Blog Archives

Origami Hearts

This one is for Colleen whose favourite colour is yellow.  This is to thank her for being my blog angel recently.  🙂


It was made with a single square of paper (yellow on one side, white on the other).

This one is for my secret Valentine:

twoheartsIt was made from a single 2:1 rectangle of paper.  I made the paper by gluing (using watered down PVA) tissue paper to kitchen foil.  It is nice to fold but the folds are hard to reverse – with paper, it’s easier to turn valley folds into mountain folds.

Here is the book I used:

bookHowever, there are instructions for similar hearts on the Internet.  For example, try here and here.


Intersecting planes

This is one of the intersecting plane models by Mukerji that I mentioned in a recent post.  The label at the bottom of the photos is off the paper I used.

finished7starside finished7startop

The whole time I was making this model I had the theme-tune to Gerry Anderson’s “UFO” going round and round my head.  In case you didn’t know, Gerry Anderson was the creator of Thunderbirds (don’t tell me you haven’t heard of Thunderbirds either ;)).  UFO is a hilarious (to me anyway) 1970’s imagining of 1980 with some ugly costumes (just check out the male submariners string vests), stylish suits, funky art and groovy sets.

In this particular model the planes are in the shape of 7-pointed stars.   The model is called STUVWXYZ Stars.  Being a nerd, it was the name that first attracted me to it.  Don’t ask why though – I don’t know.  You can click on this link to be taken to a website page which has instructions on how to fold the units and join them.  It’s a bit sketchy on how to join them successfully into the ball-shape though.  Here are some photos of the process that might help:

WIP7star1The first step involves making a ring with 7 out of the 8 colours.  The eighth colour comes in at the halfway point (see later). WIP7star2The next step involves making rings of three with the 7 colours.  The colours are chosen so that the units that lie in roughly the same plane have the same colour.

WIP7star3 WIP7star4

Now you continue the process so that the next layer consists of rings of 4.  Then you alternate rings of 5 and 3.

WIP7star5 WIP7star6 WIP7star7

Below is the model with the middle layer finished.  The photo of the underside of the model shows you the 7-pointed star in the eighth colour.  This is the only star that is complete at this stage.

WIP7star8 WIP7star9

From this point on it’s downhill all the way.  If you’re lucky!  You just continue completing the layers in the same way as you did for the first half.WIP7star10To speed things up I used a template (the blue unit in the photo above) to get the angles of the flaps right.

Introduction to Origami

Maryam Jamil of entertainmentstarters asked me how I made the models in a couple of my posts – this one and this one – so I thought I should write an introductory post.

Up until last year I only really did traditional origami.  This involves folding a single sheet of (usually square) paper into a complex shape.  Origami purists would say that proper origami should not involve tearing, cutting or gluing.  Below is a picture of one of my favourite models.  It’s hard to believe that this 6-pointed, 3-dimensional object is folded from a single square sheet of paper, isn’t it?

washi Jackstone

Then last year I had a go at modular (or 3D) origami.  It took me a little while to warm to the idea but as you can tell from this blog I’ve developed a passion for it.  I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject but I’ll tell you what I have learned about it so far.  Modular origami involves the use of relatively simple modules that are combined to produce more complex models.  A lot of models just use one kind of module; like the Sonobe module which I mentioned in my last post, or the triangular unit used in “Golden Venture” models like my swan.  Other models may use two (or more, I guess) different kinds of modules, like the one in the picture below which uses a pyramidal unit to join the flowery units together.


And that’s where I’m going to leave you folks because there is a colossal amount of information on the Internet for people interested in origami.  Just type “origami seahorse” or “origami teapot” into your favourite search engine and you’ll see what I mean.  (Who wants a paper teapot?!?)  On YouTube alone you can find videos to teach you how to fold almost anything.  I also provide links to some origami resources (like Mukerji’s website) in my other origami posts.  Let me know how you get on…

Out With The Old, In With The New

Between Christmas and New Year I had a bit of clear-out.  I got rid of a lot of old clothes.  Amongst them was an old Aran jumper that I had knitted with cotton yarn.  It had become shapeless, bobbled and the cuffs were frayed.  I had put a lot of work into it though so I couldn’t let it go without documenting it here.  The same goes for an old fancy dress costume that I made using fabric paints on a pillowcase.  I ran out of blue paint towards the end – hence the weird cloudy edges.  I strung little coloured balloons from the bottom so that they hung round my knees.  They didn’t last long!  [I didn’t know whether I could get in trouble for posting the full picture so I’ve blobbed out some of it.  Can anybody tell me if it’s okay to display the full version?]

