Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making the Checker Origami

I originally encountered the "checkered lamp cover" origami cube in the Gakken Otona no Kagaku kit series, #29, the Origami Lamp kit. The paper used for Checker was pre-cut and pre-stamped, making it pretty easy to follow the instructions in the mook. However, after leaving Tokyo, I lost access to this particular mook, along with the instructions for Checker. Gakken does have videos for making several of the origami lamp covers, but Checker is the only one missing the video for folding the individual unit pieces. And, I couldn't find the correct video on Youtube. So I had to reverse engineer it based on the fold lines of the papers in the assembly instruction PDF for the kit itself. Once you know the basic shape, it's pretty easy to make.

First, start with 6 pieces of stiff paper. It may be easier to use a size divisible by 4. My pieces were 12 cm square. You may want to put small ink or pencil marks along all 4 edges at the 3, 6 and 9 cm points. I drew in the fold lines to make them easier to visualize, but it's not required.

First, fold the four corners in so they meet in the center. Then unfold the paper again.

Second, flip the paper over and fold two of the opposite edges together so they meet in the middle. Unfold them and then fold the remaining 2 edges to meet in the middle also. Flatten the paper out and flip it back over again.

(If you look closely at the paper, you can see that the folds intersect the edges of the paper at the 3, 6 and 9 cm points on all 4 sides. They form an intersecting diamond and box, with the diamond lines being valley folds, and the box lines being mountain folds when the paper is right side up.)

Bring two of the opposite corners in to meet in the center again.

Next, take one of the remaining corners and bring it up and in, pushing in on the fold lines on the sides to form a diamond-like square and press the square down to reinforce the fold lines.

Do the same for the last corner. Reinforce the crease lines again to make them cleaner and sharper. You can use the edge of your fingernail, or the back of a spoon.

Open the unit up as shown in the photo. You should now have a kind of square with notches in two corners, and 2 square ends. Do this 5 more times. If you now look at the assembly video on the Gakken site, you can see how the ends fit into the notches of the neighboring units to make the final Checker.


Just about the time that I decided to stop making origami and go back to studying nihon-go, I caved in and bought a couple packets of hologram papers from my trusty 100 yen shop. I just wanted to see how the results would turn out.

Unfortunately, this kind of paper is really thin and not suitable for this kind of origami. I ended up having to tape the sheets over regular pieces of construction paper, which then made the units thicker than normal, slicker and more prone to messing up the crease lines. The only way to hold the units together was to use a lot of tape on the insides. Still looks cool, but a lot more work than I'd expected.

I tried using a second kind of holo paper with this particular design. The units use 2 sheets of paper, so it was easy to use construction paper for the undersheet. This design is much more stable and easier to make, but the final result is a bit dull in that the holo effect doesn't come out as much.

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