You are here

The Dilemma of Origami

by Jack Gibson

They're everywhere, those pieces of folded paper: frogs, birds, boxes, dogs, stars, all sorts of products that need a place to be displayed. What is a folder supposed to do? Over the fifty years of folding, I've learned how to give away some of my work. On an airplane where there's someone peering back at me over the seats, I pass over an Origami crane. In the waiting room of a doctor or dentist, it's not difficult to find a face to brighten with a peacock. There are, however, a lot of creations that I just can't part with. Here's how I solved a portion of my dilemma.

After folding my perfunctory 1000 cranes, I knew I was obsessed. If I didn't locate somewhere to contribute my work, I would have to add an additional room. Fortunately, there was a children's section in our town library that was preparing to decorate their tree for Christmas. Was I in luck, an instant donation was made. At the office, there are always some people who collect animal figures. I've been asked to provide rabbits, frogs, turtles, and elephants. Again, I'm happy to oblige. But what do you do with all the other well-crafted objects?

I've learned that the longer you leave a fold exposed to light the faster they tend to fade. What a horrible slow death to your creation. They also tend to collect dust. If you line them up on the windowsill, you soon run out of space. And how long will they last when kitty decides you've made them a new play toy?

Over the years I have stored models in shoe boxes and cigar boxes. They are sturdy and help prevent accidental crushing, but sometimes it's not easy to find any specific model. After completing Jun Maekawa's Devil you don't need it to get lost in all the boxes. My solution, clear plastic. Some boxes were made to store shoes while some can be used to display your work.

Left: Goat by Roman Diaz. Right: Ostrich by Robert Harbin.

I'm always on the lookout for a display box. Recently I went to the local scrap exchange and for $5 I was able to load up on small gift boxes and sheets of refrigerator magnets. Using a glue gun I took a lid and magnet and created an instant frame. Finding the perfect cicada, I centered the fold and now have it on display on the refrigerator. The box became another magnet for a larger fold. When I want to change my display, I just close the box and have two models safely contained. Some of my bug models I have attached to magnets so they can quickly be attached to metal doors or certain whiteboards.

Then there are my shadowboxs prominently on display over my desk at work and around the house. One contains a series of "bill" folds of animals. Another contains miniatures made out of brightly colored sheets. Storing these neatly in a closet makes switching the display a breeze. I once converted a 20-gallon aquarium into a display case.

Angel fish by John Montroll.

Lately I have impressed my librarian who is more than willing to offer a display case in the entryway.

Library display.

Modular folds are great conversation pieces and are easy to add to the display, but storage can sometimes be a problem. Finding just the right container can be a challenge. I don't like having to dismantle something I've painstakingly constructed. I usually try to create a piece that is small enough to fit into one of my storage boxes.

I look forward to every annual folding event. It provides the perfect way to share. During the Wildlife Conservation Origami Challenge I even was able to reduce my stash of paper while contributing to a very worthy cause. It seems that the more I fold, the more paper people want to give me. It's a wonderful thing to know there's always another model to master and another annual event to make a donation. I'm constantly on the lookout for another container or shadowbox.

Jack Gibson

OrigamiUSA member 127