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Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
Fern Leaflets Folding Painting Assembling Flowers Folding Painting Assembling Leaves Folding Painting Assembling
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman All Rights Reserved Origami Bonsai® is a registered trademark of Benjamin John Coleman This document (including the following and preceding page) is not to be reproduced in any fashion without the express written consent of the author, Benjamin John Coleman of 300 Parkview Drive #13, Pawtucket, RI 02861 USA
Assemblies Floral Fern Sub Ass.
Mounts Roots Pebbles Pots
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
That I am called an “artist” is only for convenience. I am an entrepreneur, turned math teacher, obsessed with origami, who over time developed an infatuation with the mathematics as they relate to plants. In other words, from my perspective I am not an artist, Origami Bonsai simply provides me with a way to express the beauty that I see in nature. Having said this, and reflected upon it, I suppose it is one definition of the term “artist.” It is not by accident that I developed this art form. From a young age I was exposed to botany by my mother, a botany professor at Brown University. My first origami book came through my father, also a professor at Brown, who set it down near me one evening. And my first professional job was in the paper filter industry, exposing me to mass‐production folding techniques. This book was written to complement my first book, “Origami Bonsai,” which is to be released in November of 2009. I originally planned this book to introduce Makigami through ferns, as they have the simplest of branch structures. When my publisher opted not to purchase this book, I added some flower and leaf designs to what was largely a book of ferns. The flower and leaf designs in this book are only here to get you started. There are many designs on the World Wide Web, and in my first book that will work well with the Makigami I teach in this book. During the Great Depression many families could no longer afford fresh cut flowers. They made flowers from newspaper because it cost them nothing. These flowers brought much joy in an otherwise bleak world. At the time of this writing our world is suffering another economic downturn. As in the Great Depression, I hope that the flowers and plants in this book will bring some joy to your life. I know they have to mine. Benjamin John Coleman
XIV. XV. II. VIII. III. X.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. VI. XIII. IX. VII. Leaflets and Flowers Perspective of Leaflets Makigami (Roll‐Paper) Basic Assemblies Painting Techniques Tapered Makigami Branches Fiddleheads Makigami Assemblies Paper Pots and Makigami Roots Inspirational Photographs Mastering Makigami Subassemblies Performing Makigami Conversions Depth Enhanced Flora Afterword 4 . XI. V. Introduction Folding Leaves. Table of Contents I. All rights reserved. XII. IV.
USA. ferns are. its Pre‐historic cycads growing in the greenhouse at Brown University in leaflet sizes and number have Providence. Introduction About two and a half billion years ago photosynthesis began on our planet. combined with graceful curves. While it might not seem so to the untrained eye. Rhode Island. Tiny water‐borne organisms began capturing sunlight. They have an unrivaled mathematical complexity. This plant is tremendously efficient. the most complex structures in the plant world. a vast array of plant life would evolve. That they are also one of the oldest surviving species of plant on our planet is not an accident. Its design is pre‐determined for maximum light absorption in the dimly lit environment of forest floors. Among the earliest forms of plant life were ferns that look much like the ones we see today. Ferns are unique in many aspects. 5 . in some respects. but their beauty is derived from the symmetrical alignment and duplicate structure of their leaves as they vary in size.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I. From these humble beginnings. The only similar structures I have found in nature are birds’ feathers and some types of fractal crystal growth. All rights reserved. and converting it into energy. making them seem almost playful. As a fern sprouts from the ground. We don’t realize it at first glance.
Copyright 20 009 Benjamin John n Coleman. All rig ghts reserved.
already be een determin ned. The fern n unfurls its pre‐configured d leaves by pu umping water into their cells s. This forces the ferns’ ste em to unroll w with delightfu ul drama. Eac ch leaf uncurls from a compress sed spiral fidd dle‐head, in su uccession, fro om largest to smallest leaf flet. The fern is also probab bly the most m mathematically representa able plant spe ecies. Becaus se of my und, I can see e the calculus in its leaflets s. It would ea asily be repres sented mathematics backgrou f you are so in nclined, you m might try your r hand at a m mathematically y pre‐ mathematically, and if d Origami Bon nsai Fern. calculated To help un nderstand the fern, imagin ne how it mig ght grow in an nother enviro onment; with less gravity an nd without the challenges of shade, win nd and herbiv vores. Lacking g these encum mbrances, the fern w would stretch up towards i its light sourc ce. As it grew w taller and taller, its leafle ets would remain microscopically y small at its t tip, and become huge at the base. I be elieve this to b be the n of all ferns, and this conc ceptual growt th, from infinitely small to infinitely larg ge, affects aspiration all my des signs of them. After perf fecting the folding pattern n for leaflets, I scoured loca al forests in search of twig gs to use for fern st tems. I found d few twigs th hat would suit the purpose e. The ones I found weren n’t perfect, but they d did convey the spirit I wan nted. I combin ned these fer rns with my O Origami Bonsa ai floral designs. T They looked g good, but ove er time leaflet ts started to f fall off. I had two problems. T The first was t that I couldn’t t find good tw wigs for my as ssemblies, an nd the e. The latter problem wou uld be resolve ed by changes in gluing procedures. second was glue failure I combine ed standard glue‐gun glue with a second coat of pain nt mixed with h wood glue. This allowed th he tiny surfac ce area on the e bottom of leaflets to fix permanently y to the twig. The twig dilemma remained uns solved. I considered using stra aws, however r paper stra aws aren’t common anymore. Plastic straw ws were out o of t want to the question. I did not introduce e an un‐renew wable resourc ce into my art work. I also considered wire, but rejected it for the same dered lollipop p reason. I finally consid d began to de evelop a sticks, and technique e for rolling paper. Initially y it was frau ught with failure; frustration and high failure rates in These fern ns fell into a mud d puddle million ns of years ago. Over time, the the rolling g process, unpredictable mud becam me the slate you u see pictured h here. From Dr. A Annette W. Coleman, B Brown Universit ty results, m molding procedures that were too complex, and d a final
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
product that lacked the necessary strength. I saw the potential and continued trying until I developed a method that was successful. In this book you will find few limitations on your creations. Not only will I teach you how to fold leaflets, but I will also teach you a technique for making stems. I call this technique Makigami. Maki in Japanese literally means “roll,” and “gami” means paper. Using Makigami you will be able to make stems for ferns, or any other Origami Bonsai structure you desire. These paper stems are moldable when wet, but once they’re dry they achieve strength beyond that of a wooden structure of the same thickness. Because of this, I would consider the Makigami technique a rudimentary composite material. The Makigami revolution in botanical sculpture is important. It means we can create entire assemblies from paper. As environmental concerns grow, this renewable resource should be available into the foreseeable future. Using recycled paper further enhances this environmentally‐sound art form. By mastering the techniques taught in this book, you will discover not only a creative outlet for your daily stress, but the ability to create beautiful sculpture, to your specification. By painting paper you define the color of your project. By rolling and assembling Makigami stems, you create the shape and size of the work. With a little practice, your botanical fantasies can be achieved. I must caution you in your first endeavors to follow the instructions and allow them to lead. To attempt to make a botanical to precise specifications on the first, second, or even third try is to invite failure. Instead, notice what works, how colors interact, and how Makigami shapes connect. If you do this, your first project will be a success, and so will those to follow.
Fiddleheads un‐coiling at the Groden Network Greenhouse in Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
Tools of Makigami
From the Kitchen store: Shallow Cookie Sheets (pans): Buy one or two flat‐bottomed cookie sheets that have a shallow lip. You need a sheet that will hold a small amount of paint, but at the same time doesn’t have too high an edge. The height of the pan is key, as you will be rolling paper in it and need good access to the bottom. My pans are 13” wide by 18” long by ¾” deep and made from Teflon coated steel. While acrylic paint is promoted as being not toxic, I do not use these pans for cooking, and you shouldn’t either. Imagining what a cookie would taste like, coated with a layer of burnt acrylic paint on the bottom, is as close as I am willing to come to the experience. From your Recycling Bin: Newsprint: I originally tried to make Makigami branches from standard 20‐lb white paper. It worked, but when I wanted to make longer branches I discovered that newsprint was far superior. Newsprint works best for Makigami for a number of reasons; it is made up of more fibrous material, it has a “natural” curl, and it has a coarse feel. All of these attributes make newsprint superior for our application. My preferred newsprint comes from a local paper, The Providence Journal, which is printed on 27.7 pound or 45 g/m2 newsprint. I have also used the New York Times which is printed on 27.6 pound newsprint. From the Hardware Store: Wire Cutters: You will need a good pair of wire cutters, both for cutting stems, and for cutting wire for gauges. Wire: Narrow gauge, flexible wire is used during the modeling and molding stages. Only a few feet are required. Tubes and Cylinders: In order to mold Makigami stems they need to be wound around tubes of smaller and larger diameters. I use a broom handle, or the legs of a chair for narrower stems and a closet rod (the rod you hang hangers on) and a mailing tube for wider stems. If you wish, you can purchase a few feet of ½ inch, one inch and two inch PVC pipe. Razor Knife: After molding, a razor knife allows you to trim excess paper from stems. 8
These dishes work well. etc. They also smell horrible. You can use sets designed for children for experimenting. Granola that comes with yogurt is packaged in one of the best painting cups I’ve ever found. To mimic them accurately.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Clothespins: Buy a set of wooden clothespins that use springs to hold the tips closed. And some drink mixes come with individually packed cups. Artist Medium: Get a tub of Artist Medium. purchase water colors that come in tooth‐paste tubes. so you may need to make a special trip or search the internet. 9 . Asian food comes with plastic dishes of sauce. Even Hercules would use magnification glasses when doing Origami Bonsai. All rights reserved. Acrylic Paint: I use very limited amounts of acrylic paint for special effects. even if your eyesight is good. Make sure you pick up Gold and Silver as we’ll use these for the “silk‐technique” later in the book. These glasses will help you attain professional results when cutting paper. From the Drug Store: Magnification Eye Glasses: Get the greatest magnification you are comfortable with. working with tiny flowers. a product that is true to its natural original. The tools below will allow you to achieve a high level of precision and. Gloves: You will need a box of latex or polyurethane gloves for the rolling process. Tools of Origami Bonsai Most ferns have small leaflets. They should have medium‐soft bristles. Water Color Paint: You need a set of water colors. From the Market: Paint Cups: There’s no need to buy paint cups as many products you purchase come packaged in them. I use “matte” Artist Medium. From the Art Store: Paint Brushes: Purchase a set of paint brushes for water colors. I don’t like acrylics because they never dry and leave paper feeling like shower curtain material. This seems only to be sold at art stores. some precision is required. with some practice. but as soon as you attempt a real project.
10 . From the Office Supply Store: Paper: Buy a ream of 20 lb bond ink‐jet paper. You will mix this with paint to reinforce stems and leaflet connections. I rely on them.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Wood Glue: Buy a large container of white or brown wood glue. Make sure it has at least one flat side (many have grooves cut into them to drain juices). From the Hardware Store: Cutting Board: Purchase a new large cutting board made from wood. especially for working with smaller leaflets. Chopsticks: Chop sticks are useful for holding paper down while you paint. Tweezers: Buy a good set of tweezers for crafting. Scissors and a Paper Cutter: Purchase a pair of scissors and a small rotary paper cutter from an office supply store. You can often find sets that consist of four pairs with tips designed for different purposes. Wall Paper Seam Roller: Purchase a wall paper seam roller that has a wooden roller and preferably a wooden handle as well. All rights reserved. Do not purchase a seam roller that has a metal roller as you will damage your cutting board.
Glue Sticks: Buy the high temperature variety if you can find them. This allows you to glue leaves two‐at‐a‐time. which is key to aligning fern leaflets.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. It has a heavy base and comes with a shaft and various alligator clip attachments. From the Craft Store: Glue Gun: Get a high temperature or dual temperature glue gun. I stripped mine down to just one alligator clip.” Glue Dish: Buy a heated glue dish. if not the lower temperature sticks will do. From the Supermarket: Waxed Paper: Buy a roll of waxed paper. Leave the dual temperature glue gun set to “high. The higher temperature sticks leave fewer trails (thin strands) of glue behind. 11 . All rights reserved. Extra Hand: This is a wonderful device.
This means that when I refer to a “fern”. Each frond is made up of leaflets.” This is a “frond” made up of nine leaflets. All rights reserved. In order to properly describe fern creation it is important to establish terms for specific parts of the plant. each made up of nine leaflets.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Each fern has one or more fronds. This is a “fern” with one frond made up of 43 leaflets. 12 . This is a “fern” with seven fronds. I am referring to the entire plant. Describing Ferns This is a “leaflet.
when in fact one is smaller and closer to the camera. one depth enhanced and the other un‐enhanced. we must realize the limitations. Depth Enhancement (Optional) When painters depict something distant they paint it smaller. When two similar Origami Bonsai sculptures are put side by side. Therefore it is important to realize that the human eye is incredibly accurate when comparing congruent objects. There is something special about a depth enhanced sculpture. This simple concept can be applied to our sculptures. All rights reserved. two oranges. This is discussed in more detail in my first book. Knowing this. “Origami Bonsai. Depth enhancement adds a visual complexity and appeal to Origami Bonsai sculptures that is hard to describe. when they are actually only a few inches apart (on the right). These two leaves appear to be the same size in the picture on the left. of say. The leaves on the left appear to be quite distant from each other. the more distant two fronds of the same plant are from each other. With regard to ferns. people will tend to gather and remark about the depth enhanced piece. as a general rule. Most people can detect a difference of as small as one millimeter in its radius. 13 . something closer is painted larger.” available through Tuttle Publishing of Vermont. the greater their difference in leaflet size can be. We can detect very small differences in size. and when done properly. the layperson will be unlikely to detect it.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. USA.
