Handmade Conversations: Origami with Andrew Dewar

Posted by on Aug 14, 2012

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In our "Handmade Conversations" series, we ask amazing people in the craft, food and fashion industries a few questions that provide you with a glimpse into their world.

Andrew Dewar has long had a passion for paper airplanes, so much so that he's written several popular paper craft books all about DIY paper planes, including the out-of-this-world "Space Planes (Paper Airplanes That Really Fly!)" His love of paper folding cemented, it wasn't long before he delved into the ancient art of origami while living in Japan and teaching at the Sakura no Seibo Junior College. His talents landed him a role running the Fukushima Paper Airplane Club and writing and designing easy-to-follow but inventive origami books, like his latest "Bible Origami Kit." Read on to learn how one late-comer hobbyist turned his craft into a tried-and-true profession.

paper crafts forest card
How did you get started with origami? What keeps you attracted to the craft?

I made a lot of origami airplanes when I was very small. There weren't a lot of origami books then, so I didn't get much inspiration to carry on. Instead, I began to do a lot of cut-and-paste paper crafts. I didn't really try my hand at origami again until I was living in Japan and my kids started doing it.

I'm still mostly interested in airplanes, but my kids come up with all kinds of interesting ideas that I sort of elaborate on. We can go through a package of origami paper in an afternoon.

What are some challenges of origami?

The biggest one, in North America, is the paper supply. I miss being able to buy packs of origami paper at the corner store in Japan.

The big challenge in coming up with new designs is being sure I haven't accidentally copied someone else. There are only so many ways to fold paper into birds, stars, boxes or whatever, and it's easy to duplicate without knowing. So I try to look at every book that comes out. Talk about a challenge! Then, my pieces have to be simple and reproduceable, so they can be folded by anyone, and as you know, there's nothing harder than "simple." 

What are your favorite trends in origami? Any you'd rather not see?

I'd like origami collages to become more of a trend because they can be a fresh and lasting way of displaying pieces, and are also great in the classroom where everyone can contribute to one big picture. I love the really simple 5-fold origami that tiny children do in Japan, and I love Paul Jackson's one-fold art pieces. Can you tell I'm big on "simple"? But I'm quite accepting of any style. Anything that inspires people to create and challenge themselves is great!
bible origami
How can someone get started with origami?

Start folding! Any kind of paper is good enough to practice with. Books are great for ideas and for learning folding techniques, and by all means try the pieces in them, but don't try hundred-step pieces too soon, and don't feel you can't try things on your own. The magic words that conjure up the best creations are "What happens if I do this?"

What advice would you give to aspiring craft authors or teachers?

To aspiring authors, first of all find your own style and have enough pieces finished that you can choose the best. Please remember, readers have only the book to help them make the pieces, so tell them everything they need to know, clearly! I recommend having friends and students try everything out; you'll be amazed at how much they can help get things right.

To teachers, I suggest showing students the whole process at the beginning, and then standing back and letting them try things for themselves. I only step in if something devastating is about to happen, and even then I usually just show how I would do it. Students feel great when they finish on their own, and their ideas are really fresh and inspiring. In other words, let the students teach the teacher!
cover of Bible Origami Kit
Andrew Dewar is the author of "Bible Origami Kit: Paper-Folding Fun for the Whole Family!" The book is published by Tuttle Publishing, and images are from Andrew Dewar.

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