Edited by Jane Rosemarin
  • Title: Modular Origami
  • Author: Tung Ken Lam
  • Publisher: Schiffer Craft (April 28, 2023)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7643-6551-5
  • Binding: Paperback, section sewn
  • Pages: 128
  • Printing: Full color

The book is nicely presented, with velvet lamination on the cover and with good use of spot UV varnish, giving the title and photographs a glossy, vibrant finish. It measures approximately 8½ by 10 inches and is about ½-inch thick, with a section sewn binding (each signature sewn and glued along the spine), this allows the book to be opened out without damaging the spine. There are large, bright pictures, clear diagrams and written instructions for each project.

The book starts with the table of contents, listing the 18 different models (each model is a “project”) across three chapters: “Rings and Stars,” “Polyhedra” and “Action Models.” Following the table of contents, there’s a detailed introduction and a “Getting Started” chapter. As part of the introduction, there’s a comprehensive list of useful terms, which is thorough, although a little math heavy. Having said that, this book is all about modular origami, and a basic understanding of the mathematical concepts and the underlying polyhedra is necessary in order to build many of the models. “Getting Started” covers everything that you need to know, from paper choice to symbols and sizing paper. Although this chapter assumes no prior knowledge, I think a complete novice may find some of the projects a little challenging.

The first chapter of models, “Rings and Stars,” contains four projects (two flat, and two 3D) ranging from five to twelve pieces. I chose to fold WXYZ, a 12-piece model in the form of four intersecting triangular planes. I must admit, though, I should have used the recommended paper size, as folding a smaller version proved very challenging, especially during assembly.

WXYZ by Tung Ken Lam. Folded by Edward Holmes.

The next chapter, “Polyhedra,” contains seven projects comprising a mixture of traditional, original and other peoples’ designs. Being a fan of geometry and polyhedra, and having whetted my appetite with the previous model, I was keen to fold several models from this chapter. The first of these was the Snub Dodecahedron on the cover. Tung Ken first shows how to fold the modules and then proceeds to explain how four different models can be assembled using different numbers of these modules.

Snub Dodecahedron by Tung Ken Lam. Folded by Edward Holmes.

The second project that I folded from this chapter was Dodecahedron No. 14 by Silvana Betti Mamino from Italy. The module was very simple to fold, and although the model required 30 pieces, it was relatively easy to assemble, with pleasing results. Tung Ken shows with clear diagrams how to evenly distribute five different colors.

Dodecahedron No. 14 by Silvana Betti Mamino. Folded by Edward Holmes.

Before moving on to the final chapter of models, I chose to jump back a little and fold Spiral Cube, also pictured on the cover. Although the model is visually appealing, there are some very small folds, and the assembly was particularly challenging. The finished model, however, is visually stimulating and demonstrates nicely how four colors can be used to good effect when folding a cube. As a perfectionist, I don’t like seeing the small slivers of white that occasionally showed, even with careful folding, but this could be easily eliminated by using a mono-colored paper.

Spiral Cube by Tung Ken Lam. Folded by Edward Holmes.

The final projects chapter, “Action Models,” contains six projects. I decided to fold Robert Neale’s classic Skeletal Octahedron, made from six waterbomb bases. Although I’m familiar with this model, I found the instructions to be very clear, particularly when it came to the assembly, which can be tricky. The model spins when held gently between the palms of your hands … again, a pleasing result.

Skeletal Octahedron by Robert Neale. Folded by Edward Holmes

What sets this book apart from other modular origami books is the clear mathematical explanations given throughout. Of particular interest to some people may be the final chapter, “Going Further,” which describes in detail how you can create your own models by adapting other designs (working through several what-if scenarios). The last section of this chapter is a comprehensive list of Further Reading. The book concludes with a bibliography.

To summarize, “Modular Origami” is a nicely presented book that contains an interesting selection of both original models and classics from other designers, each accompanied with clear diagrams and written instructions. The models range from simple to high intermediate and are grouped into categories, so it’s well worth dipping in and out, picking models that appeal to you. And if you can’t quite manage a model on your first attempt, put it down and come back to it, be it the next day, or in a few weeks’ time. This book is available worldwide, through Amazon, and worth adding to your collection, especially if you’re passionate about polyhedra.