Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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Paperfolding in La Nature
 
This page records articles and pictures etc relating to paperfolding which have been published in the French magazine 'La Nature' over the years. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you. I am indebted to Michel Grand for providing several of these references.

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Issue 366 of June 5th, 1880 on p. 9-10 contains an article headed 'La physique sans appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier which describes how to melt tin in a folded playing card without burning the card.

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Issue 370 of July 3rd, 1880 contains an article headed 'La physique sans appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier which describes how to boil water in a paper box without burning the paper. The box is described as 'une petite boite rectangulaire, comme les ecoliers savent en confectionner' or, in English, 'a small rectangular box, which schoolchildren know how to make'. The drawing shows that this paper box is the origami design known as the Junk Box.

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Issue 427 of 6th August 1881 in an article headed 'Sur les tourbillons annulaires des liquides et des gaz', written by Adrien Guebhard, which describes how to obtain smoke rings from a Playing Card Cube.

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Issue 578 of June 28th, 1884 in an article headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and sub-headed ' Le tableau a trois faces', written by A Bergeret, describes how to make a Multiple Image Pleated Paper Picture.

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Issue 605 of January 3rd, 1885 contains an article headed 'Physique sans appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier which explains how to produce coal gas using a Paper Cone.

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Issue 621 of 25th April 1885, contains an article headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and subheaded 'Un oiseau mecanigue en papier' (mechanical paper bird). No author's name is attached to this article. The article includes a wood cut print showing how the bird was to be held in order to make it flap and the information that it originated with 'les prestidigitateurs japonais' (Japanese conjurors). Source: Article by Christophe Curat and Michel Grand in Le Pli 131 of November 2013. English translations of the article appear in British Origami 286 of June 2014 and The Paper 116 of Summer 2014.

The information that the Flapping Bird originated with Japanese conjurors is intriguing. However, there is no direct historical evidence to support this statement it and it may be that a Japanese origin was imputed to make the design seem more mysterious, as happened with Troublewit and other paperfolding designs.

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Issue 709 of 1st January 1887 contained an article headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and subheaded 'Les anneaux de papier' which is attributed to a 'Dr Z...'. I do not know whose nom de plume this is.

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Issue 808 of 24th November 1888 contained an article by Arthur Good (who also wrote under the nom de plume Tom Tit) headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and sub-headed 'Transformation d'une carte a jouer' which explains How to Make a Chain from a Playing Card.

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The issue of 9th March 1889 contained an article headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and sub-headed 'La croix de papier' which described the Fold and One Cut Latin Cross as a puzzle and showed how the pieces could be arranged to form a Calvary. No author's name is given.

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Issue 852 of 28th September 1889 contained an article headed 'Recreation scientifiques' and subheaded 'La grenouille japonaise en papier' (The Japanese Paper Frog) which explains how to make the Blow-up Frog (though the author does not appear to be aware that the frog can be inflated). The article is attributed to 'Dr Z...'. I do not know who used this nom de plume.

The article is interesting not only for the diagrams it contains but also for the incidental information it provides. In his introductory paragraphs 'Dr Z...' states, roughly, 'The Ministry of Public Education of Japan has sent to the Exhibition (ie presumably the Paris Exposition of 1889) an interesting series of industrial and artistic designs ... made by children of both sexes in the country's school rooms ... but one can notice others which are not less curious. These are the recreational works done by the small children of the Azabu private school in Tokyo. The series of displays showing cut out and coloured papers combined to make flowers, butterflies or marquetry designs are quite attractive and our children would probably be happy to know how to make such pretty things. In France, it is true, we also know the charming game of folding paper. The classic Cocotte, the box and the galiote etc., are popular here but we must agree that the Japanese have more ingenious models. The Frog that we put in front of our young readers is an example. It is thanks to MM, the commissioner of Japan, that we have been able to trace the figures necessary for its execution'.

At the end 'Dr Z...' adds, again roughly, 'La Nature has previously given another example of the Japanese game of paperfolding, which was how to make the paper bird (ie the Flapping Bird). We also noticed in the exhibition other designs among which were the crab from red paper, the junk and the hat of Daimios (probably a reference to a Daimyo - a Japanese feudal aristocrat), the parrot etc., The way these designs are made has many points of resemblance to the Frog.'

The box and the galiote can be identified as the Junk Box and the Chinese Junk, since the name galiote is used for the Chinese Junk in other places. This clearly means that the junk mentioned at the end must be some other, unidentified, design.

The crab is presumably the crab from the Kan No Mado. The hat of Daimios may well be the Kabuto. The marquetry designs may possibly be Froebelian Forms of Beauty. However, lacking illustrations, it is not possible to identify these designs with certainty.

According to Wikipedia Azabu school 'was founded by Soroku Ebara, a Japanese educator in the transitional period of Japan, in 1895. ... It was founded as the middle school at the Toyo Eiwa School but received its new name, Azabu Ordinary Middle School, during the first academic year.'

