Book Review: ‘Origami: 25 Sterne’ by Carmen Sprung

Edited by Scott Summers
A detail of the book cover: Just folding; no glue!

Carmen Sprung, for me, is the queen of stars. I met her for the first time at the 2010 Centro Diffusione Origami convention, and I was blown away by her models. I remember mostly the effect of surprise they gave me, how elegant the elements — angles, tabs and pockets — fit together following a heavenly order.

“Origami: 25 Sterne” is her second book, and although it says 25 Stars, there are more than that inside. Six models have a second variation. Fifteen are modulars (including a kusudama that I can hardly call a star) and 10 are made from a single sheet each.

The Technicalities

  • Number of pages: 112
  • Number of diagram pages: 95
  • Number of models: 25+6 variations
  • Language: German
  • Paper Size: A4
  • Paper Quality - High

There are four levels of difficulty.
★ - 4 models
★★ - 13 models
★★★ - 7 models
★★★★ - 7 models

The models were created between 2012 and 2017, with most made between 2015 and 2017.

The book provides some extra information, including two pages of symbols and a walkthrough that shows you how to get every shape needed for the models (pentagon, hexagon, etc.). To help with some difficult steps, there is a link on page 93 that takes you to short videos detailing some of the more complex folding sequences.

Diagrams

The diagrams are big and clear. The steps grid is 3 by 4, but since the page is A4, it is spacious and comfortable.

A sample of the large, clear diagrams.

The language is German, so I must rely mainly on the symbols while folding. This makes me highly sensitive to any irregularities in the use of symbols.

For example, in Felix (p. 26, step 17), there is no repeat symbol, so if you do not try to decipher the text, you will miss this instruction.

The use of color is innovative. Not only does it represent the two different modules during assembly, but by highlighting key details, it also helps you maintain orientation as the model is rotated. I didn’t see any reference to it in the Symbole, Linien und Pfeile (Symbols, Lines and Arrows) section, so I had to discover this on my own. However, it is not rocket science.

Folding

Evelina

The first model in the book is made of 16 units. I usually don’t like to fold so many repetitive steps (Wow! Did I really say that?) but in this case, the result pays off since both sides are wonderful.

The unit is simple to fold; all the reference points are clear. The connection is straightforward, and the locks are firm.

Evelina folded by Ilan Garibi.

Nora

Short diagrams, easy process, and a unique starting point (division into three, with forwarding to a clear explanation of that in the appendix) result in a classic star that has two variations. Both are charming, with sturdy lock and interesting side views.

Nora folded by Ilan Garibi.

Diane

Few modulars reach Diane’s 35 steps per unit. It is a long process, and it took me more than the usual two units to memorize it. Still, the module is identical on both sides, and it folds easily. The result gives a sense of fragility, but the last unit locks it all well, and the model is stable.

Diana folded by Ilan Garibi.

Felix

This model introduced the marvelous concept of seven. This modular lies flat if you make it from eight units, but it gets a beautiful upgrade if you use only seven. The lack of the last unit forces the model to become 3D, and the result is magical.

The eight-unit version is quite ordinary-looking, but the seven-unit version is a beauty. The locks are firm and the result is sturdy. The folding process is simple, with clear reference points, and is easy to remember after two units.

Felix folded by Ilan Garibi.

Hortensia

This is more a kusudama than a star. It is made out of six units. Each is pre-creased with a 6 by 6 grid plus some diagonals that lead to a fun and intuitive collapse. The units have a strong connection. While you may use clips during the assembly, the final model is highly stable without them. Impressive.

Hortensia folded by Ilan Garibi.

Geometric Models

Beate

This was the first model from a single sheet. It’s also the first one to introduce photos and not just drawings.

I used Google Translate for this model, since it was hard to understand the process using only images. In fact, the text did not help much.

This model was a rare disappointment. The image shows its better side, but the model doesn’t hold its shape, and it tends to distort. It looks more like a work in progress than a finished piece.

Viola

On the other hand, the second model is a gem. It asks for a short process of elegant steps, and a little effort. Once the precreases are there, it is easy to collapse the model, and it holds surprisingly well. I personally prefer the “back” side, since it highlights the curves of this model.

Viola folded by Ilan Garibi.

Marina

One of the two models that are made from a pentagon, this model is fun to fold.

Although it is rated four stars, the highest possible, I did not encounter any steps that would slow me down. I like the elegance of the result and the way the layers fit nicely.

Marina folded by Jane Rosemarin.

Lucy

This hexagonal model asks for a long precreasing process (about five minutes), but once it is done, everything falls into place with a click.

The photo diagrams are clear, and the model holds its shape due to the tension provided by the location of the back flaps.

Lucy folded by Ilan Garibi.

Alicia

Alicia is a box with a star decoration. The time and work you put in the precreases pays off quickly when you collapse it and petal-fold the corners. It is based on a hexagonal grid and is rated four stars. Again, I would not consider this to be a difficult model, but it is harder than most in the book.

Alicia folded by Ilan Garibi.

Conclusion

If you love stars, this book is a must-have. Carmen creates beautiful models with smart connections and locks that will never fail.

If you are a novice folder, you will be challenged to reach the later models in the book, but the learning curve is not steep. For veteran folders, there is no real challenge, just the fun of folding well-made designs.

Most of the models, for me, are gorgeous, with just a few exceptions. But, as always, you cannot love them all.

The only downside (no English version) is a nonissue for me as I can Google Translate with my phone camera and read origami in every language.

Bottom line — Buy it now!

Managing editor’s note: Since this review was written, the book has sold out at The Source, and because of Covid-19 restrictions, Carmen Sprung is temporarily unable to send copies to stores or individuals in the U.S. Because we have readers from all parts of the world, I made the decision to publish the review now. I will send a note to our mailing list when the book is again available in the U.S. Meanwhile, find someone who has a copy and is willing to Zoom a lesson or two.

On August 26, 2020, this article was updated to correct the spelling of Evelina and to add mention of the supplementary videos available online.

— Jane Rosemarin