10 Fold Origami : Peter Engl

Tuttle Publishing 96 pages, hardback 22x28cms ISBN 1402752512

Engel is a science writer, graphic designer, and architect, perhaps best known to us as author of the seminal work “Folding the Universe: Origami from Angelfish to Zen” (1989), one of the first origami books to tackle the academic and philosophical aspects of our art. This raised high expectations for his new book! The title suggests the models inside require no more than ten steps to fold. This is disingenuous; the goose has steps 2, 2A, 4, 4A, 4B, 4C, 8, 8A, 8B, 8C – 18 steps in all. The wedding ring has 16 steps and after the early simple designs, few actually meet the 10 step limit. However, publishers rarely let the facts get in the way of a sales device and the author will have had no say.

That aside, how are the models? Pretty good, to my eyes. Engel calls his models “playful art and artful play”. Following the almost obligatory “trad” chapter, the original work (all by Engel) is organised into categories Wild Kingdom, Delectables, For the Romantic and Just for Fun. Models include a high-heeled shoe, a butterfly, a rocket ship that Engel originally devised as a child, a complete breakfast with eggs and bacon, and a hatching chick. My favourite is a penguin, chubby yet elegant. The designs vary from simple to intermediate and most require some degree of “by eye” skills to complete, with plenty of crimps throughout. The diagrams (presumably by the author) are clear and uncluttered, with a subtle but pleasing touch of 3D to show how layers are arranged. Each step has accompanying text, as you’d expect. The photographed designs are attractive and engaging.

All in all, it’s an elegant book with a lot of original work inside. In their quest to maximize profit, I feel Tuttle are sometimes guilty of poor presentation, so it’s great to see them do such a fine job with this book. I hope the sales persuade them to use this approach for all ori-books in the future. At $12.21 on Amazon, it’s a great buy, but not currently on their UK site. Tesco UK are charging £18 for it – a fascinating if predictable exchange rate.