Scene 1: The Silence Before the Grand Nutella Opening
I may be breaking a Free Masons secret by telling you this story.
On the last day of the 2013 CDO convention, around 3am, a new jar of Nutella materializes on the table. Fewer than 20 people are there; most but not all of them are Italians. A hush is heard, and it takes a few seconds until there is a total silence. Sara Giarrusso name, the Archbishop, is holding the jar and slowly considering if it's quiet enough to start. It's not. Some more hushes, and again everybody’s looking at Sara's hands. Yes, there is a movement; she turns the cover very slowly, and then - you won't believe how many ways you can imitate the sound of the opening of a new Nutella jar - chchchchceeee; tsrsrsrsrs and ffffvvvvee - stops again; there is not enough silence for the master of ceremonies to continue. Again, Sara waits and when satisfied, keeps on rotating; you can cut the tension in the air with a plastic spoon, a spoon just like those that most participants of this holy ritual happen to be holding in their hands. Suddenly, a chrchrchrchr sound breaks the silence and the cover is disconnected from the jar. But, wait, there is still the foil cover to handle! A tooth pick, a bone folder, and even a sandal are all handed to Sara to help, but a Swiss Army knife is the chosen tool. Finally, the jar is open, and by an order no stranger can understand, the spoons are filled with chocolate and given back to be licked with a satisfying smile.
Cerco la mia scarpa
Imagine: just after 3am, a huge hall with plenty of tables all colorfully covered with papers of every size and shape. Most are unmanned. On one table there is an open jar of Nutella. At a far corner a group of people are huddling around a table or two, folding a smiling fox, and Sonia Pilan, a young marathon runner and an enthusiastic origamist, is walking like a sleepwalker, calling out, "I am looking for my shoe!"
Are you getting it? The Italian way is somewhat strange, but for sure it's addictive! Here I find myself at the 31st CDO convention in a small place, Tabiano Bagni, too small to be called a town.
This report will not follow any strict rules as you may have noticed. We call it doing things the Italian way.
Scene 2: Orimpiad Games
Well, as I see it, I am the new world champion of foot folding. Using my feet only, I completed a flapping bird and managed to flap its wings at least two whole seconds before all the other competitors, including Pasquale D`Auria the up until now undefeated champion. But the Italian judges thought differently. According to them it was a perfect tie and to choose the winner I was invited to the stage for a duel. Folding the fortune teller may sound simple, but I was not able to par with my nemesis and lost.
Just before, I had received second place with Herman Van Goubergen in a competition folding an elephant action model, each of us using a right hand only. In another contest - folding a model from memory after the diagrams had been projected slide by slide, each slide for three seconds only - I was disqualified although I had finished first, only because my cat was ugly; imagine that! Who said looks matter? They said "be the first to finish," which I definitely was.
The first contest was my favorite: The Three Monkeys. From a group of three, one person can see the diagrams and give verbal instructions to the second. The second should explain the steps to the folder (myself, in our trio) in pantomime only. Finishing first was not enough for us to win, but we did get third place as our model was third closest in its resemblance to the desired model - a cross shape with a color change.
One of the prizes I got was an issue of the French origami magazine, Le Pli, from 1985. Surprisingly enough, on the cover was an image of Dave Brill. He was surprised to see himself drawn on the cover when I asked him to sign it for me later in the convention.
Scene 3: The Man Who Taught Me the Best Model at Convention
In every convention, there is always that one model that makes you grin endlessly with a stupid smile. For me it was a little airplane that flies back to you like a boomerang. Ravi Apte will be forever remembered as the man who taught me that model, but, alas, did not know who is the creator. For Claudia Maroska it was a dog, its creator still a mystery, that Anja Markiewicz managed to reverse engineer and teach her. For Sarika Jain it was a rose folded with Naomiki Sato, one of the convention's honored guests. For Roberto Gretter, CDO President, it was a Quill Pen learned from its creator, Hoàng Tiến Quyết, another special guest. Viviane Berty, MFPP President, chose a modular, Vario Ball, by Christine Blasek, taking some hours to complete it slowly as she captivated the curves of the model while using only straight creases. For Ralf Konrad it was the Shadowfold class with Jeff Rutzky: his first ever fabric tessellation, made with stitching. How many times have you attended an origami class with iron as your bone folder?
Scene 4: Puzzles all over
On a table there are ten origami models. Among them a cube, a single leaf, a dog with only one spot, a crane on a string, and three models incorporating the numeral 1. Our task was to figure out the concept they all serve, and explain how each model fits.
Seeing the cube, I was sure it was Paul Jackson’s Cube, and the rainbow colors of the crane convinced me that the concept was "Origami Designers," as Jeremy Shafer always comes with colorful cloth. Although I was wrong, my explanation for the big and small 1's must be presented here. The bigger 1 could represent Roberto Gretter, for him being the greater one and the smallest 1 is again for Roberto Gretter, for him being the smallest one...
Anyway, I was wrong. The concept was actually One Tile Tangram. Making a long story short, all the models were minimal versions of famous puzzles or challenges. So the cube was actually a 1x1x1 Rubik's cube, the dog was a Dalmatian with a single spot, the number 1 was a simple sudoku, and the flat square box was a one tile tangram. They also had a one leaf clove but they forgot the Single Unit Modular I designed some time ago...
We could find more puzzles in a booklet we all got for free from Francesco Mancini, known from his puzzles series here in The Fold. Even more puzzles could be found on the dinner tables, shaped with toothpicks. Try your hand at this one, just to get the hang of such a dinner.
Scene 5: Dassa! DAY LEHAFRIA!!
This time I decided to extend my stay by a day. I just couldn't think without extreme jealousy of the people that were sitting by the folding tables, folding, while I was hugging friends goodbye at past conventions. On this very last night, we had an after party. Sitting around the table were a Slovakian, German, Vietnamese, French, Israeli, and two Italians. Noticing that, Dassa wondered out loud what language could have developed if we were together for a long enough period of time. To test that I conducted an origami lesson in a special way: each of us talking in our respective mother tongue. I taught Joel Stern’s classic class, with a catapult, basketball hoop, and free folding balls, a set of models most didn't know before, and one that never fails to bring a smile and energy to any class. Although I spoke only Hebrew, it was one hundred percent successful! Though there were no scientific results to this experiment, the fact is that Origami is an international language that can bring people from all around the world together to enjoy each other’s company and just be happy.
Scene 6: Even a Six Day Long Convention Ends
I came one day early and stayed one extra day, so for me the convention was six days in total, and still it ended way too fast. On the flight home I tried to understand what is so appealing about the Italian convention, and too many names rushed into my mind: the beautiful Daniela Cilurzo, who will start to study English right after the convention; Stefano D`Erasmo, not yet 18 of age yet highly talented who came to ask me if we can just sit and fold something after dinner; Alessandro Beber, an amazing tessellator; Sonia Pilan - small on the outside, huge on the inside; Hoàng Tiến Quyết, who shared a train with me on the way there, and told me he may be the oldest folder in Vietnam at just 25 years old; Donatella Gishi, who kept hugging me at every possible moment; Gerwin Sturm , who took all the photos for this report; Ralf and Sarika, Anja, Anna, Robin, Hilli, Francesco, both Decio and Mancini, Viviane, Robert, Roberto, Alex, Federico, Ricardo, Alessandra, Sara... Well, I have to stop somewhere, but this list is far from finished.
I Almost Forgot...
Oh, did I mention the free Parmesan?
Well, an article without a diagram is like a fish without a bicycle, isn't it? Click here for diagrams of a cat named Fluffy by Ioana Stoian & Roberto Gretter.