Book Review and Diagrams: ‘Spooky Origami’ by Marc Kirschenbaum

Edited by Scott Summers

Editor’s Note: A link to PDF diagrams for the Bat appear in the model’s photo caption below.

What makes a good origami book?

First and foremost: good models. Of those we have plenty, and some are excellent! Second: clear and error-free diagrams. This book is not perfect, and I did find some mistakes or problematic steps, but the majority of diagrams are flawless and clear. And third: a sense of achievement. We need to be challenged to get that. If the models are way too easy, there will be no joy in folding them. This book has many challenging models, especially in the second half.

Spooky Origami” by Marc Kirschenbaum is a good book.

The Technicalities

  • Number of pages: 120
  • Number of diagram pages: 101
  • Number of models: 13
  • Language: English
  • Paper size: 8 by 10 inches
  • Paper quality: Medium

The models are presented in order of difficulty, from simple to complex, but there is no classification system to help folders identify the difficulty level.

The length of the process is a good indicator. The simplest model (Ghost) is also the shortest and has 21 steps. The most complex model (Dracula) reaches 114 steps.

The book gets directly to the folding, offering only a one-page introduction and four pages of symbols. The symbols are clear and simple to understand, following the standard from Marc’s previous books.

The paper size guide.

At the end of the book, you will find a paper-size guide to help you choose the right paper for each model.

A nice bonus is the last section, Materials and Methods, devoted to paper treatment. It includes foil backing, wet-folding, backcoating and dry wiring. The author elaborates on these techniques with clear and detailed instructions.

Diagrams

In general, the diagrams are clear and concise. On most pages, the grid is made of four rows, three steps per row. The symbols are generic, and the arrows are located with greater precision than in previous books by the author (see my reviews for “Origami Fun and Games” and “Advanced Origami Animals”).

The major issue for me was the lack of enlargement in the folding diagrams. In many places, this is highly necessary. There are too many steps, and the details are so tiny that it took me a while to understand what was going on.

Folding

This is the third of Marc’s books that I have reviewed, and I do feel at home already. I realized that a “style” is not only a conceptual term, but also a reality. There is a structural way Marc uses to create the building blocks of the final figure. For example, with Dracula, you first make the teeth, then the eyes, the head and the big coat. I find his method easier to understand when I ask myself, “How did he design that?”

There are rare cases when I am stuck, gazing at the steps, trying to understand the instructions since what I folded was not like the result in the next step. It does cause frustration, but the sigh of relief is in proportion, once you get it. And I did, with all the models I folded.

As always, paper choice is crucial to your success. Luckily, the last section in the book addresses that point directly.

Black Cat

This is a fun model. Quick to fold, clear and simple instructions, and a cute result that brings out the essence of the black cat hissing towards you.

Bat

A cute, bloody, bat. Folded by Ilan Garibi. See PDF diagrams.

You start with the teeth, and then you make everything around it to form a head and wings. Then you have a cute, iconic vampire bat with red teeth in a black head, but only if you choose the right paper.

It is a fun model!

Spider

Spider! Folded by Ilan Garibi.

Yet another simple and good-looking model. The sequence is smooth until you get to the rabbit ears in step 32. It seems Marc disregards the thickness of the paper and asks you to fold too many layers into a rabbit ear. Using simple kami works, but it is a struggle.

The final result is iconic and charming!

Alien

A simple and elegant result. Folded by Ilan Garibi.

Nothing new here. Cute model, with clear and flowing instructions. And to top it all, the model can stand upright.

Witch

Details are overrated! Folded by Ilan Garibi.

I am folding this model while listening to Dave Brill on Origami Talk as he emphasizes the art of avoiding the details and just leaving hints or gestures to allow the viewer to complete the model. This is exactly what this model is about. There are just a few details to represent what a witch is.

The only downside is the obscurity of the last steps. I couldn’t decipher step 47 due to a missing mountain line. Once this was resolved, you could see a huge smile on my face while I enjoyed this extraordinary model.

Dracula

There is no shame in the first try! Folded by Ilan Garibi.

This is the longest model in the book, and it is a good example of Marc’s “No Mercy!” policy.

I started with 40-cm kami, and I was happy to realize it was not too big, as the eyes (probably the most important part) are very small, even with this size.

Step 49 asks for an inside reverse fold, but I misunderstood which layers are the ones to be reversed. Ten minutes of stagnation.

I found it hard to see the little details of step 53.

Step 53 is a perfect example of a highly needed enlargement. Took me two minutes to overcome that.

Step 60 shows mountain lines as thick, full lines. This is not the conventional way to mark them. Those errors stopped me because my eyes are trained to see the dash-dots.

Steps 73-75 are just hard to understand, with changing viewpoints but no clear reference points on each of the three steps to help you orient yourself.

I do need to fold it again if I want to publicly show the result, with a better paper, but there is no shame in the first try!

Conclusion

Knowing how hard it is to produce a book, I love to review books so I can present a positive conclusion. This is a good example of one.

The book does have problems, but you can overcome all because you want to get to the end. The models are cute, funny, and spooky, in a good sense.

I mostly like the fact I can teach them in our OrigamIsrael biweekly meetings and get happy faces on my screen as the feedback for my choices. What better evidence do you need?

Bottom line: an enjoyable book. You should buy it!