While visiting with Henry's relatives in California, I was fortunate to get an origami lesson from Joel Stern, author of three origami books: Origami Games: Hands-on Fun for Kids!, Animated Origami Faces, and Jewish Holiday Origami. It was midnight, our time, Henry and I had spent six hours in the air that day, and we were stuffed from a delicious dinner cooked by Henry's Aunt Lela. Joel (married to Henry's cousin Susan) graciously offered to show me the basics of folding. I have always been doubtful that I could pick up the intricacies of origami; it's one craft I've admired from afar and passed over time and again. But, Joel's directions are extremely clear and easy to follow and I was soon folding my first origami piece despite the late hour and exhaustion.
I have to admit, I'm now an origamiholic. I ordered all of Joel's books when we got back to North Carolina. Yes, I already had a signed copy given to me by Aunt Lela and Joel, but I was thinking ahead to this school year. We always have Club Day at my school and I try to offer at least one club per year. I'm planning to not only offer an Origami Club, but also to introduce some origami basics when we reach the geometry portion of our math classes this year. I've been working with another origami book, Unfolding Mathematics with Unit Origami by Betsy Franco and Diane Varner. The author presents several exercises which involve doing a series of folds which when unfolded will yield geometric shapes. Teacher support is terrific and gives several levels on which to teach these lessons. Part of these includes using the folds and creases to determine angle measures. I found that even the simplest lessons, however, need to be worked through ahead of time, not that they're difficult, just complex. You'll be happy if you do. These are fun and I can't wait to use them for hands-on activities for my students.
I've also started learning the difference in good origami books and packets and not-so-good ones. There are several books, including ones I've purchased, that look beautiful on the bookshelf, but leave the reader lacking in good demo pictures and directions. I'm learning enough now, to be a more careful buyer. I'd suggest taking a few extra pieces of paper with you to the bookstore, sitting down with a book you're considering buying and trying out one of the projects. See for yourself if the directions are good enough for you to follow.
Don't forget youtube.com. For example, on a recent trip (Henry's driving), I took my origami bag and was happily folding. I tried the pony and had not done the square base before. I started with a packet of origami papers which came with some directions in Japanese. I don't know why I think I can use these directions at this point in my experience. I don't read Japanese - wish I could. I moved to one of the books I had taken, The Joy of Origami, by Margaret Van Sicklen. I love this book. It not only has good directions, but includes origami papers which are really pretty/cute for easy projects - mostly easy, my favorite being the Elephant in Pajamas. I could now figure out how to fold the square base and managed to fold a polka-dot pony. Whee! I became emboldened and took out some zebra-striped paper. What happened? I did the same thing, or so I thought. I folded and refolded, using the directions from the book now, combined with the third source, another packet of papers.
Okay, maybe I should stick with one source. I pulled out the colored paper from The Joy of Origami and used its directions only. No Pony! I folded the papers back into the book after at least four tries, and waited until the next day. I found a youtube video by origamifun. This has very clear directions and will help with anyone having trouble folding the square base. Success! I can now fold a horse! I will go back to the beautiful paper and there will eventually be a new pony. On to the cranes. I also found a nice video by tavin15. I did try the flapping crane by another folder, but even doing the folds exactly as he did, I came out with two heads (and apparently so did many of his other viewers).
For all of the folders out there, there is a new magazine coming out: Creased, Magazine for Paper Folders, coming in October 2010. This is being produced by famous origami master, Sok Song. The gallery pictures from his website are breathtaking. I've sent an email for subscription information. The ads promise the following: six issues per year, forty full-color pages, 12 new diagrams per issue as well as classic models for teachers, online diagrams for subscribers only, and an option for subscribers to pay a little extra to receive papers with their magazine. This should come just at the right time for the new Origami Club to get started at school and should offer a lot of support in teaching this to new learners.
P.S. I'm always looking for new ideas, so if anyone knows of any other great origami resources, or just wants to chime in with photos, please do so.