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Issue 1093 of 12th May 1894 contained an article by 'Dr Z...' headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and subheaded 'Papier decoupe formant un filet' which explains how to make the Fold and Slit Trellis. The opening paragraph reads, roughly, 'We have previously published several recreations that can be made with paper; we gave the way of making a bird, whose wings can be made to move. This invention is Japanese; the Japanese made it known, with great success, at the Exposition of Paris in 1889.' However, footnote 1 makes it clear that the previous publication of the flapping bird in 'La Nature' was in 1885.

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Issue 1093 of 12th May 1894 contained an article by Dr Z headed 'Recreations scientifiques' and subheaded 'Une ceinture faite avec un morceau de papier' (A belt made with a piece of paper) which explains a version of the How to Climb Through a Playing Card fold and cut effect

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From sometime in the first half of 1930 onwards 'La Nature' began to carry an occasional column written by the magician Alber, also known as Alber-Graves, the stage name of Jean Jacques Édouard Graves (1845 - 1941). At first these columns were explanations of how stage illusions worked but from December 1930 on some of these columns featured paperfolding and cutting.

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Issue 2847 of 15th December 1930 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliages de papier' explaining how to fold 'La bonbonierre japonaise'. The article mentions 'le chapeau de gendarme (presumably the Newspaper Hat) qui est l'ancestre de tous les pliages, puis la cocotte, le bateau double, etc.,'

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Issue 2848 of 1st January 1931 contained an article by Alber headed 'Les pliages de papier' and subheaded 'Le crabe'.

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Issue 2853 of 15th March 1931 contained an article by Albers headed 'Pliages de papier' and subheaded 'L'echelle de bambou' which explained how to make the Newspaper Ladder. The introduction states, roughly, 'When I looked at the Library of the Guimet Museum for the true origin, not of the cut-out Chinese shadows, but of the shadows with my hands (La Nature du 29 Septembre 1894) I had the good fortune to discover a folding of paper that was unpublished. This Chinese folding can do well among the Japanese folding ...'

The final paragraph describes how to make a version of the Newspaper Sword, roughly, 'The rolled paper ... is also used in conjuring to produce a candle from a hat. It uses a strip of strong glossy white paper, ten to twelve centimetres wide and several meters long, which has been rolled up, not very tight, and fixed so as not to unwind. In the center of the roll, a five-minute candle match was fixed in a thin metal tube, protruding a little. It is a game, for a prestidigitateur to introduce without being seen this little roll in a hat. At the desired moment, passing a sandpaper over the match, it ignites it, and, drawing the paper through the center by means of the small tube (fig. 4) carrying the match, it lengthens the candle which reaches a length of two meters and seems to come lit from the hat.'

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Issue 2855 of 15th April 1931 contained an article by Albers headed 'Pliages de papier' and subheaded 'Le sac a bonbons' which explained how to make the Star-Shaped Box. Albers comments, roughly translated, 'Several similar folds have been sent to me by different readers, MM, Larrier, a Marseille, E. J, a W etc,. Because they bear a great similarity to the box above I have not published these folds ...'

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Issue 2866 of 1st October 1931 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'Le sachet a foulards' (The Bag for Scarves) which explained how to make the Chrysanthemum Box.

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Issue 2870 of 1st December 1931 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'L'oiseau qui bat des ailes' which explained (again) how to fold the Flapping Bird.

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Issue 2871 of 15th December 1931 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'La theiere japonaise' (The Japanese Teapot) which explained how to make the a version of the Kettle with a hole cut in the top.

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Issue 2872 of 1st January 1932 contained an article by Alber headed 'Dechirures et Dechiquetures de Papier' (Paper Tearing and Shredding?) which explained how to make Paper Doilies and a second version of the Newspaper Ladder design, this time described as, roughly, 'a curious combination, of the same genre, which is presented in the music halls'.

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Issue 2878 of 1st April 1932 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'Le soufflet' which explained how to fold the Bellows.

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Issue 2890 of 1st October 1932 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'La grenouille sauteuse' (The Jumping Frog) which explained how to fold the Blow-up Frog (although the author does not appear to know the design can be inflated).

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Issue 2894 of 1st December 1932 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'Le kiosque japonais'.

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Issue 2930 of 1st June 1934 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'La boite a air' which explains how to make a Waterbomb.

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Issue 2940 of 1st November 1934 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'L'iris' which explains how to make the Lily.

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Issue 2944 of 1st January 1935 contained an article by Alber headed 'Dechirures et Dechiquetures de Papier' (Paper Tearing and Shredding?) which explained how to present the making of several versions of the Chain of Dolls and Paper Doilies as magical effects.

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Issue 2966 of 1st December 1935 contained an article by Alber headed 'Pliage de papiers' and subheaded 'Vase ou lanterne' which explains how to make a simple fold and cut box.

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