Tuesday, May 13, 2014

She's Crafty | Geometric Origami

Geometry is pretty!
My crafting of late is leaning more towards the mega-nerdy side than usual. Perhaps it has to do with all the math review I'm doing in preparation to return to college. Or, most likely, it has to do with the fact that I am a bit of a nerd at all times and I'm really embracing this fact with every facet of my being. Either way, I'm currently obsessed with crafts that let my inner nerd out to play.

That's why when I was at the craft store searching for supplies to embroider constellations and geometric patterns, and I came across a Geometric Origami craft kit, I was like, embroider Aquarius?!? What is this gibberish? I'm going to make a zonohedron!!!

This is not my first journey into the world of mathematics and origami. At my local branch a while back I came across the book, Amazing Origami by Kunihiko Kasahara, which explores not only the art of origami, but the underlying mathematical principles found between the folds. This exploration includes folding paper models of the Platonic Solids, as well as an explanation of what a Platonic solid actually is, which is perfect when you consider an icosahedron. You can tell me that a regular icosahedron consists of 20 triangular faces but actually making one and holding it in my hands helps me understand more about the solid.

The kit I purchased does not use the standard square sheets most origami enthusiasts are accustomed to. Instead, you are given colorful sheets of perforated strips. For all of the models in the book, construction consists of scaffolding shapes connected together with hinges. This is known as modular origami: making simple folded units and combining them into a larger shape.

Getting the strips ready.
The paper folding portion of this origami is extremely simple, but pretty tedious. For the 90-sided zonohedron I made, I had to first separate 154 strips, and then make paper ladders of each strip--folding two strips over each other so they are divided into twelve squares. Then, depending on which strip is used for what piece, hinge or scaffolding, the strips are cut into a certain number of squares. For example, the hinges on my zonohedron are four-square strips. The scaffolding is an eight-square strips curled around itself to create a square. Then you connect the scaffolds together with hinge strips into larger shapes and that's where it gets tricky, until you recognize the pattern.

It's starting to take shape!

Let me tell you, it really took my spatial skills to task! I had to make sure I was connecting the right combination units to the right vertices, not to mention putting the right colors in the right places. Surprisingly, the paper zonohedron I made not only looked like the one in the book, but it stays together perfectly well without tape or glue. I wouldn't throw it against the wall or play a serious game of catch with it, but I might hang it in a branch somewhere with other geometric models, you know, near the mathematics books. Wink, wink.

Up close to a few of the 90 sides.

This zonohedron is ready for whatever zonohedrons do.

Don't worry, you don't have to purchase a kit to make geometric origami or modular origami. Plenty of books exist to take your origami game to the next level.

Here are just a few that I can't wait to get my hands on:

If you just gotta try it now...

If you want more information about origami and mathematics you have to check out the pile of links kept at The Geometry Junkyard. Absolutely ahhhmazing! According to one of the listings, there was even a college course on modular origami. How cool is that?!

For today, I am done gushing about geometric models on the library blog. So I bid you farewell and happy folding!

Malia & Kaye

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