Three weeks ago a wonderful new origami book arrived at my doorstep: Origami for All – Elegant Designs from Simple Folds featuring designs by Ioana Stoian, diagrammed by Eric Gjerde. It was mere hours before I had to leave for a trip, and with me still having to pack there was only time for some first impressions. Oh, but what great first impressions this book left with me. When first holding the book in my hands and leafing through it, it was immediately clear this had to be a self-publication.
The Book Itself
Check origamiforall.com for details on where to buy the book
This rating is not criticism, no, it's high praise. It's the details that make it obvious. The paper it's printed on, for example, is exquisite. Big publishers will usually prefer standard paper over more expensive variants. I assume it doesn't pay off in the general case. However, there's something special about origami books. Many that buy them don't just love to fold paper, they also love paper itself. So feeling the great quality of the paper while leafing through the book is a true pleasure to me. I couldn't stop myself from stroking the cover and the pages carefully several times, enjoying the feel of the paper, smiling to myself.
There are other hints of the great quality of this first publication by Busy Hands Books, which was specifically set up to publish Origami for All. The subtitle of the book, Elegant Designs from Simple Folds carries through not only in the origami designs – more on that later – but also in the presentation of the book. The cover is held deliberately simple, featuring a line drawing of one of Ioana's designs also presented in the book, a penguin. It is dark blue, just like the print inside - another detail that gives this book its own character. Elegant is definitely one of the terms that I'd use to describe the book.
I'll add one more detail I appreciated greatly when folding models from the book – the joint, a score line by the back of the book to ease opening the book, letting the cover neatly open along it. It's always bothersome when you fold from a book and the book keeps on closing on you. While I cannot say that the book lies open with ease – it is a soft cover book after all – it does stay open much better than most other books in this format.
Presentation of the Designs
Only after my trip could I sit down and study the book further, as well as fold some models. Ok, I'll admit – saying some is a lie. I folded all 16 models within two days, the first couple in an evening, and the remaining the next morning. Unusually for me, I started with the first design, and folded all models in the order presented in the book. Each fold was such a pleasure that I didn't want to skip any of the models to skip to that one favorite model I often identify with other books.
True to its subtitle the designs are simple, and yes, elegant. The diagrams are very clear, Eric Gjerde did a wonderful job presenting Ioana Stoian's designs in a very accessible way. No explanatory text accompanies the step diagrams, and there is no need – a testimony to the quality of the diagrams. This also enabled Ioana and Eric to present the book in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese. The introduction, the pages explaining all folding symbols and basic folds, as well as all names of the designs presented are translated into these five languages. Finally, being able to omit adjoining text makes the presentation that tad more elegant, that simple elegance that can only be achieved with a minimalistic approach. Ah, I suppose it's obvious I quickly and deeply fell in love with the book, and I haven't even really talked about the designs themselves yet.
You must not expect highly complex designs, nor does the book claim to include those. Rather, each piece is simple, yet beautiful. In that, I think it is a book that is highly suitable for beginners, as well as all origami lovers with an affinity for elegant and minimalistic models. Some models remind me of traditional designs, which often have that same feel to them. I'd say you can fold these models in two ways: first, as a simple, quick fold, which works from just about any paper you have at hand; or second, with carefully selected paper to make the true beauty of these simple folds speak clearly, but yet in a soothing voice of serenity.
You can view a full table of contents on www.origamiforall.com. It features photos of each design, which may better show what I tried to express in words. Maria Sinayskaya from goorigami.com nicely displays how Ioana Stoian's designs blossom when folded from complementing paper. See her folds of the bracelet, the heart, the monk, the fish, and last but not least the penguin.
The accompanying site to the book, www.origamiforall.com, also features some sample diagrams, namely for the heart, the fish, and the only model that requires some cuts, the bat. Additionally, various sources for buying the book are listed on www.origamiforall.com/buy – which includes online stores in Europe, USA, and Japan. You can also purchase directly from The Source.
Words from Ioana Stoian
I'd like to end this review by adding an excerpt from an email reply I received from Ioana after I congratulated her and Eric on the fantastic book they had put together.
“Origami for All is meant to look and feel like a school book from the 50s-60s. It is to be used and abused, put in a bag, taken on the bus, shared with friends and family. It's not a book that's supposed to spend its life on a dusty bookshelf!”
To this I can only say: If school books of the 50s and 60s looked like Origami for All, then, man, those were beautiful books indeed! And I will be sure to help make Ioana's wish come true, and take Origami for All with me on many occasions. With the enchanting simplicity of her designs, I am sure to delight my fellow folding friends, as well as introduce novice folders to the wonderful world of origami with ease.