Updated: Jan 14, 2022
I’ve always enjoyed so-called “pure” origami, or simple folding without using scissors or glue. But there’s a whole other area of odd little tricks and stunts that use paper – often involving a bit of folding, but also tearing or cutting. I don’t really include the more serious paper crafts such as quilling and paper sculpture, which are also interesting but require a certain amount of artistic ability that I unfortunately don’t have.
Modern books usually call this kind of thing “fun with paper” or “paper toys”. But if we want a more dignified name for all the various tricks and stunts we can take a cue from William Hooper’s Rational Recreations (1774), or from the well-established fields of Scientific Recreations and Mathematical Recreations, and use the term “Paper Recreations”.
I did a little presentation on Recreations with Paper at the 2012 Origami Didactics convention organised by Joan Sallas in Freiburg, Germany. The notes I prepared for it are already online on the Origami Didactics website but I’m including a copy here, and hope to be coming back to some of the topics in future posts. They contain lots of references but not much detail on most things, because they really were just notes to jog my memory.
David Mitchell’s Origami Heaven website
Before I get any further into the subject of paper recreations I’d like to mention an amazing resource put together by my friend David Mitchell. David has many wonderfully clever and elegant origami designs of his own, including a lot of modular constructions, minimalist work, paperfolding puzzles and mathematical ideas. But he’s also interested in the history of paperfolding, and has been far more diligent than I have in gathering and recording this kind of thing for posterity. In our individual searches we seem to have covered some of the same ground and in a few cases unearthed the same material, but David’s site has an incredible amount of information that was new to me, and it’s highly recommended. Go to Origami Heaven and have a look around, especially at his Public Paperfolding History Project pages.