Twist of the day #1

You can see a brief overview of origami tessellation by the origami historian David Lister for the British Origami Society here. This article, it should be noted, is probably about a decade old. A lot has happened with origami tessellation in the last ten years. You can find more recent information at the Origami Resource Center here.

Lister’s article mentions two pioneers who would be very influential in the later development of tessellation: Resch and Fujimoto.

Resch was more interested in architectural applications. In origami, his work would be more influential in what is usually referred to as “origami corrugation”

Fujimoto designed more traditional origami, but origami that was unusually geometric and abstract. Many involved pleats that collapse at their intersections to form petals or scales:

In some cases the pleats collapse in the same direction around their intersection , i.e., all clockwise or all counterclockwise, to form a new structure  – a twist fold.The above images and more useful  information on tessellation can be found at Origami USA’s online publication The Fold.

This is from Andy Wilson’s old site SpunDreams, which was a huge influence on me when I began folding tessellations.

This is the stuff that got me started with Origami tessellation around the year 2000. Andy’s work was influenced by Chris Palmer’s Shadowfolds, which in turn were influenced by Fujimoto’s twist folds. I spent countless hours reverse engineering these designs. This is how I learned tessellation, and it’s not a bad way to do it, for while there are a lot more styles of folding that are called “tessellations” these days, just about everything you need to know about how to fold them can be learned from these earlier, Fujimoto inspired designs. And the patterns are often clearer and easier to understand.

All of which leads me ultimately to the real reason for this post…

I had been meaning for quite some time to create a sort of catalog of twist folds. With each new mask and tessellation, I try to do something I’ve never done before, and I’ve often created new twists to attack increasingly complex challenges. Now, you would think that since all of my pieces are folded on 60 degree triangle grids and there are only so many ways pleats could intersect on such a matrix, there should be a limited number of twists necessary to accommodate them. You’d be surprised.

I want to document the twists I’ve used, their characteristics and how I’ve used them. I’ve decided to break up this catalog into smaller easy to digest installments, maybe two or three twists in each post, or even just one if it is a particularly interesting twist. Whether it’s one twist or more, the posts will be called “Twist of the Day”, and this is the first.

The first TOD must be the most essential twists for a tessellator – the triangle twist and the hexagon, or hex twist (I’m only going to be dealing with triangular grids, since that’s what I work with). There’s a video tutorial for folding a hex twist here, which also has a link to a video tutorial for folding a triangle grid. Here’s a pdf from Eric Gjerde  with instructions for folding triangle, hexagonal and square twists. I should provide a tutorial of my own, but for this post I’m just going to let others do the work for me.

These two twists are fundamental to any beginner in origami tessellation. They are the nuts and bolts of all my work, and if you’re starting out, you would do well to practice them until you can fold them in your sleep.

I’ll leave you with some images of my earlier work, from around 2005-2006, that feature these two twists.


9 thoughts on “Twist of the day #1

      • Sometimes hopeful ambitions give way to the plain necessities of everyday life, and in the drudgery of doing from day to day what merely must be done, the light of that onetime hope becomes a painful glare in the corner of the eye – a flashing pain in the back of the head – the burden of what might have been.
        So life can make lies of our best intentions and all the ALLCAPS and extraneous question marks can do nothing to change that.


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