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Book review: "Origami All Kinds: Single Sheet and Modular Designs" by Meenakshi Mukerji


The book's cover

This is the seventh origami book by Meenakshi Mukerji, but it is the first that includes models from three vastly different areas of origami: single-sheet designs, tessellations, and modulars. This distinction is also reflected in the structure of the book: after providing useful tips in the chapter Origami Basics, Parts I, II and III present models from the three different areas respectively.

Origami Basics

The first eight pages are devoted to a quite wonderful introduction. Mukerji does not just include the usual explanation of folding symbols, but takes it a step further. She talks about recommended tools and gives insightful tips on how to get the best results for modular designs. It doesn't stop there. Then follows a list of commonly used paper types for origami and an extended section with details on folding symbols and how to fold bases used throughout the book. The diagrams are, as we've come to expect from Mukerji, of a very high quality. Indeed, the whole book is printed in color, which doesn't just make it visually more appealing, but also helps distinguish the front and reverse of the paper, making the diagrams even easier to follow.

This chapter is nicely finished off with a polyhedra coloring chart, which is super helpful if you want to achieve an even color distribution in modulars. Meenakshi includes colorings not just for the icosahedron (30 modules, triangular faces with 5 modules meeting in every point), but also for cubes (12 modules, square faces with 3 modules meeting in every point), octahedrons (12 modules, triangular faces with 4 modules meeting in every point) and dodecahedrons (30 modules, pentagonal faces with three modules meeting in every point). And for each polyhedron she provides schematics for a different number of colors. For example, for the icosahedron you get a guide for how to place the modules when using three, five, or six colors. Altogether, this chapter gives valuable information and already shows how thoughtfully Mukerji put together this book.

Part I: Single Sheet Designs

Our high expectations set by both Mukerji's previous publications and the first chapter Origami Basics is easily met as we dive into the first part, which concentrates on models folded from a single sheet of paper. The diagrams are clear and even include paper recommendations (size and color/pattern) where relevant. The chapter starts with a Fancy Frog and a peacock Mayur, then a plethora of 14 beautiful flowers follows. As can already be seen on the cover of the book, Mukerji also includes some stunning ikebana photos, which provide striking ideas for displaying the models. For a sneak peek of Mukerji's design aesthetic, you can also watch video tutorials on two of the flowers presented in the book: the Hydrangea with Leaves and the Sunflower.

Part I concludes with a guest contribution by Jorge Jaramillo, the Progressive Flower, which is a recursive design reminiscent of Chris Palmer's Flower Tower. It shares the same first steps as another model diagrammed in the book, Mukerji's Star of Wonder. It's worth mentioning here that Mukerji presents multiple models in the book that share folding sequences up to a point. By referencing the already diagrammed steps, Mukerji manages to pack even more content into the 110 pages of the book than you might have initially expected.

Part II: Tessellations


Star Diamond Tessellation folded and photographed by M. Mukerji

Ten years ago many people did not know origami tessellations. Now they have become quite popular, so this chapter is a really nice addition. The chapter starts with a one-page, condensed introduction to tessellations on a square grid. This might seem short, but it is concise and answers some important questions. In particular, Mukerji gives a formula with which you can easily determine which grid to start with once you have decided how many molecules (repetitions of the common pattern) you want to fold, how much space you want to leave between them, and how wide the border should be. This is extremely helpful not just for the tessellations presented in the book, but for the multitude of other tessellations you might want to fold.

Then follow seven different tessellations on a square grid. Rather than providing full diagrams, Mukerji gives general instructions. Diagrams for the bases of the molecules are provided - six of the seven start with a 4-Sink base, the final one with a Crossed Box Pleat. Then shaping details are borrowed from models diagrammed elsewhere in the book.

To me, this is a great way to introduce tessellations, as it exemplifies how you can start creating your own tessellations: first, find a pattern that meets the basic requirements for a molecule; then tessellate it; finally, play around with the shaping to receive many different finishes.

Part III: Modular Designs


Dream Flower folded and photographed by M. Mukerji

We all know Meenakshi Mukerji for her stunning, modular designs. This chapter introduces 27 of them, plus variations. This should keep modular enthusiasts happy for a while!

Interestingly, only a third of the models start with a square, the others require rectangles of different proportions. Thankfully, cutting the paper to the right proportions is easy in most cases. The rectangles used are usually either variable, so no precise cutting is required, are half squares, or easily cut from strips as also diagrammed in detail in the book. Some models can even be folded from squares, provided they are sufficiently small, as the deviation from the required rectangle is small enough then. The size recommendations given throughout the book are especially appreciated here. And of course Mukerji also added diagrams on how to cut the paper to the exact proportion when using larger paper.

Plus, let's be honest, when we see the beautiful results, a bit of extra work doesn't deter us, does it? And as photos are included for all models presented in the book, we can admire the models and whet our appetites for that next fold!

Conclusion

With Origami All Kinds: Single Sheet and Modular Designs, Meenakshi Mukerji has published another great book for us to enjoy. It is particularly nice to see a book that touches three quite different areas of origami. At the same time, Mukerji manages to bring them together beautifully, sharing design concepts and folding steps. In particular, tessellations serve as a pleasantly surprising connecting piece.

The 110-page, full-color book presents 50 models plus variations, providing not just clear diagrams, but also valuable information all around folding - be it on how to get a nice finish on modulars, which paper to use, or how to determine which grid to use for a tessellation, just to name a few. Altogether, a truly wonderful book!

For more information on the book, including a table of contents, photos of folded models and where to buy the book, visit Meenakshi Mukerji's website and in particular her page on the book. And, of course, Origami All Kinds is also available at OrigamiUSA's The Source!