Blog Archives

Paper Snowflakes

I normally cut my own designs for snowflakes at this time of year.  When my daughter joins in we end up with a veritable snow drift of paper delights.  This year I made the mistake of looking at my Pinterest account.  This usually results in some new obsession; this time it looks like it’s other people’s snowflakes.  The ones shown below are mostly based on patterns I found via Pinterest.  The Celtic cross one I designed myself.  (As always, you can click on an image to see it more closely.)

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.


Crafty Christmas

Last year we had a very crafty Christmas but I didn’t have this blog.  This year I have the blog but I’ve done very little Christmas crafting.  Solution: I’ll tell you about last year’s Christmas crafting.

I have a crafty friend who teaches me (and sometimes my daughter) how to do wonderful crafty things.  Last year she taught me how to make a Christmas wreath for my front door.

We also had a crafting session with my daughter. We made angels out of paper plates, snowflakes on sticks and a huge ball made out of gold plates decorated with old Christmas cards. As you can imagine there were sequins and glitter going everywhere.
All that wonderful crafting gave my daughter itchy fingers. She saw the Christmas tree I hadn’t decorated yet and did this to it.
I thought the pictures were so wonderful that I put most of the usual decorations away. I just put the fairy lights on and a few white baubles. The rest of the decorations were handmade. We made some snowflakes out of paper and I also crocheted some.
Here is the final version:finaltree

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.

Second Piece

I’ve been working on my second piece for the Mayo Artists’ Show (the first one being the magpie).  Originally I was going to do some origami but the paper weaving bug hasn’t finished with me yet.  I’ve been working on a couple of ideas.  The first one is a continuation of the paper weaving I started with in July.  Here are some photos of the work in progress.

snail1 snail2 snail3 snail4

A wonderfully kind friend from Japan recently sent me some beautiful washi paper.  I wanted to use this to make the snail pattern.  However, I found that, as I’ve found before, less is more.  When I wove two patterned pieces together the result was a mess (even without the camera shake):

snail5But when I used one patterned and one plain the result was much neater:


Even before it’s woven, the washi looks fantastic:


Here’s the second idea I’ve started working on:

circle knot

Magpie & Wyrms – Is this any good?

I’ve been working on the background for my “magpie and wyrms” piece.  The first background I had planned didn’t work.  I was beating myself up about this when I stumbled upon a new idea.  It was inspired by a programme about autumn colour in Japan which I was (mostly not) watching during the beating-up process.  I would really appreciate any constructive feedback on this (the picture, not whether I should be beaten-up ;)):


I want something a bit vague and “messy” to balance the hard lines of the magpie and wyrms.  The leaves look a little like flames to me, which ties in with the dragons, I guess.  The magpie and wyrm pieces aren’t fixed yet so if you don’t like it I can try something else.

Weaving Paper Again

I have been (slowly) working on my first piece for the Mayo Artist’s Show.  I was going to do one of my usual 2-dimensional knots but then my earlier experimentation with paper-weaving took me in a slightly new direction.  I thought it might be interesting to blog the work as it progresses.   Here is the original old sketch that the new work will be based on:

The final piece is going to consist of the knotted wyrms and the bird.  The dogs are okay but they don’t fit into the “story” of the picture.  I think I want the bird to be a magpie so it might change slightly.  The heads on the wyrms will be changing too.  The first step was to transfer the knot to graph-paper and experiment with the wyrm heads:
The next step was to separate out the wyrms and divide the long wyrm to eliminate overlapping parts:
Now the wyrms can be woven:
Next I transferred the wyrms to better paper:
I messed up one of the long wyrm pieces so I had to do that one again:
That’s it so far.