Origami Butterflies : Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander

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…