Space Race

Over the weekend I completed a major milestone on my forthcoming origami book, Origami from Sky and Space, namely a complete draft. The diagrams and layouts are done and I’ve approved the graphics for the paper to be included in the kit.

There was one late-breaking substitution. I created a new Jumbo Jet to replace my Jet Airliner. The model looks similar but is much larger for the same size paper, and uses the sheet better, is thinner, has fewer steps, and is better proportioned. I went from design to full diagrams and layouts in one day.

It’s a strong collection, fourteen models of low intermediate to intermediate range, ranging from 14 to 30 steps, all foldable from an 8 inch square. This being my second complete book, designed for a wider audience than Origami Animal Sculpture, my style has become a bit more streamlined. In fact although I had a bunch of models that fit the theme and were the inspiration for the book, most of the models were designed specifically for the kit book format.

None of the original models made it in, and I have lots of others that are too complex for the requirement of this book. These include some great designs such as my original Rocketship and U.F.O, as well my Zeppelin and Biplane. Some of these are 60 or 100 steps, and they’re already diagrammed. So there’s a whole nuther potential book out there or Airplanes and Spaceships on the level of Origami Animal Sculpture.

Next step is the photography. I’ll be shooting models from the kit paper and unpatterned paper as well. For while the graphics are nice and eye-catching, the models can be folded equally well from just about any paper, and in a way the plain paper shows off the pure form better.


Things have been going by fast around here. Hallowe’en came and went – we did our pumpkins in magic marker this year, and Lizzy birthday – went out for Japanese Hibachi steak house yum, as well as the clocks shifting, the much-ballyhooed election and a major deadline at work. I put in a few late nights and then took off the following Friday.

More fun: the windshield cracked on Lizzy’s car on her way to school one day so we had to get it replaced. Then it leaked in a rainstorm and we had to get it replaced again. Then Jeannie drove into a curb pulling over for a cop car and and banged up the bumper worse than it was before. Luckily I hadn’t gotten around to fixing that yet. Oy!

In the meantime if October was musical gig month, November has been origami convention month. I went to two conventions in two weeks. The first was OrigaMIT at MIT in Boston. It was alot of fun as always. The second was Origami Heaven at Stony Brook University on Long Island.

As usual I taught a bunch of classes. Since it’s the fall I taught my American Turkey out of my book Origami Animal Sculpture. Actually the American Museum of Natural History asked me for a model again this year for the origami Christmas tree, and the one they wanted was my Turkey, so that was the original motivation to dust it off.

This is a pretty complex model, about 100 steps in the book, with a color change and detailed feet with toes and a fan tail and wattle on the neck and everything. The model always gets compliments, but it’s hard to fold well. In particular it’s hard to get it to balance and stand on two feet. It takes a bit of finesse and you have to use the right kind of paper. In fact I folded a beautiful rust-orange one for the AMNH but the paper was too soft. Ah well. I ended up giving them one out of my OrigaMIT exhibit folded out of shiny paper from origami shop, because Talo was up at MIT and I knew I wouldn’t have time to go down the the museum this week.

Anyway I brought paper with me for the students to use, to insure they’d have a good experience. The class at MIT was quite full, but we got thru it all in the time allotted, and they all did quite well. This guy Zev Eisenberg even folded tiny turkey out of a 3” square. Finished size just over an inch. Then he put it in scene as larger-than-life monster to attack a tiny pirate ship he’d folded.

There’s a sequence in the middle that’s a bit tricky, but it went just fine in the class. I realize I’ve gotten better at explaining complicated origami moves over time. It’s been a few years since I designed this model and my style has developed since then, so I began to think about a more refined approach. I tried a few variations in the design that didn’t work but served to remind me about why I went the way I did.

The other class I taught at MIT was my Flowerball Evolution. This was essentially the same thing I taught at OUSA last June. This class was much smaller and included two sisters maybe 8 and 12 years old, excellent folders. The CPs for this class were published in the collection, and Jason Ku also published a limited edition volume of his own works that includes lots of his better-know models such as the Nazgul. Other highlights included Rebecca Gieseking’s vases and bowls, Wan Park in from Hawaii doing dollar folds, and Hugo Akitaya giving a paper on software he wrote for his thesis that converts CP’s to full-on Yoshizawa-Randlett diagrams

Even though the convention is one day, going up to Boston kills most of the weekend cuz we drive up Friday nite and come home Sunday morning. Still the energy level remained up even though it’s getting colder and darker every day. I even moved my workout from Tuesday and Thursday morning to Monday Wednesday Friday to accommodate the travel.

