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.
64 pages (over two booklets) Tuttle Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0804840279 30.8 x 15.6cm (the box!)
Origami Butterflies is a collection of twelve designs by origami artist Michael LaFosse. Along with 96 sheets of paper, you get two small booklets with the diagrams, contained in an attractive card envelope. The authors system for folding butterflies requires some competence with subtle crimps and swivels, so it’s good to see page devoted to techniques such as squash, colour change, wing and head variations etc. Once you’ve mastered these, check out the section on “upper and lower margins”, where much of the amazing diversity stems from – you’ll soon be creating your own variations <irony>and opening up webshops to sell them.</irony>
I suspect the contents are pretty much identical to the book “Michael G. LaFosse’s Origami Butterflies”, self-published through Origamido in 06, but it’s been repackaged for a mass market. Tuttle have produced several LaFosse “box sets”, where the contents are divided into two very thin, very small booklets. Whilst the envelope itself looks inviting, I’d far rather have had a single book, at double size – the diagrams, whilst of exemplary style, are pretty small for my ageing eyes to deal with. Also, the volumes quickly get lost in a bookshelf. I also feel impulse buyers new to origami will struggle pretty quickly, there’s just too much technique required.
However, for folders with even modest abilities, a whole world of beautiful butterflies opens up for you. As ever, the amazon price of $10.17 becomes £10.44 on the UK site – an exchange rate of 1:1 makes the maths easier. Once you’ve used the paper, you don’t get much physical product for your money. However, the origamido version sells at $34.99, so it’s a relative steal if you can live with the format.
It’s perhaps too much to hope for ethical publishing in the mass-market, but I’d have loved to see Tuttle donating a small percentage to suitable butterfly charities – three-quarters of UK butterfly species have declined over the past 30 years, the main factor being the destruction of habitat, with a similar story being told worldwide. These inspirational and beautiful little creatures deserve our help. Perhaps I should put my money where my mouth is and write such a book…
Matthew is best known for his exemplary work with Folding Australia and Oribotics, his robotic origami artwork. Here is his first book, written with the help of members of the Melbourne Origami Group. Cunningly described as “8 books in one” (for “books”, read “chapters”), it contains instructions for over 60 models. You get a section on bases, then traditional, decorations/flowers, toys, boxes, animals, geometric and dinosaurs. Matthew’s wife, My Trinh, is a highly talented graphic designer who produced the diagrams. Other contributors to the book include Jonathon Baxter, Darren Scott and Steven Casey, Australia’s long-standing and leading creator.
The diagrams are exemplary and easy for beginners to follow and the chosen models are simple to intermediate, with creators chosen from around the world, with (naturally) a decent Aussie representation. Each set of diagrams has a beautifully shot image of the final model. The spiral bound format is perfect for origami – I wish more books came like this. The large page format (11”x8”) allows for clarity of layout and a feeling of space. You get a free pack of paper!
Unusually, there’s no list of credits at the back, but each designer is named on the page and there’s a list of societies within the introduction. The best news is (or was) that the Works chain of cheapo books was selling it for around a fiver! It’s still only six quid at www.bjbooksco.uk – unbelievable value at that price and highly recommended both for your own collection and as a gift for others.
A4 softcover 56 pages. Self-published using lulu.com
Those of us who were folding in the 80s may remember Jean-Jerome, the self-confessed “Mad Corsican”. I still have the full set of issues of the Corsican Origami Society magazine (total society membership 8). It was believed that JJ was struck down by “other interests” and for time out of mind he lay hidden in the mists of time. However, for some months there have been dark whispers from out of the West that he was gathering models to himself for a return and here it is, my precious!
Minimal origami is a concept suggested by John Smith, who provides a couple of pages explaining the whys & wherefores. JJ offers the following rule; “You cannot use more than four folds”. He also suggests you need a lot of imagination and a small dose of humour”. This is MO in a nutshell – it can be like seeing faces in the clouds – a figure may elude you for some time, but once you “get it”, it’s clear as crystal. I shan’t delve deeply into the relative merits of MO, you either get it or you don’t.
