A review of the the book "Bible Origami" by Andrew Dewar.
Tuttle Publishing ISBN 978-0-8048-4306-6 softback 64 pages
Those who know of my Humanist approach to life will find it slightly ironic that I've been sent a copy of a package called "Bible Origami". But rest assured, I'll approach it like any other origami book. The Bible Origami kit is a boxed set from the well-known Tuttle Publishing. It contains both paper and instructions - "everything you need to fold the figures from famous Biblical stories".
The full-color, 64-page booklet is very much on the slim side - personally, I'd class it more as a "booklet" than "book". Custom printed paper is provided for each design, although some models seem fairly anonymous without the patterned paper. Each project begins with the basic draft of the story that inspired it, followed by an explanation of the significance of each accompanying origami figure.
It is suggested the finished pieces can be used to "re-enact these timeless stories, or to create inspiring dioramas". These include Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, Jonah and the Whale, Christmas, and Easter. Extra projects are also suggested such as the Annunciation and Jacobs Ladder.
The author, Andrew Dewar
Author Andrew Dewar has a passion for paper airplanes and has written several paper craft books on the subject. In an interview, he explains his approach to creating; "The big challenge in coming up with new designs is being sure I haven't accidentally copied someone else.
There are only so many ways to fold paper into birds, stars, boxes, or whatever, and it's easy to duplicate without knowing. So I try to look at every book that comes out. Talk about a challenge! Then, my pieces have to be simple and reproduceable, so they can be folded by anyone, and as you know, there's nothing harder than simple." (Amen to that!).
A brief introduction is followed by a "how to fold" page, which rather curiously uses a penguin model (not in the book) to illustrate reverse folds. No attempt has been made to show overlapping layers. Whilst showing additional layers does put a small extra burden on the illustrator, it makes the diagrams much more "alive".
For a self-confessed origami enthusiast, it’s both curious and frustrating that the author has eschewed the traditional symbol set, using hollow arrows throughout and dotted lines for both valleys and mountains. Combined with very thin arrow lines, the end result is far from clear, although people will probably muddle through most designs.
Another oddity is in the text - for example, on the “Ship”, step 7 says “fold up on line 5”, although the lines have no numbers. A step on the “Whale” simply says “Reverse the last three folds” with no visual guidance at all. Other steps are wildly optimistic – you go from a square creased in quarters to a blintz base with two sunken corners in a single step, with no pre-creasing! This will undoubtedly stymie many beginners.
Purists may baulk at the “making a tableau” page, where it suggests “the first thing you might want to do is glue loose flaps and edges down”. You’re then recommended to use a ruler to create both valley and mountain folds. To be fair, these are perforated cut-out shapes to help display your models. Adam and Eve are both depicted as blondes with long hair and Eve appears to be doing some kind of funky dance, possibly explained by the text, “Eve was created from Adam’s rib”.
The designs throughout are simple and whilst not unfamiliar, do seem to be original creations. So, to buy or not to buy? If you’re an old-school Christian with children who might enjoy a folding challenge, you’ll get a lot of fun from this book and to be fair, this is clearly who it’s aimed at. It also reinforces classic Bible tales, if that’s your bag. There’s undoubtedly a good market for this in the States, possibly less so elsewhere. As a source of new models for an origamist to learn, there’s not a lot of quality to be had, I’m afraid to say.
The supplied paper is shiny and not particularly good for folding, but the templates do add a lot of much-needed detail to the designs. All in all, it’s a shame they didn’t use an experienced diagrammer to make the instructions as clear as possible, although there are color photos used liberally throughout.
The actual contents, aside from the paper
The layout is ever so slightly amateurish, it’s more like the kind of thing you’d create using MS Word than a proper page layout program. The packaging (once again) makes me rather cross – the box appears quite substantial until you realise 3/4 of the height is empty and the booklet itself is around 1/8” thick (or perhaps “thin”). Amazon offers it in the States at $14.53 or £15.76 to us Brits, who get royally ripped-off yet again with the exchange calculation. I really can’t see many from the UK paying this price unless they are very keen, but I’m perhaps not the best person to judge!
Many thanks to Rowan Muelling-Auer at Tuttle for the complimentary copy.
1800 Yen / ~$22.62
Buy it here!
The latest in a long series of self-published soft jacket books by the NOA (Nipponese Origami Association), this volume is devoted to boxes and containers of various kinds. The pink and black diagrams are (as expected) clear and concise - if you've ever seen a magazine from the Nippon Origami Association (NOA) you will know what to expect.
Forty models are on offer, including a few traditional designs. Sadly, Ed Sullivan's wonderful "un-unfoldable box" is credited as a traditional model, showing how hard we need to work to preserve links between creators and their designs. Whilst most of the designs are containers of the traditional kind (boxes etc), there are a few unusual containers, such as a Christmas Cake, a Jack-O-Lantern, and a House.
