Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Extruded origami text

Found on Make: Online: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/06/extruded_origami_text_pattern_gener.html

Make: has these Math Monday posts, which often talk about origami. This one talked about the work that some college students did on folding letters with paper. The letters are raised up like 3D walls. They wrote a short paper on it and made a web application for generating paper with the fold lines for whatever message you want.

If you think it's cool, it is. But be forewarned, to fold one of these things is not an easy task. Look at the paper you've got to fold for the above "Hello World" message. The red lines are "mountain folds" and the blue lines are "valley folds." Have fun.

As ambitious as this was, I decided I'd try to tackle it somehow. Starting with single letters is best because it gets you familiar with this type of folding and the different types of corners. I started with the capital L because it has only 2 types of corners: a right angle corner and two starting corners. In retrospect, starting with the letter i would have been better since there is only one kind of corner. I ended up cutting the paper apart into the different corners so that I could work on them separately. It was difficult to fold them when they are all on the same paper, much less learn how while I'm at it. Later I paper clipped it together and it turned out ok. I paper clipped it in case I wanted to take it apart for reference.

I found that the instructions for folding were incorrect. First of all, they described the lines as being "dark" and "light." Kind of annoying that they don't call them blue and red, but I guess they mean if you print it out black and white, the blue turns out darker. But after finishing my first L, it was extruded downwards instead of upwards. Unless you wanted upside down and mirrored text, the instructions were wrong. I folded the letter i twice to check this; once with the folding instructions reversed. Now I fold the letters like they should be: red is mountain folds, blue is valley folds.

Next I folded an L that wasn't cut up, then did it again to make it more accurate and look nicer. It turned out pretty well. Here's a picture of my current foldings progressively from left to right. The top left one is a single starting corner that I cut out for my first L.

Next I plan to do the capital letter T because it has the "T"-type corner in the top-middle. There is no such thing as a 4-way type corner, so that's all you need.

If you want to try doing this, I suggest doing what I did: start with simple single letters, and cut out individual corners to work out first. Other than that, just work with the paper and be patient as you try to make it work. It eventually comes to you. The first L took me about 2 hours, the last L took me about half an hour.

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