cottonaran MMsblobSo that’s the old.  Gone, but not forgotten. 😉

What about the new?  Well, Santa brought me a new origami book.  😀  It’s another book by Mukerji called “Ornamental Origami”.  I asked for it mainly for the “intersecting plane” models but I’ve been having a go at some of the other models in the book first.  I started with a patterned icosahedron but I got bored with it before I’d even got halfway.  I dismantled it and used most of the paper in the next model.

blossomedsonobe sonobewithinsertsOn the left is a “Flowered Sonobe” using 30 sonobe units with blue inserts.  On the right is the same model after “blossoming”.  [See the comments for a video on how to make this model.]

While I was in the middle of making this model I had some idle time with some empty after-dinner mint wrappers.  (Can’t think where they came from. ;))  This is made from 12 standard sonobe units.


Cranes and Flower Fanfare

I’ve just made a pile of cranes out of the little square pieces of washi paper that my Japanese penpal sent me.  They are so pretty I think I might die from cuteness overload.  The photo doesn’t do them justice.  If you click on the picture you’ll be able to see them better.  (The pen is there for size reference.)


I also added some 5-petalled lilies to the lily model.  I’m calling it “Spring Herald”; the colour reminds me of snowdrops.


I Cracked the Lillies

The bad news is that I didn’t manage to get a second piece ready for the Mayo Artists’ Show.  The good news is that I had another go at the Lily of the Nile model that had defeated me before and I cracked it.

lillyball1 lillyball2I think it would look better with a darker background but I quite like the green.  It reminds me of Spring.  By the way, the ball is slightly smaller than a tennis ball.  It was a bit fiddly but nowhere near as difficult as it was on the first attempt.  I put that down to the power of the subconscious.  I gave it a problem and it went away for a few weeks and worked on it while I wasn’t paying attention.  Then when I came back to it, everything worked like a dream.

Talking about the subconscious, I’d like to share a verse from my favourite physicist, James Clerk Maxwell:

There are powers and thoughts within us, that we know not till they rise,

Through the stream of conscious action from where self in secret lies.

But where will and sense are silent, by the thoughts that come and go

We may trace the rocks and eddies in the hidden depths below.

Origami Swan

swan4This summer in Ireland has been the best since I moved here in 2000.  It is absolutely scorching.  I haven’t written a post in a while because it’s just been too hot to do very much except eat ice-cubes.  I’m posting now though because I’ve finally finished a model that I have been making for a friend.  Her totem animal is the swan so I think she will like it.  I used the video provided by a Romanian origami wizard on his blog.  Thanks Razvan.   swan2It took ages to make.  The little triangular pieces take less than a minute to fold but there are nearly 600 pieces in this model.  I’ll let you do the maths. While I’m here I want to give you an update on the garden.  redcurrantsWe had our first harvest of redcurrants last week.  It was also our last.  😦  The blackbirds have finally figured out that Hagrid has gone.  Hagrid loved to chase birds.  I didn’t like him doing it but now that the birds are scoffing my fruit I wish he was back at it.  The blackbirds are keeping an eye on the ripening blueberries so I’m going to have to make some bird scarers.  Anybody got any ideas?  I was thinking about tin foil streamers but they’d probably be too fragile. I’ve been trying to do the annual hedge cut.  ladderIt’s not fun in this heat.  May I just say, for the record, that whoever decided that leylandii would make a good hedging plant ought to be taken out and shot.  The previous owners of our house who planted the hedge should be shot too.  Only kidding, but that’s how I feel when I’m up the ladder. And one final gratuitous picture of my garden in bloom.  The pink flower is mallow and the white ones on the right are hebe.  As always you can click on the photos to enlarge them.mallowetc

Origami Binge Running Out of Steam

pinkinprogress I started two more models from the book by Meenakshi Mukerji.  The first photo shows the inside of the “whipped cream star” model when it was just over half built.  I had to use glue again.  The pieces would probably have stayed locked together better if I had made the units from bigger rectangles.  However, I wanted to see if I could make it small.whipcrmstar  The finished model (second photo) is about the size of a billiard ball.

