Great Dodecahedron in Origami

I’m participating in another origami exhibit. This one is eXtreme Origami and is part of the Origami Heaven convention in Stonybrook, Long Island, and runs thru early August. Go check it out. You can find out more about Origami Heaven here:

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make to check out the exhibit, so if you want to take some pictures I’ll appreciate it.

The theme of my collection of models is single-sheet complex polyhedra. The models I’m contributing are my Stellated Dodecahedron, Great Dodecahedron, and
Tessellated Dodecahedron (a.k.a Penfractal Dodecahedron). All of these
models exhibit pentagonal symmetry, being based on the dodecahedron, which
is composed of twelve regular pentagons. Each of these models is folded from a single, pentagonal sheet of paper.

You’ve seen the Stellated Dodecahedron recently. I still want to fold a second one, but didn’t get done in time, so I sent the one I folded for OUSA. Did manage to make a nice version of the Dodecahedron Tessellation out of Wyndstone paper, and will show that in a future post.

But this post is about the Great Dodecahedron. It’s not exactly all-new; I folded one from a 12” square of Tant a few years back but was never quite satisfied with it. The new one has a refined CP. The main difference is that it’s from a pentagon, so the corners provide nice flaps and the model goes together well and holds its shape quite strongly. I didn’t even need to wetfold it.

The shape itself is a complement to the Stellated Dodecahedron. Both are composed of sixty triangles and form star shapes out of sets of coplanar faces. With the Great Dodecahedron, the coplanar faces form a pentagon with the star rising out of the middle in the negative space.

We’re Back

We heard you missed us. Just got back from a pair of trips upstate. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. The first trip was to Buffalo and Rochester to see family and friends. It was really hot up there the whole time, with tropical-style rain every day too. After all these years my parents bought an air conditioner for their guest room, which was quite nice. We spent the 4th of July with my folks and saw the parade and fireworks show in their neighborhood. It’s good to be up there for the 4th cuz the fireworks are better than anyplace around here.

I brought up my skates, put on new wheels while I was there, and enjoyed skating around the smooth streets of their flat neighborhood. We visited Denis and his family and spent a day in the pool. Larry and Jackie had a graduation party for their oldest son Timothy, who just finished high school and is going to UB in the fall as an honors scholar. I saw Larry’s mom and sisters for the first time in years. Each of them in turn commented on how Larry took over their living room with his drums when we were in high school. His house was where our band rehearsed. I guess we didn’t sound as good as we thought we did back then.

Jeannie and I went back home for a few days to catch up on work and things. We had a nice night out with Nick and Lisa, walking the High Line down to a brew pub in Chelsea. I also worked on origami stuff. I did the design and prefolding for a Great Dodecahedron in origami for the upcoming Origami Heaven exhibit. And I finally got sample chapter of page layouts back from my publisher. It looks great except for a few minor issues with fonts. And I took some more photos to fill in missing bits for the cover, etc.

Then we were on the road again for a tour upstate. We started in Albany, where we met up with Martin and his family. It was good to see them all, although I never got a chance to sit down with Martin and go over my version of his song. Lots of yummy fresh eggs.

We went into town to see the state capitol complex one day. The tour of the capitol building was pretty fascinating. The building is great reflection of the political process, overly ornate and massively over budget, with conflicting and competing grand visions from a succession of architects who were fired and replaced mid-project. Apparently Teddy Roosevelt kicked out all the stone cutters when he took office, leaving the Senate chamber unfinished with rows of carvings abandoned half done. Also learned how the Statue of Liberty is really a giant robot that stands guard in the harbor to protect the eastern seaboard against an invasion of Godzilla monsters.

The next day we lit out for historic Fort Ticonderoga. Michelle had asked to visit after studying it an history class and having been impressed at our visit to Fort Niagara a couple summers ago. Ticonderoga was really interesting too, with a re-enactor giving a vivid account of the history of the place and various battles. There was also some pretty cool exhibits of period weapons and other artifacts. The fort itself was largely a re-creation, with the French having blown up a large part of it before abandoning their position in the 1760’s. It was another really hot day.

After that it was on to Lake George. I’d never been there before, but it was very relaxing and charming, a classic old-school resort town. We were there mid-week, so nothing was very crowded. After Florida last year it was a welcome relief. We stayed at a place called the Georgian, which we picked mainly because it was right on the lake and had a pool bar. This turned out to be just the thing, as it was in the 90’s the whole time we were there. We hit the pool as soon as we got in, and spent most of the next day there lounging around, and a good part of the third day too. Just a beautiful scene, and the hotel people were really great. We also walked around town, went out to dinner, went swimming in the lake, went on a cruise on an historic steamboat, and rented a powerboat one morning to explore on our own. Lots of fun. Lots of folk music and twelve-string guitars around.

The third destination was Saranac Lake to visit our friends Mark and Kelly. Mark is one of my oldest friends so its always great to see him and catch up. We went hiking, swimming at a local lake, played some cards and just hung out. Learned that jade comes from Godzilla teeth just ivory comes from elephant tusks. Went to the Wild Center, a cool museum about the biology and geology of the forest, where we learned about mutant wolf-hybrid coyotes who hunt in packs. Kelly had some cool art books, and while I was up there I worked out a crease pattern for my origami Penrose Tessellation. Lots of heat and rain up there too. Mark’s band had a memorable gig that was interrupted by a cloudburst and windstorm so intense it threw around boats and party tents.