14 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved. now at the same distance from the camera lens. I attached them to the wall based on their size. I made these fern plants in three sizes and hung them from a wall. with larger leaves in the front. These are the two leaves from the previous pictures. With depth enhancement we can control whether a sculpture appears shallower. thus invoking a feeling of depth. with larger leaves in the rear. or deeper. As you can see. they differ greatly in size.
This means fold the bottom left corner to the upper right corner WHILE watching the alignment on the right carefully. and paper edges as thick lines. and then unfold. and leave it there. I depict existing folds as thin lines. and then unfold it. In this case it means you should fold the square diagonally. 15 . This means fold the bottom left corner to the upper right corner and leave it there. All rights reserved. forming a triangle. Folding Conventions The double‐ended arrow is my symbol to fold.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
from lower left to upper right. and then unfold it. This means fold the square diagonally.” The green side facing down now faces up after the flip. click on it to play a video describing the topic.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. In this case the paper will be cut in half forming two rectangles. forming a triangle. Whenever you see this symbol. This means cut the thin line with scissors or a paper cutter. 16 . All rights reserved. and then fold the square diagonally from lower right to upper left and unfold it. The symbol in the middle means “flip.
I strongly recommend that you consider expanding your design capabilities. Consider purchasing my first book. Folding Leaves.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. My email is Ben@Benagami. or develop some on your own.com. II. Some videos are available on YouTube that will assist you with the final steps of the flower folding patterns. You do not need origami paper to fold my designs. please email me a video detailing the folding pattern and I will post it to the forum at www. “Origami Bonsai” which has many leaf and flower designs. In the following pages you will find leaf and flower designs I have created that will allow you to experiment with your makigami plant designs. Leaflets and Flowers The primary purpose of this book is to teach the creation of botanical structures using Makigami techniques. 17 . or you can search the internet for other designs. Detailed instructions for making squares are in the following pages.org.OrigamiBonsai. If you develop a new flower or leaf and would like to share it with the world. All rights reserved. In chapter 6 you will find painting techniques that will bring your creations to life.
Making Squares for Flowers Leaves and Leaflets 1. All rights reserved. Carefully cut the triangles on both ends and discard the center portion. 4.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and then flip your piece of paper. Your paper should look like this. 3. Make sure you align the longer edges carefully. Perform the same folds you did in step 2 on the other side. Make sure to carefully align the edges. Fold each corner of the top layer to the fold you created in step one. 18 . 2. Fold an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper in half lengthwise.
” The remaining piece from step 4 will make another eight. Each square will have a diagonal fold. then unfold them. Fold in half horizontally and unfold. All rights reserved. Cut horizontally and vertically. Fold the left and right edges to the center. Fold each of the bottom corners to the center point as shown and unfold. corresponding to step 2 of “folding a leaflet.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 6. 5. Unfold one of the triangles and position it such that the existing folds match the ones in the diagram (the thin lines). 7. Flip your paper. for a total of 16 squares. 8a. 19 . You should end up with eight perfect squares.
20 . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Flower sheets and leaf sheets are identical when they are made. We paint leaves in sheets of eight and then cut them to size. Visible flower color is painted on the side of a sheet with diagonal creases pointing up. After painting. and only differ after painting. Each rectangular sheet can either be used for leaves or flowers. Visible leaf color is painted on the side of a sheet with horizontal and vertical creases pointing up. 8b. You can also cut the sheet in half vertically to make two squares for flowers. cut each leaf sheet into two strips and then cut the strips into individual squares. Flower sheets are cut first and then painted.
being sure to use this side as your guide. we started by folding an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper in half. Your paper should look like this. Fold each bottom corner of the top layer to the fold you made in step 1. Flip your paper and perform the same folds on the other side. Perform steps five through eight (on the previous pages) of “Making Squares for Leaflets” on the two triangles. you will not obtain incremental squares. Flip your paper again and it will look like this. We will now make smaller squares for the second leaflet size. 4a. Do not discard the center piece of paper. If you use the other side as your reference for the cuts. 21 . If you can see a gap at the bottom of your paper.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 2. 3. Cut the triangles on the outside off. All rights reserved. Fold horizontally leaving a gap of approximately ¼ inch at the bottom. you are referencing the correct side for these cuts. Incrementally Diminishing Leaf/Leaflet Squares When we made our first set of 16 squares. 1. This is considered the “step” of your increment.
making the fern appear more intricate. if your fold in Step 1 is smaller than the width of two pennies. After you cut off the triangles of each piece of paper (step 3). I often make the step increasingly smaller as I make smaller squares. You should stop making smaller squares before you reach a size that is too small to fold. To make the third leaflet size. You will see that it is shaped like a “T”.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. thus creating a more elaborate fern with more leaflet sizes. Unfold the center piece of paper. are aligned in the same manner. You can also vary the step. 22 . This will create two large squares for leaflets instead of eight small ones. you should stop. The top of the “T” is the width of the gap you left in the first step. 5. Save one of the sides of the “T. and all future diminishing sizes. and cut the resulting rectangle in half.” Use the center portion for the next alignment. you can unfold them. This is a flexible and easy method of creating incrementally diminishing squares. 4b. As a general rule. All rights reserved. Cut or tear the two sides of the top of the “T” off. start with another piece of 8 ½ x 11 inch paper. Use the two sides you just removed from the “T” for alignment of the next set of incremental squares. This makes more smaller leaflets. You can also use this process for making large incremental leaflets. Go to step two on the previous page. 6.” It is your “step. Your fourth. You can make your step smaller. Align the new piece of paper by using your “step” and the previous piece of paper’s gap. This procedure can be modified.
23 . Start with a square of paper. that side should face up. If it has a leaf‐ colored or painted side. Fold the square diagonally and unfold it Then flip it so the colored side faces down. 2.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved. Folding the Rose Leaf 1.
Fold the bottom corners to the center line. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 3. 4. 24 . Your paper should look like this. Now flip it. 3. Fold each corner to the center line folded in step 2.
All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 5. 25 . 7. 6. Open the fold made in step 5 and then flip the leaf. Fold “veins” into the leaf by repeatedly folding and unfolding as shown. Fold the bottom tip up to a point roughly halfway between the unpainted areas of the bottom of the leaf. Fold the leaf diagonally on the fold you made in step 1.
All rights reserved. leaving a small gap.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Fold the tip back down. 9. 26 . See picture below: The completed rose leaf. 8. Squeeze the bottom stem of the leaf together and then “crimp” the stem of the leaf.
we will use all the squares we create. Because there are two leaflets of each size on a fern. 27 . like the ones on the facing page. as we need only four leaflets representing the tips of the ferns. leaflets are attached to the stem in pairs. Determining the number of leaflets you will need depends on how many fern fronds you plan to make. For example. we need a technique for making large numbers of squares that vary incrementally in size. Folding Leaflets Fern leaflets are folded from square pieces of paper. Leaflets are largest closest to the root. These calculations are straightforward when considering basic fern assemblies.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. In later chapters you will be introduced to gradient color leaflets and fern trees. except for the smallest size. These applications either require that you make a few mathematical calculations. The leaflets become smaller as the stem becomes narrower. let’s say we want to make four fronds with eight leaflet sizes. Because of this. their length. at the thickest part of the stem. Each sheet represents one leaflet size. and how much you want their size to vary. All rights reserved. Most fern varieties have leaflets that vary in size. or that you make excess squares to ensure a successful assembly. To do this we will need to make eight incrementally sized sheets of paper. With the exception of the tip.
28 . the smallest leaflet I am able to fold is roughly the diameter of a US penny. you may be able to fold leaflets of a smaller size. and fewer coats of paint. you will find that the smaller the size of your first leaflets. All rights reserved. you will need to determine the smallest size you are capable of folding. Once you have practiced folding a few leaflets. A color gradient was used to evoke the impression of a light source above. By using paper of lighter weight. With tweezers. Four fronds with eight leaflet sizes.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. In general. the more exquisite your finished fern will be.
and then unfold the paper diagonally in half. 2. Fold. the colored side should be facing down. Fold each corner to the centerline as shown. If your paper is colored. All rights reserved. Folding a Leaflet 1. Start with a square piece of paper.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 3. 29 .
30 . Fold the new corners to the center line once more. Fold each corner to the center again. 6. tweezers are of great help when making these folds. I often use tweezers to set these folds into the paper initially. Fold each of the corners to the centerline again. All rights reserved. 4.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Again. 5. and then I use my fingers to sharpen them.
10. crimp the stem of the leaf by squeezing it. at the folding line. Fold the tip back down leaving a gap. inside. You can actually feel where the paper “wants” to fold.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved. as there is one less layer of paper. You will develop a feel for where this fold should be. 7. 31 . 8. Now. Now fold the bottom tip upwards. Look at the pictures on the next few pages for more detail.
This narrows the stem and adds strength to the base of the leaflet.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I put the nail of my thumb into the center of the bottom of the leaflet while at the same time squeezing with the index finger and thumb of my other hand. 32 . Above you see a leaflet in the process of being crimped. All rights reserved. For smaller leaflets you will have to use the tips of your tweezers to perform the crimp.
twisting my wrist repeatedly to start the fold. All rights reserved. In this picture I’m using a pair of tweezers to form the folds from step 5. Eight leaflets can be made from each white paper rectangle. 33 . I slide the tweezers along a line equivalent to the dotted line of step 5.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Once a folding line has been established. Tweezers are helpful on medium length leaflets and necessary on small leaflets. I will then finish the fold using my fingernails as necessary. A partially folded set of incremental leaflets and a set of incrementally sized leaflet sheets.
fold and then unfold the square in half diagonally in both directions.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The Basic Flower Form II All the flowers in this book are based on the Basic Flower Form II. 3. 1. 2. Then flip it so the leaf color is facing up. and the leaf color facing down. Start with a square. This is a simple group of folds that produces a variety of flowers with subsequent folding. 34 . All rights reserved. With the leaf colored side up. start with the flower color facing up. If the square is colored. Fold and then unfold the square in half horizontally and vertically.
and then unfold. All rights reserved. 7. Fold each corner to the center. Repeat for all four corners. 6. Begin collapsing by pushing the sides indicated up and then towards the center. 5. 35 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 4. Fold the left and right sides to the center line and then unfold. Fold the top and bottom sides to the center line and then unfold.
the midpoints of each side will move to the center and the four outer corners will flatten down. 36 . All rights reserved. 9. 8. The completed collapse.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. As you collapse.
Fold one of the corners at the center to the outside edge. 37 . Then flip your paper again. Repeat this fold on the other three corners and then flip the model. and versatile. or made with large squares and bright colors for a dramatic effect. 2. 3. Flip your paper and then fold and unfold horizontally and vertically. allowing the bottom loose ply of paper to open to the outside. Start with the basic flower form II with the collapsed side facing down.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. the Black‐Eyed Susan folding pattern is easily scalable. It can be made with tiny squares. All rights reserved. Fold one of the outside corners to the center point. 1. Repeat for the other three corners. yielding little floral bits of color within a sculpture. Black‐Eyed Susan Easy to fold.
Pinch each side while using a toothpick to pry the upper layers folded in step 2 up. See photos on following page. Repeat on the other three sides to collapse the model. 4. 38 . and the lowest layer of paper down.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. then pinch the edge. All rights reserved. 4a. Repeat steps 4a and 4b for each side of the flower. 4b. Now collapse the flower by pinching the corners and pushing towards the center. 4. Once the center has been pried up. Pinch the outside of the flower while prying up the center flap.
With your thumbs. 6. All rights reserved. push in towards the bottom center of the flower to allow the petals to open fully.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Pull all four petals down from the center. 5. Your completed flower should look like this. 39 .
3. Open each of the top plies and tuck the folds you made in step 1 inside. Repeat for each corner. well shaped large petals. 2. 1. Start with the basic flower form II. The Habanero The Habanero is a more complex group of folds that leads to a flower with dramatic. Fold the loose center tips out to the sides.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 40 . 4. Narrow each of the loose top plies by folding and then unfolding as shown. and then flip. Repeat for each corner. All rights reserved. Fold each of the narrowed tips out from the center.
41 . Squeeze the upper plies up. All rights reserved. Then flip your paper. Fold the top plies of each of the indicated corners to the center and then unfold. Repeat for each side of the model.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and force the lower ply down. Pinch the outside edge while using your thumb to pry the top plies of paper up. Fold and then unfold horizontally and vertically. 5. and the bottom ones down. 8. Repeat on each side of the model. 6. This is similar to step 1 of the Black‐Eyed Susan. 7.
Use tweezers to open each petal and then pull the edges of each petal free. then pinch it into place.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and then tuck them under the top ply. 10. 42 . 12. Pull each of the petals out as shown. 11. Repeat steps 11 and 12 for each petal. Each time you tuck a petal edge. All rights reserved. Collapse the model by pushing towards the center. 9.
All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 13. Push with both thumbs to fully form and open each petal. 43 . Your completed habanero flower should look like this.
All rights reserved. 1. Unfold the flaps folded in step 3. Repeat on all four sides. Start with the basic flower form II. Repeat on all four sides. Fold the top pleat to the center line as shown. 44 . with its drooping petals adds a distinctive look to any Origami Bonsai sculpture. The Iris The iris flower. 3. 2.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Repeat on all four sides. Fold the middle corners of the flap folded in step 1 to their respective edges as shown and then unfold them.
Collapse each of the edges unfolded in step 3 to the inside. 7. 4.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Repeat this on all four sides. All rights reserved. Fold down the inside edges of the folds you collapsed in step 4. You will need to repeat this eight times. 5. 6. Then flip the model. Repeat on all four corners. and then flip your model. 45 . Use tweezers to pry up the top layer while forcing down the lower layer of each side. You will need to repeat this eight times. Fold each corner to the center as show allowing the top pleat of paper to remain unfolded.
