Unfolding the wonders of origami

  • Family
  • Thursday, 20 Nov 2014

‘Origami helps youths develop artistic acumen and mental endurance,’ says Kenneth Ch’ng.

Mastering the steps for complex origami shapes will help children to grasp complex mathematical problems.

If you plant some seeds today, what do you get tomorrow? You get wet seeds, states the law of the seed as articulated by motivation expert Andrew Matthews.

Plant today, harvest a few months later. Effort + patience = results.

It would seem that young origami practitioners like Renee Pek, 12, have this principle down pat. For Renee, a square sheet of paper is nothing more than an exquisite sculpture waiting to be discovered.

“When I see a piece of paper, I see a dragon, a dinosaur, a wizard or bird. I watched origami presentations on YouTube to learn the correct folds,” said Renee.

Deft fingers: Tan Chia Wen, 15, dabbles in micro-origami.

It takes up to 1,000 folds for Renee to sculpt a dragon with a 30cm wingspan and clawed wings.

Like any origami expert, Renee makes her art without any cutting and gluing. She needs several hours to bring a paper dragon to reality, and sometimes she takes a day or two, working on her dragon only when she has the time to concentrate and keep track of all her folds.

After practising origami for more than five years, Renee has internalised the art’s physical principles and created over 300 paper sculptures without reference to structured crease patterns from origami designers.

Her friend, Tan Chia Wen, 15, has been practising origami since the age of eight and now dabbles in a specialty area of the art – micro-origami. Four of her roses can be arrayed on a 5-sen coin and there would still be room to stand her Tyrannosaurus Rex on it.

Chia Wen folds a rose with a piece of paper measuring a mere 1cm by 1cm. It takes a little less than two minutes and halfway through, she is folding it with only her fingernails.

It takes up to 1,000 folds for Renee Pek, 12, to create an origami dragon.

“I like making micro-origami pieces because they are so cute. It helps me to de-stress, too,” she said.

Renee and Chia Wen are among the pioneer members of Malaysia Origami Association which was formally registered in April. The duo were recently spotted displaying their origami sculptures alongside experts from Malaysia, Vietnam and China at Penang Mini Maker Faire at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Founding chairman Kenneth Ch’ng, 41, who has been practising origami since he was 15, is delighted to see young people immersing themselves in such creative pursuits.

“Youths who delve in origami will develop artistic acumen and mental endurance as they learn to create something that is intrinsically complex and extrinsically beautiful.”

“When children practise origami, they immerse themselves in complex geometry without even realising it. It will prepare their minds for grasping engineering and mathematical problems,” said Ch’ng.

‘Origami helps youths develop artistic acumen and mental endurance,’ says Kenneth Ch’ng.

He pointed out that the mathematics that made it possible to fold paper into intricate art had led to the development of origami stents for medical application.

Origami math is even used in the folding of solar panels on satellites. This allows the sheets to fold and unfold perfectly without the need for weighty frames.

The Malaysia Origami Association runs regular origami workshops for children and adults.

For more details, visit Malaysia Origami on Facebook or watch a video of Renee Pek - 
 Folds of Beauty.

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