It was a great trip, but its good to be home. Today it’s yardwork and laundry and back to normal tomorrow. We just found out or local grocery store is closing. This is too bad; I really like the place. They’re walking distance from our house and are nice and small, so you can get in and out quickly. They also have great meat and produce. Also, it looks like the elm tree in our front yard is turning sick. A couple of the branches have wilted and the leaves turned brown. This is really too bad cuz it’s a champion elm, over a hundred years old and one of the tallest trees in the neighborhood. It’ll be sad if it doesn’t make it.

I’d hoped to hop on music projects as soon as I got back, but first I need a couple more days to finish my exhibit for Origami Heaven. More on that soon.

Mandala Tessellations

I did another class at the convention, teaching my mandala tessellations. Most tessellations out there are based on a grid, either of squares or triangles, but these are based on a circle. I originally started playing with tessellations because of models like my turtle and my U.F.O., which use pleating to form a pattern on the surface of the model. I actually came up with the mandala idea at a convention, at the Monday dinner, and have since refined it. Unlike grid-oriented tessellations, the pleats are arbitrary, by eye. This is not hard to get across to advanced folders who have a good eye, but people tend to like landmarks and it can take some getting used to.

People seemed really interested in these models back at MIT last fall, where I taught them informally, and my class at OUSA was in fact full. There were a few “legit” tessellation guys in the class, notably Jeff Rutzky, who has a book Shadowfolds with Chris Palmer that explores some of the same territory, but his ideas are more developed. So as I taught the class it turned into a conversation, which was great cuz I learned a lot as well as taught.

This also led me to begin work on a new model: a penrose tessellation. This is a new and larger pattern than the one on my web site. I folded a prototype using my arbitrary-pleat method, but on this model I reached the limit of that approach. I folded a second, more legit attempt, but it didn’t want to go together. So then folded the center portion only, working out the correct sizes for the pleats. I folded successively larger sections, until I got to the third ring, where there’s a vertex where seven angles come together, three wide and four narrow. So now I have to work out complex connection in order to complete the model. But that’s cool; when its’ done it’ll be really nice. I also feel like this will be another good CP to feed to the craftRobo.

This is the last of the current flurry of origami posts for a little while. I’m working on a exhibit for Origami Heaven that has to be done in three weeks. Five pentagon-based symmetry geometric models, including some of the ones described here. I’ll let you know how that goes. Meanwhile I hope to get back spending a bit of time on rock’n’roll and other pursuits.

Dread Zeppelin

So way back in early June I was invited to participate in an exhibit Origami as Fine Art being held at Kinokuniya Book Store in NYC just off of Bryant Park. Kinokuniya is a great place, BTW, full of all things Japanese, from manga, anime and robot kits to origami books and specialty papers, and all kinds of other stuff. The exhibit is really nicely put together by Sok Sung and Paul Frasco, and features a great variety of models from a good number of artists. I’m honored to be included among this elite set. The exhibit runs for another two weeks, until mid-July. You can learn all about the exhibit here:

The curators asked me to contribute a Zeppelin. This was on the list of models I’d been meaning to refold out of nicer paper anyway. Last year at convention I picked up a couple sheets of paper specifically for this. The paper is blue, and strong and heavy like Wyndstone, but sparkly like it has flakes of mica embedded into it like Origamido paper sometimes does. I have no idea where it came from or what its called, but it turned out to be up to the task.

As I mentioned before, this is a very challenging and labor intensive model, and I only ever made one successful instance a few years back. I first made a study out of draft paper, and then commenced to fold two Zeppelins in parallel. The thinking was, if I messed one of them up I’d still have a good’n, and if they both came out good I’d have one for myself. The prefolding took a couple sessions and the collapsing took a couple more, since I wetfolded as I went, doing first the nose, and then collapsing the tail. This was all a very delicate operation. I also custom built two new stands for the models. As June progressed I went from staying up late once or twice a week to work on these to practically every night.

In the end I had a bit of a problem with the model staying puffed out at the transition from main body to the tail. I realize now that I should have wetfolded an internal flange of accumulated layers of paper to relieve the stress at the point. I may yet go back and fold yet another Zeppelin now that I know what I’m doing, and so I can be at peace about it. For one of my models I tried to wetfold the hull at that point. This turned out to be a mistake, and I ripped the paper pressing it from the inside with chopstick to shape it. At least I was able to patch it so it doesn’t show. The other one turned out better an the problem was largely solved by good ol’ fashioned wrestling the paper into submission. I had to re-open the tail after it had been wetfolded, but it worked out okay. So the better model I donated to the exhibit, and the other one is the one you see photographed here.

Timber and Sophie

I folded new high-quality versions of my new models Timber the Dog and Sophie the Cat for convention, as well as few to give to my friend. As mentioned before, these models were inspired by the logo of the animal adoption service Timber’s Legacy ( The versions you see here are folded from a 12” square of Canson and a 10” or so square of Wyndstone respectively.

I taught both of these models at convention. I rated them as high intermediate level of complexity. I think that was pretty much on the mark. I taught them in a single 45 minute class for each. There were very few people in over their heads and everyone was able to get the model done in the time allotted. I found out that origami people are more cat people than dog people. The class for Sophie was filled to the limit of 25 and then some. Since it’s a new model and not yet diagrammed, I taught by demoing it with a large sheet of paper. With the larger class you spend more time walking around to be sure everyone’s got it right, but it was okay. In fact feedback was very positive, and I’d say I have two more models for a future book.