10. Push outer corners inward to shape the flower. Pull all four petals down. 9. 46 . The completed Iris. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 8. Pinch and push as shown to shape the flower.
you must consider perspective. Ferns would like to position their leaflets such that they absorb the maximum amount of light. more often than not. Perspective of Leaflets Before you assemble your first fern. with 47 . Another issue to consider involves the Makigami stem you will. or have already created. a far more likely scenario. Leaflets can be attached symmetrically at equal angles. we must also consider leaflet perspective. One component of this dilemma is that of the fern itself. manage weight as height increases. will the fern you are about to assemble be put on the floor. A straight stem is easier to deal with. ferns are below us. It’s not just about the stem’s perspective. their symmetrical beauty is apparent. all while simultaneously trying to mimic a real fern. III. or will it be put on a shelf or table.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Because. The decision you must make is. Perspective in this art form is fairly complex. ferns will position themselves with leaflets as horizontal to the surface of the earth as possible. In nature. All rights reserved.
and the fourth is a combination of a tighter curve followed by a slower curve in the other direction. you will need to consider these curves in advance of assembly. they capture as much as possible by avoiding leaf overlap. and larger leaves at the base. leaflet assembly is a set of compromises that we resolve to maximize the natural complexity of the fern as witnessed by someone viewing it from the perspective it was designed for. the second is a tight‐curve. except for the smallest leaflet at the tip of the stem. The first is a straight line. A set of incrementally sized leaflets that will be arranged on four different lines representing fern stems. All rights reserved. I did not yet fold their stems. This sounds complicated. the third is a slow‐ curve. I also drew four differently shaped lines on white paper. small leaves at the tip. In harvesting light.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. So they would lie flat. Basic Fern Design To illustrate frond assembly I prepared a set of leaflets in 11 sizes. The most important rule to remember is that plants do not waste energy. Careful study of the following pictures will help you resolve these issues. but it’s not so bad. In general. Notice that the center lines of each leaflet on one side are parallel to each other. These lines represent different stem shapes you might consider for your fern designs. 48 . This fern is highly symmetrical and is pleasing to the eye. If you created a stem with some delicate slow curves (see Chapter IV). Frond assembly on a straight stem is relatively simple.
Initially. symmetry becomes impossible. leaflet assembly on the tight‐curve looks fine. so some symmetry is maintained.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. In this picture I used small leaflets on the inside of the curve. but now it fails at the fifth tier of leaflets instead of the third. I could make this curve work. and their increasing angles are proportional. This will be discussed later. they reach a critical angle and overlap. but allows for these types of designs. 49 . and increasingly larger ones on the outside. If I made even smaller leaflets. But look at what happens as longer leaflets get attached in the next picture. Another solution is to change the angle at which the leaflets are attached. The leaflets on the inside cannot compensate. You can see that our symmetry still breaks down. All rights reserved. which alters the perspective. The leaflets on the outside of the curve look fine. Some compensation can be made for tighter curves. As longer leaflets get attached to the tightly curved stem.
This is deliberate. All rights reserved. The fern frond depicted at right has slow. in parallel to a neighboring leaflet. You can use any edge or centerline of a leaflet. Here is a basic fern assembly on a slow curve. graceful and playful.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Notice that the center lines of the leaflets are not parallel on either side of the fern. as smaller leaflets can be assembled on tighter curves. and a leaflet edge and the centerline are parallel on the right. Note that the upper curve is tighter than the lower one. note that the symmetry changes with the curve. to achieve symmetry. 50 . yet the fern is somehow symmetrical. complex curves. Leaflet edges are in parallel on the left. The middle of the fern is a transition point at which leaflet alignment changes. The rule for alignment for one side of the fern need not match the other side. The symmetry is achieved by leaflet alignment. Also.
the last three pairs of leaflets get successively shorter. Distinctly flat in design. Each subsequent pair of leaflets is longer than the previous as they progress toward the base of the stem. In nature. this is the most common fern configuration I have encountered. All rights reserved. it has superior symmetry because the center line of each leaflet can be aligned perfectly parallel to its neighbors. 51 . but it lacks some of the more playful characteristics found in some fern varieties. its perspective is limited to an audience located in front of it. Then. It is relatively easy to design and assemble. The leaflet on the tip and the first pair of leaflets are the same size.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. This fern is composed of eight leaflet sizes. However.
and then the leaflet length decreases in the final pair. The centerline of each leaflet on one side of the fern appears to be parallel to its adjacent leaflets. All rights reserved. even though the stem of the fern is curved. The larger leaflets toward the bottom of the frond are attached at a more oblique angle. Opposed pairs of leaflets are attached at an angle to each other. where the stem is more tightly curved and the leaflets are shorter. 52 . just as they were on the fern depicted on the previous page. reaching a maximum at the 10th tier (the ninth pair). The tip is the smallest leaflet. It has 11 leaflet sizes.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Leaflet length increases. This fern has a more complex design. Also notice that the stem‐leaflet angle is more acute towards the tip of the fern. and requires some planning in advance to achieve good results. however the leaflets are also installed at an angle to the stem.
Some stems didn’t roll properly. and I often tore the paper as I rolled it. was too high.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Because I was making very few stems at the time. others became twisted. but mediocre. With newsprint I 53 . I had not yet considered gluing multiple small branches together. The resulting stems were usable. fail to compress properly. I started experimenting. or tore during the rolling process. I switched to a heavier grade paper. so longer branches required longer pieces of paper. but it was not a technique I considered presentable. as discussed previously. For years lollipop sticks have been made from rolled paper. The paper would often twist in the pan. I thought about lollipop sticks. and I had nothing longer than 11 inches in stock. The failure rate. Initially I tried standard ink jet printer paper and water. I suspected the paper sticks were rolled between two steel rollers. at around 80 percent. I wondered how these paper sticks were made. Makigami (Roll‐Paper) When the need first arose for stems for ferns. All rights reserved. Then I discovered newsprint. while being bathed in some sort of lubricant. As I honed the technique. As I had worked for some time in the manufacture of paper filters. Cotton swab sticks are also commonly made from paper. I tried adding paint to the water and got better results. I was at a loss for a solution. IV. the need for longer stems became apparent. with even worse results. I could tolerate this failure rate. almost cardboard.
As this new rolled‐paper technique was a complement to my Origami. The mixture should be very dilute. All rights reserved. 54 . Your first attempts should be experiments. and some failures. which led to assembly techniques. and then as glue in the long term. I got to name it. Basic Makigami Technique The technique is simple. with a viscosity similar to skim milk. This mixture will act as a lubricant during the rolling process. It should not be hot. I noticed the Japanese word “maki. the traditional Japanese name. The paint color is of little importance.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The droplet should also be thick enough that it is not transparent. This pattern will make four fern stems with a slight taper. which actually helps get rolling started. but mastery requires some practice.” I already knew this word from its use in Japanese restaurants. and the name for this technique was born. One night. Cut a piece of newsprint as shown. it seemed proper to give it a Japanese name. With another advance in the rolling solution. I soon realized that newsprint was far easier to roll than any other paper. The temperature of the mixture is also important. As the inventor of a new technique. could roll a branch as wide as the width of my rolling pan. 1. but in the United States we call it Origami. as initially there will be some frustration. Mix warm water and a small amount of acrylic paint. Paper folding was developed simultaneously in Europe and Asia. I realized I had developed an entirely new art form. I simultaneously developed simple molding techniques that mimicked natural branch segments. I was soon achieving 100 percent success rates. To confirm you have the right viscosity. as this will weaken the newsprint. 2. which had applications far beyond what I was using it for. a very dilute mixture of acrylic paint and warm water. After looking up “to‐roll” in an English to Japanese dictionary. a droplet of correctly mixed Makigami paint will readily roll down the surface of a pan tipped at a 45 degree angle. after assembling the branches pictured at the beginning of this chapter. It has a natural curl.
3. and the other to temporarily hold your wet stems. 4. with the longest edge closest to you.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. but should not pool excessively in the pan. 55 . Arrange your rolling pan to take advantage of its width. Put on protective gloves if you wish to avoid a long hand‐washing afterwards. flip the sheet and soak the other side. Use one pan to perform the technique. Apply a generous amount of paint to the newsprint. and the wider end on the left side. Use your brush to lift the sheet. oriented as shown. 5. You should have two rolling pans. Place a single piece of paper in the pan. All rights reserved. After you’ve soaked one side. It needs to soak through the sheet.
Apply paint to the other side. 8. 7. Then. This will help in the initial rolling process.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. This is because they haven’t absorbed enough paint. 6. 56 . so add paint to these areas and then flip the sheet a final time. use your brush to remove any air bubbles trapped under the entire sheet. 9. Use your brush to lift a corner of the sheet. Fold approximately one inch of the sheet up. Some areas will appear to be a slightly different shade. And then flip it. All rights reserved. Use your brush to sharpen the fold and remove any air bubbles in the folded area.
and this time curl the first ¼ inch of paper using your thumbs and index fingers. 10. forming a tube along the edge. 12.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 13. Use your thumbs and index fingers to slowly roll the paper into a tube. Slowly work the leading edge down. Continue rolling until the entire sheet has become part of the tube. 11. 57 . All rights reserved. Lift the tube and move it to the bottom of your rolling tray. Use your brush to lift the lower edge of the sheet again.
allowing the paper to become more tightly wrapped. as the leftover paint acts as a lubricant. They develop from lack of lubricant and application of too much pressure during rolling. or tearing in your stem. put it in your other tray. but can be used. If your stems are wet. you should try to limit the Makigami rolling time to 40 minutes to ensure that the stems are sufficiently damp for the molding process. you can roll them on dry newspaper to remove the excess paint. 14. but are strong enough for our application. It is important that the stems be wet when they are molded. Excess paint should weep out through the pores in the paper and be left behind in your rolling tray. Stems made from newsprint damaged by pinches cannot be fixed. This is important. When you finish rolling a stem. As a general rule. 15. There should still be small amounts of paint in your pan if there are not. add a little. Soft spots are areas where there is either trapped air. You will also notice soft‐spots. When you have finished rolling all the stems you’ve prepared in this batch. You will learn as you gain experience in this process to detect the development of shearing. Dry stems cannot be re‐wetted and molded. and trapped air bubbles to escape. 58 . and can be very hard to remove once they’re dry. These stems will not be as strong as un‐pinched stems. Roll the tube. Stems with wet paint on their surface will stick to the mold. Stems with tears should be discarded as they will be weak. you should apply more and more pressure while rolling it. very lightly at first. As the tube collapses into a solid stem. Tears are evident because they leave a trail of paint in the pan. Trapped air can be removed by applying more pressure during the rolling process. All rights reserved. This does not mean your stems should be soaking wet.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. or where the tube was pinched during rolling. it’s time to mold them into shape.
Remove protective gloves as they stick to the masking tape. (If you wash the gloves you can re‐use them.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. it might be worth taking a trip to the hardware store. The paint mixture we use will permanently stain wood. and they’ll need to be cleaned after you finish. Tape the tip of your stem to the cylinder at a slight angle with masking tape. The disadvantage of these poles is that there is often limited access to them. Wind the stem down the cylinder. vacuum cleaner tubes. 3. All rights reserved. or cylindrical object will work. fan stands. wine bottles and bicycle frames. 59 . furniture legs. common molding jig I’ve discovered is a closet clothes hanger pole. There are many other tubes around your home that will also work. such as: broom handles. You should avoid using any tube that has a delicate finish. Any tube made of metal or wood will work. Purchase two linear feet of PVC pipe in 1”. 2” and 3” sizes. 1. Your “winding” should be very shallow. Any rigid tube. This will give you a lot of flexibility for molding stems. If you can’t find anything around the house you don’t care about. especially if it’s made from wood. You will also need a roll of masking tape. I typically get at last 20 Makigami sessions out of each pair) 2. Molding Makigami Stems While your stems are still damp they can be molded. such that the stem only wraps completely around the cylinder once. Tape the bottom of the stem to the cylinder. The most flexible.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. a properly rolled and dried Makigami stem will have a distinctive “clink. you can see two different diameter tubes that I use. In this example. In high humidity environments. and can be removed from the tube. after they’ve set. When tapped on a table. so if your stems seem “rubbery” they probably aren’t dry. 60 . In this example. A set of stems made on the smaller diameter tube. Wind short stems shallowly as well. A dry stem will be only slightly flexible. and thicker stems can take days to dry. in other words. Confirming that a stem is dry is easy. Its temperature should be the same as ambient temperature. These stems were made on my large diameter tube. it may be necessary to leave stems in direct sunlight. I mold as many as six stems at a time. This allows me to make symmetrical fern arrangements. if it’s cool to the touch then water is still evaporating from it. four short stems are being taped to the cylinder simultaneously. to facilitate drying. Notice on the right that I am molding Makigami stems with curves in opposite directions.” very similar to the noise made by a twig tapped in the same manner. In about two to three hours stems set. Thin stems will dry within three or four hours. but are not dry. All rights reserved.
61 . . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Here is a quick list of problems and their solutions. My stems seem weak. You are applying too much pressure too early in the rolling process. Problem The paper starts to roll. Stems have a rough surface. You must soak the newsprint. All rights reserved. Newsprint is easy to roll in one direction. Your mixture is too thick. I have little bits of paper sticking out that didn’t adhere to the stem. Use this for pebbles instead. and are weak even after completely drying. Solution You might have used water color instead of acrylic paint. Your newsprint is too heavy. and almost impossible in another. You have too much paint in your tray. You are rolling your newsprint at the wrong angle. larger pieces. Try rotating it 90° (if the print is horizontal try it with the print vertical). 62 . apply only light pressure until the tube forms a stem. The paper won’t roll. Your solution is too thick. allow it to cool. Also see Chapter 7. but I get lots of pinches (indentations) which lead to weakness. You are using a light weight newsprint. Your water is too warm. Cut your newsprint into fewer. then gets slimy and won’t compress properly The paper rolls. You will learn to trim these areas in Chapter 5. Makigami Troubleshooting Sometimes it becomes hard to recognize why paper rolling fails. After rolling the newsprint into a tube.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. You are not using enough paint. Fully dried stems have areas where the paper didn’t stick.
