I’ve known Iris since my first convention in 1984, when she introduced herself and took me on a guided tour of the convention, introducing me to all the celebrities!  She has been a firm friend ever since and I’ve seen her helping out in her own quiet way at every convention she attends. I once complained to her of a headache and she wheeled me into a darkened room and gave me a neck massage!

The train she caught home invariably went through my home town of Sheffield, so we spent many hours together coming home after conventions and they were never dull! She has been a long-standing Council member, president of the BOS and is currently a vice president as well as an honorary member. She deserves no less!

Only a few people seem to know her creative contribution to origami. Back in the 1960s she was creating helicopters, cannons, flexagons (in Kenneways “Origami In Action“) and 3D cars with wheels (in my self-published and hand-drawnOne Dozen Folds“). She beat Fred Rohm to making the first 4-link chain!

Whilst less active these days, her love of any kind of puzzle is as strong as ever. She lives a widow in Hull and retaining her love for folding in that origami desert can’t be easy. She is in her 80’s and still fiercely independant, walking a mile a day to keep fit. She travels many hundreds of miles to conventions, yet has time and energy for all when she arrives.

I have taken a lot of photos of her, but this one from the recent York convention perhaps captures her spirit better than the others. If you see her at a convention, please ask about the “olden days”, she has a deep and possibly unique well of knowledge about origami – have a look at Elias’ original diagrams – you’ll see a small “IW” on many, indicating she was on his mailing list at the time. We are indeed fortunate to have her!

5 Responses

  1. Hear! Hear! Well said Nick, and a lovely photo.
    At the convention, Iris was telling me about the first origami meeting with Lillian Oppenheimer and her daughter in London.

    I wish I’d been taking notes as she told us about her journey, the welcome, the huge spread that had been laid on (for about 15 people!) and the folding that had been done.

  2. Totally agree. A few years ago I was asked to do an all day Origami drop-in teaching session at Beverley library. After a few hours my spirits were starting to flag, teaching the same models over and over. Then out of the blue, in walked Iris. She had seen the advert in the local paper and decided to attend, not to help out, but because of her passion for Origami, just to see if she could learn a new fold! Obviously she wasn’t going to learn anything new from me, so I asked her if she would help me with the teaching session. Her face lit up and for the rest of the day we taught loads of new models which she had brought with her. The time flew by.
    I gave her a lift home afterwards and the half hour journey back was so interesting as she recounted her origami past. Like Dennis said, I would have loved to have recorded the conversation, as I think every BOS member would find it fascinating.

  3. Having known Iris since that meeting, I agree with all you say, Nick, and then some. Iris is an origami treasure!!!!

  4. Hi Nick,

    I have the warmest memories from Iris when I attended the BOS convention at Nottingham in the spring of 2008. She found me in a hall, asked if I was attending the convention and proceeded to take me into a tiny room and offer me a cup of tea. My first cup of tea in England. She told me the story about how she was named Iris. What a warm welcome!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *