Aaron, David and Byriah fold an oversized modular
during the Origami USA conventionPhoto credit Debi Pfitzenmaier
Started in the 17th century, origami continues to evolve through the study of the mathematical properties of the craft. And this is where origami is finding its resurgence among youth.
Every June, a group of nearly 400 adults, teens and kids gather together at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and spend hours folding paper at the Origami USA Conference. For four days from morning to midnight, they fold their way through modulars, tessellations, wire frames, flowers, birds, mythical figures, mobiles and puzzles.
After classes all day, everyone gathers in the Great Room. Some fold, others visit, many teach. The origami moms sit and share tales of the stacks of origami units and explosion of colorful papers piled high on bookshelves, on floors, in boxes and in every nook and cranny of our homes. Everyone shares tips, tricks and tactics until they are kicked out at midnight. The conversations continue in coffee shops and hotel lobbies until eyelids, heavy with exhaustion, finally fall shut into dreams of units, paper and fold patterns.
But there’s more to this story. Origami is not just a hobby. It can be a stepping-stone to a future career. Just look at the work of Erik Demaine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in DNA folding, Robert Lang's work on space telescopes. Origami can help children understand the concepts of geometry and, as they advance, push the limits of their calculations.
Happily, it’s not a solitary art. There’s a vibrant and respectful Flickr community where origamists share their folds, comment on each other’s designs and collaborate on new units.
Have I caught your attention now? Here’s where you can explore deeper:
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
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