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what is origami?

By Edited Apr 14, 2014 0 0

  Origami is the art of paper-folding that is believed to have originated in China. Origami is a Japanese word that means “paper folding”. “Ori” means “folding” and “kami” means “paper”. “Kami” changes into “gami” because of rendaku rules.

  Modern Origami is the art of folding a piece of paper into a model without cutting the paper or using glue. If you fold and cut the paper then you are using a style of paper-folding that is similar to origami called kirigami. “Kiri” means “cutting” in English, therefore “kirigami” means “paper cutting” in English.

origami figures

  It is believed that origami started in China and spread to Japan in the 17th century. During this time origami was a hobby for the rich because paper strong enough for folding was rare and to expensive for most people. Origami became part of the Japanese heritage and was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth because there were no written instructions. It did not start to become popular outside Japan until the mid 1900’s.

Origami book

Book with folding diagrams

  The first book about origami called “senbazuru orikata” which translates into English as “How to fold a thousand cranes” was first printed in Japan in 1797. In 1845 a series of books on Japanese culture called “Kayaragusa”, or “Window on Midwinter” in English, was published that contained around 150 different origami models. These books along with cheaper paper helped make origami a mainstream hobby in Japan.

  During the mid to late 1900’s origamist Akira Yoshizawa took origami to the nest level creating works of art with just paper-folding, he did not use scissors or glue on his models. Yoshizawa is considered by most to be the grandfather of the modern origami movement. He invented the technique of wet-folding and created diagram folding patterns using symbols and lines to help explain how to fold models. This system, called the Yoshizawa-Randlett system, is still being used around the world today.

Akira Yoshizawa

  As the art of origami has gained in popularity, several different folding styles and techniques have been developed, one of these techniques is called wet-folding. Wet-folding is the technique of getting the paper wet with water and keeping it wet during folding. This gives the model a natural look that can’t be achieved with dry folding.

  Another type of origami is called modular origami which involves folding several modules that are similar and then assembling them to form the final model. A variation of this is called 3D origami where a large number of units are combined to form complex models.

Exquisite Modular Origami

Exquisite Modular Origami

  Pureland is a style of origami that is limited to simple valley and mountain folds. It was designed to help people new to origami learn to fold some basic models before trying more advanced models.  

  Today origami is a hobby that is easy to learn and has grown in popularity among a wide range of people with different backgrounds. It is exciting to take a piece of paper and turn it into a work of art using just basic folding techniques.

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