The book is divided into sections; 4, 3, 2, 1 then zero fold creations, letters of the alphabet and flags. Some subjects require a bit more imagination than others! As you can imagine, simple models are likely to be created independently by several designers and I spotted 2 or 3 credited to different people from who I’d expected. Rating the designs is entirely a matter of personal taste, but “man with bouquet” by Ryan MacDonell was new (to me) and very impressive, worthy to feature alongside Paula’s “Santa”, which graces the cover.
The book is laced throughout with large dollops of Corsican humour, yet the basic subject is treated seriously and discussed sensibly. Brilly’s forward, using a mere two words, fits the theme nicely. If I had to be picky, the lack of contents page and page numbers is slightly irksome and the layout haphazard. However, as the first comprehensive collection of MO, JJ is to be congratulated – his time in the origami wilderness has not been wasted.
Boxed pack ISBN 0-8048-3904-2
More origami packages from Tuttle! This time you get a wide, thin box containing two 32-page illustrated booklets and a more than adequate 96 sheets of folding paper. Both volumes are identical in format. The paper is fine for trying out the designs, although one wonders where the figure of 96 sheets came from? The two booklets in each box are 32 page volumes 15cms square and it’s clear on flicking through all four books that they make a slightly higher demand on the reader’s folding abilities than you might expect from the tone of the packaging. Blintz bases, frog bases, squash/collapse moves, reverses – there’s plenty to keep a modestly experienced folder busy. I fear that a raw beginner might find it hard going – there’s a very basic page devoted to the symbols, you’re expected to pick up the required techniques as you go.
Due to the size of the page, some of the diagrams have been condensed more than would be ideal, which can only add to the perceived complexity. However, there are simple designs in there, with one (the traditional sailboat) inexplicably cropping up as the last model in book two! Most designs are by the author, who has no hesitation in using scissors to achieve a more complex perceived result. As you’d expect with a designer of LaFosse’s calibre, there are interesting little folding ideas to be found along the way, if you know what to look for. A street price of £6 seems reasonable.
As with the other Tuttle books, packaging seems somewhat “enhanced” for such tiny booklets, but throw the box away and keep them in your pocket on a long train journey, they are fun. So, perhaps not classics, but someone needs to write this type of book and nobody is more experienced or talented than LaFosse to do so, providing he also writes classics like “Origamido” as well! Far better than a collection of trad or ripped-off designs drawn by a jobbing illustrator. I also know from bitter personal experience to set aside any control over the finished project as soon as you sign the contract! I should also add that these reviews are from the (somewhat cynical) perspective of an experienced folder and not from someone simply wanting a colourful gift for a friend.
Florence Temko has the knack of seeing origami like a child. Not for her the ultra-complex crease-pattern challenges, she likes it simple and so you know what you’re going to get with her books, of which there have been hundreds! So here we have the latest entries to her bibliography.
Origami Note Cards
Boxed pack : 22 x 22cms 48 pages plus paper Tuttle Publishing ISBN 0-8048-3880-1
First impressions are that the cardboard packaging is attractive and it would make a good gift. Second impression (upon lifting the lid) is that the contents don’t reflect the size of the box. When you buy food in bags, allowance is requested for “contents settling during transit”, but with packages like this, there’s no such excuse – the package has simply been enlarged to make it appear better value for money. The box is 32mm high, of which 22mm is empty space. I should point out that a) the author has no control over the format of the book and b) almost every other origami publisher is currently doing the same thing. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I like a book to be hard-backed with a spine.
The softback book within this package is “elegantly” slim and comes with 48 sheets of double sided paper. The book begins with ain introduction to greetings cards and a brief history of origami, where the Treemaker software gets name-checked. There’s a section on types of paper and (hallelujah) a section about copyright and use of origami designs, somewhat unexpected in a beginners book. Next come the designs, all of which fall into the simple category, rarely extending past 6 or 7 steps. As the title suggests, the designs are either cards/envelopes or decorations to put on the cards.