I call this a basic fern because it involves only one Makigami stem. V. Basic Assemblies The following pages describe. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I’ve had some very depressing mornings. as this fern has seven leaflet sizes. in detail. and became even more worried. It is imperative that you follow two key steps in the technique for attaching leaflets to stems. 63 . Assembly starts at the tip. Preparation is complex however. The second is to paint your stem and leaflet connections with a coat of acrylic paint and wood glue after assembly. The length of the leaflets increases as assembly proceeds down the stem. I wanted a finished product that would last for generations. and others had lost numerous leaflets (shedding). when I went to retrieve a fern from inventory only to discover that it. I did a basic failure analysis. not one that fell apart when left undisturbed. and the first three leaflets are the same size. The first is to paint your stem with acrylic paint prior to assembly. the method I use to assemble fern leaflets onto a stem. This ran counter to everything I wanted Makigami and Origami Bonsai to be.
The surface preparation is a coat of acrylic paint. All rights reserved. a final coat of acrylic paint mixed with wood glue seals both the stem and leaflet‐stems from moisture. After the frond has been assembled. hot melt glue becomes soft with warmer temperatures and tears easily. The wood glue/acrylic/hot melt glue work together. stressing the connections of the assembly. This means that a frond constructed on a low humidity day will become fatter on a humid day. there is not much surface area for connections. It also creates a better adhesion for the hot melt glue. In the cold. But how easy would it be to glue two pieces of paper together. The resultant assembly has connections that are more durable than the stem itself. to make one sheet that is twice as long? And what about failure of these two paper sheets? How hard would it be to separate the double‐thick piece of paper versus the double‐length piece? The double‐length piece of paper would probably fall apart as soon as it was disturbed. because wood glue remains brittle at both high and low temperatures. Therefore. it expands slightly. Another major problem to overcome was lack of surface area. To make matters worse. The final solution was a combination of surface preparation. And. paper absorbs and releases moisture with changes in humidity. Because we are attaching tiny leaflet stems to a narrow frond stem. This is because it has a huge amount of surface area at the glued connection. making connections at least ten times more resistant to failure than they would otherwise be. But don’t try it. I have spent months fine‐tuning the technique for these connections. Firstly. It is easy to glue two pieces of paper together to make one sheet that is twice as thick. The acrylic paint acts as an additional adhesive and sealant. and contracts. So I needed something to reinforce the hot melt glue such that it never has the opportunity to tear or crack. resulting in cracks. It gets absorbed through multiple layers of the Makigami stem.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. end to end. as you might break a stem! 64 . and suffered much product loss due to this shedding. it acts as a shell. hot melt glue becomes brittle. and a final coat of wood glue. protecting the hot melt glue from tearing and cracking. whereas the double‐thick piece would be virtually impossible to separate. This means Makigami Origami Bonsai ferns can be dropped and even stepped on without losing a leaf.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
Fern assembly is composed of three basic steps: pre‐ assembly stem preparation, gluing leaflets to the stem, and post‐assembly sealing and coating. Pictured at left is the stem I will use in this example, along with a set of leaflets in seven sizes. I use a glue dish rather than a glue gun, to heat my glue for this type of assembly as it allows me use of both hands to attach leaflets. 1. Start by visually inspecting your frond stem. Look for paper edges that didn’t adhere during the rolling process and trim them off with a razor knife. 2. Paint the Makigami stem with a coat of acrylic paint that either matches or contrasts with your leaflet color. The acrylic mixture can be slightly thinned with water. Do not throw away the leftover mixture as you will need it in the final step.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
3. Orient your frond stem to a perspective that looks appealing. I usually orient it such that the tip points away, thus allowing for an initial period near the base, where the stem is bending toward the viewer. 4. Dip your smallest leaflet in hot melt glue and attach it to the end of the stem. Note that my first leaflet in this picture points slightly away in addition to pointing up. You’ll need to hold the leaflet in place for a few seconds as the glue solidifies.
5. Dip the next two leaflets in glue and align them on the stem. These two leaflets point both up, out and back. I know to position these leaflets from experience, as they’ll look a little odd until you have the next set of leaflets attached. These first three leaflets are the same size in this example.
6. Attach the next, larger set of leaflets parallel to the previous set.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
7. Now install the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh tiers. Attach your final, largest pair of leaflets to the stem. Notice how the spacing between pairs of leaflets is equal on both sides of the stem. Also notice that the gap between leaflet pairs, where they attach to the stem, varies. This gap is smaller at the top, and larger at the bottom. This is the symmetry that makes Origami Bonsai ferns so appealing.
All rights reserved. Paint the assembly with a mixture of leftover acrylic paint from step 2 and wood glue.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Finally. Coat each connection carefully. 68 . Make sure you use a tiny brush where the leaflets connect to the stem. 8. the entire stem should receive a coat of this mixture. You can remove any paint that gets on the leaflets with a cotton swab.
determine how many I would like on each frond. and one more leaflet installed at the tip of the frond. 1. This will evoke depth in the final sculpture. toward the bottom. than that of individual fronds. The sample plant would have larger fronds on the top. you can decide how many individual fronds you will be making. and the smallest leaflets closest. When assembling the plant. In this example. Fern plants require either a little more math. or 72 leaflets. smaller on the bottom. The smallest leaflets are attached to the most distant areas of the plant. you can make four fronds with eight leaflet sizes. and then design a plant with fronds capable of accomodating this number. or more leaflet sheets to ensure you will have a sufficient number of leaflets for your design. Leaflet Distribution for Fern Plants Distribution of leaflets on complete ferns is different. I make nine sheets of leaflet paper to accommodate the plant. and more complex. the two I want to appear a little larger only have one of the smallest leaflets. Assembling an individual frond is fairly straightforward. and larger leaflets closer. and one leaflet is installed at the tip. The smallest fronds have three of the smallest leaflets. Instead. I often make a batch of leaflets. I need eight times nine. All rights reserved. I could install the largest groups of leaflets furthest away. Seven are installed in pairs. When you cut your leaflet paper.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 69 . Four of the smallest leaflets remain unused. I opt to attach the smallest leaflets furthest away (at the top of this piece). If you make eight sheets of leaflet paper. Most of the time I opt for a plant with fronds of nine leaflets each. Since each frond will have nine leaflets. this means I have four pairs. This would result in a fairly flat looking final sculpture. I’ve constructed a fern plant with eight fronds.
and the second tier of the next larger size.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 2. 3. I have now attached the third smallest leaflet size. Notice how I’ve finished the second largest frond size and proceeded to assemble the next larger frond size. These leaflets are attached to the third tier of the smallest fronds. The fourth smallest leaflet size completes the most distant two fronds. All rights reserved. 70 . The second smallest leaflet size is distributed in much the same manner. The fifth set of leaflets have now been attached. and distributed them in the same manner. with one leaflet at the tip of each of them. 4. 5.
Now the sixth leaflet size is distributed. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The ninth and final leaflet distribution. and a coat of paint mixed with wood glue completes the plant. 8. The eighth leaflet size distribution. 71 . 9. The seventh leaflet size distribution. 6. 7.
All rights reserved. This completed fern plant can be mounted to a base or combined with other plants to create an arrangement. 72 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Color is key to the appeal of our creations. and she said she did flower arrangements as a hobby. It had dark green and black leaves. growth. Painting Techniques At my first art exhibition a woman was considering the purchase of an Origami Bonsai bush. You will also learn how to do solid colors. She told me that color was the most important attribute of any arrangement. high contrast. I hope you will consider this in your exploration of this art form.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 73 . We have an entire spectrum of colors available. and a simple method for doing gradient color. While green is the most common fern color. and are working in an art form that lends itself to experimentation and fantasy. dark burgundy flowers. In this chapter you will learn how to create both subtle and abrupt color variation. but is not the only color that can be utilized. All rights reserved. I told her she had an eye for color. I also present suggestions for these different techniques that allow you to represent lighting sources. it is not the only fern color. and depth enhancement. It is important to note that green is a flexible color. VI. and large.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and artist medium. Initially paint both sides of your leaf sheets with one coat of the mixture from step 1. 3. Use a fine. to soak up any extra paint. Do not attempt to do short strokes across the sheet as the paper will tend to curl and tear. Start with a mixture of water color (in your choice of color). 2. Painting Leaf Color 1. Also paint a small center area on the leaf‐side of your flower squares (see chapter 1 for leaf/flower sides). Paint sheets using a magazine as a blotter. I usually add one more coat of a contrasting or complementary mixture of acrylic paint and water to the leaf sides of the sheets. 74 . All rights reserved. water. Then add a second coat to the leaf‐side of the sheets. wide brush and long strokes.
Painting Flower Color This example depicts the herbanero shading style. 1. When the center has dried. Use a chop stick to hold the square in place as you paint. 2. Use at least two coats of paint to obtain a good finish. 3.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Paint four short lines on each corner of the square (flower color side up) leaving a gap at the edge. All rights reserved. paint the entire square with a contrasting color. Paint arcs between the lines painted in step 1 and then fill in the center as shown. 75 .
4. Allow the squares to dry and then flip them and paint one coat of flower color on the unpainted outer areas of the leaf‐color side. especially if they are attached to your bonsai at an angle. The iris gets painted with the same shape as the Habanero followed by a circle just like the Black‐Eyed Susan. This will add a more realistic look to your flowers.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The Black‐Eyed Susan style flower gets painted with a large circle of contrasting color in the center. All rights reserved. 76 .
I apply a final coat to the visible side. two more positive characteristics. after cutting and folding the leaflets. I’ve disassembled Origami Bonsai that I made a year ago. painting on top of an old magazine. end up fusing together. sometimes their centerlines are not perfectly aligned. and increase the natural adhesion of the acrylic additive. folded on top of each other. I turn to a new page of the magazine. throwing off the look of the piece. this folding and cutting misalignment will become obvious. The acrylic also seals out humidity and makes the surfaces dust resistant. and they appeared to be recently completed. a characteristic I want in my products. But if the hidden side is white. I apply all the paint with the same brush and in one sitting. Their folds were sharp. adjacent areas. in order to reassemble them with Makigami stems. This means the leaflet will never unfold. or more.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Each time I paint a sheet of leaflets. It’s okay if the hidden side is painted with a similar shade. 77 . This ensures I don’t get a paint build up that ruins the finish of the leaflets. After finishing that. Basic Fern Green Most of my fern leaflets start with the same basic mixture. I use a very soft‐bristled brush to do this. Firstly. It will go unnoticed in the final piece. The leaves that were colored with acrylic paint applied to both sides looked new. I paint the other. Once I’ve completed all the leaflet sheets on one side. I do this for a couple of reasons. The second reason I paint the hidden side with one coat of paint is to seal it. inner side of the leaflet paper. All rights reserved. I apply this mixture first to the visible leaflet side of the paper. I mix water with Burnt Sienna and Green Deep water color and a small amount of acrylic artist medium. This can allow small areas of the side that is supposed to be hidden to be visible. Basically the visible side gets two coats and the hidden side gets one. As the leaflet ages. The consistency is a little bit thinner than melted butter.
I start with the smallest sheet of leaflets and paint the leaflet side with one coat of base color (I don’t worry about the inside leaflet color until I finish the gradient). However. I mix acrylic black paint with warm water in an eye dropper bottle.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. As it is now a much darker green color. I then add one drop of the black acrylic from the eye dropper bottle to the base mixture. “Burnt Sienna” and Artist Medium) and apply a final coat to the visible side of all the leaflet sheets. and paint the third smallest sheet. The most common gradient I create is one that conveys the age of the leaflet. The resultant gradient leaflet color is pictured at right. Each time I finish a sheet I add a drop. In the example presented I am using basic fern green as a “base” or initial color (“Green Deep” and “Burnt Sienna” water color mixed to the consistency of melted butter with acrylic artist medium). I then mix another batch of base color (“Green Deep”. I have to be careful not to get any on the other side. this mixing process can take up to 20 minutes. It is important that the acrylic mixes completely with the warm water. I paint the reverse side of the leaflet sheets with my remaining paint. any color can be used as the base color. Here is a simple method for creating gradients. I carefully mix the droplet into my base color. I repeat this process until all the leaflet sheets have been painted on one side. Next. 78 . To begin. and remix my base. I then add another droplet to the base mixture. and paint the leaflet side of the next sheet with it. All rights reserved. Simple Gradient Color The use of color gradients is key to creating complex beauty in your fern sculptures.
I applied this coat with a soft brush to one leaflet sheet. I then proceeded to the next leaflet sheet. Here are some examples of special effect final paint coats: In this example I’ve applied a final coat with a mixture of orange acrylic and water. All rights reserved. 79 . This helps convey depth. The resultant leaflets. the final coat of paint I add will drastically change the color of the finished leaflets.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Often. have been assembled with the lightest colored. smallest leaflets in the foremost fronds. and then I used a stiffer brush to rapidly dry and remove excess paint from the sheet. Special Effects All my leaflets get at least two coats of paint on the visible side and one coat on the reverse side. The resultant color varies from brown. to a brackish‐green. pictured above. darker larger leaflets are in the back.
80 . Here I started with the same green gradient colors. and the frond at right were both constructed with this set of leaflets. They also convey a sense of age.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I did not use a stiff brush. As you can see. allowed the mixture to soak in a bit. the resultant frond assemblies are quite dramatic. with smaller leaflets a lighter color than larger ones. soft brush to smooth the finish. In this case I applied a mixture of acrylic yellow and water with a soft brush. The fern tree above. This special effect paint application is slightly different. Both assemblies suggest a light source above. and used the same. All rights reserved. I simply painted each leaflet sheet.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. This piece feels very deep. I use color gradients to convey depth. and closer. Smaller. In the resultant sculpture. 81 . Notice how they have become beautiful shades of blue‐green gradient color. and the five smaller. I applied a mixture of blue acrylic and water to the sheets above. they are only a few inches away. a darker gradient. In this example. darker leaflets look very distant. and creates a visual complexity that is quite dramatic. in the view from above. The five largest sheets are a lighter gradient. larger fronds will be lighter. Notice that I split my 10 leaflet sheets into groups of five. more distant fronds will be darker. the smaller. This is a very different use of gradient color. even though. All rights reserved.
