The Lister List

Golden Venture Folding

I am writing to add little to the information about books on "Golden Venture Origami" posted yesterday by Eileen Tan and Ronald Koh.

For those who do not know, Golden Venture Folding is a name given in the United States to a particular style of modular folding which is used, not to fold abstract designs and polyhedra, but to fold representations of things like animals, birds and ships in a very flamboyant and impressive style. The "Modules" are small wedges of folded paper that are slotted into each other and hold each other in a grip. I have no doubt, however, that for practical purposes a few spots of glue will keep the models in shape!

This style of modular activity came into prominence some eight or more years ago after a ship named the "Golden Venture" was shipwrecked off the coast of America. It was carrying illegal immigrants from China, who were promptly held in detention pending a decision on the claims for political asylum which the immediately put forward...

While their cases were being considered, they occupied their time with a number of crafts, one of which was this Chinese modular folding. It was thought at first that this was a completely new technique devised by the refugees themselves and there was some astonishment at what they were able to achieve. However, it was later discovered that this was a technique that was traditional in China. It makes me wonder how much more traditional paperfolding there is hidden away in the vast areas of continental China.

There was some discussion about Golden Venture Folding on Origami-L around 1996, but I first saw examples when I visited the first Pacific Coast origami Conference (PCOC) in San Francisco in the autumn of 1997. There was a very fine collection of models in the exhibition at the conference which greatly impressed me. In particular I remember a swan, a pineapple (the technique reproduces the texture of the shell of a pineapple very closely) and a fully-rigged ship. I have since come to realise that these are classic examples of the technique.

It is sad to relate that most , if not all of the refugees had their applications for political asylum rejected and that they were compelled to leave the United States. I do not know what happened to them.

I, too, noticed that a book of "Golden Venture" folding was included in the list of "Origami Source", the supplies department of Origami USA list and I sent for it. However, before it came, I visited Japan and found there three other books on the subject. It seems that "Golden Venture" folding has suddenly hit Japan and started what may soon become a deluge of books.

Unfortunately, I do not yet have translations of the authors' or publishers' names or of the titles, but I will give such information as I can.

ISBN 4-529-03352-X Paperbacked, 8 3/4 X 10 inches. 73 pages. Mainly full-colour. This is in the "Heart Warming Life Series" and is the book mentioned by Ronald Koh, which he presumably bought in Singapore. A very cheerful, humorous book with lots of birds, insects, a dragon and many other items.

ISBN 4-277-75328-0 Paperbacked, 8 1/4 X 10 inches 72 pages. Coloured pages at the beginning, the rest in black and white. This is published by "Ondori", the imprint that publishes Chatani's books of so-called "Origami Architecture." This is much the same as the previous book, but not quite so jolly and, to my mind, not so good.

ISBN 4-8347-6177-0 Paperbacked, 7 1/4 X 7 inches. 50 pages. Published in the "Petit boutique series". A somewhat smaller book than the first two, but in full colour. Humorous. Has some splendid crabs and cartoon peacocks. An attractive little book.

ISBN 4-8347-1498-5. Paperbacked, 8 1/4 X 10 1/4 inches.90 pages. This is the book I obtained from the Origami USA Origami Source. From the ISBN, it is the same publisher as the previous, smaller book. coloured plates at the beginning, the rest in black and white. Contains a number of stylised swans and a splendid natural Japanese crane with a black ad white neck and scarlet on its crown.

All four of these books adopt a special notation of triangles in rows, some triangles pointing upwards and others pointing downwards. These are supplemented by more standard origami-style diagrams, but drawn in perspective, rather like Robert Harbin's "Paper Magic". Sometimes photographs are used to illustrate the method of construction. I haven't yet tried to reproduce any of the models, but I do not doubt that with a modicum of application and study, it would be possible to reproduce the models without much difficulty. But the technique is far from our usual Origami.

I do not know how far these books illustrate a "Japanisation" of the basic Chinese art, but taken together the four books constitute a fascinating demonstration of an art form that is new to the West.

If I can obtain the names of the authors and get translations of the titles of the books, I will post them in Origami-L. I shall, myself, be pleased to receive particulars of any further books that other subscribers may come across, old as well as new.

If anyone can fill in the details of the "Golden Venture" episode and of this kind of folding, particularly in China, I shall be delighted to hear from them.

Altogether, "Golden Venture" folding came to paperfolders as a very pleasant and unexpected surprise and one more demonstration of how varied and rich are the potentials of paperfolding, potentials of which we may be completely unsuspecting.

David Lister Grimsby, England.

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