Posted by: David | June 26, 2010

Omega Star

Thank you Abby for your help with this wonderful thing!

Have I ever told you how much I love origami? Well I do. Though its periodicity in my lifetime has not really had a high frequency, it has nonetheless always managed to register quite solidly. The simple beauty of intricately folded squares of paper is mesmerizing. What kinds of geniuses have managed to invent such wonderful paper objects as the crane? Wicked AWESOME geniuses, OK?

I’ve enjoyed folding cranes for many years. As a sort of Origami Johnny One Note, I’ve attempted to show grade-schoolers, college students, and even assorted grownups how to make the lovely paper bird. Well today a coworker showed me how to make a piece of modular origami. The Omega Star. It takes six squares of paper. When you need more than one square of paper, that’s modular. Not only had I never attempted any modular origami, but I didn’t even know that was what you called it. I saw an Omega Star sitting on top of a co-worker’s computer and was fascinated by its beautiful symmetry. When I learned that another coworker had made this object, destiny began to unfold. Pun intended. Whatever, it took a couple of weeks before Abby and I finally sat down and started folding …

My first Omega Star. Made with 6″ ugly brown floral print origami paper (all I was able to find).

She said we needed at least 3 of folded modules to be able to demonstrate how they would be fitted together. So we did. It being a half-day Friday (a summer tradition at the college where I work) we took a few minutes toward the end of  the morning to teach and learn. When I got home I attempted to finish it, but got confused with all the points and pockets. Had to take it apart a few times and look around online for some additional guidance. I was unable to find the trail of symmetry that makes paperfolding comprehensible. Ultimately I succeeded.

After a failed attempt at a bike ride (my black bike, which I just put new tires on, is making a weird clunking noise) and a few hours of lawn mowing, I decided to try another star with some smaller paper. I had finally found the two packages of colorful paper my sister had sent me a few years ago. It took almost an  hour and a half to complete.

It’s going to take a lot of practice and maybe some new technique to make stars as nice as the one Abby made.

Well that is all for now. Gotta go for a ride. On the blue bike I guess. Don’t have time to mess around with the black one.



  1. It’s origami madness at the Levine abode! Pretty neat, David. The best I can do is fold my arms.

    Thanks B&G, nice of you to say. At least when you fold your arms, an amusing comment is soon to be uttered. I’ve been missing “the blog you’ll wonder why exists” and must remedy that forthwith.

  2. I had trouble folding towels…so now my wife makes me roll them…Martha Stewart style.

    Somehow MTAE, I find it hard to believe that you had trouble folding towels, but my wife is a Martha fan too. Thankfully, she hasn’t made me roll the towels. I would flatly refuse, citing the fact that Martha is now a convicted felon and nobody should be doing anything she says “is a good thing”.

  3. I’ve always found origami fascinating as well, but never got into much myself. Making a paper frog has always been my one trick.

    Oh, and a pretty mean paper airplane. 😛 No, really. I tracked down a site a while back that showed how to make the furthest flying paper airplanes. They don’t look like much, but boy do they go.

    Your star looks pretty cool even if it doesn’t live up to your standards. Way to be persistent. 😉

    Thanks Peter. The frog is a cool one to have as your one trick. And paper airplanes are super fun too. Kids love them. I’ve been stuck on the origami crane for about 15 years. This star thing takes way longer, and requires persistence, as you say. I think there may be some meditative purpose contained in the highly repetitive folding.

  4. This is excellent. I need a project for my students to do. We’re making ORIGAMI. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m the least talented person when it comes to crafts of any sort, so we’ll see.

    Thanks VAGB, I’ll be thrilled to hear how it goes. Don’t know what ages your students are, but I’d try to find something appropriately simple for starters. Kids are always intrigued by the colorful origami paper. One thing I always found myself repeating to kids was that the accuracy and neatness of the initial folds was really really important.

    At the craft of comical writing you’re a frackin genius, blog friend. 🙂 No, really.

  5. I haven’t done origami in years! I’ve only done the one-sheet kind, too; didn’t know about the modular variety.
    I actually like the ugly one; do you know why? Because it has dragonflies, which speak to me, and unusual colors, which also do, making it beautiful in my eyes. It appears very well folded, too.
    The colorful one is just stunning! This is a wonderful way to spend some time: focus; meditation; beauty.
    Hope you had a wonderful ride.