Notice how the gradient color draws your attention to the flowering iris plant in the center of the sculpture. 82 . Simple gradient color was used to paint the leaflets on this fern plant. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
It can be very thick. and less so as it narrows.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. depending on how large. 83 . This is our connection area. The tight curve at the thickest area is deliberate. It is defined by its shape. And because it is a tight curve. I now consider a trunk a very thick and dense piece of Makigami. and how much weight is to be supported. made with multiple sheets of newsprint. and branch or twig. VII. this omni‐ directional connection capability is key to making your botanical designs spring to life in a realistic manner. I differentiate now between the words trunk. branches. where other branches or twigs will attach. or narrow. and twigs. Tapered Makigami Branches The first step in creating one of these assemblies is to make a large batch of Makigami trunks. All rights reserved. This tight curve allows us a large amount of surface area for making connections (because it is fat). As you will discover. with good reason. tightly curved where it is thickest. it will allow us to connect another trunk. branch or twig segment in virtually any direction.
followed by a shallower curve as they narrow. 84 . but are molded on a more narrow tube. Branches are made from one or two pieces of paper and employ a similar molding technique. First I cut it in half. They have a very short. The half‐ sheet will be cut in half. Twigs are made from one sheet of paper and are molded with the same curved structure as branches. I cut diagonals on each piece. and then cut one third off of one of the halves. the next largest sheet will be cut into four pieces. Preparing Newsprint Sheets At left I have one sheet of newsprint (four pages of newspaper. Next. tight curve. and the smallest into four as well. branches and twigs.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Notice that each piece has a narrow and a wide end. This will give me a wide distribution of paper sizes for Makigami trunks. All rights reserved.) folded in half.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. four branches. then flipping it again. 2. I cut these pieces off the largest sheets so they will fit in my rolling pan more easily. Fold the leading edge up approximately 1 inch and remove any air bubbles with your brush. All rights reserved. 3. Notice that I have discarded the remainder of the smallest pieces. Soak one sheet of paper just as you have previously. Creating a Trunk 1. and one thin one. Also notice that I have cut off and discarded the sharp ends of the largest sheets. 85 . flipping it and soaking the other side. After rolling I obtain eight twigs. Start with three large sheets of paper as discussed on the previous page. one thick trunk.
Line the tip of the stem. Put your stem from the previous step on top of the folded area of paper. Ignore the overhanging base. not the base. 86 . All rights reserved. 4.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 5. allow the paper to roll in a semi‐circle. Soak another piece of paper and. Do not attempt to compensate for the “curve” you feel as you roll. again fold the leading edge up approximately one inch. Roll the piece of paper onto the stem. Roll the paper lightly at first and then with more force. set the stem in the side of your pan. and roll your stem as before. Curl the folded area onto the stem. with the edge of the paper as shown. If you compensate for it you will ruin the taper of the stem. You will notice that the stem is longer than the sheet of paper. 7. and then with increasing pressure. fold the leading edge one inch and place your stem on the folded area. Lightly at first. just as before. Soak your third sheet of paper. Then. 6. Instead.
Make sure the thickest part curves tightly around the shaft. The trunk can be removed from the shaft after approximately four hours to reduce drying time. Occasionally. After removing the stems from the mold. All rights reserved. I will put a set of Makigami stems in my car to dry. and the sun is shining. It still could take a day or more for it to dry completely. Tape your trunk to a shaft for molding. when I’m in a hurry to complete a project. and the thinner area curves shallowly. I put them on the front seat of the car. If it is cool.” 9. paint is still evaporating from it. in direct sunlight. Sound: When you tap a Makigami stem against a wooden table it should make a distinctive “clink. To ensure it is dry: Feel: It should be room temperature and dry to the touch.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I put them on a flat pan. You have now rolled a “trunk. The hot sun creates the perfect environment for Makigami stem drying. Smell: It should have no smell. I have dried twigs in the car in as little as 40 minutes. and carry them out to my car.” almost the sound a real twig would make. 87 . 8. Tear off the excess paper from the base of the stem.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 88 . Thicker stems require more tape to secure them to the mold. All rights reserved. A tapered stem approximately one inch in diameter attached to a mold.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. They add life and a feeling of playfulness to Origami Bonsai sculpture. Fiddleheads are easy to make. All rights reserved. They push their heads out of the soil. Fiddleheads are prepubescent fern plants. and then unroll their fronds. thus promoting the idea that they are the same variety of fern as the major fern plant. VIII. as well as a stimulating focal point. so I make four fiddleheads at a time. Fiddleheads This book would not be complete without a discussion of fiddleheads. 89 . I have four fiddlehead clips. I usually use the same stem color on my fiddleheads as I used on the main stems of the sculpture to which they will be added. They look much like the sculpted wood tip of a violin.
Because we are using a fiddlehead clamp. I then cut four small pieces of wire (from a paper clip). All rights reserved. which then gets squeezed by the flat.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. fiddleheads must be molded on a flat surface. I have four fiddlehead clamps. Fiddlehead Molding Clamps In order to mold a fiddlehead we need something to hold the narrow rolled up end of a Makigami stem. 2. Start by cutting four pieces of newsprint. 1. I made these clamps from clothespins. and glued them to the modified side of each clothespin. fiddlehead clamps and a narrow pole for molding. First I cut the tips off of one side of four clothespins. In this example. 90 . I’m making short fiddleheads for the base of a sculpture. so I produce them in groups of four. The wire slips easily through the center of the fiddlehead. not vertically. Making Fiddleheads The molding of fiddleheads differs from Makigami stem molding. Therefore. Roll the newsprint into stems and collect masking tape. we need something to support the clamp while the fiddlehead dries. uncut side of the clamp.
All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Allow the fiddleheads to dry for a few hours. 4. one left and one right curving pair. 91 . 4. 3. Place the fiddlehead clamp on a flat surface. Don’t let go of the clamp. Tape the Makigami stem to the mold. but release the pressure holding it open. Squeeze the fiddlehead clamp to open it and insert the wire into the center of the coiled portion of the fiddlehead. adjacent to the narrow pole you plan to use as a mold. Coil the narrowest part of the fiddlehead between your thumb and index finger. toward the base of the stem. In this sequence of photos I am molding four fiddleheads.
put a single ply of tissue paper (either bathroom or facial tissue will work) on it. All rights reserved. Paint the coiled portion of the fiddle head with the mixture. If you wish.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. mix a dilute mixture of your acrylic color and water. 6. Paint the fiddlehead in the desired color with a mixture of acrylic and water. and let dry. To do this. 7. 5. 8. 92 . and then soak the tissue paper with your brush. you can add an outer membrane to the coiled portion of the fiddle head. Remove the fiddleheads from their molds. While the coiled portion of the fiddlehead is still wet.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. You can save paint from a larger fern project. 93 . Use the tip of your brush to gently remove the area of tissue that is outside the coiled area of the stem. This allows me to create Makigami arrangements from existing groups of sculptures. I most often use black for the color of my pebbles. I mounted these four fiddleheads onto black pebbles so they can be used with other arrangements. All rights reserved. 9. or mounted separately. then paint and mount a set of fiddleheads that match it to the finished sculpture. Fiddleheads can be attached to an existing sculpture. Your fiddlehead should look like this when completed. Repeat steps 7 through 9 on the other side of the fiddlehead.
All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 94 .
It looks as if the flowering plant started growing. Makigami Assemblies Pictured above is a highly complex sculpture. and grew up between both plants. This chapter will teach you how to make highly complex 95 . amongst the tangle of stems. It then bumped into the ground and grew up and under itself. The stem of the flowering tree is made out of at least 20 separate Makigami stems. based on Japanese Ikebana flower arranging. Simultaneously. With the exception of the ivy and sprouts. At the same time a small ivy plant sneaked its way between the fern tree and flowering tree. These plants seem to interact. two sprouts can be seen popping up. with the exception of the stone that serves as a base. bumped into the stem of the fern tree. and then grew skyward. It is made entirely from paper.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. IX. which were made from single stems. the plants in these photos were made from multiple Makigami stems. and continued growing in a new direction. and the fern tree is made out of 11. All rights reserved.
There are other rules that are not as stringently adhered to. assemblies from Makigami stems. Failure to do so often results in sculptures that lack a connection to nature. I will confess. I almost always have a specific sculpture in mind when I start a Makigami assembly. This is a good rule to follow to achieve a natural look. Making Natural‐Looking Connections All plants follow some basic rules in terms of structural growth. In order to achieve a natural looking result. a technique for connecting paper branch segments where connections. As these structures become more complex. with an open mind. allowing you to create virtually any branch structure you can conceive of. because during the process I discover a more interesting configuration. and you will learn. wind. This is a requirement in the natural world as gravity. their connections become more important. Plants use sunlight for energy. The most basic is that thick trunks precede thinner branches which precede tiny twigs. because it would be a shame not to notice a more impressive sculpture that you could have created. leaves and flowers. Every Makigami sculpture is a set of compromises that attempts conformity to these rules. 96 . All rights reserved. ready to go in any direction it might lead you. Please keep this in mind as you begin an assembly. You must also consider how it would react to the weight of subsequent branches. however you can find examples of plants in nature that do not adhere entirely to it. I seldom complete an assembly with what I had in mind. become stronger than the branches themselves.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. A thick trunk normally leads to a thinner branch that sprouts from the trunk in the same general direction the trunk was already growing. so their intent is to grow skyward. This means there is a natural progression from thick to thin in all plant life. You should approach a Makigami assembly in the same way you approach a puzzle. and rain demand it. you must consider how your sculpture would grow. I have developed. when properly made. An example of this is direction of growth. Makigami is a highly flexible art form.
except where doing so would result in failure. Even though this sculpture looks delicate. in the direction of growth. out of the major branches. Thick trunks lead to thinner branches. The trunks are very thick. it is actually quite durable. 97 . Notice how twigs connect to branches. The reason it does is because I adhered strictly to the rules of trunk and branch thickness. The green bush with white hyacinths in this sculpture looks quite real. They flow naturally. All rights reserved. and branches that support the flower assemblies are thicker than those that support leaves. It has a grace and beauty that normally could only be found in a real plant. like a branch that terminates with a flower assembly.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
if I want to terminate a thick stem with a flower I will add a small “U” to the tip of the stem so the flower will face the viewer. Sometimes this increase in length will include a curve to change the direction the stem is going. 1.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Start by cutting off the end of the base of the long stem to remove any paper that might not have been rolled properly. cut directly across a branch. tightly curved Makigami stem to a long. which is key to creating a sculpture that should last for generations. This will allow me more flexibility in terms of perspective at the base of the sculpture. In‐Line Connection ‐ Trunk or Branch Extension I use an in‐line connection whenever I want to increase the length of a Makigami stem. In this example I will add a short. 98 . Making Makigami Connections Good Makigami connections are dependent upon surface area more than any other factor. For example. Before you begin this process you must confirm that the thickness of the pieces you’ll be mating is nearly identical. As a general rule. I never. A more common application is to add another length of stem to a trunk. All rights reserved. I always cut the branch at an angle. more gently curved stem. This maximizes the surface area of the connection. ever.
and proceeds in the direction you desire. 2. 5. Do a visual confirmation. All rights reserved. 4. You want to make sure your cuts will result in a stem that does not look modified. you will have to re‐cut one or both pieces. 3. Cut the long stem at an angle to maximize surface area at the connection. If it does not. 99 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Cut the short stem at an angle to maximize surface area of the connection. Cut off the tip of the short Makigami stem to remove any improperly rolled paper.
All rights reserved. allow the tip of your glue gun to remain in the melted glue for approximately 10 to 20 seconds. 7. 6. Press the stems together and hold them in place for 20 seconds. 9. This allows the Makigami stem to heat up as well. release this pressure slowly. When you finish making connections. Use the tip of your glue gun to smooth the edges of the connection. 100 . At first you should apply a lot of pressure to the connection. After you’ve applied sufficient glue. As the glue starts to set. 8. Apply hot melt glue to one side of the connection. facilitating the penetration of glue into the stem. paint them all with a thin coat of wood glue.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Be careful not to touch the hot glue.
1. which is cut at an angle.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 101 . Hold the branch up to the stem in the desired perspective. and when properly performed. Your trunk should be substantially thicker than the branch you will surface mount to it. Surface Connection – Adding Branches The surface connection is the most common. adds intricacy and beauty to your sculpture. The thicknesses of the two Makigami stems to be connected is important. 2. All rights reserved. In this example I will add a branch to the stem completed on page 64. The only piece to be cut is the thinner Makigami branch. Note the angle at which the branch intersects the stem. Cut any improperly rolled paper from the end of the branch.
3. 6. Confirm that the cut branch will connect at the angle you desire. 5. Attach the branch to the stem. then releasing pressure as the glue sets. Touch the tip of your glue gun to the area where the branch has been cut and heat it for 20 seconds. applying a lot of pressure at first. 102 . Cut the branch at an angle equivalent to the intersection angle you observed on step 1. Apply glue to the branch only. 4. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Insert the U in an “extra hand” clamp. 7. Paint the connection with a coat of wood glue. 1. Use the hot tip of your glue gun to remove excess glue and smooth the connection. Graft Connection – Split Trunk In the following example. 8. we will use these Makigami components to create a branch representing a fern tree with two trunks of four branches each. We have two trunks and four branches with a good amount of taper. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. considering the perspective of the desired sculpture. 103 . We also have a thick partial “U” (darker green) that we shall use as a junction piece.
