I'd heard a couple of people say that the Italian origami conventions were some of the best, and that I should really go. Sure enough, the name of the Italian origami society, Centro Diffusione Origami, is promising enough. (I think you could translate it as "Centre for Spreading Origami"). And when I found out that I'd start working in a full time position shortly after this year's convention, I decided I just had to go. Did the convention live up to my expectations? In one word: yes. In a couple more words, here are my highlights:
The most important aspect of conventions is meeting people, as it should be. Apart from meeting people I hadn't been in contact before - which is always fun - I especially enjoyed seeing some familiar faces, and to put faces to those names that I'd just been emailing with. The two people I'd really looked forward to meeting for the first time were Eric Gjerde and Ralf Konrad. I'd been in contact with both of them, because I admire their work and wanted to make a video on some of it. Both Eric and Ralf gave me permission, as you will have figured if you have seen the instructional video on the water bomb tessellation by Eric Gjerde or the star puff tessellation by Ralf Konrad. I had longer conversations with both of them, and that was really superb. Fun fact: Eric Gjerde moved into his current flat, because he knew a paper producer he was a customer with had her workshop right underneath. Now they're pushing each other to other levels.
Visiting workshops is of course a big part of conventions. And this one didn't disappoint. I was probably most excited about the fact that Satoshi Kamiya led three workshops, one on his rabbit, one on a geometric puzzle, and one on his veiltail angelfish. I attended his rabbit workshop (see my result here) and the one on the veiltail angelfish (see my result here). I'm not quite sure which workshop I enjoyed more. They were very different in that Satoshi Kamiya explained how to fold the rabbit, and only handed out diagrams for the veiltail angelfish and was then open to answer questions while we folded. The latter workshop was still fun, with lots of chatter involved, but I guess not as personal as the rabbit one. I can easily say that I prefer my result from the veiltail angelfish workshop over the rabbit one, and the fish is definitely the more complex model. And the good thing is, Satoshi Kamiya let us keep those diagrams.
During the geometric puzzle workshop I decided to join Paul Jackson, where he talked about "one fold" models. It was a very different way of looking at origami, and that was definitely interesting. The idea of creating beautiful models - or maybe rather shapes - by making a single crease and letting the paper do the magic is surely a foreign one to many origami enthusiasts. I think Paul is right in that origami is often seen as making the paper do things, forcing it into this or that crease, to create some representational model, say a rabbit or veiltail angelfish. ;) But spectacular results can be achieved by playing with the natural way in which paper curls when applying a bit of pressure, and observing how the lighting changes the effect. In summary, as Paul put it: origami is often about logic and being clever, using your left side of the brain; making a single crease and thus creating appealing models is for your right brain - it's all about achieving a feeling, something beautiful, not logical at all.
Folding (or Sara's Modular Mania)
I haven't had much time to fold models. Most of my origami time has been devoted to making instructional videos, so it was great to just get folding again. And I know this is hard to believe for some of you, but most of the folding I did was modular: I started off with some butterfly modules by Krystyna (8 unit model and 10 unit model), worked myself up to Jorge Pardo's Flexiball (24 modules), continued with Paolo Bascetta's stellated icosahedron (30 modules), and finished off with Francesco Decio and David Mitchell's Dodecahedron (120+30 modules). Now if that doesn't classify as a modular mania, I do not know what does!
Of course I also folded some other models. For one, I taught Shuzo Fujimoto's apple, which I plan to make a video on in the near future, presumably in February. Roberto Gretter taught a nice little booklet on the first day, although that did require 4 sheets of paper. I also had a nice chat with him, mostly on my videos, how I did them, how long it took, whether I'd thought about incorporating diagrams in them, maybe making videos that explained how to read diagrams. And I folded this awesome octagonal bowl by Alessandro Beber, and the Satoshi Kamiya models I mentioned above. I folded some roses by Toshikazu Kawasaki to give away, as well as some smaller tidbits, which also stayed in Italy. In essence: lots of folding, of course always accompanied by chatting with people.
Sure enough, people brought along some of their folds to display during the convention. I let myself be talked around to bringing something along, too, and set up my folds. Not too proud of my folds, I put them tightly together to keep lots of space free for all the awesomeness others had created. But while still setting up I was told I should spread out the models a bit more, so people could appreciate them more. So I reluctantly spread them out a bit more. Was I surprised when I came back a few hours later to see that my display space has expanded by threefold - apparently I'd still put the models too close to each other...
And then there were all the other displays, which were - quite honestly - much more interesting, at least for me. I didn't take pictures at this convention, mostly because I wanted to be part of the convention, and when I take pictures I feel more like an observer, at least when taking the pictures. But I knew lots of others would take pictures, so you can see what was displayed, e.g. on flickr.
What was my favourite model in the exhibition you ask? Ah, that's an easy one to answer - at least if I don't think about it. I totally fell in love with Satoshi Kamiya's tree frog. It must be my favourite model of all I have seen by him. I chatted to him for a bit, and he said he might diagram it sometime. By the way, I also took the opportunity to ask him informally whether I might be allowed to make a video on one of his designs in the future. As I already half expected, half feared, he declined. But honestly, Satoshi probably doesn't need any extra promo, and most of his designs would be too complex to demonstrate. And now I'll have another good reason to decline those requests for making a tutorial on the ancient dragon!