Folded Glory: The Delight of Origami

By Dominique Flemings

It seems that adults like to suggest future careers to children with the toys they give them. My uncle, a brawny and lumbering building contractor with a gentle nature, would always recount how my grandparents would give him Tinkertoys as a child. My cousin’s son, a strapping young fellow of thirteen, seems to have gotten football gear or clothing festooned with football insignias every Christmas since his birth, and is now quite the budding quarterback in his team (sounding like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers yet?). Of course, I’m sure you are quite curious as to what gifts I, the budding young interior designer, received that set me on this path. While my interest in interior design actually blossomed during college, one gift still stands out as something that helped place a love of artistry in me: a day-by-day origami calendar, in which each day was a set of increasingly complex instructions and interludes into the world of creating from paper. Since that time, I have always dabbled in origami, though not to the point of my original once-a-day obsession.

Moving to Japan did rekindle my interest in the art, and I have come across quite a few websites dedicated to the Japanese aspects of what really is, now, an international delight. What I hoped to find is a website that provides something similar to the depth and variety of my original calendar, and I found a website that comes quite close: Origami Club.

I considered quite a few origami websites to review for this post, but Origami Club is by far the best, simply for the reason that it has a plethora of easy-to-follow instructions on how to turn a piece of paper into virtually anything you’d like. The origami “blueprints,” if you will, are rated by stars to indicate their difficulty – the more stars, the more complex a piece is. Some of the one and two stars are a bit mundane for anyone who has folded the quintessential crane before, but the others are quite detailed, intensive and thus rewarding. One of the most beautiful pieces that I found is this Omuta Rose design, but this is one of many intricate and lovely works. The website provides quite useful categorizations for the hundreds of designs available, ranging from furniture and dogs to flowers and letters, with just about everything in between. There are even holiday-themed groups – something to think about for a unique and innovative holiday greeting card?

As I mentioned before, instructions are, for the most part, clear, and certainly as clear as most online diagrams you’ll find. What I found particularly neat were the animations that go along with the diagrams. If you weren’t quite sure make of a certain step (and, admittedly, some origami instructions look more like architectural schematics), the animation makes it quite clear what you need to do next. In conjunction with the diagrams, you should have no trouble folding your way to success.

The website itself is of little interest, in the sense that, aside from the origami instructions and advertisements, there is really no other content. No pictures of origami masterpieces, Q & A, articles, links or news – this might upset some origami aficionados, but I think it is excusable given the wealth of such information already available on other websites and blogs. The creator of the website, Fumiaki Shingu, seems to have had some experience in taking the complex art of origami and making it easily understood but just as nuanced and delightful. Shingu is a graphics designer – a somewhat surprising fact, given that the website has a strange and slightly juvenile feel, but the layout is maneuverable. Graphics, like many things in Japan, tend to be slightly childish, so perhaps that is what Shingu was aiming for, or perhaps he also had a younger audience in mind to begin with. I might even call the design “quaint” – one does get the feeling of a craft store.

Contrary to what its name suggests, Origami Club does not require a subscription or even your email address, and you can enjoy every one of the origami pieces for free. It’s a great website for the dabblers and dilettante of the art, or even those who would like to start. I do, however, lament the lack of a Q & A section, as I would really like to know what one does to protect your cranes from your chocolate lab. Despite the lack of answers to such questions, I give the website a thumbs up and highly recommend you spend some time perusing at Origami Club.

– Dom

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~ by Japan Blog Review on June 4, 2011.

2 Responses to “Folded Glory: The Delight of Origami”

  1. Hey! It has been a while since I came here! Glad to see you are still writing and very well, I may add…you are an inspiration to me as well. I was absent a long time due to getting my kid prepped and finally successfully enrolled in a great college in Tokyo…it took many months and I am afraid I was lax in my writing..then the disaster..well, you know! I am back to it now and I was encouraged to see you are “still up to no good” here (teasing) and I particularly like this post…yes, in fact I think I created a writing monster in my child when at age two I asked her to tell me a story…and she still is….! Keep up the good work!

    • How nice of you to drop in! I’m glad to hear you’re still alive, well and writing. I did think of you when penning (or typing – sue me, I’m old-fashioned) this review. I certainly understand how events snowball into one another and make creative work nigh impossible. Congratulations on your son’s enrollment!

      Oh, yes, we are still up to devious things here at the Japan Blog Review. I enjoyed your own most recent post!

      – Dom

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