Friday, 7 November 2014

Notes on the History of Origami, Origami Papercrafting. Book reviews.


World Origami Days run through 11 November. I’ve been observing them with a series of origami book reviews.  I’ve got more books than World Origami Days left – so I’m piggy-backing my reviews!



Notes on the History of Origami

By John Smith

Paperback 1972, 2014

British Origami Society

ISBN 9781 4952 1500 1

£4.00 (e-book)from The British Origami Society
Physical copy from Createspace via Amazon (price today: £5.76)




Star rating: ****


This delightful mini-compendium of curiosities is a re-issue of a booklet originally published in 1972. Its modest 28 pages are info-packed and highly-illustrated (many pics in colour). There’s a History of Paper and Paper-Folding (both Eastern and Western traditions). Next comes a super-fun section spotlighting famous origami popularizers or contributors to the advancement of origami – including Lewis Carroll, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Leonardo de Vinci. It’s a treasure trove of paper-folding-related factoids and historical footnotes.


Example: Do you know what a trouble-wit is? It is a sheet of artfully-pleated paper that is manipulated into various configurations (like Paul Jackson pleating). The sequential slight-of-hand transformations were used by entertainers to illustrate a story.
Paul Jackson pleating - similar to a trouble-wit.
There are some misspellings – particularly in the names (Percy Shelly (should be Shelley), Hans Christian Anderson (should be Andersen)) – so I would recommend a proofread for the next edition.


When reading this title, you should bear in mind that it was put together pre-internet – so at the time of its publication (1972), it was a mini-triumph, being the very first booklet published by The British Origami Society.


There’s a bibliography in back, so you can chase the references and can follow the paper trail.

This title would make a fun stocking filler for a budding origami enthusiast, or any keen papercrafter.


Note:  I purchased this title myself – not a review copy.

Origami Papercrafting

Folded and Washi Paper Projects for Mini Books, Cards, Ornaments, Tiny Boxes, and More

By Suzanne McNeill

Design Originals 2013

Paperback (Amazon link), £5.26

ISBN 978-1-57421-434-5



Star rating: ***


This title isn’t brand new – it came out last year, but I am including it because it is origami-related.


Maybe the title of this 36-page project book should be Origami-inspired Papercrafting – because it is very crafty and not for origami purists. Many of the projects are template-based crafts constructed out of origami- or washi paper, so are not pukka origami projects. Having said that, crafty is what you expect to get when you buy a Design Originals title. The projects are made by contributors, who are clearly credited at the beginning of each project (commendable). 


The makes are a mixed  bag. Some of them are fabulous, cleverly-designed  and highly-desirable, others are run-of-the-mill fete-makes dressed up in pretty washi paper. (Would you wear a covered, recycled CD disc as jewellery? –  Quality control.) 


The following projects look amazing: Flower Star Books, by Sheila Cunningham. These are magical flat-pack ornaments that open out for full 3-D display. Delightful – and you could pop them into an envelope as a greetings gift. Vellum Christmas Ornaments – the modular units make appealing 3-D stars. The 3-D Christmas Tree involves some fascinating fancy folding to make the tree boughs. The Wonderful Pocket Books have  winning accordion pockets. The Coffee Filter Booklets are a template project that has nothing whasoever to do with origami (apart from the cover papers) – but they do look great. The Fashion Folders, by Karen Thomas, are a true origami less-is-more project – and  are all the better for it. The wallet/folders make perfect use of double-sided paper.

With the festive season coming up, you could source some giftable makes from this title.


Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.