Origami Interest Group

Back to Various FAQ's (files with Frequently Asked Questions)

About origami

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1. Q1: Is there a text notation for origami models?

The models on the archive are in computer readable files (drawings).

But this is also interesting:

   It happens that a system has already been devised for converting
   folding diagrams to a numerical notational system, John Smith's
   Origami Instruction Language (OIL). Smith, a British statistician and
   computer programmer, uses a Cartesian coordinate system to locate
   points on the square and identifies a crease by the two endpoints it
   connects. The success of Smith's system ensures that establishing a
   purely numerical representation for each model is possible....
The reference is
   Alice Gray, "OIL: John Smith's Origami Instruction language,"
   The Origamian 13, no.2, (n.d.), p. 1.
   (contrib:Angelo Trivelli, from Peter Engel's Folding the Universe)

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2. Q2: What is the best paper for origami ?

Special origami paper is available from most art shops, but its best to experiment. Wrapping paper can be good (&cheap).
Tissue foil can be better for really difficult folds. If you find a particular fold too hard with your fingers, try using tweezers (purists - flame on!!)

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3. Q3: What is 'foil' paper?

This is officially called "tissue-foil". The technique is simple. Take a sheet of aluminum foil larger than what you will want to fold and lay it flat on your working surface. Spray on a coat of spray adhesive. I use an adhesive made by 3M. It's basically a thin rubber cement in an aerosol can. Starting at one end of the foil, lay down the tissue paper (artists' tissue) and smooth it down onto the foil, making a tight, wrinkle-free bond. Turn over and repeat on the other side. What you end up with is a sheet of tissue foil that you can cut to size. It has the malleability of foil, allowing it to be shaped, and the tensile strength of the tissue, preventing tears. Note that you can now easily make two coloured paper of any combination simply by using two different colours of tissue. You can also use this technique to give "body" to soft and/or weak papers. Simply laminate it onto foil. I've used this to strengthen such things as Japanese unryu and thin wrapping paper. It is also useful for helping "reluctant" papers to hold their shape (i.e. paper that is very springy and unwilling to stay folded).
   (contrib: Joseph Wu)

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4. Q4: How do I get my fold to keep its shape ?

Two ways - wet folding, or mylar. Mylar is a plastic, which becomes soft enough to fold on heating. Wet folding is just wetting the paper before you fold it. Not too wet tho'. If it glistens, leave it to dry for a while. You may add one of the following preserving techniques to this:

   1) Adding a little white glue to the water when wet-folding.
   2) Spray-on acrylic coat.
   3) Brushing-on clear nail-polish, shellac, etc.
Note, however, that doing (2) or (3) will result in the paper soaking up some of the applied material which will cause the creases to expand (unfold) somewhat if you are not careful. In fact, for a model with many delicate creases (such as pleating), (3) will work better than (2) and it should be done in small sections.

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5. Q5: Where can I find a fold for a .... ?

There is a database of folds from books on the archive, provided by V'ann Cornelius.

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6. Q6: Tell me about money folds, daddy!

There are lots of books on folding money (mainly US dollars.)

The dimensions of money internationally are (ratios unless stated):

   US Dollar       All         7: 3
   UK Pound        All:       49:20    (i.e. nearly 2:1)
   French Franc   20 Francs     74   x 138   mm
                  50 Francs     78   x 123   mm   (new bill)
                 100 Francs     84   x 159   mm
                 200 Francs     92   x 172   mm
                 500 Francs      ?
   Dutch Guilders 10 Hfl        76   x 141   mm
                  25 Hfl        76   x 141   mm
                 100 Hfl        76.5 x 154   mm
                 250 Hfl         ?
                1000 Hfl         ?
   Finnish Marks   All:         69   x 141.7 mm

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7. Q7: What's your favourite fold ?

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8. Q8: What's the best book for ... ?

Beginners:
   Beginner/Intermediate:
   Intermediate/Hard:
     Origami For the Connoisseur by Kasahara.
   Mathematics:
     Folding The Universe (origami from angelfish to zen) by Peter Engel.
   Good Compilation:
     Origami Omnibus by Kunihiko Kasahara
   Something I'll _never_ be able to do:
Fuller details of all books (ISBN,etc) can be found on the library search service at the Library of Congress. telnet:locis.loc.gov during working hours, 9-5 EST. (tn3270 or line mode, for those in the know).
The call number for papercraft is tt870, use this to cut down your search time. The list is of about 600 books, all languages, and is _incomplete_!!

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9. Q9: What paper sizes are standard?

ISO paper sizes:

The paper formats defined by ISO in the A, B and C series are used today in nearly all countries apart from North America.

The formats have been determined according to the following rules:

This means that the following formulas give the dimensions in meters:

                      Width                   Height
      A-series        2  (- 1/4 - n/2)       2  (1/4 - n/2)
      B-series        2  (      - n/2)       2  (1/2 - n/2)
      C-series        2  (- 1/8 - n/2)       2  (3/8 - n/2)
Larger sizes have smaller numbers. Sizes larger than those with n = 0 are written as 2 A0 and 4 A0 rather than A(-1) and A(-2).

The following table lists the official definitions of the paper sizes which are the values from the above formulas rounded more-or-less to an integral number of millimeters:


      4 A0 1682 x 2378
      2 A0 1189 x 1682
        A0  841 x 1189       B0 1000 x 1414       C0  917 x 1297
        A1  594 x 841        B1  707 x 1000       C1  648 x 917
        A2  420 x 594        B2  500 x 707        C2  458 x 648
        A3  297 x 420        B3  353 x 500        C3  324 x 458
        A4  210 x 297        B4  250 x 353        C4  229 x 324
        A5  148 x 210        B5  176 x 250        C5  162 x 229
        A6  105 x 148        B6  125 x 176        C6  114 x 162
        A7   74 x 105        B7   88 x 125        C7   81 x 114
        A8   52 x 74         B8   62 x 88         C8   57 x 81
        A9   37 x 52         B9   44 x 62         C9   40 x 57
        A10  26 x 37         B10  31 x 44         C10  28 x 40
The most popular sizes are perhaps:

        A0        technical drawings
        A4        letters, magazines, documents
        A5        books
        C4,C5,C6  envelopes
        B4,A3     supported by many copy machines, newspapers
There are also strip formats possible, e.g.

    1/3 A4   99 x 210
    2/3 A4  198 x 210
    1/4 A4   74 x 210
    1/8 A4   37 x 210
    1/4 A3  105 x 297
    1/3 A5   70 x 148
    etc.
All these formats are paper end formats, i.e. these are the dimensions of the paper delivered to the user/reader. Other standards define slightly bigger paper sizes for applications where the paper will be cut to the end format later (e.g. after binding).
The ISO DL envelope format has the dimensions 220 x 110 millimeters.

(The values have been copied from DIN 476 (Dec 1976) which is the German version of the ISO 216 standard).

American:

   Letter size     8.5 x 11 inch

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Last update: 13 August 2008

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