The next weekend we went to Stony Brook on Long Island for Origami Heaven. This was my first time going to this one although Srikant has been asking me for years. It’s not as technical or academic as the MIT one, nor quite as large, but it has alot of OUSA folks from NYC and was alot of fun. It was at the hotel on the Stony Brook campus and at lunchtime Jeannie and I took a long walk around. Lizzy applied there for college so it was good to see the campus.

I taught my Turkey again, and this time I made a few improvements to it, particularly smoothing out the troublesome middle section and also improving the landmarks and geometry or the tail. Still not totally satisfied but it’s getting there. Someday hopefully I’ll published a revised diagrams for it. There weren’t that many classes so in the afternoon I added one and taught my Adirondack Moose.

In the evening there was a dinner and free folding and a raffle and silent action. Jeannie got a bunch of tickets and we won a few sheets of really nice fine paper as well as the new book and Akira Yoshizawa, widely considered the godfather of modern origami. It’s a beautiful coffee-table book published by my publisher Tuttle. Very nicely done.

The other major thing going on right now is I’m shopping for a new piano. However this post is already kinda long so I’ll save that for another time.

We Got Elephants

Recently OrigamiUSA announced a partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in its official attempt to break the world record for the largest display of origami elephants. Who knew that was even a category? The goal is to reach 35,000 origami elephants to bring attention to the 35,000 elephants that are killed each year for their ivory. So I happily contributed a few, my own design diagrammed in my book, made out of 25cm Marble Wyndstone, A.K.A. Elephant hide paper. This was something of an experiment since I usually don’t make ‘em that small, but they turned out quite successful. I finally got the wetfolding down for this model. It’s funny how they all come out a little different, how each has its own personality.

While I was at it I made a couple to put on my desk at work, one for the Westchester office and one for the Manhattan office. Whenever put origami on my desk at work someone asks if they can have it, so I have to keep making more.

I don’t know when or where the exhibition of all these origami elephants will be (maybe the Bronx Zoo, cuz that’s where the Wildlife Conservation Society has their offices), and frankly I can’t even imagine 35,000 folded paper elephants, so it should be something to see. I expect there’ll be an announcement when the time draws closer. Hopefully it will be effective in raising awareness, cuz obviously we’d all like living elephants to be around for a while. By coincidence I’m shopping for a new piano these days, and I wonder what they use for the white keys. As I understand it the only legit source of ivory left in the world is digging up Wooly Mammoth tusks from the permafrost in Siberia.

Dog Days

Moving into the long backstretch of summer. The political conventions are over and the Olympics are on TV now. Believe it or not we’ve had two low-key weekends at home in a row, but we’ve been so busy it’s been a nice break.

Last weekend I went rollerblading, which turned out not to be such a great idea cuz the streets around here are hilly and roads have grown bumpier, and I don’t tolerate bad pavement as well as I used to. Still, good fun. This weekend it worked out that both the kids were out of the house Friday and Saturday nite, so Jeannie and I got to go out to dinner two nights in a row.

Work has been fun and exciting and so has the Global Jukebox. I hope to devote a full post to each of those soon.

Been working on music. People have been on vacation so we haven’t been doing full rehearsal what we can. Left Hook is on hiatus all of August so we’ve been doing unplugged sessions and vocal sectional. I have a new jazz demo in the offing called King’s Hex; hope to debut it soon.

I had a random origami commission, a dude in Texas wanted one of turtles as a gift for his wife. He had in mind to put in some glass dome, so I had to make it a but smaller than usual, but it turned out very nice. I used at 10.5” sheet of green Rhino Hide. The final model was a little over five inches long. Totally forgot to take pictures before I sent it out. As an experiment I also folded one out of an 8.5” sheet of some kind of blue sparkly paper that’s alot like Elephant Hide. That one came out pretty well too, but the detail on the toes was a bit sloppy. Really at the limit of foldability.
The weather was really nice in late July into early August, but then it turned really hot. It’s been 100 degrees here the last few days, and very humid. I had to get up and go out early to do the yardwork so I could be in before the full heat of midday. Even so by 11 it was well over 90. There’ve been flash thunderstorms almost every day. There’s violent lighting out right now. It’ll probably pass in ten minutes.

Lizzy is going to take her road test for her driver’s licensee this week Good luck!

Origami USA 2016

Another Origami USA convention has come and gone. A great time as usual folding and hanging with my origami friends. John, Brian, Beth, Paul, Sri, Jason, Robert, everyone was there. I also had a meeting with my publisher and finally have a contract in hand for my next book. Just gotta get a few fine points in the rider and we should be all squared away.

The venue for this year was St. John’s University in Queens, and it turned out to be a very nice place. Beautiful campus, and everything was in two buildings close together. Free parking too. There were a few good restaurants in the neighborhood, including a Mexican place that served a drink that was a margarita with an upside-down beer in it, attached to the rim of the glass by a special adapter.