Aimed at either younger folders or lovers of really simple designs; the diagrams and text are both simple and unambiguous, reflecting Temko’s long involvement with the subject. Once you accept the misleading packaging, both the book and paper are admirably suitable for the intended audience.
Origami For The Heart
Boxed pack : 22 x 22cms 48 pages plus paper Tuttle Publishing ISBN 0-8048-3879-1
Following a similar format to the previous review, the packaging here is a conventional box where you open one end. Why it doesn’t match the companion “Note Cards” format is a mystery. Once again, you get paper and a slim softback book containing instructions for 16 “fun-to-fold” projects. The introductory text is the same and the models share the same simplistic charm. The diagrams are clear, colourful and you get a colour (sorry, color) photo of the finished project. The illustrator probably wasn’t an experienced folder, since the “fold behind” arrowhead isn’t quite standard, but it’s a minor niggle.
With a UK street price of around £8, I feel these products are at the upper end of their expected price. In a magical world where publishers didn’t try to wring every buck out of a book, I’d have combined both volumes and given them a hard back, included the paper and still sold it at the same price. I also wonder how many people retain the fancy packaging, or simply slide the book between two more substantial volumes and forget it’s there! However, in a world where books need “bigging up” and putting inside boxes in order to sell in sufficient quantities, Temko’s books are always honest and reliable presents to give to anyone who would like to try simple and fun origami.
This review was written before her death.
Many paperfolders have an extensive library of origami books and the internet is a wonderful way for you to track down obscure or old books. For the princely sum of £1 recently acquired a 1st edition of Murry and Rigney’s “Fun with Paperfolding”, which was published in 1928. It occured to me that this is probably the oldest origami book still in print today and I thought I’d do some research. One obvious port of call was David Lister, who offered useful information.
William D. Murray (1858-1939) and Francis J Rigney (1882-?) were both interested in conjuroring. Murray is commonly thought to have written the text and Rigney, to have drawn the diagrams. But, in fact, both of them contributed to the book. Far from being merely the illustrator, Frank Rigney was also the creator of several of the folds within it. Their interest overlapped in other areas too – Murray was the first chairman of the National Cubbing Committee of America, and Rigney wrote a book entitled “Cub Scout Magic” and contributed a regular column to the magazine “Boys Life”.
In 1960, Dover republished the book, retitling it “Paper Folding for Beginners”. Once again, in 1988, they changed the title to “Fun with Paper Folding and Origami”, returning to the original title and adding the buzz-word “Origami” in the hope of selling a few more copies! It’s fascinating and somewhat mystifying that what is to all intents and puposes a historical text is still being marketed to the folder as a modern source of designs. However, Tuttle are still producing Florence Sakade’s books from the 1950s, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.
“Fun with Paper Folding” was the first book in English solely devoted to paperfolding as such. Earlier books, such as “Paper Magic” (1920) and More Paper Magic (1923) by Will Blythe did contain pure paperfolding, but also a lot of conjuring tricks using paper, hence the title “Paper Magic”. Houdini’s “Paper Magic” (1922) contained only six items of paperfolding.
So how does the book stand up ninety years on? The first thing that stands out is the use of the “Fold point J over on M and fold point K to lie along line XX” type of instruction. We have long since rejected this method of teaching, but I have to say, it makes things very clear from a certain perspective! The models are mostly traditional; flapping bird, frog, pagoda, waterbomb, dart, pajarita etc, with a few paper cut designs (newspaper tree & ladder).
Unusually, there are some original designs in the book, presumably created by one or both of the authors. The book ends with an extended sequence of folds that lead into each other, entitled ”How Charley bought his boat”. Interestingly, it isn’t the familiar “captains shirt” story.
Finally, this book is now off to the printers! Changes in the cover were being made right down to the wire and for a change, I had some input into the colours & content. It’s been nearly 8 months in preparation (320 page books don’t arrive overnight!) and I hope it will be a success! More info elsewhere on this site.
Needless to say, the title will raise a few hackles amongst the ori-cognescenti, but authors never (in my experience) get to choose titles.
