Edited by Patsy Wang-Iverson

Editorial Note: This article is republished from the website of Leyla Torres; used with permission.

My hair is long and I often wear it in braid. Last year I saw this origami girl, with her brown long braided hair, on a poster, announcing the Pacific Coast OrigamiUSA Convention (PCOC) 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I knew my inner playful girl was calling me to attend. Origami conventions are always fun!

If you attended PCOC 2013, this post and accompanying video will help recall some great memories. You might even spot yourself in some of the footage!

If you were not in Albuquerque, my hope is that this post will motivate you to consider attending a future origami convention.

So... these are my memories of a great origami convention in Albuquerque, NM, Oct 4-7 2013.

A - Amazing Hosts
L - Lavish Origami Decorations and Goodies
B – Beautiful Setting
U – Uncommon Exhibition
Q – Quadruple Fun
U – Unique Thematic Publication
E – Excellent Class Choices
R – Resounding Pin-Exchange Success
Q – Quality and Quantity of Special Guests
U – Unforgetable Side Activities and Tour
E – Enchanting Last-Night Pizza Party

Amazing Hosts

To describe this convention, I must start by naming its amazing hosts. Led by Patty Grodner, the Albuquerque Origami Society worked diligently to put together a grand event. And they succeeded, BIG TIME!

A round of applause to Patty Grodner, Bunny Sanchez, Vicki Bolen, Dawn & Brian Jackson, Annette Hatch, Ema Tanigaki, Andy Wilson, Mary Saunders, Raphael Perea, Jason Stearns and Sara Cole.

Lavish Origami Decorations and Goodies

The Marriott Pyramid Hotel, site of the convention, was profusely decorated with a multitude of origami balloons, origami hot peppers, origami coyotes, origami cacti, banners and posters. In addition, all attendees were given a small folded bag full of origami goodies, candy, and an origami folder with a program. The Arizona group also contributed with a present for each attendee.

At the banquet on Saturday, each table was decorated with a lovely bowl at the center, designed by Robert Lang and Vicki Bolen, and folded by Any Wilson. Each banquet guest received a small triangular box filled with candy made by Linda Smith.

Beautiful Setting

Albuquerque is New Mexico's largest city with a population of over 500,000. It straddles the Rio Grande at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. Its mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo people affords the visitor a wonderful variety of cultural experiences. The region is blessed with dramatic scenery and 310 days of SUNSHINE every year. As expected, the gods of weather graced us with four days of sunshine, blue skies, and mild temperatures.

Uncommon Exhibition

All special guests and other origami artists exhibited their most recent origami work. I'd like to highlight the "Albuquerque Kingdom" a display by Yuri Shumakov and Katrin Ray. Their work was a fantastic origami rendition of the Albuquerque's Old Town Church - San Felipe de Neri. Around the church there was a park with many figures representing people, gardens, and hot air balloons. No glue or cutting used!

Another unusual display was a lovely homage to the work of Norman K. Schide (1925 -2007). Norman was a paper folder, teacher and mentor to many origami practitioners. He used flat origami models to create a large collection of inspiring greeting card designs which were shown on several panels. You may see them in the video. A book with Norman's designs was published and is offered through the The Source.

Quadruple Fun

Over two hundred people gathered at this Origami USA convention for four days of inspired fun, during which I was transported to another dimension. No sooner had I stepped into the hotel on my first day, I saw groups of people busy folding. In no time I integrated myself into one of these groups as well.

On Friday we had workshops on topics related to paper folding such as how to create origami diagrams, origami jewelry, making and preparing paper, and map folding.

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to regular classes for learning how to fold a broad range of origami models. On Saturday morning and Sunday evening I attended the Annual Balloon Fiesta. What a special treat and visual feast that was! Wow!

For Monday there was a post-conference tour. Read more on these extra activities below and see pictures on the video.

Unique Thematic Publication

A themed origami book, with a collection of Southwestern origami models, was published for this convention. This volume includes diagrams from the special guests and from many other origami artists.

Some of the models appearing in the book include six different hot air balloons, New Mexico's Sandia Hairstreak butterfly, a hummingbird, a coyote, a roadrunner, two chili peppers, a cactus, a feather, an alien and many more. For those who could not attend, the book is available through The Source online bookshop at OrigamiUSA.

