Styles of origami design

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Styles of origami design

Postby Joseph Wu » August 4th, 2005, 6:07 pm

Spinning this topic off from the original discussion of Marc Kirschenbaum's drummer...
wolf wrote:
Joseph Wu wrote:Then again, Marc and I have very different views on how to finish an origami design, so this is definitely a case of two different styles clashing.

So, what's your view on how to best finish a design? That'll make for an interesting discussion topic, I think.

First, let me make it very clear that anything I say here about Marc's work is my interpretation, and not necessarily what Marc thinks.

It appears to me that Marc is more interested in the design of the base than in the design of the model. He is technically inventive, coming up with intriguing bases for the models he wishes to develop. However, he doesn't seem to want to go beyond that. Once the base is developed, he forms the major features of the figure, and then he stops. A good example of this is how he does heads for human figures. Flipping through Paper in Harmony, you'll see that many of the head are simply the opening up of a flap to give a rounded shape. Looking at the diagrams, the bulk of the steps for any given model describe the formation of the basic structure; few steps are devoted to finishing details.

Marc's use of tissue foil as his preferred folding material exacerbates this lack of finishing detail. Foil allows for rough sculpting, and many of his models are squeezed here and there in lieu of folding the finishing details. The fact that he makes his tissue foil out of unryu tissue also means that his models tend to be fuzzy, adding to the unfiinished look.

Compare this approach with many of the Japanese designers. Most of them fold with paper, and details are folded in. Looking at a typical set of diagrams from a JOAS or Origami House publication, you'll see that at least half of the steps for a given model describe the figure's details. Compare Hojyo's shibaraku to Marc's drummer and you'll know exactly what I mean.

My preference is for well defined folding for most models. I like clean lines, and I want the finished piece to look like it was made out of paper. Anyone who's ever taken a class from me will know that there are all sorts of fiddly little detail folds at the end. For some, that's just a lot of tedious folding, but for me, that makes the design.

There are times, however, when lots of fiddly little details are not appropriate. For example, many of Yoshizawa's masterpieces involve gentle shaping. Even there, though, the idea is to use the shaping to generate a finished form, suggesting details that turn the origami from a mere model into a piece of sculpture. I don't see that in most of Marc's models; they simply look unfinished to me.

Marc's style does sometimes work exceptionally well. Last year at the JOAS convention in Tokyo, Eric Joisel pointed out Marc's model of a Model A Ford. The rough, fuzzy, crumply nature of the tissue foil, together with Marc's rough, unfinished-looking style, made for a model that captured a sense of age and whimsy, almost a caricature of the car. It was perfect.
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Postby platypusguy » August 4th, 2005, 8:07 pm

i took a class with marc earlier this year and thought that he did fine on the finishing details it was a variation of fluffy, the teddy bear. i do see that in his other models though. also where do you teach classes, i took mine with him at the ousa convention in new york
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Postby Joseph Wu » August 4th, 2005, 9:49 pm

platypusguy wrote:i took a class with marc earlier this year and thought that he did fine on the finishing details it was a variation of fluffy, the teddy bear. i do see that in his other models though.

Yes, he seems to be changing in his newer designs. Perhaps he's tired of me harping on him. :)
platypusguy wrote:also where do you teach classes, i took mine with him at the ousa convention in new york

When I get to conventions, I also teach (both during the class times, and informally). I also teach regularly at the local origami club meetings here in Vancouver.
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Postby Friet » August 4th, 2005, 11:13 pm

I totally agree with Joseph. I also prefer straight lines over a tissue model that kinda looks like it's made from coloured clay, even though it will take you twice as long to make the model with straight folds only. I just like my models to look like paper that has been folded. That's why I also prefer to fold with single coloured paper, no colour patterns and stuff like that.
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Postby wolf » August 5th, 2005, 2:43 am

Several interesting points here. Thanks for sharing them!

