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Unfolding The Secrets Of Origami Sets

May 19, 2008
I recently saw an Origami set for sale in a toy shop near me. I was very surprised, because as I remembered it, Origami is the art of paper folding. You don't need any scissors, or glue, or fancy bits - just a sheet of paper. I was intrigued, and wondered how toy manufacturers could get away with selling a pack of paper as an Origami set. I considered popping down to the beach, scooping up a bucket full of sand and selling it as a build-you-own-beach kit (just add water). As I suspected, the main ingredient was paper.

But not just your ordinary bleached white printer paper. No, this paper was multicoloured. It had a gorgeous feel to it that suggested it might well be recycled, or even handmade. The colours were largely pastel, and the edges were, for some of them, crimped. The kit did also come with a book of instructions, and so I forgave the manufacturers my earlier cynical remarks and began wistfully recollecting the fun I had as a child with Origami.

I remember being given one of those Reader's Digest books, a huge great tome it was, and full of everything under the sun. It included excerpts from Little Women right next to advice on how to escape your car if you drive into a lake. It even had diagrams.

But tucked unobtrusively away in the mid section of the book was a half dozen pages on the art of paper folding, and I was immediately transfixed by this idea. What really caught my attention was a page that suggested that it was possible to fold a piece of paper into a box that was so sturdy, it would actually hold water. I tried it. Miraculously it worked first time, although the attempt to carry this makeshift bucket downstairs to display to my fond parents how artful and ingenious I was, was less successful. Cue: damp carpet, disappointed parents.

The instructions took me further on a journey which included making a bird which flapped its wings, a boat which really sailed, and a triangular thing which you stood on its end, and waited, and after a while it would flip over 'as if by magic'. As I recall it relied on the physical properties of the molecules in the paper to apply their natural tendency to reduce the curvature caused by a fold by pulling together within the partially collapsed chains of molecules and causing the natural elasticity to reduce the acute angle of distortion to one more obtuse. Of course, back then I just thought it was a springy corner you tucked underneath and waited until it popped. But then, what did I know? I was only a child.

I kept that huge book for years, simply because of those few pages, and the Origami kit in the shop brought it all back. It made me realise again just how magical and absorbing something as simple as a piece of paper can be to a child. Give a child a sheet of paper and the most basic of tools, and she will craft you a world, forged with miniature hands, and magnificent enthusiasm.

Here's to the simple toys, and all they teach us.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, dolls, and video games. You will find the best marketplace for kids toys, dolls, and used video games at these sites for kids toys, simple toys, origami kits, dolls, and used video games.
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