Box with lid by Ishibashi / Tanigawa
Typically with Japanese books, the opening pages are bright, color photos of the models, followed by artwork drawings of them on the index pages. There is no guide to folding symbols; clearly NOA expect potential readers to already have these skills and opt to include an extra model instead. The language is Japanese, although page headings and sub-headings are in English.
One of my favorite designs in the book is Akiko Yamanasi's "shell-shaped box". Another is a "Rose Box" by Ayako Kawate. Both models are pictured on the cover of the book, and both creators have several designs within. Origami luminaries such as Kasahara and Fuse also make an appearance. The creators are exclusively Japanese, with the exception of the final model: curiously enough Edwin Corrie's "simple snap hexahedron". The price of 1800 Yen equates to £14.40 or $22.62, a fair price for a diverse and entertaining set of designs, in my opinion. You can order the book here, but you may need to translate from Japanese.
Tomoko Fuse's newest book is exquisite and all about spirals!
I rarely obsess about books, but Spiral: Origami | Art | Design by Tomoko Fuse is definitely one of them. There are nice, even beautiful books out there. Still, not often does a book blow me away like this.
It is the first publication of Viereck Verlag, a German publisher who is devoted to origami. Silke Schröder and Paulo Mulatinho, who are based in Freising (Germany), sell origami paper, (mostly Japanese) origami books, lead an origami gallery, organize an annual origami convention - and now have started publishing books. Their background shows in this exquisite book. The layout and print are gorgeous, and the details are just right. This hardcover book is bound beautifully and opens flat effortlessly no matter which page you're viewing.
Perhaps the most concise statement of the quality of the book itself is that it feels like an exhibition / photography book more than anything else. The quality is simply mind-boggling.
But see for yourself. For a first impression on what the book looks like, check out this video, which I recorded on July 2nd 2012, three days after I received the book:
Origami, Art, Design
There is much to explore in this heavy, 348-page book! Tomoko Fuse has of course authored many superb books, be it single-sheet or modular, boxes, kusudamas, geometrics, or spirals. But this publication is different. The title itself already summarizes it nicely: Origami, Art, Design.
This book is all about folding paper, no doubt about it. But some might say origami is about folding models from square sheets of paper without use of glue or cutting. Or they'd allow rectangles and perhaps regular polygons, but no more than that. This book features models folded from a square, or multiple squares (modulars), and in that stricter sense also includes diagrams for origami models. However, there's much more than that. The majority of the models is actually folded from irregular shapes - be it triangles, strips (long rectangles), or paper that is cut to very specific shapes. And if you want to construct the lamp shades Tomoko Fuse introduces, glue should also be in your list of tools.
Most origami books are about presenting diagrams, showing how to fold different models. Some books include nice photographs of folded models. But this book tops that by quite a bit. First off, this book presents amazing photographs in superb print quality - just like you'd expect from an exhibition guide. Additionally, the models presented themselves are art. Most are not representational, but more abstract. They are extremely expressive and amazing to look at, more so - in my opinion - than is usually achieved with representational folds.
Just like with "Art", this book fulfills the caption "Design" twofold. First, the models express design aesthetics, which closely relates to the artistic vibe they have. Second, Tomoko Fuse also gives insight into how the spirals are designed. She gives a mathematical explanation, defining spirals with a couple of parameters, and thus enabling you to vary those parameters to construct your own, unique spirals. In that she opens her world of thoughts to you and gives you the tools you need to draw even more from the book. This makes her newest publication extremely powerful.
The book is divided into five parts.
Part 1: Helices and Spirals
A spiral folded by Sara Adams. Rather than cutting the shape from a sheet and discarding the excess, nice effects can be achieved by leaving one side of the shape attached to the bordering paper.
Navel Shell folded by Sara Adams.
Whirlpool Spiral with the parameters 4 | 10 | 10, folded by Sara Adams.
A Coil Fold with parameters 4 | 30 | S, folded by Sara Adams.
This section features seven helices and 10 spirals. They are folded from rectangles, isosceles trapezia, and triangles. Of the 17 models presented, 9 come with full diagrams, for the remaining 8 crease patterns are provided. For all models instructions on how to cut the paper is given. Four work on rectangles, 9 on triangles, and three on a trapezoid (in essence a triangle with the tip cut off). One model (The Flying Bull) requires additional cutting.
Part 2: Spiral Shells
The second part of the book is perhaps the one most similar to other origami books. 29 different spiral shell models are introduced. 13 of them are folded from one square, four are modular (also working with squares), and a further 12 are folded from other shapes. For 22 models diagrams are given, for the remaining seven crease patterns are provided. But as they can be folded by the same principles as other models that are fully diagrammed, these crease patterns are absolutely sufficient even to those unexperienced with folding from crease pattern.
Part 3: Whirlpool Spirals
After a section full of diagrams and easy-to-replicate models comes a chapter that is quite the opposite. Tomoko Fuse gives a short explanation of the mathematics of her Whirlpool Spirals, explaining how three parameters determine the look of the final model. She gives guidance on how to construct crease patterns once you have picked your three parameters, and then provides crease patterns and photographs of 23 whirlpool spirals.
