Making Origami Puzzles
by Michael LaFosse
All the origami models in this book are made with 2 or more pieces of paper. The “puzzle” is to figure out how to assemble the pieces to form the origami model shown. This kind of origami is called modular origami and it is a branch of origami much loved by mathematicians and the general public. In many ways, modular origami is like lego: use simple pieces to assemble something unexpected and wonderful.
The Tulip Box only uses two sheets of paper. This model is not hard to assemble, but does require a bit of tinkering to get the inserts (called “tabs”) to slide nicely into the slots (called “pockets”).
The Open Box Puzzle is interesting: it is in the shape of a box with an open. However, it is not exactly a box because the bottom is not locked and can open & closed freely. Folding of the 3 pieces (called “units”) is easy and assembly is not hard. Very cute to make and see, but will probably not actually hold anything.
The Celebration Puzzle Box is made with six sheets of paper. This box does lock but only loosely. It can easily be disassembled by tossing it into the air and giving it a light tap with your hands. If you put confetti inside, then it would be like a celebration! The units are easy to fold but assembly of the box so that it has the pattern shown is a challenge.
The Wreath Puzzle Box is not a box, rather it is a beautiful ringed structure: a wreath. It uses 8 sheets of paper. Folding the units is easy (only 5 steps) and assembly of the units into a wreath is not hard. This model has a good locking system so that the final ring is very stable and can even be tossed around. Be sure to insert the tabs fully into the pockets before you make the final fold – otherwise you will end up with an oblong structure instead of a perfect ring.
The Frame Puzzle is visually stunning. It uses 4 sheets of paper, folding of the units only takes 5 steps and assembly of the 4 units is trivial. Unlike the wreath above, this model is not very stable and can easy fall apart. Maybe use textured paper so that the friction will keep the model together? Maybe use a dab of glue?
The last model in Making Origami Puzzles (the Finger Pinswheel Puzzle) is my favorite. It uses 9 sheets of paper (one piece of paper will be used as a tool to fold the other 8 sheets into units). The units are a little more involved to fold (9 steps) but assembly of the units is easy. The finger pinwheel is small, so you may need to be patient to slide the tabs into the pockets. The final model is very stable and can be tossed and rolled around.
Making Origami puzzles is one of my favorite books from LaFosse’s Kid’s Guide to Origami. Admittedly, I do love modular origami. The book itself has clear instructions, the models are easy to make and are visually stunning. For those who have never done modular origami, this is a good introductory book. This book would be best for the slightly older crowd (8 to 80 years old).
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