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Origami originality
by Susan Wright

Coloured papers have a number of end uses, but perhaps one of the most innovative is origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Susan Wright talks to leading exponents Yurii and Katrin Shumakov.

In 1989, Yurii and Katrin Shumakov attended a theatrical festival in France, and were presented with a small crane folded from paper. That was the start of a passion with the art of origami and an expert knowledge which has led to the production of books, CDs and a website that was chosen as a 1999 ThinkQuest Finalist. In fact, the site has received the Silver Award in the Art and Literature category in the ThinkQuest Competition.

The website, which turns ordinary sheets of paper into surprising creations, can be accessed at www.oriland.com. The incredible paper models bring to life a fairy tale of treasures, dragons, goblins and pure magic. Oriland is a world of fantasy that has to be seen to be believed. It is simply amazing what the Shumakovs have achieved with paper and design.

However, Yurii and Karin Shumakov have found another use for origami apart from creating fantasy. As graduates of the Faculty of Psychology, Rostov-on-Don State University, the Shumakovs use origami in their psychological research into educational and creative development in children and adults. Based on the art of origami, the Shumakovs developed the 'Folding Method', which allows the development of psychomotor and cognitive abilities in children and adults. The research carried out has shown that the 'Folding Method' can be used as a means of activation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain; development of fine motor skills of the hands; development of intelligence; activation of creative thinking; and development of spatial imagination and visual accuracy. Origami can also be used for correctional and therapeutic purposes, as a means to increase psycho-emotional conditions. Katrin Shumakov said, 'Paper is safe, strong, colourful and inexpensive and therefore ideal for children to use in this way.'

Paper was first invented in China some 2000 years ago and since that time people have been folding paper into various shapes. When the secret of paper was carried into Japan in the sixth century, it became an important part of Japanese culture. Paper folding was used in architecture and in many rituals. In fact, the designs associated with the Shinto religion have remained unchanged over the centuries. The name origami was first used around 1880 coming from the words 'oru' (to fold) and 'kami' (paper).

The secret of paper reached North Africa with the Arabs, and then on to Spain in the eighth century where paper folding became a popular past time.

Papers used ranged from 'washi', which is still used today, a very strong and expensive Japanese paper that can maintain multiple creases, to handmade mulberry paper. Origami was originally an art for the wealthy, as paper was expensive, but as trade made paper increasingly affordable, origami became popular with a wider audience.

Today, origami is enjoyed around the world, but paper choice still plays an important part.

The paper that the Shumakovs use is an important ingredient in the success of their paper folding. At one exhibition the Shumakovs used more than five thousand sheets of paper of different sizes from 10 x 10 cm up to A3. The majority of models on the website are folded using MoDo Papers DataCopy Colours. The paper folds well and allows for accurate models. The Shumakovs use both A4 and A3 formats and a wide range of colours. The optimum weight for paper folding is 80 g/sq.m. The Shumakovs have also tried using other types of paper for their origami projects. They have found that good results can be obtained using Kaskad from Klippan and Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers' Colorplan (which is marketed as Dartford Laser in the UK). Yurii Shumakov said, 'Origami should bring joy and pleasure to man. Material that is chosen for the project defines the quality of the work. It is important that you get the fold right, therefore we recommend that a good paper be used.'

Certainly the world of origami is an enchanting one. A visit to the Oriland web site proves this without a doubt. The Shumakovs commented, 'We have many plans for Oriland. We have already begun creation of a series of CDs, in which we give the diagrams of our models.

'Also we have plans concerning expansion of the site. We hope that Oriland will stimulate creative abilities in other people.
'We hope that Oriland will become a place of meetings and association for all who love origami, beauty and creativity.'

* * *

"Paper Europe" Magazine (England),
Vol.11, No. 9, December 1999, p. 73.


NOTE: These texts may be reproduced only for personal use, and may not be redistributed or republished in any way without the express written consent of the creator.


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