1. Tissue foil nomenclature - perhaps we should make a distinction depending on what the "tissue" part of the composite laminate is? Calling this thing "tissue foil" is akin to calling cheese "cheese" - models folded using different types of tissue foil can have strikingly different appearances. Since many folders already specify the exact type of mulberry (or other fibre) paper when displaying backcoated models, a similar thing can be done for tissue foil itself. So we could have tissue foil (normal tissue), Unryu foil, Saa foil, etc. Although with normal tissue, there can also be a lot of variation too (smooth/rough/etc). More on this below.

2. Marc's style - I would argue that the "unfinished, fuzzy" look of his models can be a unique style in itself. I've always been able to pick out Marc's displays at the OUSA convention from afar because of this. Now, admittedly it doesn't work very well for certain models, like human musicians, but I think it's very effective for quite a few of his other models, eg Fluffy, King Kong and the deer. There's a kind of childlike innocence in these models, which is enhanced by the fuzzy felt appearance of the unryu-foil he uses. Adding further detail to make these models more realistic would wreck the whole effect, in my opinion.

Now, with the human musicians, perhaps it is a choice of subject matter - it's maybe somewhat harder to get a good abstract representation of a human (we don't see many human musicians in children's storybooks!), so the unfinished look in this case just doesn't work. Or then again, we could just all be spoilt by the great human expressions done by Joisel and Hojyo. :D

3. Back to tissue foil - Hey! Tissue foil is people too! :D

Not all tissue foil need to be crumply and fuzzy. This is somewhat unexplored territory - for wetfolding and backcoating, there's been lots of discussion of what type of paper works, and what doesn't, and why. I haven't yet seen anything equivalent regarding tissue foil - mostly it's just "Slap tissue on foil. Try not to get wrinkles. Fold." My experience has been that, for the final model to look good, most of the effort needs to be put into making a good, clean sheet of tissue foil in the first place. Sure, it's possible to wreck the foil while folding, but no amount of good folding will compensate for crappy starting foil. But again, it depends on what you want. Tissue foil made using Christmas tissue tends to have all sorts of faceting, as the tissue is floppy and doesn't hold a crease well. The creases in this foil have a higher component of foil crease, so the end result doesn't look like folded paper, but folded metal with a fuzzy coating.

However, I believe there's a way for tissue foil to meet Joe's "looking-like-paper" standards - use the thinnest foil possible, and the smoothest tissue possible. Really thin foil is not a problem. The foil found in dollar stores and discounters are much, much thinner than Reynolds, not to mention cheaper too! It's bad if you want to roast a turkey, but great for folding. Good tissue is harder. This rules out the floppy porous kind with a rough surface. But there's a kind of tissue that has a very smooth finish, it's like tracing paper but much thinner; I think it's the stuff used by expensive stores to line jewelry boxes. It's got a smooth side and a slightly rougher side, so you'll want to make the tissue foil with the smooth side outwards. This kind of tissue is also a bit stiffer than craft tissue, so it's able to fight against the bumps and knocks to the foil layer, resulting in less faceting and unwanted creases.
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Postby MeadowMuffin » August 5th, 2005, 5:29 am

Since we were talking about design styles, I was wondering what the opinion of Vincent Floderer's style is. I mean, his work is technically origami, as far as using one sheet of square paper without cuts, but the methods used do not correlate well with standard diagrams. The results are quite impressive though.
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Postby phil » August 5th, 2005, 6:51 am

Marc Kirschenbaum's style is a little more abstract, leaving room for interpretation. I think his Musicians have a sort of fantasy aspect to them Their open, hollow heads give them a mysterious look. Musicians

Another intresting style is Manuel Sirgo The look of the finished model is achieved through shapeing and squeezing rater then folding. I think he foldes them with Tissue paper treated with MC or paste, I'm not sure wich. Here's the underside of his Wood Grasshopper that I folded from Tissue foil. The body is formed by squeezing it into a tube shape.


