Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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Rotationally Symmetric Fold and Cut Designs
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of rotationally symmetric fold and cut designs. This technique can be used to make geometric paper patterns and paper flowers of many kinds. Geometric patterns with sixteen-fold symmetry are sometimes known as Paper Doilies. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. The Paper Doily is still widely used as a craft activity in British primary schools.

There is a separate page about the history of the magical effect known as 'The Ship's Wheel'.

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A fold and cut design that resembles a flower, although it is called a Candle Ornament, appears in 'The Girl's Own Book' by Lydia Marie Child, which was published by Clark Austin and Co in New York in 1833.

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A similar, but more complicated, design, which is also intended as a decoration for a candlestick, appears in 'The Girl's Own Toymaker' by Ebenezer and Alice Landells which was published in 1860 by Griffin and Farran in London and Shephard, Clark and Brown in Boston.

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Instructions for a still more complex design with sixteen-fold symmetry appear in 'Hanky Panky', a book of magical effects, puzzles, recreational mathematics and other amusements, by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872. The result would be essentially the same as what we nowadays call the Paper Doily.

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'What Shall We Do Now?, by Edward Verral Lucas and Elizabeth Lucas was published by Frederick A Stokes Company in New York in 1900, contains instructions for making a 'Paper Mat'.

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This effect also appears, under the title 'Fancy Mats' in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920.

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The same book includes similar instructions for malking a 'Ship's Wheel'.

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'Houdini's Paper Magic', which was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922, includes instructions for several complex versions of the Paper Doily intended to be performed as magical effects. One of these is stated to be of Japanese origin.

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Diagrams also appeared in 'Fun with Paperfolding' by William D Murray and Francis J Rigney was published by the Fleming H Revell Company, New York in 1928.

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The Ship's Wheel appeared as 'The Mariner's Wheel' in an article titled 'Tricks and Twists with Paper', written by Sam Brown, in the February 1928 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.

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