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Origami Designer's Secrets: Tine De Ruysser

Edited by Patsy Wang-Iverson

Tine De Ruysser, Belgium.
This image by Rik De Ruysser
All other images by Tine De Ruysser


Figure 6


Here is a first - Tine is more a jewelry designer than an origamist. And still, her story is uniquely interesting to the origami community. As most of us never think to cross the paper barrier, Tine`s story may make you reconsider. Her handywork is absolutely stunning, and by using not only paper, she creates masterpieces. Since the first time I googled "Metal Origami" I wanted to ask her - "how did you do it" and finally, she agreed to answer!

Who is Tine De Ruysser? Please tell me in five sentences what I must know about you.

Tine: I have always been creative, but had a hard time deciding whether I should study Science or the Arts. I chose an Art Jewelry course at University, but a part-time course in Textiles and an almost scientific way of thinking have taken my work out of the jewelry-box into a PhD in Wearable Metal Origami. I have met many challenges to make my work, the latest one is the cutest and most irresistible one: my son. So now I’m trying to find a new balance between family-life, folding and other work.

Unlike your readers, first you are a jewelry designer, and only second, or even farther away, comes origami. What is origami to you? Why were you interested in origami? What was your first model to fold?

Tine: I don’t remember my first fold, but I think it was a hat or a boat in preschool. I liked origami, and had a few origami-books, but it did not appeal more than any other art or craft form when I was a child and teenager. My work did not evolve out of an interest in origami, but out of a desire to create a beehive-like structure out of a single sheet of paper. Unwittingly, I designed a tessellating origami pattern. It took me years before I found out it was tessellating origami, and that many more patterns were possible. Up to that point, I thought of my pattern as something unique, and was only interested in finding a way to make it in more durable (and wearable) materials. It took me a long time before I even wanted to label my work as origami, since I thought of that word as only describing figurative paper sculptures. Now that I know it is also about mathematics, science and abstract designs, it is more appealing!

What is your muse? What drives your creation process? This goes to your work in general, and origami-inspired works in particular. Do you fold other people's models or try to create your own paper models? If so, do you have a favorite designer?

Tine: I get really excited when I try to figure out how something works. I enjoy raising questions and trying out new combinations of techniques and materials, hoping to find something new, something different from what is already out there. This is what drove me to make the Wearable Metal Origami collection.
The money-jewelry collection is not about technique, but about raising the ethical issues of how we perceive and use money.
The two different approaches to creating work complement each-other and this works well for me.
I have used tessellating origami patterns designed by other artists, but the money jewelry is all designed by me.

TineDR bracelet

Copper Cone


As a jewelry designer, can you tell us what makes you different from others? What is your unique signature? Your master piece in wearable metal origami, are you going to explore more in that direction?

Tine: I have two collections. There are other jewelers and origami artists creating work from banknotes, even if they do not try to convey the same message as I. So even though the work is recognizably mine, it is the wearable metal origami collection that most sets me apart from others. I do want to explore this further, by using more refined folding patterns, creating new shapes and introducing more materials than copper on the textile… It will take me a while to work out the details.

I have seen your masterpiece, as well as the bracelets and vases. All are stunning and inspiring. The metal facets, and the fabric that is seen in between create a wonderful effect. Can you shed some light on your process of work?

Tine: For the Wearable Metal Origami collection, I was driven to find a way for making tessellating origami wearable or useful for the creation of decorative objects. I specifically wanted to use the wonderful movements these patterns make between unfolded and folded state to accentuate and decorate the body. This involved exploring tessellating origami patterns, making my own classification on how they ‘move’, and discovering how I could use these different sorts of shape-changes for the creation of wearable pieces. But another critical aspect was the technical development of a durable material that was suitable for wearing on the body. I invented a metal-textile laminate that looks like metal, but has fabric hinges to ensure that the material remains flexible in its movements. This material is made by partially metalizing a piece of fabric. The metal stiffens the fabric in the places where paper would be unfolded in an origami pattern. There is no metal where the crease lines are, so the bare fabric works like a hinge and allows for the material to be folded. The process for applying metal to the fabric is rather long-winded. It involves making the fabric electrically conductive (by applying metal inks) in a specially adapted pattern, and then immersing the fabric into an acid-solution bath containing metal particles. An electric current running through the bath makes the metal particles adhere to the conductive parts of the fabric, building up a thin stiff layer. Afterwards the fabric is folded.
The other laminated textile materials always have platelets (the stiff parts) laser cut and glued to the fabric.

Dollar Necklace

Shoulder Cape

World Necklace

What materials do you usually use? Why? Will you try to make more paper jewelry? You fold money bills from all over the world. Which is the best from the origami point of view? What is your favorite material?

Tine: The materials I choose for wearable metal origami, and why I choose them are explained above. In the banknote-collection, I have just created a new design for a money-brooch: a fish. Like the bird and the butterfly, it is folded from one banknote, using two magnets to turn it into a magnetic brooch. I like using any banknote, with a preference for the more symmetrical designs (such as the U.S.A. dollar bill, and the banknotes from the Far East). The polymer notes (from Australia and Hong Kong) are not suitable for the brooches, as the creases unfold very easily. I will keep on using banknotes, and hope one day to get a commission to make a necklace from 200€ notes. (they are such a lovely colour!)

Do you have a motto in your life? Is there a message in your designs? What do you want to tell the designer community?

Tine: In the jewelry collection, I ask questions about our perceived value of gold and jewelry, and about the reasons we want to own as much as possible and show off our wealth. I hope to make people think of how money and consumerism affect their daily lives and those of others. I don’t provide the answers, because it is the questions that are important, and that people start thinking about them.
The Wearable Metal Origami collection is a search for patterns, techniques and design-possibilities. So it is much more self-centered, dealing with aesthetics rather than concept.
Clearly, both collections are very different. They highlight different aspects of my ways of thinking.
I don’t have a motto, or any fantastic advice for other designers, I just get on with what I feel I need to do…

I am sure there is one model of yours that you would like to point out for us. Which one is it, and please tell us why you chose it?

Tine: The shoulder-cape is my best-known piece. It shows the qualities of Wearable Metal Origami the best: it shapes itself to the body, and has a striking look. It comes closest to what I want to achieve with this collection.

Is there one last question I should have asked? Ask yourself, but don’t answer. Just let us know what is the question.

Tine: How will you enable yourself to move forward in your work as fast as you would like to go? To create new pieces and find new ways of making them?

Editor's Note: De Ruysser's paper in Origami\(^6\), Wearable Metal Origami, will be available at the AMS (American Mathematical Society) website.

Name Tine De Ruysser
Place of residence Antwerp, Belgium
Profession Tutor/Lecturer Jewelry design and self-employed artist
Email info [at]
Website Click here

-Ilan Garibi