Then follows a section on lampshades, which use the same technique as the Whirlpool Spirals. To lock the lampshades, glue is used. Tomoko Fuse provides you with five crease patterns, and, as always, with exquisite photographs of completed lampshades.
But here it doesn't end. Taking it a step further, Biribiri are introduced. These are essentially several Whirlpool Spirals combined in one model. Four crease patterns follow. Finally, Whirlpool Stars, which are polyhedra with Whirlpool Spiral faces, complete this part of the book. Three crease patterns for these modular pieces are included.
This part of the book is going to offer an almost endless sea of inspiration especially for the advanced folder. As Tomoko Fuse gives insight into how crease patterns are constructed, it enables you to experiment with the parameters and discover your own versions of whirlpool folds. Note that all the Whirlpool Spiral models are folded from shapes specifically constructed for each model. This means no squares - but I do encourage you to broaden your horizon by allowing more irregular shapes for origami. After all, origami translates to "folding paper", not "folding paper from a square"! Or if you are more of a purist, simply appreciate the great art presented in this chapter of the book.
Part 4: More Helices and Spirals
In the final part on models Tomoko Fuse again presents an array of different designs, somewhat all special cases of models presented in the previous parts, or different applications of them.
Two right-angled spirals are diagrammed. Then follow crease patterns for 8 Spiral Towers. Next Tomoko Fuse explains the theory behind Coil Folds, which are a special case of Whirlpool Spirals. Crease patterns for 16 different Coil Folds follow, as always accompanied by photographs showing the resulting model. Additionally, crease patterns for two Pako Pako Play (action model Coil Folds) are provided. These require gluing to lock the models.
Last but not least there's another section on modular origami. Diagrams for two spiral-faced polyhedra are provided. Then models which represent solids enclosing helices are presented. First, modules for the frames are diagrammed. Then inserts in the shapes of helices and hourglasses are described. Again, details on how to vary these to achieve different models are included, so there's a whole array of models you can fold using Tomoko Fuse's explanation.
Some models in this part indeed work on rectangles or parallelograms, but the remaining again work on shapes specific to the model. It is a bit more work to cut the paper to the required shapes (just like in Part 3), but the gorgeous look of the completed models totally makes up for it!
Final Part: About Tomoko Fuse
The book is nicely rounded off by a section on Tomoko Fuse. It is a portrait written by Florian Aicher and gives a unique insight into Tomoko Fuse's personality, her focus, her life with origami. It is beautiful the book ends in this way - revealing relationship between "creator and the created", as Tomoko Fuse puts it.
This is an amazing book, more so than I can express in words. I hope, however, that my review at least somewhat expresses how deeply I have fallen in love with Spiral: Origami | Art | Design by Tomoko Fuse. So the key question that remains is: Where can you get a copy? You can buy the book at The Source (99.99 USD), or directly at Viereck Verlag (78 EUR plus shipping).
Yes, the book is more expensive than your usual origami publication, but I assure you that it is worth every cent and more. Much much more!
By now, everyone knows that the publication of a new book overseen by Nicolas Terry will be something special. Through Terry's efforts to supplement the world of large-scale, commercial origami books, he's published the works of some of today's most talented designers, including Roman Diaz and Quentin Trollip. Terry's latest project, 50 Hours of Origami +, is a compilation of amazing work by talented young origami artists from Vietnam who are members of the Vietnam Origami Group, or VOG.
Compiled and edited by Nicolas Terry, with help from Giang Dinh, it took them several years to coordinate efforts in collecting, editing, and assembling the diagrams. Along the way, they solicited advice from the origami community to determine which models should be included in the collection.
With 31 models and two crease patterns in all, the collection's models range from intermediate to super complex, with the crease pattern for Lich King (from World of Warcraft) taking a whopping 30 hours to fold by itself!
Folders should be experienced in navigating complicated sequences, shaping the models to get the desired effect, and should be accustomed to working with large paper sizes. Kami paper will be a poor choice for nearly all of the models; better is Tant, Canson, or other papers suitable for wet folding and thick layers.
Thus far, I have attempted folding Nguyen Hung Cuongʼs Chef Rat, inspired by the movie Ratatouille, and Hoang Tien Quyetʼs duck. The folding sequences are clear and the instructions precise. However, this book is not for beginners as even the simplest models require folders to have experience in wet folding, shaping, and performing multiple complex folds.
The instructions for Hoang Tien Quyetʼs amazing horse are an interesting blend of crease pattern and step-by-step folding sequence, with the initial base for the model described by a crease pattern and the remaining steps described in detail.
As with all of Nicolas Terryʼs books, each set of diagrams indicates the level of complexity, the optimal type and size of paper, and the expected folding time to complete each model. If you're clever enough, you can crack the book's secret code and obtain access to additional crease patterns!
For added interest, there are also short autobiographical sketches for each of the book’s contributors, giving more insight into each artistʼs life and folding techniques.
