Paper folding is not as difficult as it looks, discovered participants at a recent origami workshop in the city

The magical transformations are not just tangible, they can be executed by everyone with a bit of practice — that’s the feeling you came away with after witnessing an origami demonstration where complex three-dimensional forms were created from a single sheet of ordinary paper just by a few deft folds and gentle pulls. Doing it independently made the process all the more credible and gratifying. A recent workshop held in the city ‘Meet the folders’, organised by the Origami Society of Madras and the Apparao Galleries, managed to reinforce this idea among those who attended. And judging from the small crowd that turned up, origami seemed to fascinate not just children, techies and homemakers, but people from all walks of life.

“We wanted to conduct a workshop to celebrate the fact that the society’s membership has crossed the 200 figure mark,” begins V.R. Karthik, who cofounded OSM along with T. Subash. The workshop, while teaching participants the basic folds of origami such as mountain, valley, inside reverse, outside reverse and blintz, also got them to make simple objects, animals and birds.

Science behind the art

The participants learnt that origami is nothing but a practical application of the principles of geometry which are relevant in diverse fields such as spacecraft modelling and civil engineering. The workshop also screened an amazing documentary film, produced by PBS and Independent lens, called Between the Folds which showed passionate origami enthusiasts, including artists and scientists, creating marvels out of paper. This included crocodiles with their numerous scales distinctly visible, dragons that took a1000 folds and many days to create, human figures in elaborate detail with expressive faces and fine lines on their skin, and even minimalistic origami akin to modern art like cubism that decodes forms to their basic shapes. As the film demonstrated to the awed viewers, one can experiment with tissue paper, textured paper, handmade paper and various other kinds of paper to arrive at exquisite forms, though origami works just as well with plain paper too.

“Origami makes a fantastic hobby. It teaches creativity, patience, resourcefulness, a sense of space-time connect; I would recommend it to everyone, not just to students”, says Subash. An idea echoed by homemaker Punitha Rajesh, who brought her kids to the workshop but turned out to be quite adept at the art of paper folding herself. OSM conducts occasional origami classes and workshops in schools and colleges. And their Facebook page www.facebook.com/origamisocietyofmadras has evolved to be a great platform for exchanging ideas on this fascinating craft.