2. Think about the resultant sculpture and what it might look like.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 4. and how this trunk will work in that perspective. 104 . 5. Consider the perspective of the plant. Align the trunk with the junction piece. keeping perspective in mind. Cut the junction piece to prepare it to connect to the two trunks. 3. Notice the angle at which the junction will intersect the trunk. Each trunk will sprout from the junction at an approximately equal angle. Cut the trunk at the angle visualized in step 4. All rights reserved. Prepare to cut the trunk. and proceed based on your best estimation. Line up a trunk with one side of the junction piece.
9. It must be removed before completing the assembly. 8.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. but also that the trunk is in the perspective you designated. Confirm that you not only have a good fit. All rights reserved. 6. Attach the other trunk in the same manner. 105 . Apply hot melt glue and attach. 7. You will probably have excess glue around the connection.
We will now combine the fern tree with an Origami Bonsai plant. and mount them both on a piece of stone. Then use the edge of the nozzle to smooth and remove excess glue on the junction. First. 106 . All rights reserved. I assembled this into a fern tree (from page 50). wipe excess glue from the nozzle of your glue gun with a paper towel. The resultant assembly with twigs attached is pictured at left. 10.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Trunk Modification I’ve constructed an elaborate Makigami trunk which (pictured here in bright green). I need to rotate the thinner part of the trunk upwards so it will look as if it has grown in and around the fern tree. in its current form doesn’t look like it will mate well with the fern tree. In this picture you can clearly see the U that I inserted. I have also added twigs to the sculpture. and then skyward. so I can make it appear as if it is growing out of the stone. as it is a different color green than the original. I will then cut the stem and insert a U so it will appear to be growing up. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. rather than across the stone as it does now. 107 . I will cut the thickest part of the trunk off.
108 . The final sculpture is pictured at the beginning of this chapter. Notice how the twigs seem to be growing in different directions. This is because the trunk is growing down at that point in the sculpture.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. it still complies with the direction of growth rule. Even though the twig furthest to the right (in the completed work) grows downward. Wrap them around a narrow mold and allow them to dry. Assembly Using Branchlets You must read the assembly instructions in this chapter’s previous pages before proceeding. In this view you can clearly see how the two plants interact. To make branchlets first you must make some un‐ tapered narrow makigami stems. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. And then by cutting straight across. Prepare at least one narrow stem that has been dried to form a spring‐like coil (upper right in picture). Cut a coil into branchlets. 2. 3a. All rights reserved. 1. Assemble the larger stems to form a branch. 109 . Prepare a set of makigami stems. first by cutting at an angle… 3b.
Visually inspect each connection point to ensure there is enough area for the leaves to be attached without blocking or bumping into other leaves. To assemble an origami bonsai with leaves in pairs. 6.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 110 . 4. Make note of the area each branchlet and pair of leaves uses. according to the instructions on previous pages in this chapter. All rights reserved. 3c. Attach leaves normally. Prepare the branch normally. according to the instructions on previous pages in this chapter. 5. cut half as many branchlets as you have leaves. Attach the branchlets to the branch by dipping the end cut at an angle into hot melt glue and affixing it to the branch in the natural direction of growth.
7. and your origami bonsai sculpture is complete.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Cut stem tips diagonally to maximize surface area before gluing flowers on. In this example I cut the tips at various angles to enhance the look of the sculpture. 111 . All rights reserved. Put a small amount of glue on the bottom center of the flower and hold it in place as the glue solidifies. Attach a hanger. and a pot with pebbles.
branches or twigs to a project. After wood glue has been applied to connections. All Makigami connections should be made with stems cut at an angle to maximize their surface area. but only to those connections. If you plan to add more stems. wait until after these have been attached before you apply wood glue. This coat of paint should not be mixed with wood glue. Assembly Summary To ensure success when assembling Makigami structures. After attaching leaflets. All rights reserved. 112 . always adhere to these rules: 1. Do not apply wood glue to areas where you will be attaching leaflets. Following these steps in the final stages of your project will ensure that your sculpture will last for generations. 4. all connections should be painted with a mixture of acrylic paint and wood glue. leaves and flowers. Apply wood glue to all Makigami connections.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. leaves or flowers. 2. 3. paint your entire sculpture with a coat of acrylic paint.
The new medium needed to be shapeable and conform to vertical (wall) as well as horizontal (shelf/table) surfaces. This worked. A key component of a good sculpture is its ability to transition from the surfaces that surround it into its environment and back again. they were impossible to mate with my wall sculptures. Something is missing. and to fill the void. While the molding system I have developed works well for branches.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Notice how odd the sculpture pictured above looks. I had been mounting my sculptures on stones. which meant my roots had to conform to the surfaces of those stones. It appears almost naked. A frame with a background would help. it does not accommodate the shapes of stones in a meaningful way. I needed something new on which to mount my sculptures. Paper Pots and Makigami Roots My initial attempts at developing root systems failed. For my free‐standing Origami Bonsai sculptures. but now I needed something to put inside those boxes for the roots to grow out of. I tried mounting sculptures in small origami boxes. 113 . but because of their weight. stones worked well. X. The sculpture fails to make a transition from the flat wall. All rights reserved. but it would also add limitations.
building a root system. starting with the main trunk. I wanted to keep the origami box as small as possible. but despite many efforts. and any sculpture that leaned a great distance was out of the question. The floors were uneven. He said it had three legs. The resultant sculpture has a unique. I had seen crumpled paper used as a medium for Origami flowers on the internet. 114 . This meant I could fully develop a plant with roots. even if the surface is uneven. and two supplemental roots for stability. If we put down four or more roots we are likely to end up with a sculpture that wobbles.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I thought back to a math class I had many years ago. and then sculpt a group of pebbles in and around the root structure. The biggest problem was the center of gravity. When we create our root systems. but natural look. and as part of the last step I add the paper pebbles. I could create a shape that looked much like a pebble. I finally realized that I could use the pebbles to supplement a root system which served as both a center of gravity and support system for the assemblies above. This has been highly successful. As the milk maid puts down her stool. We learned that three points define a plane. the first thing we do is set down three roots. the three legs touch the ground and provide a stable place from which to work. I started building my sculptures differently. Most of my sculptures have one thicker “tap” root. I soon discovered that by soaking paper in water. It also meant root systems had to be small. Three Points Define a Plane Making a root system is far easier than I ever thought possible. and then proceeding to the top adding branches and twigs. I couldn’t adapt the technique to free‐standing sculptures. and that this was because floors of barns were dirt. Paper pebbles also offer more flexibility. which the professor proved by telling us about the stool milk maids use. and the milk maid needed a stool that wouldn’t wobble. I assemble the sculpture. All rights reserved. both in terms of color and size. then compressing it between my index finger and thumb. This worked well for my wall sculptures. which meant I had to create an extremely well balanced sculpture.
It has four roots. All rights reserved. 115 . mostly because I hadn’t found a way to easily create a three root system. This is the prototype I built to research root structures.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Both plant stems were simply embedded in pebbles. This Origami Bonsai wall sculpture has no visible roots.” and it starred in a video on YouTube where a photo of it is transmitted to NASA from a probe exploring Mars. which were much easier to build than the first prototype. which allows it to be better appreciated by those looking at it. It has a clearly defined transition from wall to sculpture. This is the second root prototype. 116 . All rights reserved. I call it “Martian Walking Fern.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Sometimes roots are not necessary. It clearly has three main roots.
Cut the root to fit. 117 . 4.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Start with a Makigami trunk and several more narrow stems. 2. All rights reserved. Use a weight to hold the trunk in the desired perspective. 3. Making a Basic Root Structure 1. Confirm that your root fits the trunk and then glue it to the trunk using hot melt glue. Align the first root to the trunk such that the curve of the root is flat against your work surface (see picture step 5).
118 . cut it to fit and attach it with hot melt glue. Notice that the first root is flush to the working surface. 5. All rights reserved. I usually add a third root to ensure the stability of the completed sculpture.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 6. and depending on its center of gravity. Support your sculpture by moving the weight to the newly attached root. you may not need to add additional roots. Determine the position of a second root. 7. Your sculpture may become self‐supporting at this stage.
much like a camera tri‐pod. 119 . 10. Paint the root system’s connections with wood glue and allow it to dry for at least four hours. I decided to add a third root in this position. Notice how my roots extend in three directions. 8. 9. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. use the tip of a glue gun to smooth the edges. When you are satisfied with the stability of your sculpture.
I suggest it be combined with watching a good movie on television or with some other form of entertainment. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Then. 3. This allows them to shed excess water before being compressed. Start by cutting newsprint into 3/4” strips. Making Pebbles I must confess that I do not enjoy making pebbles. drag individual squares of newsprint up the side of the bowl to the top edge. the results of which are so profound that it becomes a necessary chore. 1. 120 . 2. It is a tedious and boring task. When choosing a bowl. consider that the newsprint will leave a grey residue that is sometimes hard to wash off. Pour about one inch of warm water into the bottom of the bowl and allow it to soak into the newsprint. In this example. I’m using four pages of newsprint. Cut the strips into squares over an empty bowl.
They must be completely dry before proceeding to the next step. Once dry.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 5. roll it around between your thumb and index finger to make it more rounded. Pour some of the paint into the disposable container. 121 . All rights reserved. Squeeze and compress the square of newsprint between your thumb and index finger. 6. As it becomes a ball. Drop each damp pebble onto your rolling tray. put your pebbles in a disposable container. 7. It takes about four hours for them to dry completely. 4. Mix some acrylic paint and water in any color that might compliment your project.
but adds much to the sculpture.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 8. 122 . All rights reserved. They must be completely dry before sculpting. 9. Pour the pebbles back into your rolling tray and allow them to dry for at least two hours. Coat the pebbles with paint in the container using a paint brush to stir them. Sculpting a Pebble Base The weeping fern at right has a main tap root and three supplemental roots. Add more paint as necessary. As you will see. the addition of a paper‐pebble mount is not only easy to do. This process is complete when you cannot see any of the original newsprint color on the pebbles.
then push your tree into the pebbles. 2. Place. Each pebble should be coated with glue. but not dripping with it. Pour wood glue on top of the pebbles. 3. Use a small paint brush to stir the mixture. coating the entire surface of all the pebbles. 4. 1. 123 . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Use your brush to make a pile of pebbles on top of a piece of wax paper. Estimate how many pebbles you are likely to need and pour them into a separate disposable dish.
as if it has dug its way more deeply into the ground. I make the tap root partially disappear by piling pebbles on top of it.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 5. 7. At right is a picture of the completed sculpture on a pebble mount. Don’t worry about getting glue on the trunk. 124 . Make sure you fill voids in the center of your root system. so I mix some more pebbles and glue to do this. You want to achieve a natural look. Use your brush to sculpt the pebbles. 6. as it will not be visible once dry. All rights reserved. In this example I want to cover the tap root. and work your way outward.
Pebbles for Wall Sculpture Here I’m adding pebbles to the sculpture pictured in the opening of this chapter. All rights reserved. and add a lot to the sculpture. 125 . Failure to allow them to dry between steps will result in a wobbly sculpture. is vastly improved. WARNING: Pebbles must be allowed to dry completely between each step of the process. giving the roots something to attach to. the pebbles provide a focal point. I also believe that the transition. To my eye. from wall to sculpture.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
Pebbles without Roots
For some sculptures roots are undesirable. Roots add a unique complexity that is usually complementary; however there are occasions where that complexity interferes with the overall goal. In this example, I built a long fern. My goal was to develop an extremely tall and narrow sculpture.
I used a clamp to hold the fern in place while I sculpted a pebble base. I used a narrow piece of wire to mount the sculpture to the wall and hold it in the proper perspective.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
Another way to create a natural looking environment for your Origami Bonsai plants is to mount them in paper pots. I make these pots from paper containers. Usually I will shorten them, to mask the fact that they come from things like paper cups, and dog treat packaging. When I’m going to make a wall‐mounted piece, I cut the container in half. This creates an interesting, natural looking transition between the wall and the plant. In this example, I use a small paper cup to make two pots for a wall sculpture. 1. Make your first cut on the seam of the cup. 2. Cut the other side of the cup with the bottom of the cup facing up so you can see the first cut. 3. Cut across the bottom of the cup, from the first cut to the second. 4. You can trim off the top of the cup for a more bonsai‐ looking planter.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
5. To complete the wall side of the pot, cut a piece of heavy stock (28 pound paper or greater). This piece of paper should be no more than one inch larger than your pot on each side. This is important, as you want the paper to be flexible enough to allow the moisture in the glue to curl it. This curling action affixes the edges of the paper cup to the paper. 6. Paint a bead of wood glue on the inside edges of the pot, and then attach the cup to the heavy paper. 7. Run your brush along the inside of the pot, evening the bead of glue, and forcing a small amount to the outside of the pot. Do not brush the outside of the pot. Allow the pot to dry for at least four hours. 8. Paint the pot and the adjacent edges of paper with acrylic paint in the color of your choosing. Don’t forget to paint the inside back of the pot, its inner top edge, and the bottom. Allow it to dry for an hour. 9. Cut the heavy weight paper along the edges of the pot.
Bend the wire until you achieve the desired results. Attach a wire to your bonsai to act as a hanger. 10. 12.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved. Align the top edge of the pot to horizontal while the glue is still hot. and hang it on a wall. 11. 13. and then attach the pot to the stem. 129 . Be careful during this process not to damage the tree. apply a large amount of hot melt glue to the bottom of the stem. Touch up the edges of the pot where you cut it from the heavy weight paper. Determine how you want your bonsai to hang from the wall. Once you have your bonsai hanging correctly.
making sure to completely hide the newspaper in the bottom. Add paper pebbles to the top of the pot. Apply a thick coat of glue to the inside bottom of the pot.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 130 . Crumple some small bits of newspaper into wads. 15. All rights reserved. Put the small bits of newspaper in the bottom of the pot leaving a gap for paper pebbles. 14.