Aimed at “Clever Kids: 7+, Juniors: 5-7 years”, this boxed kit includes 25 sheets of paper and a spiral bound booklet. Author Dean Mackey is curator of the online paper airplane museum with over 800 “free” paper airplane designs linked in it. Some are his own, most are other people's scattered across the web. He should therefore know his business! The book contains 20 simple designs, mostly traditional. Interestingly, the designs use A4 paper (some use “square A4" paper!) – one wonders if the designs transfer neatly onto US letter size.
As always, the designs are given new titles, but you’ll recognize most if you’re a planes enthusiast. The diagrams are formally arranged in grid layout and squeezed somewhat tightly onto the printed page, so the instructional text is small and hard to read. The folding lines are somewhat clunky and amazingly, no distinction is made between valley and mountain lines. It's clearly been illustrated by a "jobbing" illustrator who doesn't know origami. We are in the new century are we not?
The spiral bound format lends itself well to origami instructions, allowing the page to lie flat. It’s a shame the booklets never match the box size (the box cover shows roughly how large the book is) so you often feel slightly conned when you open the box. However this is true of almost all boxed sets. I guess it’s a phase the publishers are going through, where “added value” is the key, rather than a quality book. Once you’ve used the paper and thrown the box away, the booklet itself is a little underwhelming.
Worth buying? At $14 (on ebay) it’s probably fun for younger children, although there are no tips on how to get the best flight from your plane. Probably for real enthusiasts only, so save your money, unless you have lots to spare!
This article presents different ideas on how to publicize origami books online. These tips are useful for authors, but can partly also be applied by origami enthusiasts wishing to support creators - and thus ensure books continue to be published.
My origami book shelf
There’s no doubt about it - I love origami books. The best way of exemplifying that is probably to mention that I own 95 origami books, plus some magazines and booklets. To put that into context, I’ve been into origami for 67 months now - which gives me an average of acquiring over one book a month.
I love origami books, because they can be so beautiful. For me it is about the diagrams, but also about supporting the creators, and having something to hold on to. At the same time I know that there are other media of sharing emerging. I must know. After all, I produce instructional videos myself, and have also posted some free diagrams online.
I do want designers to keep publishing books, though. Some might say the internet is the biggest risk, and that origami books might disappear because of it. I believe differently. Indeed, the internet can be a great place to promote your book and increase sales - rather than choking them. This article is all about some ideas on how you can promote origami books online. Most of the tips will be targeted at authors, but some of them can also be put into practice by origami enthusiasts who want to help with promoting their favorite creators.
A single fantastic model can already be a great selling point.
I don’t know about you, but I personally often buy a book because I am interested in one particular model. For example, in License To Fold it was all about the Eagle designed by Hung Cuong Nguyen. The book obviously also includes many other great models, but very often there’s that one model that makes me really want to buy the book. And when talking to other origami enthusiasts, I found out I’m not the only one for whom it’s like that.
But what is there to learn from this? If you are a designer and thinking of publishing a book, selecting the right models for the book is key. And the community can help you decide which models people are most excited about.
How to get that information? I’ll mention two ideas to get you started.
First of all, are you posting pictures online, e.g. on Flickr? If so, check which models get lots of complimentary comments, or are favorited often. These are great indicators that you should consider including the designs in your book. The same holds if you get queries for diagrams for a model. It’s probably the clearest signal for increased interest in a model - and thus it's a potential seller for your book.
Second, there’s no harm in asking the community directly for advice. For example, you could write an email to a mailing list, or post a question in a forum or on a social networking site. It’s been done before, too. For example, in an origami forum Nicolas Terry asked about models for his upcoming book around Vietnamese designers, and Brian Chan used Facebook.
Brian Chan publicly asking the community for favorites
It's also worth mentioning that by including the community while you are working on the book, you are getting them excited about it. Discussions start, and this in itself already promotes your book. So it's not just a tool for deciding which models to include, but also a great way of raising the community's pleasant anticipation of your upcoming work.
By the way, different people will probably have different models that really make them want to buy a book. And of course having several such models is a plus. Indeed, the more models I am really excited about, the likelier it is that I am going to recommend it to others. For example, if I'm asked about which origami book is my favorite - three books immediately pop into my mind: Origami Design Secrets by Robert J. Lang, because it exquisitely explains techniques and exemplifies them through models; Origami Essence by Roman Diaz, because I've fallen in love with so many models in the book; and Origami Tessellations by Eric Gjerde, because it got me started with tessellations.
Table of Contents
Some sites selling books allow you to have a sneak peek of the book. Left: origami-shop.com; Right: Amazon
Obviously the models included in a book are a big selling argument. Still, often it’s not clear what is actually in the book. So while it’s very basic, this is also a very important tip: inform others what to expect in the book.