Excellent Class Choices

I took several classes and learned some other models informally in the main room. I'd like to make a special mention of the class I took with Laura Kruskal. Laura taught a traditional paper canoe and several charming and simple models based on that canoe.

It cannot be overstated what an inspirational gift Laura is to the origami community. She is a wonderful 90-year-young teacher with a great sense of humor who includes singing in her teaching. Here are the lyrics of a verse she composed for the occasion of this PCOC 2013 convention. Laura sung it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Ode to Origami
I’m in picturesque Albuquerque
Sharing my beloved origami.
I’m as happy as I can be
When I am folding origami.
Folders everywhere will agree
We’re a happy family.

I learned many other models from different teachers such as Beth Johnson (sheep), Alrene Gorshov (woven box), Char Morrow (map folding), Virgil Manning (dollar-bill teddy bear and balloon shirt), Rachel Katz (cat and sewing kit), José Tomás Buitrago (rocking horse) Cathy Wilimzig (rabbit and star).

I also got in on the teaching action myself and taught a Hot Chili Pepper and a Calla Lily. To my surprise and satisfaction both of these classes sold out and were filled with lively and skillful groups of people.

Resounding Pin-Exchange Success

Shrikant Lyer took on the task of organizing this convention's origami pin exchange. To make pins participants choose appropriate origami models, made very small versions of these models, and attach them to a clasped pin.

The pin exchange has become a delightful and lively tradition at many conventions I've attended in the last few years. Shrikant made the exchange at PCOC 2013 even more fun by creating a "Facebook event" prior to the convention, and featuring the pins as they were made. It was a pin-perfect event!

In the photo below I feature my three favorite pins. See forty pins in the video!

Quality Special Guests

For an origami convention there are usually no more than two guests. PCOC 2013 had six. Not only quality, but quantity! Six origami artists whose origami design work and teaching experience is making history in the contemporary origami world: Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander, Yuri Shumakov and Katrin Ray, Beth Johnson and Sok Song.

Unforgetable Side-Activities and Tour

The weekend of the convention coincided with the annual 42nd Annual Balloon Fiesta. The convention was scheduled so that we had the time to enjoy the early balloon ascension, which I attended on Saturday morning. I also attended -lucky me!, the Balloon Glow and the Fireworks display on Sunday evening. This spectacular event lit up the sky with color and sparkles and illuminated my spirit for the entire convention.

On Monday, two chartered motor coaches took many conventioneers up the historic Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (Highway 14) to the small town of Cerillos. Our first stop was at the Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden, which is also the studio of sculptor Kevin Box and his charming wife, Jennifer.

Kevin uses origami as a foundation for his large bronze sculptures. One of these "Flight of Folds", was in the studio and represents a collaboration between Kevin Fox and origami artist Robert Lang. What a wonderful piece of work. Watch the video to see Kevin talking about his background, work, and inspiration.

From Kevin's studio, we continued on to Santa Fe, the charmingly famous capital of New Mexico, and the historic Santa Fe Plaza. From here people went in different directions to satisfy their own individual touring choices.

I elected to take a leisurely walk around town and appreciated the great crafts being sold everywhere. Also, I visited the Loretto Chapel to see it's legendary "miraculous staircase". If you've not seen it, and have the opportunity to travel to Sante Fe, I recommend a visit to this special place.

Enchanting Last-Night Pizza Party

To close this very special origami convention, Patty Grodner opened her home and treated all her guests to a pizza party. Among these happy halls and walls, we enjoyed more paper folding, laughter, raffles, and a tour of Patty's impeccably organized origami room; a dream studio to anyone who loves paper folding.

Amid this pizza fueled pageantry, Michael LaFosse taught for the first time a butterfly he'd specially designed in Patty's honor. In the near future, Michael will be publishing diagrams for this model.

From the Land of Enchantment, my return home to Vermont was with a heart filled with happy memories. I also brought a suitcase filled to the brim with origami goodies… much appreciated by my sweet cat, Coco.

Many thanks to Patty, to her team of organizers, and to all the volunteers who made PCOC 2013 a wonderful origami convention.

See you all next time!

-Leyla Torres