It is also possible to fold details with foil. I use thin Generic foil and cover it with art tissue on both sides. Here's some close up of Satoshi Kamiya's Bahamut folded with foil. Picture 1 Picture 2 It's hard to get a good Photo of though.
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Postby JMcK » August 5th, 2005, 12:26 pm

I really like the style of a lot of Hideo Komatsu models, such as his squirrel, horned owl and panda. They're quite angular, and abstract in that there aren't a lot of fine details, but they're very distinctive-looking and fold cleanly.
Even in the case of a more complex model like his horse he resists the temptation to use horrible fiddly folds to create hooves, and instead leaves the ends of the legs as points.
His recent macaque model is rather more fussily detailed (I wish he had diagrammed his giraffe instead). But he's still making some nice stylized animals, like this mouse.
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Postby Friet » August 5th, 2005, 1:13 pm

I really like Hideo Komatsu's models too. I haven't folded anything made by him, but you can see the neck of his horse in Satoshi Kamiya's Inoshishigami and I think it looks absolutely brilliant. It looks very lively but in an abstract way.

err, woops. I meant Yoshino Issei. My mistake, thanks for pointing it out Joseph :)
Last edited by Friet on August 17th, 2005, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Joseph Wu » August 5th, 2005, 5:09 pm

I think you're talking about Yoshino Issei's horse, Friet.
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Postby wolf » August 8th, 2005, 3:48 am

MeadowMuffin wrote:...I was wondering what the opinion of Vincent Floderer's style is. I mean, his work is technically origami, as far as using one sheet of square paper without cuts, but the methods used do not correlate well with standard diagrams...

Actually, I would say that his work (the anemones and trees) is essentially technical origami, ie circle packing and flap narrowing. Just that there's a lot more multiple sinks required to get the required aspect ratio. The final rolling and squishing to make the narrow points in the sea anemones is much like how many folders make the narrow legs of insects these days.

This step doesn't have standard diagrams - but neither do a lot of the initial steps in complex origami these days too ("collapsing into a base" steps are usually kind of hard to diagram in the standard way...).
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Postby MeadowMuffin » August 9th, 2005, 4:56 am

I do see your point, Wolf. All the basics are there, just a different methodology. I have always had this idea in mind that good origami is the work of geometry, mathematics, and precision, but to see a designer that appears to laugh at that kind of thinking produce models that are realistic and organic causes me to wonder if the limitations are more in the thought process than the sheet of paper.
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Molding or folding...

Postby mattress67 » August 9th, 2005, 7:17 am

After seeing so many recent design styles I am starting to wonder when does Origami become molding instead of folding? Personally I put a lot of credence in a design which requires little “fiddlingâ€
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Re: Molding or folding...

Postby JMcK » August 9th, 2005, 9:54 am

[quote="mattress67"]And then there’s the term “sculptingâ€
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Re: Molding or folding...

Postby wolf » August 10th, 2005, 3:23 am

Ditto. What John said. Even in the traditional crane, there's a bit of sculpting and molding to get a nice curve on the back.

mattress67 wrote:The joy of origami is being able to create a piece of art using ordinary paper. If I wanted to sculpt, I’d choose a better medium, not paper.

Part of any artistic endeavour is also to explore and stretch the possibilities of the medium as much as you can. Origami is an activity for masochists; there's no doubt about that. There's also the intense satisfaction of being able to reproduce something which is normally done in clay from a mere sheet of paper.

mattress67 wrote:I hasten my folds towards the end knowing I can fix what ever blemishes I have made.

No, blemishes can't be fixed in this way. Squishing a piece of foil into the final result looks vastly different from a neatly folded paper.

mattress67 wrote:And, if I really wanted to make a complex model using foil, couldn’t I just crush a piece around my hand?

Sure you can, if that's the final result that you're looking for. But part of the challenge of using foil can also be producing a model that contains nice, clean, sharp folds, without a crumply look.
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