We Got Oliphaunts

Last weekend was the 2107 Origami USA convention in New York City. It’s a bit more low-key now that it’s out in Queens, but still a great time, and St. John’s campus is a great venue.

I had been thinking that I didn’t have much new to put into my exhibit, but I ended up with a good amount of great stuff. For the last month or so I had been meaning to get around to developing some new model ideas but I’ve been busy with work and graduations and stuff. Nevertheless, I recently finished the draft of my Airplanes and Spaceships book, and had five new models from that plus a few others that I’d never really folded a nice version before. So I made a collection out of 8” squares of so-called shiny paper. I folded another batch out of 6” shiny lotka paper for the model menu. Both very nice and very effective.

Both my classes went over really well. One class was the new Airplanes and Spaceships. I had diagrams and the class folded the models well, and along the way proofread them and found a few corrections.

The other class was my War Elephant a.k.a. Oliphaunt. This is an older model but I always thought it was cool. I only ever folded one satisfactorily and alot of the details were improvised. At the time it pushed the limit of my abilities. So the goal was to get it to the point where I could reliably reproduce it, teach it and eventually diagram it. In the last few weeks I folded quite a few studies and began honing in on the trouble spots. With a complex model like that you may have to fold for an hour or more before you get to the point where you can try out a solution to a design problem. Unlike with a computer there’s no save and revert, so if it doesn’t work you crumple up the paper and start again. This process can take some time.

By the start of the convention I was getting close. I’d completed several studies, although the best one, which I used for the model menu, was a bit sad looking and I didn’t have one worthy of putting into my exhibit. I’d created a CP and pretty much worked out most of the issues except for a critical series of steps steps to separate the head from the shoulders. With animals this is very important to the whole pose and attitude of the model; it can make or break it. For this model there’s alot of layers at that point, and crumpling it down was the easy way out.

We had to take off early on Saturday to go to a wedding on Long Island, so by Saturday night I’d run out of time to work on it any further. When I went to bed I meditated on it, which led to a lucid dream. When I woke I (felt like I) knew what to do.

When I teach supercomplex models soemtimes there’s only maybe two or five people in the class. This class was very full, to the point where I ran out of handouts and people had to share. And everyone in the room was actually and advanced folder too. When I got to the critical step I had all the proportions worked out and all the precreasing done, but had never really attempted the collapse before. So I told the class to do the collapse however they thought was best. Then I looked around at everyone’s result. I immediately saw that three people folded the correct solution. Everyone finished the class with a good looking model.

Since my Airplanes and Spaceships books in now with the publisher I’m in waiting mode. There will be some revisions, and the photography is still ahead, but it’ll probably be a year before it hits the shelves. I’m free to invest some creative energy in some other project. Since the response to the War Elephant was so strong I decided do an ebook with Brian of a half dozen or so complex to supercomplex models with a fantasy/mythology theme, including my War Elephant and Medieval Dragon.

I’m off to France and Switzerland in a few days for the Origami Creators Conference. That should be a good time and give me alot of opportunity to develop new ideas.


The first day of summer is here! We had a big graduation party for the girls last weekend. Martin came down from Albany, and lots of Jeannie’s cousins from Long Island. Good time. Things are a lot more more mellow around the house now that the kids don’t have to get up for school. Plus I’ve cut back on working out while I bounce back from an injury. Still, lots of stuff coming up including Origami this weekend and a trip to Europe next month.

The quartet format for the rock band seems to be solidifying, and I must say my singing is sounding better and better. Most of the new songs are far enough along that we basically know them, so I can focus on phrasing and performing. And we can get started adding a few more. It’s a pretty big switch to go from singing two or three songs a set to singing most of the time. You’ve got to make your voice last. Which means singing loader and stronger but more relaxed. Which makes you sound better too.

Also I’ve been finding it easier to stay on pitch. The big breakthrough came last fall when I got my new piano. I typically practice with the lid open and I’ve found that when I’m on really right pitch my voice resonates with the open strings, and sounds louder and fuller. This lead to increased microtonal awareness and a cycle of getting the know how the sound of being on pitch feels in my throat, a sort of self-reinforcing feedback thing. Now I find it easier and more natural to get there.

I guess it also helps we’ve been picking songs that are in my vocal range. Next step so to convince the band to do some of my originals. Of course now that it’s the summer all the rehearsal schedules become more erratic as lots of people have vacations and other commitments. Ah well.

Graduation Time

It’s graduation season and this is a big year for us. Two weeks ago it was Lizzy graduating from high school, and then last weekend Michelle graduated from eighth grade. Lots of ceremonies and parties, and a time of big transitions and moving on. Of course I’ve very proud and happy to see them growing up and doing well. It was a bit poignant for me to say goodbye to ICS, since we’d been there for six years, with both girls going thru and we met and became friends with a lot of other parents. I’ll definitely miss doing the musicals. I was involved with five of them, three with the kids and two with the parents and friends, as well as a couple talent shows. Well they said they’d love to have me back in the orchestra next time the do one, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile both girls are off to new adventures in the fall. So it a time well worth celebrating. One more party coming up this weekend!