The other model I started making (third photo) was from the same book but it was by a guest writer called Tanya Vysochina.  The model is called Lily of the Nile and is really beautiful.  Unfortunately, the instructions on how to make it are a little sketchy.  There are virtually no clues on how to put the units together into the shape of an icosahedron.  lillyinprogressAs you can see, I was making some progress but I started getting frustrated.  I had decided to use small units for this one too and that meant it was getting very fiddly.  Also, the paper I used is not very good and the blue dye was coming off onto my fingers.  It was starting to not be fun any more so I’ve given up on it for now.

I have no more models planned except for the big “Golden Venture” model which I am still making units for.  I think my binge is exhausted.

Origami Inspirations

slinkyandbox I called this post “Origami Inspirations” because that’s the name of the book I used to produce all the models in these photos (except the slinky on the left).  The book is by Meenakshi Mukerji, and it was given to me by someone who noticed I was on a modular origami binge.  Mukerji gives a nice concise introduction to the origami techniques needed for her models, including charts on how to distribute different coloured units evenly around the different shapes.  She even provides a few mathematical proofs for the nerds like me.  She starts off nice and easy with simple cubes.  The cube in the first photo here is called a “ray cube”.  There are four units making up the pattern on each of the six faces of the cube.


By the way, I was quite happy with the way the slinky turned out.  It makes a very satisfying noise as it falls from one hand to the other.  I would have liked to have made it longer but it was gobbling up too much of my precious square origami paper.

The yellow model in the second photo is still a cube but with one fancy unit (based on a four-sink windmill base) for each of the six faces.  It’s called a “butterfly cube”.

The third photo shows models made with pentagonal pieces of paper.  Mukerji gives instructions on how to cut a pentagon from a square sheet of paper, along with a geometrical proof showing that the method should indeed produce a true pentagon.  5pointlillyanddodecahedronOn the left of the photo is a five-petaled lilly, which looks a little more realistic than the four-petaled version made with a square.  To its right is a dodecahedron with a flower-shape on each of the twelve faces.  Each of the twelve flower units is joined to its neighbours by five diamond-shaped units.  Unfortunately, unlike the other models, I had to glue this one together because it kept falling to pieces as I made it.  So I’ve really gone over to the Dark Side now! 😉 (Origami purists don’t use glue – I used to be a snob about such things.)

whippedcreamdodecaThe final photo shows a dodecahedron made from a unit that Mukerji calls “whipped cream”.  Pretty, doncha think?  I started building it around the other dodecahedron but it turns out that less is more: Pretty + Pretty = Hideous!

So, how about you?  Have you ever tried modular origami?  How do you feel about mathematical proofs, slinkies and/or glue?

The Origami Binge Continues

gardenJune3When I haven’t been in the garden (weeding mostly) and doing chores, I’ve been folding paper.  I’ve been feeling guilty about not spending more time in the garden though.  The sun has been shining harder and longer here in Ireland than it has done for years (dare I say within living memory).  I feel like I need to make the most of it while it’s here.  But I’m not used to it.  After a while I start turning pink and flopping around like a Dali watch.

twinboat icosahedronI’ve found a few more nice modular origami models on YouTube.   The first one, on the right, is a “twinboat icosahedron“, along with one of its units (on the right of the photo).  On the left of the photo is the supply of triangular units I have built up since my last origami post.  (Only a few thousand left to go…)   tetrahedraplusslinkyThe second YouTube model is “5 intersecting tetrahedra” by Thomas Hull.  I’ve only made two of the tetrahedra so far (see photo on left).  The pieces on the right of this photo are the beginnings of an origami slinky by Jo Nakashima.

12pieceball1Those last two models are going to take me a while to finish so in the meantime I wanted something quicker to do.  I found this last model on a blog.  It looks good with patterned paper 12pieceball2but I wanted to see how it turned out using plain coloured paper.  Not too bad.

I just tried to make a beautiful orchid from “Origami Design Secrets” by Robert J. Lang but I had to give up for now.  It was too tricky.  I made a few models (hummingbird, lizard and pegasus) from this book but my versions are a bit rubbish so I haven’t photographed them.  I think I’ll stick with modular origami for now.