Monday, June 1, 2015

Origami disasters

People say I have talent for making origami.  Perhaps that's somewhat true, but I think the most important thing is that I like doing it.  Because I like doing it, I spend a lot of time on it and accumulate a lot of experience.  Sometimes experience comes in the form of making mistakes.

Here I present some of my favorite photos, the photos of things that just did not work!

Here is a really early model I made, one of my first attempts to go "off-script".  Following instructions is nice, but I wanted to make my own shapes of arbitrary specification.  I thought this twelve-pointed star would be simple, but in retrospect it was far too ambitious for my skill level at the time.

The model didn't hold together at all!  It was so flawed, there was absolutely no way it could ever hold together!  It only looks fine because I covered it in tape, but by that time it's transgressing the boundaries of the art form.

Later I managed to make the twelve-pointed star by making a simple modification of the Sonobe unit.

Here's a mistake I made which was entirely on-script.  I was making one of Meenakshi Mukerji's "floral balls", I don't remember each one.  It's supposed to be a sphere with a bunch of five-petaled flowers.  Unfortunately, I couldn't make a single flower hold together.

The units were just too small for it to work!  I was using my largest paper (15x15 cm), but it needed to be in a 1:4 ratio, so I had to cut it into fourths.  Maybe I could make it if I were more careful and used better paper but so far I haven't tried again.

At some point I was given a copy of Eric Gjerde's Origami Tessellations.  While I would say much about how easy modular origami is, and how anyone can do it, I'm afraid that I could not say the same of origami tessellations.  If you're not very careful, small errors start multiplying, and everything looks like a crumpled mess!  This is frustrating because I spent a lot of time folding that paper over a hundred times.

This is another origami tessellation gone wrong.  Some people look at this and they can't see what's wrong with it.  Well, I tried using foil paper, and it turns out foil paper just doesn't work for origami tessellations.  You can't really see anything!  I mean, I have absolutely no talent for photography, so that doesn't help either.  But if you could hold it in your hands, you'd see what a mess it really is.

Eventually I was able to successfully fold this tessellation.  Maybe I'll show it in the future.

(Click for larger version)

This is my most glorious failure.  There are 18 octahedra, of original design, using one of my favorite coloring schemes of all time.  They're tangled in some sort of obscure mathematical structure (Hint: they're Borromean rings).  Everyone wants to pick it up.  I'm always telling people not to pick it up, because it will fall apart.

Creating this polyhedral pile was something of a months-long epic.  I wanted the octahedra arranged in a particular pattern, but for some reason it was extremely difficult to attach the octahedra together, and extremely easy to pull them apart.  It went through not one, but two major overhauls in design to get it to work at all.  The connectors are completely different from my original design, and are still really easy to pull apart, but at least they're easier to put back together.  The arrangement of octahedra is completely different from my original design, and it's, uh, kind of chaotic and not at all rigid.  Well, it still looks nice after all that.

Based on the origami disasters I've made, I've learned that the hardest part to master is stability.  It's kind of hard to appreciate that from photos, but that's how it is.  This experience has allowed me to make many successful and stable original designs.