1. Line the opening of the vase with foil. All rights reserved. and will not damage the vase. Use a clamp to hold your Origami Bonsai in place. 2. Mounting Origami Bonsai in Existing Vases Here is a technique for mounting Origami Bonsai in vases. Make sure you cover the entire top of the vase with foil to avoid glue coming in contact with it.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 131 . Build an Origami Bonsai in colors that will complement the vase you have in mind. Consider performing this on one of your makigami rolling pans so you can move it out of the way while it dries. It is easy to perform. 3. This indentation should not have any holes in it that might allow glue to drip into the vase. Check the orientation of the bonsai to confirm that it’s going to be mounted in the vase as you desire. Make sure to create a large indentation down the throat of the vase.
Both of these are important for the stability of the sculpture. Also make sure you build up a layer of pebbles on the upper edge of the vase. 132 . Confirm that the glue has dried completely before putting it in your vase. Prepare pebbles in glue as described previously in this chapter. Allow the pebbles to dry over night and then remove carefully remove the foil. you may need to glue a weight (like a small pebble) to the bottom of the pebbles.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. If your bonsai is top heavy. Pack the pebbles into the vase. Make sure the pebbles completely fill the void created by the foil. All rights reserved. 4.
whether they be in city parks. 133 . and marvel at its grace. My intent by presenting these photographs is to illustrate the natural complexity some plants achieve so that this can be incorporated into your designs. like a firework. or in deep woods. I drive past this tree almost every day.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. it suddenly bursts into many branches. This tree’s curves have inspired many of my Makigami designs. thus increasing the variety and complexity of those you produce. Exposure to as many plant species as possible will ensure sufficient resources to draw upon during the design phase of sculpture. and how it curls up towards the sky and then. The limitations of Origami Bonsai combined with Makigami are all in your mind. Inspirational Photographs Inspiration may be as close as your bedroom window. it is only a matter of perceiving it. I strongly recommend long nature walks. XI. Notice the main trunk on the right. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and also that they touch the ground. This is another tree that I pass daily on my commute. 134 .” Notice the taper of this tree’s branches. It inspired me to develop the “Weeping Fern. All rights reserved.
135 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Here are some fiddleheads and a “Fox Tail Fern” which is actually not a fern. All rights reserved.
A close‐up of the fiddleheads is pictured below. Notice that this fern plant sprouts new fronds from the center. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 136 .
137 . This odd cluster of fronds is attached to the single green stem you see just below it on the left. The ferns seem to unroll in every direction from this one stem. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
Notice the straight lines of the bricks. All rights reserved. they are all concentrated in a wide arc. This tree has been trained to grow against a brick wall. There are no twigs on the main trunks of the tree.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. When the twigs sprout they will form a rainbow‐shaped area of dense foliage. Also notice the density of leaf producing twigs. 138 . and how they contrast with the grace of the tree.
as it would not resolve another important factor affecting the outcome of molding: the angle the stem was attached to the mold. Mastering Makigami In the picture above you can see what represents many hours of wasted time. and predictor of the shape of a Makigami stem eluded me. and the rate at which the stem wound around the mold. I remove the stems from their molds and discover they are not at all what I had in mind. I rejected this. All rights reserved. according to a predefined pattern. Perhaps you have already encountered this. Despite repeated attempts. One attribute that makes Origami popular among people is its repeatability.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I debated marking graduation lines on my Makigami molds. Development of some method of standardization. If a piece of paper is folded accurately. This is an important detail as it allows designs to be shared with other people while at the same time allowing an individual to make as many copies of the model as desired. in my mind. I make a batch of Makigami stems that. 139 . Stems molded in the same session varied. best represent the design. I typically have a design idea in mind. but enough that it affected the resultant sculptures. These two additional factors meant that graduation lines would be insufficient to create predictable stems. XII. I found I had trouble predicting exactly what shape a stem would be when I was attaching it to a cylinder. it will result in the predicted model. measurement. not tremendously.
natural looking assembly of stems. the other for a right‐hand curl. I also make a few Makigami stems with no taper in the thickness of my projects’ frond bases. the drama of an individual stem is far outweighed by a good. I created two gauges for each size stem I produced. but the thickest part needs to be as straight as possible. I cut a set of wires to be used as gauges. This means the initial part of my frond stem has very little curl. saving hours of time in the sculpture design stage.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Twisting and curving stems look great individually. attach them to molds. Before I developed gauges. I maximize curl on the thicker. I make two of these at a time and wind them in opposite directions around the cylinder. I had to roll a batch of stems. Making gauges from wire also allows fast and accurate sculpture design. I use pieces of these stems to connect fronds to trunks and main stems when I am unable to connect them directly. In essence. One day I cut a piece of wire and wrapped it around my mold. Sadly. I could now produce large batches of Makigami stems that were exactly the same. I have a general rule. This allows me to construct predictable sculptures. 140 . main stems. and wait hours to see what the resultant shapes were. All rights reserved. One gauge was for a left‐hand curl. but assembling them into a sculpture that maintains fern perspective is almost impossible. they serve as an interface between the frond and the main stem for complex curves. I can do anything I want with the tip of the stem. I can also arrange a set of leaflets and compare them to the gauge to determine whether the length of my Makigami stem will accommodate the leaflets. and minimize it on frond bases. I realized immediately that I had solved the problem. With wire gauges I can make a gauge by winding it around a mold and look at the resultant shape. From this experience. Maximizing Connectivity I have discovered that it is easy to make dramatic Makigami stems.
Making Makigami Gauges for Fronds 1. Cut the wire approximately ½ inch longer than the length that the fronds require.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. with stems touching the wire. Cut the newsprint using the gauge as a guide. Determine the length of your Makigami stem by putting the gauge next to a piece of newsprint. If you plan to make both left and right curving frond stems. 2. Put individual leaflets flat on the surface. Note: If you are making a depth enhanced sculpture you may need to make separate gauges for each frond size. 3. 141 . Determine the length of your fronds’ stem by mock‐ assembling a frond on a flat surface. cut a second piece of wire the same length as the first. All rights reserved. It is now a gauge for this frond.
5. Cut the newsprint into individual pieces which will become Makigami stems. which corresponds to the base of the frond. Bend the gauge along a narrow tube or cylinder. Notice that the bases of my gauges have almost no curl. 142 . Remove it from the cylinder and visually confirm that the bottom of the gauge. 4. In this example I am producing narrow stems. has a slow and gentle curve. bend the second gauge in the opposite direction.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. If you are making left and right curving fronds. All rights reserved. The body and tip of the frond can be curved as you wish. 6. however I recommend a gentle curve to ensure success.
Cut the newsprint in half at an angle. 3. For a more tapered trunk. Cut the newsprint to match the width indicated by (one of) the gauge(s). with tips that are narrow. On the top I will be connecting fronds. 4. 2. thus producing wider tips. cut it at a more acute angle. I bend the gauge with a gentler curve here to facilitate those connections. 143 . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I will use the bottom to connect to roots and other trunks. Bend the gauge around the cylinder you will use as a mold. In this example. For a less tapered trunk. The example shown is cut for a more tapered trunk. Making Makigami Gauges for Trunks 1. so I bend it with a tighter curve. cut it at a shallower angle. Cut one wire to the approximate length of your desired trunk (or cut two lengths if you want both left and right curving trunks).
Start with the tightest curve. They should be “mirrors” of each other. 5. then duplicate the curve as you proceed down the cylinder. Look at your gauges. I create a mirror image of the original. If they are not. 144 . To create a gauge with the opposite curl. All rights reserved. remove one gauge and try again.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 6.
They are almost mirror images. 145 . All rights reserved. They should have similar. I am satisfied.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 8. 7. I then position frond gauges at various attachment points to confirm that my design will work. but opposite shapes. To fix this. In this example. the gauge on the right does not have as much curl in the bottom. Remove the gauges from the cylinder and compare them. After re‐forming the gauge on the right. I put it back on the mold and curl the bottom more tightly. Using Gauges to Model Sculpture In this example I am confirming that I can assemble a short fern plant by inserting two trunk gauges in a clamp.
Frond gauges can be temporarily attached to an existing Makigami framework to confirm connection compatibility. 2.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 146 . I use clothespins to temporarily attach the gauges. Molding Makigami Trunks using Gauges as Guides 1. In this example I’m confirming that my gauges for weeping fern fronds will connect properly. Roll your Makigami stems and put them in a shallow pan. All rights reserved. Attach the bottom (thickest) end of the stem to the mold using masking tape. and then I examine the frond perspective to confirm the sculpture will have a natural and realistic appearance. In this example I will make two right and two left curving trunks.
This is because the tape has a tendency to become saturated with moisture from the paint. The extra tape ensures my trunks will mold properly. Place your gauge on the mold and wrap your stem around the mold parallel to the gauge. or in pairs. 3. Perform the same steps on the opposite‐ curling trunks. I tend to mold thick trunks either singly. 147 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Remove the gauge and secure the top of the stem with another piece of masking tape. inner stems will have a tighter curl than outer ones. At right are two pairs of Makigami trunks. All rights reserved. 4. Notice that I’ve reinforced the tape at the thickest part of the stems. It’s important to realize that when molded in larger groups.
All rights reserved. At almost one inch in diameter.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. this is what the trunks look like. It took about four days to dry completely. this is the thickest Makigami trunk I have made so far. 148 . After drying overnight. Note how similar they are.
Attach the thickest part of the stem to a narrow cylinder and insert your gauge between the tape and the outer stem. 2. All rights reserved. Wind the stems around the mold parallel to the gauge. I typically mold four Makigami frond stems in one group. Secure the top of the stems with tape and remove the gauge. Molding Smaller Makigami Stems 1. This saves time and tape. 149 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. In this example I am using an aluminum broom handle as a mold. Pictured are eight frond stems drying.
I can resolve this by trimming the tips off of the ones on the right as shown in the picture below.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Notice that the stems on the right are curved more acutely than the ones on the left. 150 . All rights reserved. Pictured above are the narrow Makigami frond stems after drying overnight.
It is visually complex. 151 . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. so I had a total of 312 leaflets. I spent four days painting and folding a set of leaflets in 13 sizes. however if you saw the sculpture you would see its failure as an Origami Bonsai while simultaneously noting its success as a Picasso. and in a photograph it looks marvelous. The resultant sculpture is pictured above. I made this large number of leaflets because I wanted to build a depth enhanced sculpture that had a bushy appearance. I discovered that my existing techniques did not support a sculpture of this magnitude and complexity. I made three sheets of each size. XIII. Subassemblies Sometimes things go wrong.
Because I wanted a bushy looking sculpture. frond assemblies. hopefully achieving a bushy look. I decided to pursue subassemblies more fervently. I had attached frond stems too close to each other. it does have good visual complexity and an interesting look. I first tried changing the alignment of leaflets to accommodate this mistake. when I attached leaflets to the fronds. While a Picasso‐esque Origami Bonsai is interesting. The frond in the foreground is four sizes larger than the attached frond that points to the rear. and pre‐assemble the fronds. but quickly discovered I had fronds that looked like they were from different ferns. and appears a little disorganized. At their attachment point. I would then attach those pre‐ assembled fronds to the existing Makigami stem structure. The acute failure is present on the lowest two fronds. something is flagrantly wrong.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. with two sets of tweezers. I had tremendous trouble aligning them. I decided to roll left‐ and right‐tending Makigami frond stems. The Makigami twigs I had rolled didn’t have a common perspective. tiny frond connects to a much larger one. During the construction of this piece I had many problems. visually. Initially I had trouble with frond alignment. All rights reserved. In the end I had to relocate entire branch assemblies. 152 . While it does not achieve a bushy look. Additionally. I disassembled the sculpture and considered another approach. I had to reach in. The resultant sculpture is pictured here. as a graceful. The resultant sculpture (pictured on the previous page) was not what I had envisioned. this genre is not something I can cover in this introductory text. being extremely careful not to get glue all over the sculpture.
The solution was clear. This meant that in researching this technique I would have to make 180 leaflets for each attempt. It was clear that I was on the cusp of achieving high complexity while at the same time maintaining frond perspective. with 15 leaflets. While gradients are interesting. I decided that a minimum for proving the viability of depth enhanced Origami Bonsai ferns through subassemblies was 12 fronds of three sizes. so I decided on an eight tier design. I also realized that attaching leaflets to fronds at more acute angles increased the number of viable perspectives and dramatically increased the visual complexity of the completed sculpture. if I reduced the curl of the frond‐stem connection area of my subassemblies they would be easier to attach. I was convinced that subassemblies held the potential for vastly more complex and larger Origami Bonsai sculptures. The goal of common frond perspective was met at the cost of overall appeal. they can be over used. 153 . Pictured here is my second attempt at subassemblies.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The process of fine tuning the technique was long. After spending hours trying to get fronds to mate with stems. I wanted long fronds. Note the acute curve of the frond stems where they are thickest. A third aspect I discovered involved color. the resultant sculpture looks disheveled. The acutely curved stems resulted in a sculpture that was virtually impossible to assemble. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. This means my leaflet sheets must be re‐grouped based on their position within the frond. Because the sculpture will be depth enhanced I only cut one sheet of the smallest. 1 through 8. I will paint the leaflet sheets using a color gradient. Because it is depth enhanced. The middle sized fronds are lettered “B” and numbered 2 through 9. I want each of the fronds in my sculpture to look the same. evocative of a more natural color scheme. Notice that each leaflet sheet is numbered and lettered on the side that will not be visible after folding. I combine leaflet sheets from largest to smallest. and two of the second smallest sizes. and numbered by size. Except for their size. I cut 24 sheets of leaflet paper. In other words. Each frond will have four gradient green colors. The smallest set of sheets. 154 . The smallest fronds will be two leaflet sizes smaller than the largest fronds. And the largest sized fronds are lettered “C” and numbered 3 through 10. 9B and 10C make up the group of largest leaflet sheets. corresponding to the smallest fronds. 2B and 3C make up the group of smallest leaflet sheets. 8A. the fronds will be made in three sizes. All rights reserved. are lettered “A”. Ferns made up of Subassemblies In this example I will construct a depth enhanced Origami Bonsai fern plant with 12 frond subassemblies. I then cut two of the second to largest and one of the largest leaflet sheet sizes. 2. I then cut three leaflet sheets each from the next six sizes. and 1A. 1.
