Thursday, November 11, 2010

3-D Modular Origami

Recently a friend's son visited Hong Kong and returned home with a folded paper dragon kit. I thought I knew what she meant when she described it to me, because some time ago I had come across videos for an Asian paper craft that relies on pointy pieces of folded paper to make all sorts of colorful structures. So off I went on a hunt for those same videos without either one of us knowing what the craft is called... and yay, found them! More about that in a moment, first let me give credit for the following pictures.


The projects belong to kattykong on Flickr, and all but one are quite unusual... see if you can guess which picture is a beloved and frequently made model in this genre.

The craft is called Chinese 3-D modular origami. Multitudes of little paper rectangles are folded into triangles that interlock without the need to glue each piece. In Japan, it's referred to as block folding origami.


It seems you can make just about any structure imaginable, large or small, complicated or not. It's probably best to start out by following a diagram, and you'll find quite a few by searching for 3-D modular origami patterns.


Now back to those YouTube videos... Made by Julia Zhu, a teen in New Zealand, I found them enjoyable to watch. She's a natural born teacher, and thanks to step-by-step instructions with a good bit of humor thrown in, Julia makes the mindless folding of little paper rectangles seem like a very fun thing to do. Here is her beginner tutorial and there are many additional ones on the page's sidebar.


I contacted kattykong in China about sharing her photos and despite the language barrier, she told me she used paper from cigarette packages to make the complex bicycle and advertisements for the flower vases. Kattykong's examples are elaborate compared to the cute and colorful animals that are often seen. With snow days ahead, those would be great, inexpensive projects to keep the kids busy, and a paper cutter would make short work of readying the rectangles.


Of course kattykong rolled, rather than folded, this last container, but I think it looks quite nice too!


Oh, and it's the pair of swans that you'll see frequently as an example of modular origami. Their long and gracefully curved necks are so well-suited to this interesting craft.

14 comments:

SUGANTHI said...

Lovely examples of modular origami! the lamp looks so beautiful can't believe it is made with lots of small folded triangles. The cycle rickshaw is my favourite, such a clever idea.

Ann said...

More amazing works of art. The swans are beautiful but I think I like that vase the best.

Maureen said...

Such beautiful examples. Thank you for video link.

Melissa said...

That's crazy! Really, I'm constantly amazed by what people create out of paper. I think the swans are my favorite, but the bike is darn cool!

Anji* said...

Wow! These are awesome.. I especially love the green/blue/white not-quite-sure-what-it-is pineapple-like object!

Cards by Cheryl said...

These are amazing works of art....
thanks again Ann for another great find.

ArtfulLee Designed said...

Wow, that is amazing. So much meticulous work. I love origami, it is such a beautiful craft
Lee:)

ana @ i made it so said...

oh wow! some of those are just stunning! thanks for introducing us to this. never seen it before.

Sonya said...

Love these! I have watched some of the videos and found them facinating! Thanks for sharing these!

Helen said...

I had been wanted to make the flower vase. these turned out so nice. I've never seen the tricycle before and the lamp, wow.

Avital said...

These are wonderful! I saw a swan basket made with this technique when I was visiting the mother of a friend. I learned how to do it and made a couple small swans but they fell apart a long time ago, after sitting on my window sill at work for a year or so. Unless the paper is glued in some way, it eventually becomes brittle and the pieces fall apart, since they're only held together by the tension of the paper.

In those days, we had separator sheets on the printers. I used to cut them into little oblongs and keep them in a cup by my desk. Whenever someone was really wasting my time on the phone, I would just start folding those triangles. It helped me stay calm and patient and eventually I would have enough triangles to assemble another round of whatever.

Ann Martin said...

Thanks everyone, I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Avital, that's a great idea about keeping oblongs close at hand at the office for easy folding. Sure to keep the phone frustration level down. :-)

licia politis said...

wow, I didn't know that's what you called this type of paper folding! Thanks Ann for featuring examples of what can be made by just folding a small piece of paper! They are inspiring!
Licia

Anonymous said...


Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday.

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