Here are some ideas:
Ensure that the sites that are selling your book online include a table of contents, or at the very least the number of models included. I am guessing that publishers will have a say in what the description used by book sellers will be. Thus you should be able to influence what they send. Some book selling sites also support the functionality of giving a sneak peek of the book, displaying some of its pages. Commonly these include the table of contents of the book. For example, origami-shop.com has this functionality, as well as more general sellers such as Amazon.
Table of Contents for "Works of Satoshi Kamiya 1995 - 2003" as presented by Origami House
If you have a website yourself, do post the full table of contents, and, if at all possible, pictures of folded models. For example, Orgami House do a great job at this, including photos or drawings of all models included, as well as the designers’ names.
ODB entry for Origami Tessellations by Eric Gjerde
You can also add your book to the Origami Database (ODB). By doing this, people searching for specific models may become more aware of your book.
Finally, if you post a picture of a model included in a book, do add a reference to it. This can be as simple as adding the book’s title and author, or - if you want to be extra nice - a link to a site where you can also buy it.
By the way, with some of these tips every origami enthusiast can help. For example, you can add the table of contents and pictures of your folds to the Origami Database - I’ve done so for many books and models myself. And every time you post a picture of a new fold, do include the model name, the designer and where to find the diagrams.
Truly, the table of contents aren’t always enough. For example, people may feel uncertain about whether their skill level is sufficient enough. Or if the diagramming style suits them. So adding extra information and reassuring a potential buyer can help lots.
My experience with complexity ratings has been that everyone has a slightly different sense of what’s simple, intermediate, or complex. So while these indicators are nice, having a real example is much more powerful.
One option is to specify which difficulty the models have, and give one example diagram. In this way, people can get to know your diagramming style, as well as a sense of what difficulty to expect in the book.
While I personally don’t worry too much about complexity, I do get contacted regularly with the question which book is suitable for someone's specific skill level. These queries are in some ways a cry for help in deciding which book to buy. And often when you are not certain about that, you'll simply not buy any book at all. Hence I do believe giving extra clarity helps a lot with selling books.
Reviews and Community Recommendations
Closely tied to the previous section, getting reviews for a book is also extremely valuable. In some ways, this is the online equivalent to word of mouth. And there are many flavors to it.
Start of Gilad Aharoni's review of "Origami Essence" by Roman Diaz
One of the best known people doing reviews is Gilad Aharoni, who has done many reviews. They usually include a short paragraph of the overall impression Gilad had, followed by a full table of contents for the book, and pictures where available. Also crucially important are the rankings he gives, e.g. which skill level it requires, whether the diagrams are clear, and what kind of diagramming style is used. He also gives some sources on where to buy the book.
Indeed, he does such a good job at this that before I buy I a book, I often first check whether he has reviewed it. I’d also thought about writing reviews myself, but lacking time I’ve decided to go the somewhat faster route of only linking to other sources. So on my website, I do have a list of books I own. And for each book I list the following:
general data, such as ISBN, title, author, language, pages, models included,
links to reviews, e.g. by Gilad Aharoni,
links to table of contents, e.g. in the origami database,
and links to shops where you can buy the book (surely often not a complete list)
I also link to images of models I folded from that book. And those images of course link back to the overview page of that book. While this is probably more than most of you origami enthusiasts might want to do, it is a somewhat more lightweight process than what Gilad is doing. And to reiterate, simply stating the model name, the designer, and the diagram source is already very valuable and a review in itself. If you add a comment on what you like about the model, just the better!
To give a third example, Ancella Simoes chose a route between what Gilad and myself are doing: She gives her overall impression of the book, as well as a source of where to buy that book. This is somewhat similar to what I did before I moved to the new format.
Some of the book reviews published with The Fold
And what better place to mention all the book reviews published with The Fold! Giving you all these examples is simply to show you that reviews can be done quite differently. But all of them have one great value: they give you an idea of what someone else thinks of the book.
Finally, there are many examples of where people mention which book a model is diagrammed in. Even though it may not be a full review, it is already a recommendation for the book. After all, you folded this beautiful model from the book mentioned! Now, if you are adding such data to your pictures already, great! You are helping to promote origami books, and ensure they will continue to be produced. If you’re not doing this so far, consider starting now. It’s a win-win for everyone, really. It’s little work for you, and helps you remember where to find the diagrams if you want to fold the model again. People who admire your picture will gain the sema benefit if they want to fold the model, too. And the designers will be happy about the extra sales you are encouraging.
Where to Buy
Did you notice how Gilad, Ancella and myself all mentioned in the reviews where to buy the book? It’s actually very important. One of the great things about the internet is that products get much more available throughout the world. While shipping costs may vary and sometimes can be quite restrictive, it is a great improvement over previously not being able to acquire some books at all in most countries.
Now if you want to promote the sales of a book, it’s good to help people out with where to buy that book. It’s one fewer web search they have to do, and thus removing one hurdle on the way to buying your book. So adding a link helps a lot. This is especially true if you are announcing your new book.
Eric Gjerde showing off the first copy of his book "Origami Tessellations"
Of course, you will want to announce your new book, and to the right audience.
