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Origami full of life
Appendix: Technical Description - Advice to the Readers
2 - How to Fold (translation)

Page 190

Moistening the paper

Before folding, adjust the moisture content by moistening the paper. Moisten so that the water goes evenly on each fiber of the paper.

The method differs depending on the paper thickness, the backing, if it's a Western or Japanese paper, and season and humidity. Normally, you place the paper on a desk or a table and cover the paper with tightly wrung towel and let it lay for a while. Sometimes, you press the paper with folded wet towel, or for hard papers, you transfer the moisture by wiping the paper. Both Western and Japanese papers can be classified as vertical and horizontal papers, so you move your hand along the grain of the paper. That is, you follow the direction of the fiber of the vertical paper.

When the paper is thick or hard, you use a mister or seal the paper in a vinyl bag, after moistening it with a towel, and leave it overnight. Generally, hard Western papers require more moisture while moderately thick Japanese papers with backings do not need to be laid too long after moistening.

(Caption) When using a mister, let it lay for a while after misting so that the moisture penetrates evenly on each fiber of the paper.

(Caption) Using a moist towel to moisten the paper. Fold the towel as pictured and sweep it along the grain of the paper so that it will not roughen the surface.


For each piece of work you are working on, you create the rhythm as you fold. When you succeed to create the rhythm toward the next fold, the paper comes alive.

In the pictures, the basic folds are not made sequentially but folded all together after making creases. The paper is placed on the table when the creases are made, but after the basic fold, the following folds are made holding the paper in your hands. This depends on the paper size and the thickness, but if the size permits, it is better to hold the paper in your hands after the basic shape is made. By folding it in your hands, you will avoid making unnecessary creases and avoid touching the area that should be left alone, and create the rhythm that I mentioned before.

It goes without saying that it is important to be aware of the characteristic of the piece that you are working on, such as the characteristic of the pigeon if you are folding a pigeon. You must always be aware of all the "objects/events" and observe carefully and take mental notes. Also, you must take into account the effect of the springiness of the paper in the finish as you fold.

But these matters are not something that you can learn by reading words of explanation. The most important thing is to fold constantly so that you do not lose the form. Also, remember not to become conceited, but to fold with humility. To regard the paper as "mine" is an audacious idea. You must approach the paper with humility, asking it to let you work with it, and treat it with affection. The ultimate goal is to fold without being self-aware.

(Caption) Folding a pigeon here. Make the creases and fold altogether into Basic fold A.

(Caption) Make further folds in hands, like flowing with a rhythm.

Page 192

(Caption) Form the beak of the pigeon by pushing in the folds in one step. The flow is smooth without a break in the rhythm.

(Caption) By rounding the head and chest, the folding is done for now.


When you have finished folding, you can observe the work and make small adjustments and finish the shape while the moistened paper dries. In the pictures, the piece is being finished by adjusting the center of weight position and rounding the feet to give it the feel of claw.

Besides the details, it is necessary to adjust the skewness of the work. As I mentioned in the section "Moistening the paper", the paper has grain, with two directions-vertical and horizontal, so the skewness always shows up while drying. And while it always shows up, it is not possible to anticipate it and compensate for it beforehand.

But if the adjustments are overdone, it goes out of bound of origami and loses the feel of origami, so it is necessary to seek balance. By learning the "folding" technique, it is possible to express quite a bit of details using just hands. The use of tools such as tweezers should be done only after you gain confidence that you can do it all just with hands.

(Caption) Make fine adjustments before the paper dries. The picture shows rounding of feet.

(Caption) You use the handle part of the tweezers as well as the tip. The tools are just an extension of your hand; don't become dependent on it.

(Caption) Feet are adjusted so that it extends straight down from the center of gravity, just as in the real pigeon. Finish by adjusting the tip of claw.

Translation by Robert Tsuchida; many thanks to Joel Stern for providing it.

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