One really nice thing was that the gallery this year was in a hall with great natural lighting, so everything looked much better than it used to at FIT.

I had a whole bunch of new models for my exhibit. The main thing was something I’m calling Flower Balls. The idea is to create a flower-like tessellation and then fold it into a polyhedron to create the effect that people like to do out of modulars, but with a single sheet of paper. I got inspired and started with it last summer in Ohio, and by MIT in the fall I had a Cube and Dodecahedron Flowerball, along with 4- and 5-petal flower tessellation units. In the last month or so I extended the approach to create 6- and 8-petal flowers, and combined them to form a bunch of Archimedean solids, namely a Truncated Tetrahedron, Cuboctahedron, Truncated Octahedron and Truncated Cube. Only downside is people don’t always get that it’s a single sheet.

I taught a couple classes. One was Airplanes and Spaceships II – intermediate level models from the upcoming book. Went over well, go thru five of them in a 105 minute class. The other was the Flowerballs, and this time I had crease patterns to use a guide while I laid out the concept and some examples. On Monday John Montroll did a rare class, on the topic of diagramming on the computer.

All in all a great, fun convention. I’m guessing OUSA will want to go back to St. John’s next year.

2015 Origami Part II

Quick update here – I finished off the pages for my 2015 origami, including the landing pages for Origami By Year and Origami By Subject, as well as all the subject pages that needed updating. I split the Air and Space category into two categories – Air and Space – since I now have so many models in that zone. And, keeping with the trend, the landing pages are now mobile-first responsive, just like everything else on the site, so they ought to look good on your tablet or phone.

The convention is coming up and I’ve been folding some new stuff. I’ve expanded my Flowerball idea into different tessellations and different polyhedra. I’ve been concentrating on the Archimedean solids, with the faces yielding flowers decorated with 6- and 8-petal flowers. I’ve got about four weeks to the convention, so we’ll see how far we get with this idea, and if we have time for something else too.

2015 Origami

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update my web site. One thing I’ve been meaning to do since the New Year is update the origami section with the 2015 models. Now the convention is coming up and I want to have some new things, so I feel the need to finish with the old. 2015 was a banner year for me, with 24 new models. And I even got decent pictures of most of ’em. The main theme is a book’s worth of airplanes and spaceships, and the others are a series of explorations into the intersection of tessellations, single-sheet polyhedra, and representationalism. I’m make a bunch of new models in this theme right now. Hoping to branch out from flower to insects and reptiles.

Still to come on the website is the corresponding updates to the subject page and thumbnails page. While I’m at it I’m gonna reflow the thumbnails to be mobile-first responsive. Meanwhile enjoy a year’s worth of new models:

Animals Out of Paper Again

A little while back I contributed a few origami models to a new production of Animals Out of Paper, put on by the Hudson Stage company and playing in Armonk, NY for one more week. I would have really liked to have seen this one, since I really enjoyed last year’s production in Manhattan by a different group. It’d be great to compare and contrast, and see how much of it comes from the script and how much from the interpretation of the performers, and how much from the set and all that.

But alas I’ve been too busy. Last night we had a birthday party for Michelle. Next week my band has a gig. Last weekend I went out to see the Miles Davis movie, which I must say was singularly fascinating, insightful, and most excellent, but not at all what you’d expect. It centers on the period in this career when Miles wasn’t playing trumpet all (kinda like AOoP, come to think of it), and comes of as sort a cross between Give My Regards to Broad Street and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

So in lieu of my review of Animals Out of Paper, here’s what they have to say in the paper of record:

I’ve gotten in the habit of folding two of any model when I have a commission, so I have one to keep. Here’s one of my Snapping Turtles, and I think it’s the nicest one I’ve ever folded. Didn’t even have to wet-fold it. The annual convention is coming up in just over a month, and I want to have some new stuff to exhibit. Lots of ideas but I have to make the time. At least I have this Turtle. And I have a dozen or more new models from the last year, mostly airplanes and spaceships developed between Ohio and Boston. I’ll have to check in and see what’s good with that collection. But I kind of feel like it’s time to move on and tackle some new subjects. I guess we’ll see what I come up with.

American Origami Masters

I’m happy to announce a new origami book for which I’m a featured contributor. It’s American Masters of Origami, edited and curated by Marc Kirshenbaum. Here’s a link to the book on Marc’s site:

And to order it in French or Italian:

The model of mine that appears in the book is my Luv Bug. I’m sharing these pages with alot of great creators, including Marc, Robert Lang, Seth Friedman, Beth Johnson, and a whole bunch of others. The presentation, diagrams and photography are all very beautiful. I’m especially gratified that Marc fold a lovely rendition of my Luv Bug out a large sheet of tissue foil so he could take such great pictures of it.


