A few tales from the darkside – please send yours in!

When I first moved to Devon, for some reason I could not find my copy of Secrets of Origami, so when the mobile library came around, I asked if I could order it for the next visit. The head librarian was on board and mildly asked if origami was the latest form of marital art! Cheeky man!! (Joan Homewood)

It’s a Wrap
At one of the SOF’s in Charlotte, Eric Joisel had made a fabulous 2m Pegasus rearing up on its hind legs.  The whole sculpture was wired and fixed solidly into a sturdy wooden base.   Nothing moved or sagged. Not only was the origami a marvel, so was the engineering.  The piece was made in brown craft (wrapping) paper. The piece was to be sited in one of the public malls in central Charlotte.  Jonathan Baxter, Eric, myself and a few others were on-hand to install it late one night.  Our activities were supervised by a bored and under-whelmed security guard.  After we had hauled it into position and Eric had tweaked it to perfection, we told the guard we were leaving.  She came to see the piece. Looking very puzzled, she asked us why we hadn’t unwrapped it!! (Paul Jackson)

Folding for Children
I was at a demo when a lady asked me if I could make her an example of a (slightly complex) dragon I had on display. Being won over by her ample charms, I spent 20 minutes making one. She was delighted and said “it’s for my little boy who is 4. He’ll probably destroy it in 20 seconds but thanks!” (Nick Robinson)

! was at a debriefing session after a juried art exhibition. All of the artists were sitting in a circle, and we were introducing
ourselves. I said, “My name is Joseph Wu, and I am trying to raise the awareness of origami as an artform.” From across the circle, a man blurted out, “You’re trying to raise the awareness of orgasm as an art form?!?” (Joseph Wu)

Strange meeting 25 Years Ago
In the late 1970’s I knew Vittorio Maria Brandoni well.  An interesting, and unusual man, he founded the Centro Italiano Origami in 1977.  I visited him in 1978. Around 1982-3, I received a letter to say that he would be in London for a few days on his way to Iceland, and asked could he stay (at the time, I lived in London). I readily agreed.  He gave me his flight details, saying he would be arriving at Gatwick Airport, near London. Unfortunately, when the day of his arrival came, I forgot to check the flight details and went to meet him at Heathrow Airport.  I knew at which Terminal flights from Europe arrived, and sure enough, there was a flight at about the right time not from Turin (his home city) but from nearby Milan.  Of course, I was completely unaware that I was at the wrong airport.

He was seemingly late appearing in the Arrivals Hall.  Suddenly, the Terminal PA system asked for Paul Jackson to go to the Information desk.  I was worried and confused.  The lady at the desk gave me a phone. On the other end was Vittorio, sounding very relieved to have found me.  “Great, you’re here’. He said.  ‘I’m coming out’.  I didn’t understand why he would make such a call, or what was going on. So, Vittorio appeared in the Arrivals Hall and all was well.  But why was he at Heathrow when he should have been at Gatwick?

His travel agent in Turin had given him the wrong airport name, telling him his flight would arrive at Gatwick, when it would actually arrive at Heathrow!  Vittorio knew nothing of this until he was at the airport in Italy, by which time it was too late to try to contact me. I, of course, had also made a mistake, traveling in error to Heathrow and not to Gatwick. From his airline’s desk in the Baggage Reclaim area, Vittorio had tried to reach me at Gatwick.  Failing, he tried to reach me at Heathrow …and succeeded.  He thought I had been smart to check at which airport he would arrive and had come intentionally to Heathrow. So, because we had BOTH made mistakes, we met each other at the same airport and all was well!!  We laughed about it for days, amazed at our good fortune. (Paul Jackson)

At the Southeastern Origami Festival, Jonathan Baxter sent us artists out to teach at local schools. I was sent to a small town about one hour north of Charlotte, North Carolina. It was very rural there, and I’m fairly certain that none of the students had ever seen a Asian before. This assumption was confirmed when I walked into the school office. Two boys, about 12 years old, sat there staring at me with their mouths open. After about 30 seconds, one of them found his voice: “Ur yoo fum Chiah-nah?” It was all I could do not to laugh in their faces. (Joseph Wu)

Just Last Week (November ’08)
In 2000 I married, left London and came to live in Israel.  My wife Miri Golan – as you may know – is also an origami artist and founder of the Israeli Origami Center. Last week she had a meeting in the old port of Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv.  It’s a very run-down area, largely deserted.  It was the first time in many years that she had been there.

After the meeting, she was walking down the deserted and dilapidated quay back to her car and saw two women walking the opposite way towards her, the only other people around.  They walked passed each other and suddenly Miri heard one of the women say ‘Miri?’.  Looking around, she was astonished to realize the two women were Jean Baden-Gillette (ex President of Origami USA) and her mother Phyllis Meth, who runs the Origami Source for OUSA (a source of origami books and paper).

The two women had an hour to pass and had asked a taxi driver to take them somewhere interesting, and for some unknown reason he took them to the deserted and not very scenic old port.  For both of them, it was their first time in Israel.  They had organized a hectic schedule of family visits and although they had considered contacting us beforehand to say they were coming, decided they would have no time to meet and so had arrived unannounced.

The odds of them meeting Miri at that place, are almost incalculable!! Believing that meeting each other like that was meant to be, schedules were re-arranged and the four of us spent a very pleasant evening together, setting the origami world to rights. (Paul Jackson)

Unconvinced Teenager
I was teaching a class at a library, but one sullen looking teenager at the back refused to take part. I ignored him for a while, then wandered over and asked why he didn’t want to join in. He replied “‘cos origami’s f***ing crap, innit?”. (Nick Robinson)

Thoki to the Rescue
There are many stories about Thoki Yenn. This is mine. In the mid 80’s Thoki stayed in London for a few days and it fell to me to look after him. I had a long-standing origami demo booking with a Youth Club in a very rough part of the city and could not cancel it, so Thoki agreed to come along.

For maybe 45 minutes I gave a demo to about 20 boys, with Thoki sitting silently and invisibly at the back. Then we stopped for a break. A not very serious fight — but also not a play fight — broke our between two of the boys, one much older and bigger than the other. For the first time, Thoki rose his big frame out of the chair. He strode over to the boys and pulled them roughly apart. In his most stentorian English voice he bellowed to the bigger boy ‘That’s not how you fight a small boy. Don’t you know how to do it properly? You fight like this…’, whereupon he launched a furious volley of kicks and blows at the hapless young boy, landing none of them. The older boy was so shocked to see an adult beating up a small boy that the fight instantly stopped and all was peace again. I can still recall the look of utter, utter bewilderment on the boys’ faces!

That was a typical Thoki incident – making sense of something by approaching it from the opposite direction. It was totally him, in most of the things he did. After the break, Thoki entertained everyone with his scissors and it was my turn to sit silent and invisible. (Paul Jackson)

Conversation Stopper
One time I was teaching students of Architecture the basics of folding. During a workshop I jokingly said something like, ‘This next idea is very complex. If you master it, you’ll maybe win the Nobel Prize for origami’. In a rather weary tone of voice the student sat closest to me said, ‘Yeah. Nobel Prizes. They’re easy to win. My father got one’. There’s no answer to that! (Paul Jackson)