At a time when so much of our social life has been closed to us, origami has blossomed. A few months ago, I posted to OrigamiUSA’s (private) Facebook group about my experience and delight with the virtual origami community. I was amazed at the response that my little post generated and gratified that so many of you feel as I do.
I love to fold, I love to meet new people, and in the past, I attended as many conventions and local meetings as my work schedule would allow. Some friends and I even started a folding group at our local library. When the pandemic hit, everything stopped. But within a short time, folders and organizers realized that Zoom could bring us together. Suddenly, time and distance weren’t a barrier.
One of my favorite virtual gatherings is United to Fold, or UnFold, hosted by Gerardo Gacharná of Colombia. Gerardo’s main interest is creating community, and he does a wonderful job each month. Meetings are on Saturday mornings and feature different participants teaching simple or intermediate models. For example, at the October meeting, Shachi Jain taught her beautiful model of folded hands entitled Namaste.
Gerardo sometimes teaches as well. He incorporates an interesting method to engage everyone: After teaching the steps for the first unit of a modular, he will ask for volunteers to teach one step each as we create additional modules. This gets more folders involved in the process as well as aiding memory for the folding steps.
After we fold a few projects together, the final feature of the meeting is spending 30 minutes in breakout rooms, getting to unmute and share what we’ve been folding with new friends from around the world. Last Saturday, I met folders from across the U.S. and from Israel, India and South Africa. Emails and ideas were exchanged as Gerardo moved from room to room, enjoying the conversations. Clearly, this is his favorite part and his reason for hosting each month — bringing people together to talk about a shared passion.
If you haven’t discovered UnFold yet, check out OrigamiUSA’s calendar page for dates and information. There you can also find listings for Foldeas, Gerardo’s other group, where invited guests such as Leyla Torres and Louise Mabbs share insights into their creative processes. Make some new friends, learn some new models and enjoy this wonderful connection to the global community.