This already hints at the first way of announcing a book: sending an email to an origami mailing list. There are various lists out there, often one or more for each country with an active origami community. However, I believe one of the largest origami lists is the o-list, so if you don’t know which list to join, this might be a good starting point.
Of course, you can - or indeed should - also announce your book if you have your own website. Share it on a social networking site, if you like. Or make people aware of the book on pages where you post pictures of your folds. For example, Flickr is surely one of the more used photo sharing sites with a strong origami community. And authors are definitely announcing - or perhaps simply sharing their excitement about - their newly published books. For example, Eric Gjerde posted a picture of him holding the first copy of his book Origami Tessellations, and many others simply posted a picture of the cover (e.g. Anna Kastlunger, Juan S. Landeta, Joshua Goutam).
And consider this: it's not just the author that may want to announce a book. If you helped with a book, or have just acquired a copy of a recently published book, why not share that? For example, you could send a quick review to your favorite mailing list, post a picture of your first fold, or record a quick video on how excited you are about the book.
Of course, this article cannot miss a reference to origami videos. After all, as I am told, I am known as the video person. I’ll give you three examples of how videos can be used to publicize a book and promote its sales.
First, let’s start with what I do. I make instructional videos, introducing how to fold a model. If the diagrams are found in a book, I add a reference to it in the video. I've also started showing that book in the video. Showing the book is somewhat different than mentioning it, I believe. For one, it shows I actually have the book. :) And second, it’s nice to see the book, not just a name or picture of it. In some ways, seeing the book in a video can make it more real.
From 2:35 to 3:45 I give a quick glimpse of Meenakshi Mukerji's book "Origami Inspirations"
I will also mention that very often after I introduce a model from a book I will get queries to demonstrate further models from that book. This is a good sign. It means people are excited about the book, and they want to fold further models from it. At the same time I know I have a responsibility. I do not want to compete with book sales, but rather promote them. Therefore I very clearly communicate that I won’t be demonstrating further models from the book - at least not until the book has been out for a bit longer. I give this answer without asking the author or designer what they think; it’s simply what I feel is the right way to go forward. Surprisingly, I’ve never had anyone question my decision or comment negatively on that agenda I’ve set myself. I believe they see sense in this constraint I set, or perhaps they know how stubborn I can be!
Laurence King Publishing is featuring video snippets on their website for Paul Jackson's new book "Folding Techniques for Designers".
The second example I want to give was actually done by the publisher, and is the first example I’ve seen of such a promotion. For Paul Jackson’s new book “Folding Techniques for Designers" the publisher posted a series of short videos giving a teaser for the different chapters of the book. What better way to give a sense of what the book is about, and the high-quality content to expect in the book and adjoining DVD!
Finally, the third example is from Peter Engel, who shot a promotional video for his new book Origami Odyssey with the help of his son. Nowadays most of us have some device that can record videos, so grasping that opportunity for extra promotion is something I totally recommend. And as you can see with Peter Engel’s video, you can also have fun with it!
Peter Engel's promotional video for his book "Origami Odyssey"
Making It Happen
I am aware that some of the tips I gave do not only depend on the author or designer of a book. I also have to admit I’ve never published a book myself. But I do believe that authors and designers can help getting these things to happen - even if only by talking to people.
This may require talking to the publisher, to the origami community, or to other designers with experience in making books more successful. Sometimes, it may also help to engage key personalities.
I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way, but suggesting someone write a review can help lots. For example, when you publish a book, you will probably be asked whom to send some complimentary copies to. While you probably want to send some to people that you appreciate and that helped you complete the book, you may also want to include people that would write a review for you, or to people who post pictures of your folds regularly. Or, yes, I’ll say it, someone who might promote the book with a video. Indeed, I felt very honored when Peter Engel contacted me asking whether I wanted to demonstrate a model from his new book to promote it. I was all for it, and felt so enthusiastic that I simply had to write a post on it. I was very glad to see that Peter appreciated the value of how I try to contribute and promote origami and the work done by designers out there.
And I’ll feel bad if I don’t mention here that Eric Gjerde was the first to give me a complimentary copy of an origami book, and he did mention that my pictures and videos (see some examples here) boosted the sales of his book Origami Tessellations.
My final words in this article do have to be a great thanks to all the designers and authors, who have published books, or are planning to. I do hope that this article will help you promote your existing and future books better. And I hope your devoted followers can also take a chunk out of it, so that they too can help promote the awesome work you are doing.
Peter Engel's newest book picks up where <i>Origami from Angelfish to Zen</i> in his explorations of pattern, form, and meaning within origami.
Origami Odyssey is a remarkable book. It is, in a sense, a sequel to Origami from Angelfish to Zen, and is very much in the same mold. The first 35 pages are an extended essay, building upon themes that Peter first addressed in OfAtZ, but expanding upon them based on 20-something years of thinking, insight, and experience in origami and life. Themes of simplicity, creativity, light, shadow, economy, illusion, spirit -- these are all topics that he revisits, seeing some of these concepts in ways you'll recognize from his prior work, and others with new understanding and appreciation. You will read about the birth of his daughter, and the death of his good friend Mark Turner (author of Garden Folds), and explorations into origami plant life, entertainment for his children, and a search for the elusive origami Bodhi leaf.
