Review: Origami – Volume 1 by Guillaume Denis

Hardcover: 245 pages Publisher: Eyrolles; French language
ISBN-10: 2212674171 : 29.6 x 2.2 x 21.5 cm

Denis is a long-standing member of the MFPP and has produced many diagrams and cover artwork for their magazine. He co-organised several “Rencontres de Mai” He worked for three years as a technical adviser, diagrammer and researcher for Atlas Editions, who produced a substantial “part-work” series on origami as well as numerous spin-off books from the series. He has drawn upon these 30 years of experience and his considerable passion for the subject to produce this remarkable book, which he has been working on since 2009.

It’s hard to believe, but there have been very few commercial books that offer a sequenced approach to origami techniques. In the main, books are a collection of diagrams, often themed, presented in order of difficulty. Generally, they have an opening chapter covering basic techniques and bases, then it’s straight into the models, which lie within the “simple” category.

Either through his powers of persuasion or an unusually enlightened publisher, Denis has managed to give his book a far more structured form, combining an academic approach with plenty of models if that’s all you’re looking for. I’m honoured to have a design within!

Over 41 “lessons”, this book covers just about everything a beginner could wish to know about the subject, including diagrams, folding, paper, bases, techniques and much more. The key theme is “bases” and all the traditional “ground forms” are present. They are presented in far greater depth than you might expect and are profusely illustrated by hand (in itself, extraordinary in these days of computer) with great clarity and often showing how and where to place your hands when executing certain techniques. If I was picky, I’d say the model for the hands appears to be Rachmaninoff in his later years, but I know from bitter experience how difficult it is to draw hands!

Considerable time and thought has gone into the sequencing of this book and the author presents a wide variety of subjects to illustrate the techniques, most are traditional, but some are less well known and all are elegant. The folding of bases are presented in a variety of alternate ways and wherever a new symbol is introduced, it is given a section explaining it’s use and possible different alternative symbols you might come across. The phrase “volume 1” in the title clearly implies there is more to come, but how many years before volume 2 appears is anyone’s guess.

I’d have to say that this book is a must-have for anyone serious about teaching or learning origami – there are models and ideas that you can use as inspiration and there is plenty to think about to make you a better folder. I wish it was in English, so I could enjoy the nuances of the text, but the ideas are manifest despite the language. 28 euros is a small price to pay, so buy it now!