Origami Greenhouse

Little Roses Kusudama by Maria Sinayskaya; Lizard by Jason Ku, folded by Matthieu Georger; Constrained Bowl by Linda Smith; Dragonfly by Shuki Kato; Flying Hercules Beetle by Shuki Kato; Snail by Nguyen Hung Cuong; Eupatorus Beetle by Shuki Kato
Handmade items to buy: Paper Bowl by Ruti’s Roots; Coastal Collection of Flat Origami Flowers by Paper Bird Co.; Bellflower Earrings by Sarigami; Origami Hair Pin by Dana Dellus

I once heard a story about a nobleman in Edo Japan with an unusual hobby. While idle warriors strolled through his gardens and floated on pleasure boats over his pond, the man himself spent most of his time in a greenhouse filled with plants made from folded paper. Sliding glass doors, framed by simple wood paneling, opened into a greenhouse independent of the seasons and forms illustrated in botanical encyclopedias.

The greenhouse bloomed by the hands of one man, the gardener, who entertained the nobleman with his skill at transforming pieces of paper into leaves, vines, and petals so complex, so life-like, that they began to emit a fragrance all their own. The nobleman’s sleeves would absorb traces of these scents, which, at formal events, would attract the attention of fellow members of court. The ladies forced their attendants to send him notes, asking in roundabout phrases to invite them to his greenhouse.

But it remained closed to curious visitors, fueling speculation that withered into envy among those who resented any pleasure that remained inaccessible to them. To preserve his reputation at court, the nobleman closed the greenhouse and sold its contents to Dutch traders at the port of Dejima. We can only speculate about the fate of the gardener’s work. Perhaps some of it crossed the seas and found its place alongside other ageless blooms in the homes decorated with vanitas still lifes.

Surface to Structure, an exhibition of origami works will be on view at the Cooper Union from June 19th until July 4th. 

Golden Ratio

• Andrea Russo’s Catenae Stellarum shines golden light through paper folded in an intricate geometric pattern. She notes that it’s “nothing impossible, nothing new” which is perhaps one of the best descriptions of an artwork, ever. The combination of light and paper creates an effect like a cross between stained glass and a honeycomb. If you look closely, you can see tiny pencil marks within each of the seven larger hexagons that are miniature maps of the whole design.

• Alejandra’s Ring layers copper and sterling silver circles, with bolt accents like planets in orbit.

• Sue’s Bracelet holds together a hammered silver ring with a dark brown leather strap.

• Devi’s Necklace suspends a spiral of woven hemp cord and silk thread from strings of wooden beads.

• Emma Kunz’ Grid Drawings weave geometric patterns into graph paper with colored pencils.

• Emily’s Fruit Bowl has a rich toffee color and a subtle golden-green glaze dripping down into its center.

• Rosy’s Book Sculpture transforms an old book into a stunning folded flower, without cutting any pages.

• Judy’s Scarf is a knit zig-zag spiral in shimmering tones of beige to brown.

Printed Perspective

• Albrecht Dürer was a Renaissance man. He approached painting, drawing, and printmaking through the lens of science and mathematics. In 1525, he published a manual on geometric theory for artists that emphasizes the application of mathematics to the study of perspective. He was keenly interested in the development of perspective theory in Italy, ancient texts by Euclid, Archimedes, and Ptolemy, and the innovations of contemporary mathematicians.

• What can you do with old books? Turn them into jewelry, like Jeremy May, who condenses pages into wearable blocks.

• Sarah Hitchcock Burzio’s Typography Quotation Notecards re-imagine Lewis Caroll and Mark Twain in beautiful type.

• The bed time story becomes part of the bedding in Tiago da Fonseca’s installation. As you turn the linen pages filled with text, you pile on layers and warmth.

• Amy’s Eagle Feathers are made from a vintage book about a Russian Steppe Eagle and architectural tracing paper.

• Kim’s Book Paper Poms are luscious, flower-like decorations made from book paper.

