The origami world is vast.
Just. Look. At. All. Of. These. Different. Origami. Styles. It amazes me daily that that breadth of expression can be made with a single uncut sheet of paper.
My own style is an extension of what other folders have been doing with origami tessellations, and I’ve put my own understanding into the design. I practice two primary types of origami styles: pleat patterns and corrugations. I’ll discuss corrugations in a later post, but for now I want to deal with pleat patterns. These were the subject of my first book, and I’m expanding quite a bit on that material in the forthcoming second edition (whole separate blog post). These patterns are composed of pleats that converge on an area to create (generally) flat twists. These twists can be connected with others and tiled as much as the folder desires so long as there is enough paper, and there are a massive number of possibilities. Here are some examples:
(most of my earlier experiments can be seen on my old flickr page here)
They’re often visually interesting and and pique viewers’ curiosity. “How many sheets of paper is that?” they ask (just the one). “Where do you buy paper with those triangles in it?” (You make those triangles by hand). “How do you make those twists? (a lot of practice)”. Even among the practitioners, a lot of the terminology is not set in stone, and it’s not uncommon to have a conversation with another origami artist and have to align your terminology with their own. It’s getting more streamlined, but there is a long way to go with regards to formalized terms. That said, to understand origami patterning, artists come up with different ways to approach the design of such foldings. They can look at the polygon the twist creates and try to figure out why it was that shape. They can try to look at the space between the twists and create pleats that will make those negative spaces. I like to study the pleats as driving over the paper until they intersect and then I figure out what the middle will be.
I describe six twists in my book, with photos and crease patterns that look like this (click one of the photos to view the slideshow):
I believe the most relevant information to be the approach of the pleats toward the center, rather than what actually happens at the center itself. Stripping that away, I call what remains a pleat pattern (as opposed to the standard crease pattern). In this, creases extend until they hit the mountain fold of another pleat, and that is all of the detailing required. This is a generic pleat intersection, and the same pleat assignment can be used for a vast number of interpretations of that specific intersection of pleats.
The pleat patterns for the six twists are as in the photos below:
Since the first edition of my book, I wanted to create a simple and effective way to describe these pleat intersections. I thought, if you can look at a pleat intersection and say “that’s a ____” then it’d be a lot easier to relate to other folders the way it intersected, and it would make documentation a lot easier as well. I put forth one method of describing which was… adequate, I suppose. Now that I’m writing the second edition, I’ve taken to revamping the system, this time with a couple of colleagues. A couple of colleagues and I were discussing some potential options, and it sort of took off. We have developed a system for understanding the way pleats intersect on a hexagonal grid. It is still very much a work in progress, and at the moment, is only being used to describe:
Despite these restrictions, there is a truly vast number of twists that can be created. You can view the database linked here for more information and continue to Part Two for the details of the system itself.
Ben Parker Origami Artist
I fold paper a lot.
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