    Ha, you like the ugly one. I like your reasons for liking it. You’re so right about it being a wonderful way to spend some time. It’s such an elemental and pleasing form for its simplicity and complexity. I’m working on star #3 with some 3.5″ paper. The friend who showed me how wants to use some 2″ inch paper when we play on Thursday. And thanks, yes, the ride was good. Aimless but good.

  6. I’ve long thought I’d try my hand at some simple origami. Didn’t know there was a modular version. I’m intrigued. It looks as though the papers in your colored star were varicolored. I’d like to see a star made with six different solid color sheets; then I could get a better idea about how the 6 sheets fit together.

    Now would be a good time for me to pick up a book and some paper; I have two young grandchildren I can impress!

    Yeah modular was news to me too. The second star had sheets of yellow, green, gray, and blue. I was hoping for 3 pairs of like-colored squares, but didn’t have them in my pack of paper. Here are a couple of web photos of the process that might help your visualization:

    With instructions in Spanish
    And just photos

    I remember being exposed to origami at a fairly young age. I wish I could remember the circumstances, but I don’t. Kids love the brightly colored squares of paper, and there are so many simple animal shapes to make that kids also like. Usually the packages of paper (which can often be found in the chain bookstores) come with folding directions for the simpler forms. I’m sure that your grandchildren will be very impressed!

  7. stimulating… how small can you (one) go? Gum wrappers? stamps? Stamps are thick, thgouh. with glue and all… very neat, in any event…

    Abby and I are getting together at lunchtime Thursday, and she’s bringing 2″ paper. I probably ought to go invest in some 3X reading glasses. 😦

  8. Beautiful work Dave. Nice to see you getting back to origami off and on throughout your life. The idea of modular origami is awesome. I never got beyond creating a cube out of a sheet of paper, and some objects I don’t recall because I had to follow the step by step instructions in an origami book. So, don’t hold this post against me. I can’t help it that I think math is beautiful so in my mind this link does not detract from origami. I don’t tend to think of origami in mathematical terms, but I know others who do. While in graduate school I attended a number of conferences which were also attended by Eric Demaine, a home-schooler who went on to be the youngest or one of the youngest professors at MIT. His doctoral thesis was on computational origami. Here is a link to his page about origami, including a picture of five intersecting tetrahedra, and here is a link about him.
    Again, my apologies for relating this to math at all.

    Thanks lakecrazy. Not only can I not hold this comment against you, I can tell you that I almost always think of you and mathematics when doing origami. Especially after I got done folding the second star, and decided to see if there might have been a way to introduce creases early-on for some of the final folds. I took apart the first star and completely unfolded one of the squares to explore this. Inconclusive … but I definitely thought of you. Thanks for those fascinating links. How inspiring to see genius spring from such an unconventional education!

  9. You absolutely MUST see the Independent Lens film called Between the Folds. For a brief while it was fully online and I watched it there. You might have to buy it or pay to stream it but it is a must!!

    OMFG. I found some trailers of different lengths and watched them. Obviously worth buying. Thank you proflkr!

  10. Hey David! I found one of your comments really interesting: “I think there may be some meditative purpose contained in the highly repetitive folding.” I completely agree. I’ve always been a great fan of modular origami, and I think it’s exactly for that reason.

    Hey Abby, thank you again for all this fun. The 2 new forms you’ve shown me how to fold are lovely and evocative, and people love them when you give them as little gifts. Plus there will be lots of meditativeness as I practice them, along with lots of expletives when the folds aren’t quite right …

  11. Very funny. Very funny indeed. It looks very very much like Christmas decoration.

    Maybe to you it does not look like that. But you hang that up and wait whether it doesn’t start to go jingle bells jinglebells (I don’t know the “lyrics” any further). Next make an Origami angel with big wings. Don’t you have some gold or silver origami paper? To make the angel or the stars a little more christmassy.

    (Now I’ll have to look up what Origami really means. There is a herb here called orégamo, very pretty, very good in a tomato sandwich.)

    Of course. There is a flatter version of the ring thingy that looks like a christmas wreath. Using red and green paper would complete that illusion. And the omega star, Abby tells me, makes a nice xmas tree ornament when strung together with some beads.


    From Wikipedia: Origami (折り紙?, from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper”) is the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD and was popularized in the mid-1900s.

  12. […] from over at Thoughts-O-Dave, recently did a couple of posts on origami (see said posts here and here).  Shortly after I ran into this pic purely by accident while searching for something […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: