How exciting is an origami flag?

One contribution I’ve had for the BOS model collection is a 2-piece Flag of the Czech Republic. It’s elegant, but somehow I’m not overly impressed. Before I make a decision, I’d appreciate people’s thoughts about origami flags.  Clearly, a Union Jack is going to involve some relatively interesting folding, but a lot of flags are just “stripes”. This design is two stripes with a triangle on it.

I’m thinking that people seeing it in a collection are unlikely to say “hey, I must fold that” (unless they are Folding Vexillologists). So is it worth including? Is there a place in any collection for relatively mundane objects? Or am I being too commercially driven, hoping people will buy the collection?



How exciting is an origami flag? — 6 Comments

  1. As you say, many flags have uninspiring designs, and so the origami equivalents will generally also be uninspiring.
    Dr Lang’s “Stars and Stripes”, though, stands out as evidence to the contrary.

    If colours are introduced, then multi-piece models are to be expected, but with a subject which is flat, creating an origami model seems like more work than is necessary for the result that you get, at least with the simpler designs.

    However, if the folding method is elegant or interesting enough, or the model itself is especially good – being viewable from both sides, for example – then it would be worth including.

    If it were a Czech publication, I would say go ahead, or if it were a collection of origami flags, then obviously, it should be included.

    I have also seen a Canadian flag in origami, which was very nicely done, but also a Japanese flag, which was not so elegant. So, if the design is more interesting than simple shapes, or the folding itself stands out, or if the final model is something other than a 1-dimensional design, I think it would be worth including in any collection. But each model would have to judged on its own merits, rather than dismissing all flags outright.

  2. This question goes to the heart of the origami aesthetic, although this is inevitably going to be subjective.

    My view is that I am not terribly interested in folding a model that seeks to be no more than an exact likeness of a simple subject.

    I am more prepared to look at a model sympathetically if the object it mirrors is more complicated, or unusual, or the folding method has some intrinsic interest, such as the well known models of a tube of paint, or Dave Brill’s nut and bolt or a packet of cigarettes. Whilst I admire these and would enjoy seeing them in a book, and folding them in my mind, I am not sure I would actually be moved to pick up a piece of paper and start folding myself. Perhaps in earlier years when I was impressed by difficulty for its own sake, but no longer.

    So far as animals are concerned, a super – complex model that sets a premium on the exactitude with which it captures the likeness of its subject (such as a Lang insect) has a virtuosity of its own that puts it in a different category ; here we are marvelling at the skill of the designer as much as the purity of the folding. Here I woudl be fascinated to see the model laid out in a book, and would certainly want to fold it (if I had the time and the technique).

    My preference, if pushed, is for simple models that do not aim to capture a mirror – image of their subject, but which in few folds capture the essence of the subject ; an example on these pages is ‘Sue’s flapper’ which is simple, but which I find endlessly charming and elegant. Here, the simplicity is part of the model’s eloquence. And here both Lang and Brill agree (although they put it slightly differently) ; an essential part of the experience for both folder and viewer is also the knowledge that the model started from a square of paper (Lang), alternatively, a respect for the paper and the acknowledgement in the final model that it is a piece of paper we are looking at and dealing with (Brill).

    Finally, I reserve a special category for models that depict platonic or geometric solids. I used to find these uninteresting, but I am increasingly drawn to them on account of the absolute purity of form. This may be in part because unless a simple model captures the essence of its subject exactly (‘Sue’s flapper’), it can try too hard to be a precise likeness, and one only feels the disappointment in the degree to which it falls short. To this extent, the geometrical models fulfil their aims to a degree that representational models can almost never hope to achieve.

    Drawing this all together, and with apologies to the creator, I am bound to say that if I saw this flag in a book, I would not buy the book unless the other folds were more developed, or if I had bought it, I would turn the page and look for something more engaging instead.

    • “Capture the essence of the subject” – I do so agree Mark. Ditto with geometric models (although I rarely fold anything with more than 12 or so units). Without heading off into the realms of theology, if I had to worship something, I’d start with the platonic solids. Perfect, reliable and as the old quote goes, even god couldn’t make a 6th platonic solid. In fact, I’m tempted to form a religion based on geometry and fractals – we could worship in a geodesic dome and (give it a break – ed.)

  3. A sizeable proportion of origami models are folded in response to a request or as gifts. Flag designs can for instance be mounted on greetings cards for patriots or football fans everywhere. People receiving cards won’t mind if the model doesn’t have an interesting folding method they’ll just appreciate the finished effect. This in itself is the folder’s reward. So I think that as long as the finished model holds together as one unit and is not just a collage of coloured stripes, it has its place alongside other simple models in an origami collection.

    • Good point Matt, these *are* often display / gift models. However, I still feel there’s a limited market for Czech flags. Mebbe it’s best placed on a web site somewhere where google can find it for those in need.

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