Like his first book, this is most assuredly not just a "book of models." You will, though, find many sets of folding diagrams, to whit:
Sun, Moon, Stars
Squirrel, Bat, Great Horned Owl
Maple, Begonia, Gingko, and Bodhi Leaves, plus an Orchid
But the point of this book is not models. And it's not technical complexity. If you're looking for the next increment of complicatedness beyond his awesome Butterfly, you won't find it. That's not the path he traveled. Instead, you'll find designs of simplicity and elegance. Which is not to say that they're all easy; far from it. Many of them, particularly the leaves, require judgment and shaping, and are a reminder of what I might call Joisel's Dictum: if you expend all your energy on the base, you'll have nothing left for the emotion! As artworks, these designs require emotion.
The book is beautifully illustrated with artistic photos of the origami and of the many conceptual influences Peter draws upon: Hokusai's iconic magician, Yoshizawa holding his own work, Javanese wicker, Nepalese instruments, plants, artwork, and more.
As you might have gathered by now, I really like this book. (I was fortunate to receive a copy of the proofs.) So I encourage everyone who likes to think deeply about what origami means, who ponders the mystery of creativity, to buy this book. It's a worthy successor to his first masterpiece. There are still bits of the universe left to fold!
As more and more companies jump on the origami publishing bandwagon, the quality of the books being produced goes down.
The surging popularity of origami is clearly evidenced by the number of publishers trying to cash in on it. So many companies are now making origami products. Unfortunately, in their drive to make a buck on the latest trend, they are cutting corners, resulting in decidedly sub-standard products. Many of these products seem to collect information found on the Internet, and the folds themselves appear to be either traditional models or badly designed models. No checking is done by knowledgeable origami reviewers, leading to instructions that are simply wrong. The publishers try to cover up these short-comings by dressing up the books and kits with flashy graphics. The problem is that people new to origami will get drawn in by the glitz and glitter, and then will give up in disgust.
I discovered this particular kit at Costco, and I bought it because it was published by a local publisher, SpiceBox. I discovered later that the creative director on the project is a past acquaintance of mine. My son and I worked through some of the models in this kit, and I was disgusted by the poor quality of the instructions. This is why I'm using it as an example of what not to do when publishing an origami kit.
As previously mentioned, the boxed kit is pretty and inviting. The box features a magnetic closure to keep everything from falling out. The two compartments keep the book and the paper separate and organized.
The paper is all preprinted with colourful patterns that are based on the crease patterns. While this makes them dynamic and fun, I find it actually distracts from the folding process, making it more difficult to understand what needs to be done. Besides, the diagrams do not have these patterns, leading to further confusion.
Right from the start, the basic folding techniques page highlights a number of problems. Valley and mountain fold lines (and cut lines) are the same. Outside reverse fold arrows point in the wrong direction. The inside reverse fold arrow goes on the outside of the paper instead of the inside. And the "pull" instruction appears to distort the paper as if it were made of rubber.
In the penguin instructions, the text for step 3 does not match with the steps shown in the diagram. And in the diagram, sub-step 2 seems to tuck the point under another layer paper instead of being an inside reverse fold.
The cutting of the tail is very unclear. The main image seems to indicate cutting the tail tip off, while the small pull-out image shows more details, but without showing how to get there.
In the pleat, the mountain and valley folds are the same line type, and the inside reverse fold arrows go over the top of the layers that the fold is supposed to go through.
Step 12 says to repeat step 9 on the other side. Unfortunately, the step to be repeated is actually step 10.
Step 7 says to crease into pleats, but all of the folds are valley folds. Step 9 talks about an outside reverse fold, but this is really just slightly opening up a couple of mountain folds.
So, while this is not the worst offender in this parade of cheap origami publications, it certainly showcases some of the problems that are typical of these books and kits. And, the worst offence, in my opinion? They included googly eyes.
A review of "Outside The Box Origami" By Scott Wasserman Stern
I was sent this book for review by the publishers, Tuttle. I knew nothing about the author, so did some quick googling. Apparently, Stern has been folding origami since he was three years old. And has been an active member of the Origami Club of Pittsburgh and a regular attendee of OUSA's national convention in New York. He has now reached the grand old age of seventeen, so is still very young for an origami author.
If I had seen the images of models on the back cover first, I would have guessed the book was by Jeremy Schafer. Indeed, Schafer gives a complimentary quote on the back cover, alongside Montroll, LaFosse and Engel – handy people to have on your side!
