Sequencing an origami diagram

It’s a subject dear to my heart so I hope you’ll excuse me if I bang on it yet again about the importance of sequencing in an origami diagram. As a beginner I assumed that there was a single way to make a model, determined by the creator. I learnt how wrong this was at one of my first BOS conventions when I approached Dave Brill and asked him to help me fold a model of his from an Eric Kenneway book. I opened the appropriate page and he said “I don’t need that”, which impressed me hugely! He then proceeded to teach me the model using a totally different method. When I queried this he said “Eric came up with his own sequence and I always preferred my own”. It was at this point I started to realise there are many different ways to arrive at the same completed model.

I started to look for different diagrams of the same model, to compare folding methods and to try and which I preferred and why. Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with the saying “Life is a journey, not a destination” and this pretty neatly sums up how I feel about origami. We fold paper for recreation, for a challenge, for relaxation and in that sense, origami is a process. Of course, the model that we end up with is a beautiful object in its own right, but having folded it we can do no more than look at it, give it away or even consign it to a box, to languish, gathering dust.

Folding paper delights us on many levels but especially so where the folding sequence is intriguing, surprising, elegant and above all minimises complexity. This doesn’t just happen, it requires careful thought from the designer and or diagrammer. The way I approach it is to complete the model then unfold it and examine the Crease pattern. Every step along the way will present you with different Solutions and you choose the one that meets your own requirements. I always attempt to break down complex sequences into smaller steps that produce the result with the least effort and the most fun.

Part of the decision-makin

g process is often constrained by trying to fit a folding sequence neatly into a series of A4 pages. Whilst this is completely understandable it can also lead to compromises, where you perhaps squeeze more information into a step than you otherwise would, or worse, leave information out! My approach to this is to focus completely on the best sequence and then adjust the size of the steps to fit the given space. Creating an attractive layout is a satisfying challenge.

I’ve always loved Paul Jackson’s brilliant “Elephant” but used to hate making the closed sink on the back – I came up with this sequence to make life simpler. Check this video (almost certainly made without permission) to see the original method, as well as how not to make an “easy” origami video! Here’s another fine example – Edwin Corrie developed this sequence for the head of a dog he designed, it’s everything I look for and I hope will inspire you to spend more time thinking about sequencing. Why not see if you can devise an alternative method and share it with me?


Edwin Corrie’s double reverse fold