Origami – The Math of Fortune Telling
“Pick a colour!”
Schoop, schoop, schoop. (This is the best I can do at describing the sound made when a Paper Fortune Teller is manipulated.)
“Pick a number!”
Schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop, schoop.
“Pick another Number, and I’ll reveal your fortune!”
The flap with the number two is unfolded and the fortune is read: “You may be small but your ideas will be BIG!”
If I had received this fortune when I was a kid, would I have thought it was hokey? Or would I have thought ‘When I grow up I’m going to share all my BIG thoughts on a blog, which will be read by very few people, but I won’t care because…’ Of course, when I was a kid there was no internet and therefore no blogs, and I certainly didn’t think I was going to remain small, so I would have thought it was a dumb fortune.
But this was the fortune I got when I downloaded, and made the Paper Fortune Teller posted by the Children’s Author, Deborah L. Diesen. (She calls it a Cootie-Catcher, but that wasn’t a term used in my day.) Deborah warns that her fortune teller doesn’t really tell fortunes or predict the future, but I beg to differ with her!
When I was a kid, the Paper Fortune Teller would appear on the playground a few times each year (it was banned from the classroom, which was unfortunate.) Once one person made one, everyone made one, and the craze would last for a week or two, then disappear. At the time, we didn’t know it was a very simple example of Origami and we certainly didn’t think about the geometric shapes we were creating when we folded a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional object.
Paper folding has likely been happening since paper was first invented! However, Origami as a Japanese art form began when paper first arrived in that country in the 6th Century. Paper was quite expensive at that time, so objects made from folded paper were reserved for special occasions. A butterfly, similar perhaps to the one I made, might have adorned the Sake bottles at a formal wedding ceremony.
Origami today is an entirely different duck as a result of the work of a number of individuals who have described the mathematics of origami, extended the range of what can be folded, and applied origami to real world science situations. One of these ‘Folders’ is Robert Lang. You can see his remarkable Compositions on his website – Robert J. Lang Origami or you can listen to his story in the TED talk, Robert Lang Folds Way-New Origami.
Even the simplest Origami is not that easy as you will see when you try to open up the Paper Fortune Teller for the first time. As for the Butterfly I made – well, I won’t give you the link to the instructions because they were abysmal.
But here is a link to another very Cheeky Paper Fortune Teller by Scott Bedford, a very talented and crafty individual.
Happy Folding! May your mountains and valleys be crisp and precise!