Review: Pure and Simple Origami by Marc Kirschenbaum

Fit To Print Publishing, Inc. 128 pages 7.99 x 10 inches  ISBN-10 : 1951146158

I have been a fan of Marc’s work for many years, impressed by his ability to create at both ends of the complexity spectrum. This book is a collection of his designs created within the strictures of John Smith’s “Pureland” approach – models must only use valley & mountain folds, so no reverses, squashes etc. As Marc says “Following the Pureland guidelines is not just for ease of folding, as resulting works often have an understated elegance. Many complex origami pieces try to conceal their humble paper origins, sometimes to the point of tricking you into thinking they are as real as the subject they are portraying. Pureland origami embraces the look of being folded, much like traditional paper folds do.”

The books begins with “Paper & Materials”, followed by an extansive and thoughtful “Symbols & Terminology” chapter. The come the designs: Angel / Bumblebee / Butterfly / Calla Lily / Car / Dachshund / Dragon / Elephant / Fish / Frog / Guitar / Heart / Horse / Ladybug / Owl / Pencil / Plane / Ram / Sailboat / Santa Claus / Shirt / Skunk / Smiley Face / Sunflower / Teddy Bear / Tree / T-Rex.

The book is clearly laid out, with plenty of “white space” (always a sign of a good designer). Colour photos show beautifully folded finished models and no page has more than 6 steps. This latter is a real bugbear of mine, where publishers try to fit far too many steps in order to reduce the page count whilst maximising the model count.

Don’t confuse “pureland” with “simple” – many of the models are quickly made, but the Teddy Bear takes 61 steps. The designs are really pleasing to my eye – it requires a high degree of skill to create something like a car with wheels and hood using only M/V folds! Marc’s car is elegant but fully featured (almost like a modern take on Iris Walkers classic from the 60s).  His T-rex and Horse are old favourites of mine and there are many more that I will enjoy folding. If you’re feeling brave, you might try reverse-engineering his detailed Teddy Bear from this photo!

Highly recommended then and available in both soft and hardback format, which is a nice touch. Flicking through the book, you cannot believe they are all pureland, John Smith would have been utterly delighted.