Origami For Children

It’s that time again. For the third year in a row the kids folded models to submit to Origami USA’s Origami By Children exhibition. This year Lizzy took an interest in modular boxes. This is outside my sphere of interest, so Jeannie went ahead and showed her some basic modules and how to put them together. Lizzy also folded a cute panda but preferred the box and made a few of them. Meanwhile Michelle had no problem with the units but couldn’t get the assembly part of it together. So she folded a few things, and finally settled on a traditional Candy Dish nicely folded from some printed Washi paper. With her the main thing is always encouraging her to be slow and careful and make sharp creases, especially with the first few steps of the model. She also folded a Star from John Montroll’s Teach Yourself Origami. This is a pretty advanced model which uses sinks, petal folds and rabbit ears. We decided not to submit it to OFC, however, cuz I helped her a bit with neatening up and completing the sink. Interestingly, the kids are not really into folding representational subjects like animals, but mostly prefer thinks like boxes and vases.

Origami Sunday

Last weekend I taught an origami special folding session at the Natural History Museum. I taught my Elephant and Moose. The class did really well considering it was two complex models and we went pretty fast. One of my students was a seven-year-old kid who did fantastic. I taught the Elephant first. It has only about half the number of steps of the Moose, but it’s a far more subtle and complex model because there’s no base per se, but there’s lots of compound folds and 3-D sculpting. The Moose is based on an older design style (uses a variation of the stretched bird base) and has mostly simpler folds, but lots more of them. This is proving to be a very popular model, maybe because there aren’t alot of origami mooses out there and almost no-one (myself included) has the patience to fold Robert Lang’s.

I’ve diagrammed both of these models for my book and it’s interesting to see how much communication is really necessary to get a model across and how much of that can be captured in diagrams. The really skilled folders have no problem with anything, and are helpful in pointing out mistakes in my diagrams. But I feel that making the models and diagrams good enough to reach out to intermediate folders so they can tackle something above their level and succeed is an important goal, not just for the sake of reaching a broader audience but for origami in general as an art form. I never had any origami people in my life when I was growing up, and learned solely from books, mainly John Montroll’s.

Speaking of which, John came up for a visit over the weekend, which is always a fun time. He’s got loads of new polyhedra models that he’s arranging into a sequel to his forthcoming Polyhedra book with A. K. Peters. He also has a brand new book out with Dover called Storytime Origami which includes among other things a very cool wolf.

The girls came to the museum with me. We had enough time to take a quick tour of the outer space hall and the dinosaurs. Lizzy really like the dinosaurs but Michelle thought they were a bit creepy (she never has before). I told her not to worry because it’s very rare that the dinosaur ghosts find their bones and reanimate as undead dino-skeletons. This didn’t seem to reassure her. When we got home that evening we watched the Space Shuttle launch, which tied in nicely to the theme of the day. The kids had never seen a shuttle launch, and apart from the sheer spectacle of it, they were pretty blown away that after just a few minutes the shuttle was 50 miles high and hundreds of miles away, and going at the thousands of miles per hour and just getting faster.

MTV Music

Some of the people in my new group at work came from the team that built the site mtvmusic.com.  It’s basically a video player with a library of thousands and thousands of music videos.  We had fun playing with it one night last weekend when Jeannie wanted to show our kids the original version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, the Cindy Lauper hit from the 80’s recently covered by one of those modern teenybopper acts.  Once the video was over the site presented a list of related videos.  This led to a sort of scavenger hunt.  Jeannie and I spent hours clicking on links and touring videos from the early 1980’s.  Sort of an eclectic mix, and many things not in my usual listening genres these days, but it made sense in context.  David Lee Roth, Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Cars, Duran Duran, The Clash, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Stevie Nicks, Wang Chung, A-Ha, and on and on.  (No Prince, BTW.)  By the time we were thru, I remembered why watching music videos felt alot like drugs.

Skating Season Start

Another sign that spring is approaching is that the other day I was able to go out on my rollerblades after work, marking the official start of skating season.  The earlier shift to daylight saving time is good for something after all, allowing me to take advantage of a mild day.  Felt great after a whole winter of the Nordic Track. But I need new wheels and my skates are more than 15 years old and pretty beat up, so this spring might be time get new skates.

The next day it was cold and rainy. Lousy Smarch weather.

Update: the next day, today, the eve of the equinox, we had a freak but intense snow flurry.  Giant fluffy flakes.  I had to brush an inch or two of rapidly melting slush of my car this morning!

We Got Elephants

I recently completed a commission for some origami elephants for a client in Germany.  They asked for a series of models in various stages of completion and asked that I use white textured paper.  I used 12′ Canson paper and they came out quite nice.  Should be interesting to how they photograph them.  Meanwhile here are my own snapshots, taken prior to boxing ’em up.

And in case you were wondering, there’s an historical connection between Germans and White Elephants.  The Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne had an albino war elephant a named Abul-Abbas.  It was a gift from the Caliph of Baghdad. King Charlemagne rode the beast in battle against the Danes.  Badass!

The Lamb Lies Down

You can forget what I said about forgetting what I said about spring coming.  This weekend it was unseasonably warm and mild.  Saturday I went ice skating with the girls and their scout troop, out on the rink in shirtsleeves.  Sunday was the official start of yard work season.  I took down the last of the Christmas lights, uncovered the fig tree, and raked the yard clear of old leaves, branches and debris.

Enter The Lion

You can forget what I said about spring being in hoping distance. We got walloped with an unseasonably late snowstorm yesterday. The endless winter continues.

Ironically, Sunday, the day before the storm, we went skiing. It had been a bit warm last week, so we were keeping an eye on the weather report, figuring this would probably be our last opportunity for the season. It was our third time this year, which is pretty good. We took the kids and everyone did a good job of getting up early, so we were at the mountain by 9:00. We put the girls in a lesson so Jeannie and I got the morning to ski on our own. It was a bit icy but not too bad. The girls both did great in their lessons. Lizzy is now skiing blue trails with confidence, although her style is not super aggressive. Michelle can make it down the bunny hill under good balance with control over her speed and direction. She’s ready to go up on the lift next time out.

It was a good time and we were glad we went. But Sunday evening we were checking the weather again and saw a major snowstorm was on the way that was not in the forecast the night before. Kind of late in the year for this sort of thing, and by morning the whole city was under a good 6″. School was cancelled and alot of people didn’t come into the office, so all my meetings were cancelled too and I might’ve just as well worked from home. Had we known, it would have been the perfect day to hit the slopes. Ah well.

Photo Gallery Update 2

It was nice to finally have a weekend to relax and catch up on things with no major projects underway. I completed my photo gallery updates, brining us up to date thru the new year.  Now that I’ve finished moving all my pictures into my new computer, the process for these has become more streamlined, so hopefully I’ll be doing updates more often than once a year going forward.  As usual they are password protected so contact me if you are friends and family.