Review copy provided by Tuttle Publishing

LaFosse & Alexander’s Essential Book of Origami is kind of a hard book to review. It’s definitely an interesting book but what you get out of it will depend on what you’re looking for.

This book is written by Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander. These two are famous for co-founding the Origamido Studio.

The Origamido Studio is an origami learning centre and design studio. It’s probably most famous for the hand made origami papers they make.

May artists would argue that Origamido paper is the best paper you could possibly use for folding origami.

When it comes to origami these two authors certainly know their stuff.

The first third or so of the book is full of information and the rest of the book has diagrams showing how to fold a pretty nice collection of 16 different models that I hadn’t seen anywhere else before.

The diagrams are coloured and easy to follow
The diagrams are coloured and easy to follow (Image from Tuttle Publishing)

You may or may not be interested in the first part of the book.

After a little introduction about origami and the Origamido Studio it covers topics like joining or building your own origami community, tips for folding, and how to sell your work.

It’s also no surprise that there’s a big section explaining different kinds of origami papers as well as how to preserve your models when you’re done folding.

I’ve noticed that a lot of origami books have a section at the beginning like this that’s full of information.

After publishing my own book I think it’s because making diagrams is a ton of work and you need a huge amount of them to give your book a decent number of papers.

That’s my theory at least.

In the case of this book though this information is coming from two people who are definitely an authority on the subject.

The information is interesting whether you’re brand new to origami or have some experience.

After a brief section explaining the basic folds and symbols the book gets into the models.

The first model the book teaches you how to fold is the traditional paper crane. This is something I’ve folded a lot and I found the folding sequence here to be very strange.

Traditional Paper Crane folded by Me
Traditional Paper Crane folded by Me

When folding a crane you usually start with a Bird Base and then go from there. There’s a couple of different ways you can easily fold this base and most people will follow one of these common ways.

In this case though you follow a series of folds on the basic square itself to fold what’s essentially the crease pattern for the Bird Base before collapsing everything together.

I think there’s definitely easier ways to do it but I’ve never folded anything from a crease pattern like this before. Since I’m super familiar with folding paper cranes using this sequence was kind of interesting.

The authors also use these instructions to teach the folder about things like the grain of the paper and other more esoteric things.

The next model is a simple little paper heart that again follows kind of a strange folding sequence where you fold the crease pattern first and collapse everything together.

Lessons from the Heart folded by Me
Lessons from the Heart folded by Me

After the heart though the rest of the models in the book follow a more traditional sort of folding sequence.

Next is a great little squirrel design that’s very easy to fold.

Anne LaVin's Squirrel folded by Me
Anne LaVin’s Squirrel folded by Me

This is followed by a great white shark model that’s supposed to be folded from a U.S. dollar bill. I didn’t have one of those so I had to cut a square of kami here to the right size.

The Great White $hark folded by Me
The Great White $hark folded by Me

After this is a nice little hummingbird model.

The Elegant - Simple Hummingbird folded by Me
The Elegant – Simple Hummingbird folded by Me

The next model is a cute little 3D bunny rabbit.

The Dim Sum Bun folded by Me
The Dim Sum Bun folded by Me

This next model is called Ambrose the Skunk and it’s probably my favourite model in the book. I’ve never seen this design before. It’s super easy to fold and looks really great, especially if you use paper that’s black on one side and white on the other.

Ambrose the Skunk folded by Me
Ambrose the Skunk folded by Me

Next is a seahorse and I believe this is the first ever seahorse I’ve ever folded.

A Seahorse for Al Miyatake folded by Me
A Seahorse for Al Miyatake folded by Me

Then you’ll find two great little fish designs, a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and a Yellow Tang.

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a folded by Me
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a folded by Me

 

Yellow Tang for Mariko folded by Me
Yellow Tang for Mariko folded by Me

After the fish is a little pony. This one I found a little bit tricky near the end trying to get the final shape. Mine looks ok but not great.

Foley (or FOALie) the Pony folded by Me
Foley (or FOALie) the Pony folded by Me

Some of these models such as this bat are designed to be folded using paper that’s the same colour on each side. It turns out I don’t have any paper like that and I guessed the wrong side for this bat.

This bat is also folded from a triangle so you’ll have to cut a square of paper in half.

The Happy Good-Luck Bat folded by Me
The Happy Good-Luck Bat folded by Me

Next is a really great looking butterfly model. I’d say for a lot of people this book is worth it just for these butterfly instructions.

The Alexander Aztec Swallowtail Butterfly folded by Me
The Alexander Aztec Swallowtail Butterfly folded by Me

After that is a modular orchid model that’s folded using 3 squares of paper. I think I photographed this upside down though…

The Wedding Orchid folded by Me
The Wedding Orchid folded by Me

Then you’ll find instructions for a cat. There’s both an easy version of this or a version where you can keep folding and add a few more details.

The one you see below is kind of halfway between both versions…

Enough of this Cat! folded by Me
Enough of this Cat! folded by Me

The last model is a really beautiful leatherback sea turtle. I did not fold the ridges and details like the instructions say to do but it still looks pretty good even without them.

The Leatherback Sea Turtle folded by Me
The Leatherback Sea Turtle folded by Me

The book also comes with a DVD that’s pretty interesting and not quite what I expected.

The DVD has video instructions for the models in the book which may make folding them much easier since you can see all the intermediate steps.

There’s a lot of “repeat these steps” on the other side sort of sections in the instructions in the book.

But the DVD doesn’t just show how to fold the models from a standard sheet of paper. The DVD shows the authors using techniques such as wet folding as well as various fancy tools.

There’s also a few videos on the DVD showing how to prepare paper, paint the paper and how to properly wet fold it.

So there’s a few different ways to approach this book depending on what you want to get out of it.

If you want to just jump straight to the diagrams and fold some things then you can go right ahead and do that.

None of the models are difficult. I’d say they’re all around an upper beginner/lower intermediate sort of level.

If the diagrams are all you care about though I would probably recommend other books first. There are lots of other books at this same difficultly level that have way more than 16 models in them.

That being said the 16 models included here are all quite good.

On the other hand if you really want to go deep and learn about paper or practice techniques like wet folding then you’ll get a lot more out of this book.

If that’s the case then I’d definitely recommend you add this book to your collection.

amazon.com currently has this book on sale for $14.20 and at that price I’d say everyone should definitely pick it up.

Contest Alert!

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