Between the Folds

Rethinking origami as ‘Folding Paper’ / Sacramento Press

Miri Golan’s “Two Books,” (left) and Vincent Floderer’s “Clitocybe” (right)

If you think of frogs or birds when someone mentions origami, then perhaps you need to visit the new exhibit, “Folding Paper: the Infinite Possibilities of Origami,” at the Crocker Art Museum, where you’ll see some frogs and some birds, but you’ll also see pieces created by artists from around the globe that go far beyond what’s taught in elementary school.

How about a dress that can be worn standing up, and a matching pair of shoes? Each item was created from a single sheet of parchment paper, without making any cuts. If a parchment dress isn’t to your liking, perhaps a red dress created from a more traditional dress fabric will suit you for that special evening out.

Origami inspires clothing and telescopes (Image by: David Alvarez)

What do dresses have to do with origami? Well, as this exhibit shows, the art of folding paper touches many aspects of daily life, including clothing, buildings, maps and even phone designs.

You won’t want to rush through this exhibit because the lighting is as important as each piece. Watch how the shadows play on Bernie Peyton’s “Frog on a Leaf,” which reminded me of a haiku. Move in close, to the left, to the right, then step back and see how the light shifts, allowing some parts to come forward and others to recede.

One of the most important pieces in the exhibit is Miri Golan’s “Two Books,” which have tiny people figures emerging from the Koran and the Torah. The tiny figures, which appear to be worshipping, come together in peace.

As surprising as the parchment dress is the array of materials used to create these objects. While some artists worked with traditional materials, others, like Giang Dinh, chose to use watercolor paper, as Dinh does for his piece “Fly.”

“Fly” by Giang Dinh, 2010, watercolor paper (Image by: David Alvarez)

Spheres created by artists from Poland, Japan and Germany incorporated metallic paper, ticker tape, paper tape and even copy paper, while Robert J. Lang used glassine paper for his piece, “3 7 Hyperbole Limit, Opus 600,” one of few relatively flat pieces in the exhibit.

The tiniest piece in the exhibit is a crane folded from a candy wrapper. Be sure to take time to read about Sadako Sasaki and how she came to fold this crane, if you do not already know her story.

What should you not miss? The film showing speed folding; Lang’s giclee prints of the crease patterns he used in creating “Bull Moose,” “Scorpion,” and “Red-Tailed Hawk”; the story of the impact of origami on science and industry; and the history of origami, including information about Akira Yoshizawa, who became known as Japan’s first origami fine artist.

Robert J. Lang’s “Scorpion” and “Red-Tailed Hawk” and giclee prints of crease patterns. (Image by: David Alvarez)

This exhibit, curated by Meher McArthur, opened Sunday, June 30, and runs through September 29. To complement the exhibit, the Crocker Art Museum is offering several special events for adults and children. Please visit the museum’s website for more information.

Sacramento Press / Rethinking origami as ‘Folding Paper’.


Top Origami Artist to Shed Light on Modern Science of Origami at May 22 Talk

Robert Lang

To many of us, origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding, is an artistic novelty, resulting in a cute miniature crane, frog, elephant or even a boat or a box. But, according to origami master Robert Lang, the algorithms and theorems of origami design have illuminated long-standing mathematical questions and have even solved practical engineering problems.

Lang, who is recognized as one of the foremost origami artists in the world, as well as a pioneer in computational origami and the development of formal design algorithms for folding, will give a free public talk, From Flapping Birds to Space Telescopes: the Modern Science of Origami from 2 to 3:30 p.m., May 22 in Geisel Library’s Science & Engineering Events Room. The lecture is the last in a series of origami-related events–which included origami instruction and screenings of the documentary Between the Folds–sponsored during spring quarter by UC San Diego’s Science & Engineering Library.

At his talk, Lang, who holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Caltech, will discuss the techniques used in mathematical origami design–ranging from the abstruse to the highly approachable–and will describe how geometric concepts led to the solution of a broad class of origami folding problems – specifically, the problem of efficiently folding a shape with an arbitrary number and arrangement of flaps. This paved the way for origami designs of mind-blowing complexity and realism, some of which will be examined during Lang’s lecture. As often happens in mathematics, theory originally developed for its own sake has led to some surprising practical applications, including safer airbags, said Lang.

Origami crab and crane

While working at NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Spectra Diode Laboratories, and JDS Uniphase, Lang authored or co-authored over 80 papers and 45 patents on lasers and optoelectronics and has authored, co-authored, or edited 14 books and a CD-ROM on origami. He is a full-time artist and consultant on origami and its applications to engineering problems but keeps his toes in the world of scientific publishing, most recently as the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics from 2007–2010. Lang received Caltech’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2009 and in 2013 was elected as one of the inaugural Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.

After his lecture, which will include light refreshments, Lang will be on hand to sign copies of his books, two of which–Origami in Action and Origami Design Secrets will be available for purchase.

This event is supported by funding from IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). For more information: To register for Lang’s lecture: