Did you know that although origami is an ancient art, much of its development has occurred within the past 100 years or so? Me either.
Because paper is so fragile, it’s not possible to know exactly when origami originated but the earliest unambiguous reference to a paper model is in a short poem written by Ihara Saikaku in 1680 CE. The poem describes paper butterflies in a dream.
Origami butterflies were used to celebrate the bride and groom at Shinto weddings. Poems and pieces of origami representing grave goods were thrown onto cremation pyres. Both of these Shinto ceremonies date back to the Hiean period of Japanese history (794 to 1185), so it’s possible that origami originated as early as the 8th century.
That’s a very long time ago!
Over time origami evolved and became formalized, with the development of specific designs used specifically for different ceremonies and occasions. It continued on in that tradition until the 20th century.
In the early 1900’s Akira Yoshizawa and other artists began creating original origami works and diagramming their folds. Those diagrams and other innovations led to an origami renaissance. By the mid-1900’s origami was popularized outside of Japan and it has been developing as a modern art form ever since.
Traditional origami often included cuts, but modern innovations in technique changed that. By the 1960’s and 70’s cuts were unnecessary and a distinction was made between origami (paper folding with no cuts) and kirigami (paper folding with cuts). Modern origami artists do not cut the paper in order to make their designs.
The 1980’s saw the rise of technical origami. Paper folders began systematically studying the mathematical properties of folded forms, leading to increasingly complex designs. This trend continues into the present day but the past decade has seen many origami artists return to simpler forms.
There’s a lot of origami on Pinterest right now. (Don’t you love Pinterest? So much inspiration there!) I’m a complete origami novice but I think many of the pieces pinned are quite beautiful. They inspired me to learn more about what origami is, and eventually to try a project myself: A folded heart bookmark by Sweetstuffcalledlove.
The bookmark tutorial is presented in a series of photos, with diagramming added. I’m a very visual person so that works well for me. The instructions are clear enough that I made the first heart in minutes. The ones I made subsequently went even more quickly. They were such fun that I made a whole stack of them to enclose in my valentine cards.
I used 4-inch squares of paper to make my bookmarks so a single sheet of 12-inch scrapbook paper yielded 9 folded hearts. They’re not only simple, but inexpensive too!
Go ahead! Have fun with this project. If I can make it, you can too. :^)