Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some Origami Notes on Paper Size

Whenever anyone picks up and starts to play around with Origami they usually don't give much thought to paper size. Traditional, craft store ready, multicolored, white sided paper is in abundance and approximately seven inch square size paper is supplied with most sets of Origami kits. For those starting out or teaching elementary students in classes of 20 to 30 this is just fine. Picking up a 100 sheet package is no big deal and not too expensive.

But there are several reasons to vary your paper size. Using several Montroll models from his Origami for the Enthusiast book, I will endeavor to illustrate.

Reason Number One: Two create different looks for the same model. Especially when putting together a display. Sometimes the class of kids want to combine their efforts into a much bigger display. Say that you are creating fish and other sea life for a hallway display. By creating different sized models of the same fish you can create a school like effect complete with younger fish.

I habitually make the Tyrannosaur, often leaving it at the table I'm sitting at, and do so with whatever paper is available whether a gum wrapper or a tablet page sized to a square. Even though I like the model on it's own, when combined with several different sizes of paper you can develop a sense of family. I have included a small red paper clip to give you an example of scale on this one.

Reason Number Two: To conquer a model. There are some models that are more difficult to complete than others, and when you graduate to some of the more difficult pieces it can get frustrating. The solution: go buy yourself a bunch of large sheets of paper to work with. Sometimes when looking at some of the models in books or online I wonder how they possibly could have folded something like what I am seeing. Often they are done using much larger paper than is readily available to the occasional folder. Go to Uwajimaya or get some online. There are 9 inch square sized sheets available at Amazon, but I would go even bigger if you can find it.

Two models that frustrated me a bit before I worked through them were this Tarantula and what I call the creepy looking baby.

Though they started from much different sized paper, the larger Tarantula helped me understand the folding instructions enough to successfully complete the smaller sized one. The smaller one is actually less messy than the larger one for it as well.

The baby is a Robert Lang model, and comes complete with diaper. I never would have successfully folded this one without the larger paper size. Additionally, I like the resulting size of the model as it is almost "doll" sized when complete.

Reason Number Three: To challenge yourself. Once you have a model down, the challenge then becomes to see how far you can miniaturize it. The smallest Tyrannosaurs above are pretty small, but I like to see if I can even go smaller. I once made some cranes and some penguins as small as I could, then stiffened the paper with a clear lacquer spray and attached them to earring backs.

Reason Number Four: So people can find them. OK, so this reason may not apply to you, but recently I left a turtle for people to find at a local park. No one found it, at least that I am aware of. Now if I had just gone with the larger paper, I think it would have been difficult to overlook. I like the smaller version better, and when using plain paper it loses a little something. But sometimes you just have to go larger.

Reason Number Five: To size correctly to your display. I chose a specific type and size of a paper for the Montroll turtle model mentioned above, so that it would fit nicely into a shadowbox display I was working on. The one pictured was an early pass at something I did on a bigger scale (meaning number of turtles, not size of paper) for my son. I like the effect the checkered paper I used gives to the end result.

There are certainly more reasons, so please provide any others that might come to mind.

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