Monday, March 30, 2009

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

And now, the classic Star Trek episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", re-created with paper cranes.

*sniff* So sad.

The Kirk and Spock cranes are traditional models folded from 4-1/2" squares of standard origami paper. The Lokai and Bele cranes are variations of the traditional model, folded from 5-7/8" squares. (The variation "shrinks" the paper somewhat, making them roughly equivalent to a 4-1/8" square.) The cranes measure 3-1/8" to 3-3/4" from beak to tail, owing to variations in pose as well as paper size. Folding sequences for the traditional model may be found pretty much anywhere; a good folding sequence for the variation may be found at Origami Club under the heading "traditional".

Photography courtest of Danielle Osterweil.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Ah, what have we here? Some sort of moonlight tryst?

These chickens are based on a very fun and simple model by Kunihiko Kasahara. Easy enough for beginners, but elegant and evocative.

Which one is the rooster? Which one is the hen? Can you tell? One of the joys of origami is in making subtle adjustments to the pattern. In this case, slight variations in the shaping of the back, tail, and underside create subtle differences in the completed model. Learning these adjustments and variantions is the first step towards origami design.

And now... cyborg rooster.*

"I'm looking for Sarah Connor."

"Ain't nobody here but us chickens!"

The rooster and hen were made from standard 5-7/8" red origami paper. The cyborg was made from 5-7/8" square gold and red foil paper. Each stands about 2-5/8" tall and is roughly 4-1/4" long (minus tail, in the cyborg's case). Folding patterns for a basic hen and rooster can be found in Kasahara's Origami Omnibus.

* Please, no "Robot Chicken" jokes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two cranes in flight

Today we have two cranes in flight, modeled here by the amazing Alex and Jason.

The orange crane on the left is a clever model from the "technical school", based on John Montroll's "five-sided square". (Best name ever.) It is essentially a five-limbed version of the traditional flapping bird, with some extra shaping and detailing. And yes, it flaps.

The purple crane on the right is belongs to the more "traditional school", and is incredibly elegant and fun to fold. Whereas the orange crane has two distinct, defined legs, the purple crane has a single rear flap, folded in such a way to suggest the existence of two separate legs. I find this very clever and aesthetically pleasing.

The orange crane was folded from a 9-3/4" square of standard origami paper. It measures 5-5/8" from beak to foot. The model was designed by Robert J. Lang, and folding instructions may be found in his book Origami in Action. The purple crane was folded from a 5-7/8" square of standard origami paper and measures 5" from beak to foot. This crane was designed by Kunihiko Kasahara, and folding instructions may be found in his book Origami Omnibus.

Monday, March 9, 2009


It's a lovely day in the Mesozoic Era. The sun is shining... it's a beautiful day... and then all of a sudden... pterodactyl attack!


This Pteranodon, photographed soaring above the coniferous forests of the late Cretaceous Period, is actually a sophisticated adaptation of the traditional flapping bird model, as featured in last week's post. The wings of the traditional model are reshaped; the tail and head are split into feet, beak, and crest, and voila! Although the modifications might seem severe, they don't alter the underlying structure of the model. Thus, the flapping action is preserved; tugging the beastie's feet produces a terrific prehistoric flap.

This model was designed by Robert J. Lang and folded from a 7" square of standard origami paper. It measures 3-1/4" from snout to rump, with a 5-3/8" wingspan. Folding instructions may be found in Lang's excellent book Origami Design Secrets.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Flapping birds

Flap. Flap. Flap.

Today's post features three bird models that flap when you tug on them. Specifically, it features photos of these birds. I suppose it would have made more sense to take videos of them flapping, but hey.

The topmost bird is a traditional model based on the bird base. The bird on the left is a modern creation by Samuel Randlett, based on the waterbomb base. It has a much smoother action than the traditional model. The bird on the right is a variation of Randlett's bird by Paul Jackson.

The traditional bird has a property known as one-sidedness. In layman's terms, the entire outside of the model is derived from only one side of the paper. (Most origami paper is colored or patterned on one side, and white on the other. You will note that the model is completely patterned -- the white side of the paper is completely hidden.) The other two birds do not posess the one-sidedness property; in each model you can see the both the upper (patterned) and lower (solid colored) sides of the paper.

You will notice that the traditional bird is significantly smaller than the other two. This is a side-effect of the one-sidedness property: the usable surface area of the paper is reduced by a factor of 50%.

All three birds were folded from 5-7/8" squares of origami paper. The traditional model uses a standard patterned paper. The other models use pattern/solid duo paper. The traditional bird measures 4-3/8" from beak to tail-tip, with 3" tall wings. Randlett's and Jackson's birds both measure 5-1/2" from beak to tail-tip, with 3-1/8" tall wings.

Folding instructions for the traditional bird may be found in many books and on many websites; Origami USA offers some. Instructions for Randlett's bird may be found in Origami in Action by Robert J. Lang. Instructions for Jackson's variant may be found in Practical Origami by Rick Beech.

Be sure to check back next week, when we will take a look at another flapping beast.