Introduction to the book by the author
Even in this era of digital technology, a world without paper is unimaginable. Paper has existed for thousands of years, and since the printing revolution that followed Johannes Gutenberg's
invention of movable type it has been the prime means of communicating and storing information. However, most people take paper for granted, viewing it purely as a medium for recording information or as a base upon which to create art. Origami - or paper folding - allows us to see paper itself as a medium for artistic expression. No tools, other than your hands and mind, are needed to create tiny works of art that give both the folder and the viewer pleasure that far exceeds the effort required to actually fold them.
The origins of origami are a subject of much conjecture, but it seems likely that as soon as paper was available, people will have folded it - playing with paper seems to be a natural human instinct. What is certain is that the earliest forms of origami came from the East - China and Japan - where the art was incorporated into spiritual life. Origami eventually reached the West through a number of possible routes, perhaps as part of a circus act.
The serious development of origami as a creative act, as opposed to reproducing traditional designs, was led in the 20th century by the Japanese master Akira Yoshizawa, who devised new techniques and, perhaps most importantly, a means of recording the folding sequences using diagrams. In the West, Lillian Oppenheimer and Robert Harbin were primarily responsible for encouraging the exchange of origami designs and ideas from the 1950s onwards.
Origami is now a worldwide activity, enjoyed by young and old of both sexes. The fact that you need no tools other than your hands, and that the raw material is found in abundance, means that it's a hobby that anyone can pick up, and standard symbols free the diagrams from dependence on language. Origami can be performed anywhere (it's perfect for amusing yourself on long journeys), in isolation and also in company - many folders enjoy communal sessions where the more experienced help the newcomers. Another reason why origami has spread so widely is that it is largely free from commercial restrictions. Folders are happy, in most cases, to release their designs for others to
enjoy. There are clear origami ethics though: not to publish diagrams without permission and to acknowledge influence where it exists.
Anyone with an internet connection can quickly track down an almost endless supply of origami diagrams to fold from, and there are also many books available. However, most of these books and online diagrams assume that you are already familiar with the range of techniques and the symbols needed to follow the sequences. This book offers a thorough grounding in origami techniques, symbols and concepts, as well as a representative cross-section of the different types of designs, ranging from simple to complex. The examples have been carefully chosen to allow you to develop your folding abilities, and inexperienced folders should work though them in the order given to gain the necessary skills and technical knowledge required for the more challenging models. If you are more experienced and want to try out models without working through the introductory sections, the ‘Reminder' information provided with some models will refresh your memory about techniques or bases discussed at the start of the book.
Origami has given me enormous pleasure over the past 20 years, as well as introducing me to many lifelong friends. I hope that this book will introduce you to the numerous delights of origami, and perhaps for you to provide the starting point for many future friendships.
1st edition 2004, Pb, 160pp, full colour throughout, 22.5 x 22.5 cm