How tricky is complex?

My mate Wayne and I are putting together the Model Collection for the BOS spring convention. One idea we thought we’d try is to indicate a level of difficulty for each. We both feel the current systems don’t do the job wonderfully. So what options do we have?

The standard used by Origami USA is to one assign from the following list; simple, low-intermediate, high intermediate, complex and super-complex. The latter is “anything that takes over three hours”. Whilst this is a laudable attempt, it’s still very hard to decide what about a model determines its complexity. Clearly, the experience of the folder is a key factor, since what is tricky to one is childs-play to another. We don’t know in advance who will fold the model, so is this one variable we should exclude from a classification?

Perhaps we could count the steps, factor in how long it takes someone to fold it and produce a formula? Maybe each technique should be assigned a number and once again, a formula could determine complexity.  Another possible variable is how many times do you need to fold a given model to produce an excellent example?

Some Yoshizawa designs, for example, can be completed relatively quickly, but never really look impressive until you have made them many, many times. Other designs, like many of those of Komatsu, are sequenced so that you can produce a clean, neat example far more readily.

I’m not sure that the OUSA five-tier system is capable of covering the whole gamut of origami complexity, but alas, I have no better alternative. In previous books I have used 1/2/3 flapping birds, airplanes with 1-5 on them and several other devices which only give an indication of relative complexity wihin the book. Maybe a number rating of 1-10 might allow greater accuracy? Another alternative is to say “if you can fold this, then you can fold XXX”, so if the student can make a flapping bird, they are ready for a waterbomb. But are there standard models that everyone knows to use as a practical reference in this way? Probably not!

So, we have a problem on our hands. Your thoughts and input would be most welcome!