• Dürer experienced the first flourishing of the printing industry, and revolutionized the quality and depth of printmaking. As graphic art adapted to mass production enabled by the printing press, Dürer set the standard for complexity of concept and execution. The printing press and the internet are analogous shifts in terms of how profoundly they changed the acquisition of knowledge. The question is, who is our Dürer?

• Scottish artist Georgia Russell shreds old books and transforms the fragments into fantastical, feathery forms.

• Suzie Chaney’s La Tête avec un Sourire (The Smiling Head) is composed of layers of plaster and paper modeled on a dog’s skull.

• Daniel Lai’s White on White features two sleeping figures among folded old books.

• Vicky Neil creates Paper Roses from old books of romantic poetry and music, but you can also request a poem of your choice.

• Keep your thoughts together in Chen Daisy’s luxurious White Leather Journal.

Painting with Scissors

Matisse’s Japanese Mask (1950) has the spontaneity of a brushstroke and the bright color of an ukiyo-e print, but it’s just a few scraps of paper. His cut-outs were the culmination of many years of painting laboriously. With paper, Matisse felt liberated to experiment with an ease that he couldn’t achieve on canvas. The cut-out had no pretensions. A mask’s exaggerated expression could become non-representational movement, and a Blue Nude with Green Stockings (1952) could jump on a blank page.

Each Blue Studio Shirtdress by Anthropologie is hand-painted by artist Naomi Clark. Now you can look like you just came from the studio without getting messy.

Alina’s Felt Necklace is a bold and whimsical statement with three faux pearls to give it a classic touch.

What better and bolder way to eat sushi than from Cathy Jenkins’ Twin Sushi Dishes, handcrafted from fused glass.

heyBoom’s chic and durable Tote Bags are made from vegetable tanned leather and cotton canvas.

Baiba Osite’s Shibori Tights have a unique hand-dyed pattern that will liven up any wardrobe.

Anne Walker’s Leaf Earrings give Matisse’s cut-outs a sleek and modern interpretation.

Nancy’s Sterling Earrings are hand-cut from vintage oxidized tin with patterns inspired by Matisse’s cut-outs.

The Secret of One Thousand Cranes

Endless crisp folds overlapping deliberately and harmoniously form lines that reflect the beauty and simplicity of the compact form. Paper folding is design that also innovates the way we see space as we apply it to other areas of art and function.

Origami as a pastime for pleasure began during the Edo period in Japan, when the cultural flourishing and availability of paper inspired an exploration of the artistic side of folding paper. During this time, instructional books began to be published on the art of origami, such as “Hiden Senbazuru Orikata.”

Andre Lima’s fashion designs suggest that the stylistic capabilities of origami can be applied to complement the human form, perfectly combining the purpose of clothing as a reflection of body shape and the ambition of fashion to push the limits of this purpose artistically.
For a visual comparison, please visit trenddelacreme

Brazilian designer, André Lima’s collection to paper origami models • London-based Dutch product designer Marloes ten Bhömer.

André Lima’s collection to paper origami models • Prada 2008

Yasuhiro Yamashita’s origami-inspired house appears to be in a delicate yet solid balance, as it lightly rests its distinct shape on a single point. Just as origami forces one to reconsider how shape can be used to its best advantage, this house in Tokyo reinvents effective and creative living space. It quite literally floats on the sidewalk, a marvel architecture and artistry.

For a glimpse of the house as well as regularly updated origami-inspired innovations, please visit origamiblog.

This origami inspired house in Tokyo designed by architect Yasuhiro YamashitaJoseph Wu. Origami Pig • Origami-inspired ads CDB Matone: “Make your money multiply.”

Then, of course, there are those who take the humble art of paper folding to a whole new level, and create limitless possibilities for complex origami structures using mathematical concepts. For a truly fascinating look at how origami can go far beyond anyone’s expectations, please listen to Robert Lang’s talk.

Also visit origamiblog

Apple’s iTunes U serves up a fun collection of tutorial podcasts by physicist Robert Lang.

Robert Lang’s Origami Software