The book begins with a two page introduction where we learn about the author and what motivates him. Three pages of symbols follow, then we’re into the folding. Part 1 is “simple folds” and immediately, you have to take issue with the level. By the third model (a skull), we’re asked to perform a “partial closed sink”! Several of the models are geometric; rings and wreaths etc. The “Starburst” modular is an elegant adaptation of a bird base and most impressive. The “elephant” by comparison, doesn’t do it for me and misses the essence of the subject somewhat.
Intermediate is next, a 59 step dog that also seems to lack the proper proportions. The “checkerboard prism” interestingly produces an unlikely modular from a fish base. The “flapping bird” is going to challenge many folders. I always feel you’re asking for trouble creating flapping birds, unless they get anywhere near the beauty of the original. This one, to my eyes is rather over-folded.
The advanced section comes just over a third of the way into the book, which probably tells us where the author’s heart lies. The “floral design” made from a blintzed fish base (why is this such an uncommon base?) is elegant and Shen-like. The “crane with a crane as a head” will tax the accuracy of many folders and 74 steps produce quite a simple looking ghost, but with five (tiny) fingers per hand.
After advanced, comes “expert”, including a “pig with wings” (of course!), a Fujimoto style “snowflake”, a 58 step “weave design” that surely must have a simpler folding solution and finally, 100 steps of “folding outside the box”, literally a pair of hands, folding a square, coming from a box, of course, from a single square of foil.
The diagrams (by the author) are drawn to a very high standard and in general, the hardback book is attractive and eye-catching – let’s hope Tuttle have finally lost their previously somewhat dated approach to design. It’s a shame there is no reference to or thanks given to any origami societies at the end of the book.
So, who will get (or “get”) this book? Fans of Schafer’s weird and wonderful origami world will undoubtedly enjoy it. Beginners will struggle from the very first model, despite the byline (undoubtedly not from the author) on the back cover which says "paperfolding art for every skill level". However, those who value a challenge will find plenty to amuse them. The one Amazon review says “This is the best origami book I have seen. I am definitely giving it to a friend who has been sitting around with a broken leg.” For me, many of the designs, whilst clever, lack that indefineable quality of class. It’s almost as if the concept of the model redeems the amount of work and technique required to produce it.
To be frank, I found only a few models inside that inspired me to fold them and it isn’t a book I will be coming back to very often. Then again, I am a jaded old hack, maybe you need to be young to get the most from it. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't find something to enjoy in the book. I get the sense that Stern, if he continues, will become a gifted folder and creator, but that we’ve seen him slightly early in his “career”, before any recognisable personal style has emerged. All that said, it's a book he should be proud of and persuading a publisher to release a collection of original designs (what, no masu box?) is no mean feat, believe me!
This book can be purchased directly from Tuttle, the publisher.
Jeremy Shafer's second origami book showcases his wit and creativity with a wide array of action models.
For some folders, a finished origami model is a museum-worthy piece of art. Gaze at it, admire it, and photograph it, but touch it? Oh no—hands off, please.
By contrast, Jeremy Shafer doesn’t just touch his completed models; he uses them as performance pieces. He’s even been known to set them on fire. In Shafer’s newest book, Origami Ooh La La!, he cleverly exploits the possibilities for transforming origami into an action-oriented art form, but be assured, you won’t need matches or a fire extinguisher.
It has been ten years since Shafer released his first book, Origami to Astonish and Amuse. That book established Shafer as a master of the unexplored, slightly far-out possibilities inherent in a piece of paper. His surfer on a wave (complete with an ominous shark fin) and his “man swatter” (a fly swatter but with an outline of a squished man) revealed a sense of humor matched by a talent for innovative design.
Origami Ooh La La! is a tad less wacky, but no less creative than Shafer’s first effort. A fitting place to begin with performance origami is the flapping bird. Shafer reimagines the flapping bird with six variations, including a warrior crane with a sword attached to a wing.
From there, Shafer moves on to a chomper and a food grinder with pointy teeth, a collection of spinners, a running nose (an athletic nose with feet, not mucus), and a “Familiar Liar” (Pinocchio with a nose that grows and shrinks).
One favorite of mine is Shafer’s Man in the Moon Watching a Shooting Star. In his notes to the model, Shafer reports that it took him more than 10 years to diagram it because he kept searching for a way to fold a mathematically perfect 8-pointed star. Luckily for us, even though Shafer did not succeed, he settled for a 5-pointed star instead.
The majority of the models in Origami Ooh La La! are entirely suitable for beginner and intermediate-level folders, and Shafer’s diagramming throughout the book is superb. Folders who enjoy complex challenges should turn to the final two chapters where they will find an assortment of “flashers” (pleated origami patterns in which the paper winds around the center like a vortex) and other tantalizing projects like a Koch snowflake fractal.
Shafer’s detailed notes throughout Origami Ooh La La! leave you with the sense that there is more origami on Shafer’s mind than can reasonably fit into two books. Indeed, judging from his quarterly origami newsletter, BARF (Bay Area Rapid Folders), there is easily another book devoted to pop-up cards just waiting to be published. In the meantime, Origami Ooh La La! will keep you plenty occupied.