All quiet on the western front. It’s getting into the second half of winter and I’m starting to feel hopeful about spring. Lizzy is in Switzerland. Michelle got her braces off the other day.

I’m working from home these days, and I must say for the most part it suits me. My health is better then it’s been the last few winters. No getting up before daylight to stand out on the train platform in the bitter cold. No colds or flu, no back or leg pain.

I’m still rehabilitating my shoulder. I can do all the exercises I used to before I injured it, pushups and free weights, but on bench press I’ve plataeued, and every time I try and add weight it starts to hurt, so I go back down and wait a few weeks to try again. This last time the soreness went away faster and I’m ready to try again after only a week.

I have a pullup bar that sets up in a doorframe, and I’ve been using it in the doorway of wizard room (the closet under the stairs) for like 2 years. The other day the molding there cracked, so now I’m thinking about how to rebuild it stronger.

OTOH with working from home there’s less human contact. I’ve been getting out on the weekends, to dinner and the movies (Star Wars) for Jeannie’s birthday, to a party at Nick’s, and surprisingly saw a really good jazz group at a fundraiser at Michelle’s school. The band director is an amazing drummer, especially at Latin jazz.

For Valentine’s day I took Jeannie out to a local restaurant, Infusion, that I’ve passed by hundreds of times but never went in. But then I found out the bass player Jay from my Saturday jazz group was playing there with a guy on vibes as a duo. It turned out to be a very nice place, classy, dimly lit, with very good quasi-French food. They seated us right up near the band so I was able to suggest a few songs: My Romance, My Funny Valentine, All the Things You Are, that kind of thing. They were really good. Just the perfect thing, and a really pleasant surprise.

Before I found out about Jay’s gig the plan was to go to Burke’s bar, where LEFT HOOK is playing next week, to check the place out. So we went there afterwards for a drink of two. It’s a pretty big place, a step up from the joints we’ve been playing. The calamari is yummy and they got lots of different beers. They have a nice big stage, but we still have to bring our own PA. I don’t think they had a band that night cuz it was pretty dead. I’m sure bitter cold snap was keeping people home.

The Global Jukebox project is coming along. There was a bit of a crisis a couple weeks ago cuz they’d used up the money for my initial contract but we were only about halfway thru the projected work. By the end of the first week we were already several weeks behind schedule, as we discovered that the database needed some serious work, the codebase I was taking over was a mess, and there were lots of little things they’d need to go live that they’d never thought of. Growing pains getting from a prototype to a product. Like I said, they’re not software engineers. But they found some more cash and were able to extend the project a few more months, and they’re working on getting funding for a whole year. I hope it comes thru. They have alot of great ideas and I’d really love to be able to do it right.

I finished a major milestone build last week. Done the first major round of refactoring and getting the core features in place. Still lots of little cleanup and loose ends, but I hope to have something sharable soon.

I’ve also been learning Python and Django (the D is silent), since our database guy has limited availability and there’s lots to do on that side.

Believe it or not I’m still negotiating with my publisher about the origami airplanes and spaceships book. I thought for a while it was totally dead, but now it may happen after all. The point of contention was the graphics they want printed on the paper. I have a pretty strong idea of what I want and what I don’t. My feeling generally is that it should be pretty minimalist and not detract from the folded form. After they saw my samples they thought it’d be a useful guide, but wanted to have their staff graphics guy do the graphics, and to add insult they want to pay him out of my advance.

Then the sample graphics they sent me were a travesty. It was not my model, and not for my book, but it was a picture of a very cartoony robot slapped on a sheet of paper that didn’t look like anything like a robot to begin with. It looked like they reinvented the back cover of Mad Magazine!

So I said no way, I’ll do the book my own way and get another publisher. Then they decided they wanted to negotiate. First they agreed to pay their graphics guy out of their share. Then I said I’d only go with them if they gave me some sample graphics for my models and I approve of them. Surprisingly they agreed. So that’s where we are now, waiting for them to produce some graphics.

I’ve been thinking of buying a new synthesizer. It turns out Moog is making reissues of their classic analog synths, but with modern components and with midi and digital control/memory/recall. You can get a full-stack modular moog a la Keith Emerson for a mere $35,000, not including keyboard, ribbon controller, extra modules, etc. Or you can get a modern day MiniMoog for about a grand.

BTW, I learned the other day the original voice of R2D2 was an ARP 2600 synthesizer, one of the first “semi-modulars”. It also appears on a bunch of Rush albums beginning with 2112, and on Edgar Winter’s Free Ride, which my rock group learned and then abandoned because it was too high for our singer.

So in closing, here’s a reminder that LEFT HOOK has a gig coming up a week at Burke’s Bar. We learned 5 new (keeper) tunes including Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel and Beginnings by Chicago. Very rockin’!