Sunday, 8 December 2013

Book Reviews: Origami, Kirgami

Origami: & Other Paper Creations

By Ghylenn Descamps

Search Press

Paperback  £12.99

ISBN 978-1-84448-993-0

Kirigami: The Art of Cutting & Folding Paper

By Ho Huu An & Laurence Arnac

Search Press

Paperback £12.99


Star rating: ***1/2 each

These companion titles are pick-ups from the French publishers of Marie Claire Idées, which is, as far as I am concerned, the classiest craft magazine on the planet – and possibly the universe. Idées contains beautifully conceived, opulently photographed makes, crafty lifestyle and travel features, interspersed with sexy cosmetic ads and ads for cheese and dairy products (culture gap!). I digress. But you can see how my expectations for these papercraft books were sky-high.

There is much to appreciate in these books – and dashes of the expected genius – but I am faintly disappointed by them. That is not to say that they wouldn’t make excellent gifts for papercrafters.


The Origami title is not for purists (the title tag line is the opt-out) – which is fine by me. Origami traditionalists allow only folding and no cutting or embellishment “cheats”. If you bought this book right now, you would find a host of easy-make projects suitable as stocking fillers: the modular origami star hairgrips, some cute tree decorations, and an adorable child’s tea set with a tea kettle and cups  (sweet, but oh-so-simple to make). There’s also an origami crane New Year Card (New Year’s is super-bigtime in France). This is a card with an origami crane stuck on, plus a few paper cut-outs. You could have figured that one out yourself, surely. Same goes for the New Baby Card, which is an aperture card with a cute mini-origami bunny suspended in the opening.  The Sweetie Bags with papercord handles are sweet, indeed.

A few of the projects are nicely photographed no-brainers, such as the Japanese Floral Lampshade (a purchased paper lampshade embellished with cut-outs), and the Lucky Turtle Charm (admittedly winning mini-origami turtles attached to a purchased ribbon charm). And a couple of the projects are genius, think-outside-the-box ideas that you probably would never, ever do: for example, the Fish are my Cup of Tea Teabags, in which you make your own fish-shaped teabags (which are stitched together on the sewing machine!).

This title is not meant to be a children’s book, but it would make a fine gift for an older child with a interest in origami and papercrafts.

There are 40 projects in this book – a bit of a stretch. The chapter headings are well-chosen: Jewellery and Lucky Charms (who but a child would wear origami jewellery?), Office Stationery, Decorations for the Home, At the Table, Celebrations, and For Children. Plusses: difficulty level for each project is indicated.The step-by-step origami folding diagrams are in full colour and are very clear.

The author, Ghylenn Descamps, trained in graphic design – this is her first origami book. I will look out  for her contributions to L’Idées.

To sum up: a pleasant choice for origami beginners.


This book is a collaboration between two authors: Laurence Arnac has a background in graphic design, and Ho Huu An trained as an oceanographer – but has a  love of papercraft.

There is much to admire in this title – but I wouldn’t recommend it for the papercutting novice. You have to be pretty handy with a craft knife to manage any of the beautiful projects. Having said that, each of the 40 papercraft projects is labelled both for cutting and folding difficulty. And there is a good tutorial section front-of-book which includes a diagram of practice cuts for learners.

As you would expect, this is a template-based book. The projects are divided into Card Projects, Table Decorations, Special Occasions, and Christmas. There’s pop-up card action aplenty, plus several boxes and ornaments. One of the cards, Celestial Sphere, is a beautiful star-topped slice form (slice forms are amazing interlocking 3-D constructions that fold flat to send). Cosmic! And I can’t imagine anybody not being suitably impressed by the baby grand piano pop-up.

There are several lovely Christmas decorations that you could send as gifts, such as the Snowflake Wall Hanging or the Reindeer Wall Hanging.

This book is intended for hand-cutters, but if you have a digital papercutter, you could scan in the pattern and make them up (for personal use only, that goes without saying).

To sum up: a pleasant collection of papercutting projects with year-round variety.

Note: I was supplied with review copies of these titles.