Special thanks to Anne LaVin for proofing and otherwise giving invaluable guidance and to Joseph Wu for folding the cover dolphins.
I’ve just been sent a copy of the AEP’s magazine, which includes a “catamaran” design of mine. Or rather page 1 of the design! I guess page two was lost in the ether somewhere, but I wonder who decided the last step of page 1 represented a finished model? It’s flat for one thing, but they drew a little “finished” illustration anyway.
My reputation will clearly be injured by this and I’ll be seeking restitution through the International Court of Justice in the Hague. In case you’re interested, this is how the completed model should look.
Copyright is an issue of increasing importance to origami designers, as well as authors and professionals who use origami to earn a living. I shan’t delve too deeply into the legal aspect, since the laws are different in each country, but would like to present my views on the subject. Feel free to agree, disagree, correct, or even shoot me down in (polite) flames!
In the good old days, origami was an obscure art and the only issue that really mattered was “who came first?”. Yoshizawa accused several other creators of “stealing his work”, but it was largely pride at stake. Authors from within origami were generally respectful of a model’s ownership, but “jobbing authors” felt at liberty to help themselves to designs, treating every model as if it were a traditional design. In Germany, Irmgard Kneissler and Zillal Aytiire-Scheele published best-selling books with no credit for the designers within – Kasahara and Honda in particular were frequent victims. These books helped popularise the art, but (whether through ignorance or design) set poor standards.
Publishers nowadays (with a few notable exceptions) tend to employ the services of a recognised “expert”, who takes care both to gain permission and to give proper credit where due. There is usually a standard clause in the author’s contract stating that they are responsible for seeking permission for any designs within the book. In principle, this should cover the problem, but it does rely on the authors knowledge of origami and their integrity. With the best will in the world, mistakes do occur – I remember the embarrassment of including (with permission) a Kirschenbaum design in a books, then neglecting to include him in the list of credits. Since then, I always triple check credits before submitting the manuscript!
I have seen new origami books from authors (who should know better) containing models, sometimes with credits, sometimes not, often without with prior permission. This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable. To have one’s work published in a book is generally felt to be an honour and money rarely changes hands for use of a specific design, but this trust and recognition will only continue if we respect the rights of designers by asking permission to publish their work and giving them appropriate credit, as well as a complimentary copy of the book.
A solution to this is to educate publishers (and, where necessary, authors) that they must have written permission for each design used, and ensure proper accreditation. One way to achieve this is for anyone so abused to chase up the publisher responsible and insist on some kind of settlement.
Eventually, it should become a standard and this problem should disappear. Japanese designers such as Yamaguchi, Kasahara and Kawasaki have suffered more than most in this respect. Kawasaki’s classic rose is perhaps the most plagiarised design, with several websites selling folded examples with no credit, permission or recompense. It is almost impossible for the designer to pursue legal action due to difficulties with communication and the fact that they may feel any action would be somewhat demeaning. What we should do is bombard the guilty parties with emails, pointing out the issue. They may not respond, but bad publicity and loss of reputation is surely a persuading factor.
Origami societies may feel a responsibility to help here, offering their resources to help address breaches of their member’s copyright. The majority of creators simply don’t have the time, expertise or resources to take direct action. The differences in the law from one country to the next is clearly another problem. However, if we come up with a clear set of guidelines to apply world-wide, and present them through our websites, there would be less excuse for ignorance by publishers and individuals. Lang and Wu have been proactive in this respect.
E-books are another thorny issue. The ease with which people can harvest designs and sell them through ebay (and elsewhere) makes the temptation for an “easy buck” to much to resist. Some even offer scans of entire books, even recent ones. Since these appear on pirate sites, there is little chance of preventing them. We need to challenge anyone breaches copyright, those who abuse the trust and generosity of origami designers, and those who profit from the work of others where sanction for publication has not been obtained. Where possible though, we need to take these people on as well as their means of distribution. The origami fraternity is best-placed to do this and I feel it’s vital we do so on every occasion.