I added one drop of black (from the dropper bottle in Chapter 6). a mixture of dark green and yellow water color mixed with artist medium and water. 2B and 3C were painted the lightest gradient color. 7A. 8C. 8A. 4. 8B. 5B. After the leaflet sheets have been painted. and 6C (two tiers of the same color). and painted the next leaflet sizes (2A. 7B. 6A. 9C. 3. I painted all the leaflet sheets with a final coat of yellow and gold acrylic mixed with water and artist medium. I added another drop to the paint mixture and painted the remaining leaflet sheets with it (sheets 5A. All rights reserved. lighter at the tips. 155 . 6B. Cut the leaflet sheets and put each size in a separate compartment of a tackle box or sorting tray. 7C. 4B and 5C. 5. Because the resultant color was so dark. Paint the leaflets.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and 4C). 9B. This results in a subtle gradient of green color. 1A. I added one more drop to the mixture and painted 3A. 3B. regroup them by the letter corresponding to their frond size. and darker throughout the frond. and 10C). as well as 4A.
All rights reserved. 6. To increase similarity. as these are attached singly. Remember that you don’t need to fold four of the smallest sized leaflets on each frond. and six curving gently to the right. for fronds. six of which should curve gently to the left. Leave the connection area of the stem unpainted. Assemble the leaflets onto the stems. Each right‐hand frond should look like a mirror image of each left‐hand frond. Fold each of your leaflets. branches and stems. Make sure you roll at least twelve frond stems. 9. being careful to maintain the perspective of the frond. paint them with a coat of matching or contrasting acrylic color diluted with a small amount of water. Leaflets should be attached at a fairly acute angle. After the leaflet stems have dried. sometimes I have to trim the tips on a group of frond stems. 8. 7. Roll Makigami trunks.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 156 .
The realigned frond. leaving the connection area unpainted. I fix the frond on the right by removing the leaflets using the hot tip of my glue gun. The frond on the left is the one I prefer. Allow the fronds to dry overnight. Paint this mixture onto the stem of each frond. but not exactly the same. 157 . this reduces the chance of getting glue on the other leaflets. If you misalign a frond: The two fronds pictured here are similar. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. I remove the bottom pair of leaflets first. 10. I re‐attach the leaflets being more careful this time to maintain the frond perspective. pictured here is a virtual duplicate of the one I preferred. Put some of the acrylic mixture from step 8 into a cup and add some wood glue.
158 . Now attach the largest fronds to the sculpture. Don’t forget to paint all connections with wood glue. 11. These fronds should be the deepest within the piece. In other words. These should be closer to the viewer. All rights reserved. I sculpt the glue with the tip of my glue gun. After I attach each frond. branch and root assembly. Attach the four smallest fronds onto the Makigami stem assembly. 12. Allow the assembly to dry at least four hours. This is important. These should be attached shallowest. they should be positioned furthest away from the viewer. Construct a Makigami trunk. or closest to the viewer.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Attach the second size fronds to the sculpture. as the connection area becomes inaccessible as more fronds are attached. 14. 13.
All rights reserved. Paint the entire sculpture with this mixture and allow it to dry overnight. Allow four hours for these connections to dry. Add wood glue to your acrylic mixture in step 8. 16. Paint all connections where the fronds attach to the sculpture with wood glue.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 15. Add pebbles if you desire. 159 . 17.
Each pair of leaves will have an associated branchlet. in sub assemblies which are then assembled into the final sculpture on site. and would be virtually impossible to assemble without sub assemblies.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. let’s say four feet wide by 10 feet tall. A Floral Sub Assembly The same principles of sub assemblies that apply to ferns can be applied to floral sculpture. perhaps an extremely large sculpture is to be produced. All rights reserved. Whether it be for an extremely large sculpture. For example. or an extremely small one. This sculpture has extremely dense foliage. In this example I completely assembled one branch of a tiny wild rose plant (left). The sculpture could be pre‐assembled off site. sub assemblies can resolve the irresolvable. 160 . and stemlet which leads to a flower.
This gives the sub assemblies a more homogeneous look upon final assembly.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The three sub assemblies attached to a main branch. If you look closely. 161 . you will notice that each pair of leaves is attached to a branchlet at an angle (in previous examples they were attached “flatly” according to viewer perspective). All rights reserved. Here are three completed sub assemblies.
All rights reserved. Some Examples of Subassemblies 162 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
163 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. 164 .Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
but I think I can improve that. I had to trim all the more delicate twigs from the branch before the sculpture was assembled. As time passed. the real branches of these sculptures dried. I also see the Makigami conversion as an opportunity. For many years I have lived in fear of moving my art. but in my opinion it could be better. Many of these sculptures are fragile. 165 . “Origami Bonsai” published by Tuttle Publishing. Many of the terms referenced in this chapter come from my first book. One or two point roughly in the direction of the perspective. The sculpture pictured above is beautiful. The most important advantage is durability. Performing Makigami Conversions As I have improved the Makigami technique. XIV. and became brittle.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and become more fragile every day. I have been rebuilding sculptures I made using real branches. One aspect I’d like to improve is that none of the flowers point toward the viewer. All rights reserved. Makigami offers a tremendous advantage over real branches. I’d like the new sculpture to have denser foliage. Because I was familiar with the drying out problem. and at the same time appear more delicate.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
1. Prepare a set of Makigami stems to convert the Origami Bonsai on the facing page. Count the number of flowers. This Origami Bonsai has five flowers, so five thick stems on which to attach the flowers are needed. The original sculpture also has numerous leaves, for which I need twigs. Pictured here are two trunks, five thick stems, and a number of twigs. This should suffice for conversion of this Origami Bonsai. 2. Construct a basic Makigami sculpture. Connect a smaller trunk to the larger, which forms the main stem of the plant. Then attach four of the thick stems to the main trunk. Notice that all the thick stem tips point toward the viewer. This is one of the characteristics I wanted. I could have attached the stems pointing at any angle and then used “U”’s to alter the perspective of the flowers. 3. Now add twigs to the thick stems. Leaves will attach to these twigs, so carefully estimate spacing. This is where a conflict arises. I want a dense, bushy look, but at the same time I don’t want twigs that force leaves to overlap too much. To help resolve the conflict, I add twigs to one thick stem at a time, depicted in the following photographs.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
I may have to trim some of the branches before assembly of the new sculpture, but I’m in pretty good shape. Below are three views of the completed framework for the sculpture.
These are left, center and right views of the sculpture with all twigs attached. You can see, by comparing the pictures, that I’ve left a fair amount of room for all the leaves. Also notice how much space I left between the tips of the thick stems and the first attached twig. I left this space to avoid conflicts between flowers and twigs.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. All rights reserved.
4. Paint all connections with wood glue. Allow these connections to dry for at least four hours. 5. Paint the entire sculpture with a mixture of acrylic paint and water in whatever color you deem appropriate. Because the leaves and flowers of my original Origami Bonsai were painted using the “silk technique”, I have added some gold acrylic paint to my mixture. This is my completed Makigami assembly. Only when I am happy with it do I proceed to the next step. 168
This may take a little time. This will force the glue off the stem and onto the paper towel. All rights reserved. Use the hot tip of your glue gun to melt the leaves off of each branch. to free the flower.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 6. 7. 8. 9. Use the hot tip of your glue gun to melt all the flowers off of each branch. This is necessary to avoid damaging leaves during their removal. moving the hot tip of the glue gun. 169 . Avoid damaging the flower by allowing the heat produced by the glue gun to do the work for you. You may need to rotate the branch. Remove the glue from leaf stems by holding the leaf at an angle with the stem against a flat surface covered by a paper towel. Break all branches that have leaves and/or flowers attached to them off the original sculpture. Drag the hot tip of your glue gun along the stem while at the same time moving the leaf in the opposite direction.
Straighten leaf stems by pinching them between your thumb and index finger. 13. You can also remove excess glue from the flowers. 12. If your Origami Bonsai was depth enhanced. Cut the tips off of the bottom of each flower.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. The paper towel will only absorb a limited amount of glue. Hold a paper towel in place. so you may need to repeat this procedure several times. Apply pressure to the paper towel with the hot tip of your glue gun. you will have to sort your leaves according to size. This Origami Bonsai had three leaf sizes. on top of the glue to be removed. 170 . Paint the stem of each leaf with the same color mixture of acrylic and water that you used for the Makigami assembly. 10. 11. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Attach all flowers to the Makigami stem assembly with a glue gun. Inject a small amount of glue into the cut tip of the flower. 15. My original sculpture was depth enhanced. and then slide it onto the thicker stems. start by attaching the smallest leaves deepest (rearmost) in the sculpture. If your Origami Bonsai was depth enhanced. 14. All rights reserved. Install leaves. with three leaf sizes. 171 .
I also had to reallocate some leaves from the left lowermost branch. then paint the thicker Makigami stems. or you have too many leaves. or that you do not have enough leaves for. for at least four hours. Paint all twigs with this mixture first. 172 . I will have to touchup this bare spot with my acrylic and water mixture before proceeding to the next step. I removed the lowermost twig on the right because I ran out of leaves. All rights reserved. in a place where it will remain undisturbed. Add wood glue to the mixture of acrylic paint and water that you are using to paint the Makigami stems. 17. As you near completion. Allow your sculpture to dry. Notice that I have had to shorten many of the shallowest twigs (closest). 16. I removed this branch by heating up the connection at the stem with my glue gun. that are too long. you will find that you either run out of leaves.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and because it was too close to a flower. You will also discover branches that conflict with leaves.
I added some fiddleheads and a small fern. and is far more durable than the original. The completed conversion is pictured above. The sculpture has a denser leaf configuration. and mounted it on a bed of pebbles. 173 . All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
174 . All rights reserved. I converted the free‐standing sculpture above to the wall sculpture at right.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman.
This chapter describes a technique for making Origami Bonsai sculpture with high levels of complexity. Depth Enhanced Floral The sculpture above has five leaf and flower sizes (the leaf and flower designs are taken from my first book “Origami Bonsai” Tuttle 11/09). All rights reserved. XV.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. 175 . Without makigami this sculpture would not be possible.
The leaves were made using the incremental squares technique covered in chapter 1. 176 . are larger. and objects more distant are smaller.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Objects we want the viewer to perceive as closer. This sculpture is depth enhanced and has three leaf and flower sizes. depth enhancement is obtained in the same manner as depth is conveyed in a painting. As discussed in the introduction of this book. I number the leaves according to size. All rights reserved. the smallest leaves have little “one”s written on their reverse sides. Each of the largest have a “three” on their reverse side.
I typically keep one pair of leaves in each size as a reserve (in case of painting mistakes.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. dried and assembled a set of makigami stems to accommodate my sculpture. I also made two “coils” for branchlets. therefore I will only use seven branchlets in each size. This corresponds to the smallest size leaf (size 1). molded. I rolled. I attach the first set of eight branchlets closest to the work surface. which will be assembled in pairs. painted and folded a set of six flowers in three sizes and 48 leaves in three sizes.). therefore I need eight branchlets per size. etc. I cut. 177 . All rights reserved. I have 16 leaves per size.
Here is another view of the assembly. All rights reserved. These branchlets are furthest from the work surface. 178 . Next I attach eight branchlets for the second leaf size. These are attached slightly further from the work surface within the sculpture.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Now I attach branchlets for the largest leaf size.
I assemble the smallest leaves first. These leaves are attached to the branchlets closest to the work surface. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. and then proceed with final assembly. 179 . I paint and prepare the branch in accordance with the instructions at the end of chapter 9. And then I attach the second leaf size to the branchlets.
Notice that even though this is a fairly simple sculpture. All rights reserved.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. it has obtained a visual complexity due to its depth enhancement. Notice how the sculpture has seemed to come “alive. and the third sized flower furthest from the work surface. second size flowers further. I then apply a final coat of paint and glue in accordance with the instructions in chapter 9. And finally the third size. 180 . attaching the smallest flowers closest to the work surface.” I perform the final assembly.
181 . A photograph of the back side of the sculpture is quite revealing. The smallest leaves are now closest to us. All rights reserved. This is the reverse of depth enhancement. Notice how flat the sculpture looks.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. the largest furthest.
we are introducing the world to a new material. and made of recycled materials.Copyright 2009 Benjamin John Coleman. Even if it’s winter. bushes. Makigami. Our sculptures are low impact. which has applications far beyond our use. you will find great peace of mind just from looking around and thinking and marveling at the beauty of nature. Furthermore. If it’s not springtime. wild flowers. this craft. ferns and think about what you might create. We are living in challenging times. you are ready to use it creatively. Afterword Pen and small basket made from Makigami. look at the inspirational photographs in Chapter 11. All rights reserved. this art. Take a walk in the woods in the springtime and look at the emerging trees. 182 . you’ll be amazed at what you find. Even if you don’t come up with specific origami bonsai or makigami projects. Or visit a local greenhouse or botanical garden or arboretum. I am hopeful that Origami Bonsai represents a new creative outlet for a more eco‐friendly future. If you’ve worked your way through this book. Take a walk through a residential neighborhood and think about origami bonsai landscapes for living rooms or dining rooms or bedroom window sills. then wander your local neighborhood or woods and look for more.
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