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Class on the History of Paperfolding (published in Folding Didactics, 2016)

I gave this class twice in Buenos Aires last year. One was in November 2015, at Origamiteca, a small and delightful shop with a workshop attached  and the second one in December 2015 in Daiwa, a Japanese center. Eleven people attended the course at Origamiteca and 18 at Daiwa. It is an amazing number of people given the topic, which is not so common for origami workshops. It shows there is a lot of interest in the history of our craft.

The first picture: I’m holding a true piece of history: the Asahi Graph magazine’s article of January 9th, 1952, with the 12 signs of the Chinese horoscope that put Yoshizawa-san in the public eye. Behind me, a comparative chart of Western Art periods, Japan historic eras, and a comparative timeline of Origami in the West and the East so people could more easily compare where and when things were happening.

The second picture has a picture of Gershon Legman, taken by Wayland Hand, an American folklorist. The course was divided in three classes of two hours each. The information was supported by documentation such as photographs, letters, clippings and original models. Attendees to the course also practiced models such as the Catherine de Clèves box, tsustumi, and a few others. Each class was provided with a little color booklet with a timeline, diagrams and illustrations. On the last day, people answered a feedback short questionnaire. They seemed to have enjoyed this new type of course. There is still a lot to review and incorporate for upcoming courses this year.

First class: The past History of paper and first traces of paperfolding in the Orient.
Myths and truths about the origin of paperfolding. Usage and customs of paperfolding in the old Japan. Samurai, gifts and ceremonies. A living “fossil”: the noshi. Geishas and love letters. Tsutsuminoki, the “etiquette” folding in the Edo era. Washi and other papers. Hana tsutsumi and folding flower containers.

Second Class: The East-West connection – the Renaissance and paperfolding.
The history of box of Catherine de Clèves in the Book of Hours. Jumping to Baroque Europe: banquets and folding fabric. Folding paper in the kindergarten. Froebel’s influence in other arts. The experience of the Bauhaus. 19th century: the Enlightenment discovers the mechanic bird. An American in Paris: Gershon Legman, a folklorist and expert in dirty jokes and origami. The mystery of Kannomado, an old and forgotten encyclopaedia with a chapter on foldings. Akira Yoshizawa, the father of modern origami. Letters and documents of that time expose the framework that made possible to be known in the West.

Third Class: the golden years of origami
The 50’s and 60’s: the pioneers of modern origami in the USA, UK, Argentina, Spain and Japan. The pen-pal network. Lillian Oppenheimer: the great lady of Origami. Anecdotes and newly discovered facts about the life and work of George Rhoads, Neal Elias, Robert Harbin and others. Paperfolding lands in Argentina. Solórzano Sagredo and the Argentines Adolfo Cerceda and Ligia Montoya.

I would like to express my gratitude to the following friends who sent me short introductory videos which were shown in each class: Polo Madueño (Argentina), Nick Robinson (UK), and Juan Gimeno (Spain). Also to Dave Venables (UK) who gave me permission to show one of Robert Harbin’s TV shows aired in the UK in the late 60´s, a true piece of historical value!

Click on the images to enlarge:

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