|Weight (gsm)||Sizes||Color Palette||Texture||Aging|
|50||various from 3cm up to 50cm squares||12 colors||smooth and shiny||many years|
|Wear and Tear||Memory||Forgiveness||Tensile Strength||Bending Restistance|
|n/a||10 / 10||4 / 10||5 / 10||6 / 10|
|9 / 10||9 / 10||6 / 10||8 / 10||8.5 / 10||8 / 10||n/a|
Unlike Tant and Elephant Hide, which are both brand names and each manufactured by one company, there are many varieties of Japanese Foil. Almost every origami paper manufacturer has Japanese Foil in its product line, just like Kami.
There are two major categories for foil origami paper.
Very little information can be found on this type of paper. However, there is an interesting article by Dr. Robert Lang called Metallic Paper on the history of foil and of how it became an origami paper. It is basically a thin sheet of paper bonded to an even thinner sheet of metal foil (usually aluminum). The mixture of these two elements creates a hybrid paper, alien in its look and unique in character.
I got an interesting reply when I checked with the Japanese manufacturer Toyo Co. Ltd. They are the suppliers for the 35cm pack sold by origami-shop.com. The foil is made in Japan, by Nippon Metal Foil Co. Ltd, so this is a genuine Japanese Foil. The weight is 49gsm, and the thickness is 0.06 mm. The weight of the foil is 19gsm, which means the paper is 30gsm, wood-free. The manufacturing process is as follows:
I think that when using this paper for traditional, flat models the main focus should not be on the folding quality, but on the look of the final model. It is fun to fold with foil; you get sharp creases with little effort, and with such a thin paper very accurate results. The final model is easy to shape. Bottom line - overkill, but folds well and looks good, especially if you like bright and shiny!
This paper works well for simple action models, but is too soft for complex ones.
The push mechanism works just fine.
The pull mechanism of the flapping bird works nicely, but the paper ripped slightly while trying to ease the paper below the wing (before the first flap action).
The frog only jumped a distance of 20cm to 40cm, but every jump it made three or four summersaults!
This paper is not my first choice for this modular. It was very difficult to make each unit and to puff it. I used Q-tips (cotton buds), gently pushing the paper out from the inside, but got a lot of crumples and paper-breaking-snakes on the surface. Assembling the units was even more difficult. The lack of strength in the paper meant that it was a fight to insert the tabs into the pockets without adding more unnecessary marks. As mentioned earlier, taking a photo of the final spherical result was very problematic due to the excessive reflections.
This modular requires strong paper. Japanese Foil paper won't work for units with deep and tight pockets since it is so thin, i.e. the flaps would not be able to be pushed into the pockets. Also, with so little friction, the model just dismantled when picked up by one unit.
For this paper I have chosen the Ash Tray tessellation, yet another variation of the Pineapple tessellation. Folding the grid was a slow process, since I kept my rule that all folds should be bi-directional. Reversing a fold can be done more easily than one would have thought, but it is tedious work that requires careful handling. It took me twice the usual time to make a 16×16 grid. Pre-folding is yet another annoying job, since every random move of a hand makes unwanted ripples and curves on the surface of the paper. Collapsing was easy until it came to the sharp points and corners. Trying to achieve clean and accurate crease lines proved to be impossible. There is no Snap-Into-Place feeling with this paper. The only good point is the ability to sculpture the final details, for example the curves of the cigarette holders.
This is the only tessellation we folded, since Mystery is designed to show transparency, and Japanese Foil is not transparent at all.
This paper is made for complex models. The only disadvantages are the reverse fold and color loss (cracking) on the creases. This paper is great for this model.
Since Gadi chose the bright side of paper, I once again folded a white pegasus using the paper side as the color side. It wasn't as easy to fold as with Tant, since thickness is not the only factor. Every reverse fold slowed me down, and an open-sink at step 37 was a nightmare. With such a thin paper it was easy to get a nice result, not too fat as with Elephant Hide, and no need to wet fold or glue to keep it in good position, as with Tant. The malleability allows adjusting all details at will; it is easy to shape the the wings and the legs, making sure the model stands equally on three legs.
The thinness of the paper with the stability of the foil is excellent for the Rat. Easy to fold and shape.
Wet folding in this case is totally unnecessary (and not entirely possible!). The foil provides the wet fold benefits. The result is nicely shaped.
Gadi couldn't miss the opportunity to add a paragraph on miniatures. This paper is one of the best I have ever used for tiny folds.
One of the best uses for Japanese Foil. The combination of the paper's ability to hold a shape and its thinness make it perfectly suitable for sculpting legs, horns and antennas into more life-like shapes. Finalizing the model is easy, and takes considerably less time than any wet fold or MC treatment procedure. Moreover, the small size of the final model usually requires a small paper to begin with, making the 35 cm squares more than enough for every insect you want to fold. For some insects, there is also the benefit of the bright side as part of the skeleton.
What is it good for? For traditional use it is great if you like the brilliant effect, otherwise it is overkill. Same applies for action models. For tessellations it is not recommended: there is no transparency and therefore no effect when back-lighting; folding the grid is easier said than done, and collapsing is even harder. For 3D models it's good, no need to wet fold to achieve the desired 3D shaping. Complex models will get a very good result due to the thinness of the paper, but bear in mind that the white side really needs some coloring if the model is to be displayed and/or photographed. Adding the final shaping to complex models also tends to be quicker. Despite the lovely colors and the variety of small sizes, the lack of friction in the paper makes Japanese Foil a questionable choice for modular origami.
This is a unique paper and as such, it is suitable for special projects - mostly complex and high intermediate models, miniatures and 3D models that ask for a lot of molding.
Searching through Flickr for Japanese Foil images, I found only 128 images. The large majority of these were 3D models, including complex and high intermediate models. There were no tessellations and only one modular. Half of the models showed the white side, the other half the foil. I then expanded the search to look for foil. This found 2063 images, but most of them were models folded from Tissue Foil, which is not covered here.
Bottom line: special paper for special projects.
Please write your comments and feedback directly to us:
Ilan Garibi - garibiilan(at)gmail(dot)com
Gadi Vishne - gadi(at)vishne(dot)com
Special thanks to Susser Udi, for his valuable help on coloring and insects folding.
as selected by Sara Adams
as selected by Sara Adams