch of maps, brochures, tickets, foreign currency, etc. wherever I go.  I'm sure that this happens to all travelers.  This book gives a lot of ideas about what you could do with those paper goodies, candy wrappers and even drinking straws.

Travel Origami actually became one of my travel companions during my trip to Japan this summer.  The photo below is a Postcard Star model that I folded during my bullet train ride, out of 8 postcards that I picked out at a museum.  The model required some double-sided tape for assembling so I waited to put it together until I got home.

Once I assembled it at home I put this Postcard Star over my dog's head and it happened to fit him perfectly.  I couldn't stop giggling.  I often put on things like this on my dog, and this may seem humiliating even for a little wiener dog.  But he always gets some treats for modeling in the end so he doesn't seem to mind.

As the holiday season coming close, I am sure that many of you would be traveling at some point, or looking for gifts for loved ones.  This book would make an unique gift for someone, perhaps a child, who is origami curious and creative enough that is not satisfied by just ordinary activities while traveling (I estimate that would be more than a half of children out there).  With this book, those long airplane or train rides could become not only more fun and creative, but also help bring in more memories from the trip.

My Summer 2014 in a Nut Shell and My Aspiration to Blog Again

Long time no blog…  My excuse is that I had the busiest, craziest and probably the most memorable summer I've ever had in my entire life.  Not only I worked at my annual camp job, which is already a crazy event on its own (just imagine working with hundreds of young, creative souls all day every day making art), but I also traveled to Japan for 6OSME (6th International Meeting of Origami in Science, Math and Education) and the Origami Tanteidan Convention in Tokyo.  Attending these meetings which attracted hundreds of origami enthusiasts, including some of the world's greatest artists was like having electric shocks for nine days straight.

Obviously I have a lot to write, but it has been too much for me to process what I had experienced in the past summer, while going through some life changes right afterwards.   Now that the school started again I got back working there regularly and more hours and responsibilities.  I am still in the process of adjusting myself to find balance between my school job and my work outside of school.

So here I am, I aspire to get back to blogging more in the coming months.  More book reviews, reports on Tokyo/Japan, my recent creative works, and my upcoming event announcements will be on the way.  I admit that I always find myself in a little bit of slump this time of year, but I am trying to put myself to fold and write more.  I will be back soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers Kit

There are so many origami books written specifically on flowers these days.  As a woman who loves all kinds of pretty, I, of course love making flowers out of origami and own quite a few books on this topic.  This Origami Flowers kit seemed different from any others that I already own so I got quite excited when I received a pre-published copy from Tuttle Publishing!

It is a complete kit that comes in a nice box with an instructional book and DVD as well as 180 sheets of origami paper.  There are instructions for 18 different flowers, which are all original and unique, except for the traditional lily model.

All of the included models are three dimensional, and about a half of them are modular flowers that use one sheet of paper for each petal.  I must admit that I am not particularly fond of modular origami because I get tired of folding a same model over and over for more than a dozen times.  But I certainly was able to stay focused to fold the same model for only 3-6 times and enjoyed each modular project.

Here are some of the models that I folded from the book.

The first model that I folded out of this book was called Star Flower, which has several variations.  I was going to participate in the Portland Pride Parade on the next day so I decided to fold this flower in rainbow colors and made it into a pin.  I received a lot of complements on it at the parade.

A Maple Leaf model that I folded was turned into a Canadian flag with another sheet of red origami paper for Canada Day.

Plumeria is definitely one of my favorite flowers, and what I love about it is the beautiful gradations of colors.  I did not use the paper that came in the kit for this one, but instead I used 6x6 Harmony origami paper that I cut into quarters.

I used the paper that came in the kit to make this Anne's Orchid, as well as the butterfly, which is also by the same authors' and included in the Origami Butterflies book.  I attached the flowers to a house plant stem with a hot glue gun, and the butterfly is on a floral wire.  Selecting high quality, long-fiber handmade paper to wet-fold this model is suggested in the book, which I'll do next time when I fold this model.

While taking this photo my dog came to photobomb…:-/  This is called Petallunia Moon Flower, and it is a modular design that uses 6 pieces of paper.  I used 3x3 paper from the kit, and it has a depth of about 2.5 inches.  I guess it can hold a little trinkets inside.

There are some simple models but also more challenging, intermediate to lower end of advanced models, included in the book as well so it can attract large populations of origami enthusiasts.  I very much enjoyed LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers kit so far and look forward to fold more from it.  This kit just got published very recently, and you can purchase it directly from Tuttle, or from Powell's, Amazon's, and other major bookstores.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kit Review: One Minute Paper Airplanes by Andrew Dewar

There is something about paper airplanes that always seems to excite boys, even grown-up boys.  I can think of a handful of adult males: fathers, uncles, and teachers who would love this kit to work on with their young ones, or even just for themselves.  I, as an adult female, don't usually get that excited about paper airplanes, but I was certainly delighted to see the cool, unique designs of the paper airplanes when I first opened this kit.

The kit includes 12 pop-out paper airplanes, an instructional booklet, and a catapult launcher.  They all fit in a nice box that comes in, even after building the planes (if you remove the cardboard inside).  The catapult launcher makes these planes fly so much faster and further than hand-flying, which is a big bonus!

Just after receiving this One Minute Airplanes kit I had an opportunity to spend time with a seven-year-old nephew, so we got to try this kit together.  He seemed to love it!  Below is a little videoclip of him flying one of the planes.


I should point out that the name of this kit, "One Minute Paper Airplanes" could be misleading.  First of all, I think that the One Minute implies the time it takes to build each airplane, but it certainly takes longer to build one until you get a hang of it.  I realized that diagramming system for building paper crafts is different from origami's so it took me a while to figure it all out.  Even after building all the planes, you would end up spending a lot more time flying them so this is not just a "quickie" kit that you'd get tired in a short amount of time.

I think this kit may be a bit too challenging for a young child without much experience in paper crafting to figure out how to build.  But it would be an excellent kit to build together by a parent-child team.  Building and flying them together could lead to a great bonding experience.

It would be fun to bring this kit to vacations as well.  Just be sure to bring a stapler and a ruler to build the planes with.  A smaller head stapler would work better if you have one, since regular sized staples seem to weigh the planes down.

Also, be sure to test out the planes in a large open area without obstacles, on a calm, dry day.  My nephew and I flew them in the wooded area with a pool, and we ended up losing a plane in a pool, another one in the woods.  Oops.

Tuttle Publishing just released the One Minute Paper Airplanes kit just a few days ago.  You can purchase one directly from Tuttle, or also from Amazon and Powell's.