comments 2

Octagon Tessellation by Andy Wilson

Octagon Tessellation

Originally uploaded by cati1ine.

Andy Wilson folded this marvelous octagonal tessellation pattern out of glassine. It’s based directly on a design from Chris Palmer’s website, Shadowfolds. (not there anymore, though.)

I’m really happy to see more designs like this- as I continue to try to better understand higher geometries and how they all come together, seeing wonderful examples like this helps for me to comprehend things in a better way. Sometimes having a great visual clue does more than any book full of text can do.

He’s also right about working with glassine- it really, really helps to see the underlying structures in the designs. I highly recommend trying it, especially if you’re not just doing straight grid-based tessellation designs.

Thanks, Andy, for sharing this great work with us!


(P.S. – two weeks from today, we’re leaving for Brazil! at the end of the month is the Tessellation Expo at the Botanical Gardens in Brasilia; if by some odd chance you’re in the area, stop by! or check this website again for a heavy preponderance of photographs, afterwards!)


  1. I am curious about this type of origami? Are you the originator of this style. I am teaching some folds this summer to inner city kids. Where do I begin with them?

  2. No, I am not the originator of this type of origami- just a happy practitioner of it. It started (presumedly) with FUJIMOTO Shuzo and MOMOTANI Yoshiide in Japan, in the 60’s/70’s; although there were other people doing similar tessellation work in the US prior to them, as well as more historical precedents that are quite older. But from a practical “origami” perspective, they are a good starting point.

    Currently, in my opinion, Chris Palmer is the world’s leading origami tessellation artist, by far, and I think probably has furthered the art more than anyone. He’s a little secretive about his work, however- it can be very hard to actually find examples of it online. (He’s a very nice and generous guy in person, though!)

    I started folding this kind of thing about 2 years ago, starting with some basic geometric folding I saw in a book- and I asked myself, “can I do that with triangles instead?” That lead me down a strange, winding path of self discovery up to the present day. There really aren’t any books out there on this topic (yet), although there are a few in the works, at several different levels.

    as a little bit of self promotion, I’m currently working on a book project with Lark Books (arts/crafts publisher) with the working title of “Creating Origami Tessellations”. The plan as it stands is a publication date in autumn of 2007. It’s somewhat of an introductory book into tessellations, although more of a project book than a mathematical tome (I don’t expect there to be much of any math inside it, hopefully.) There’s some other folks out there who can, and will, address that aspect of things in a much better fashion than I ever could.

    I do, however, have a large pile of designs and patterns, as well as quite a few good friends who do similar kinds of folding, so I have no doubt that we will be able to fill the book with a bunch of great designs that will really get people going on this kind of folding.

    One of the issues is that this type of folding (especially Andy’s design above) require a LOT of extreme precision, which takes fine motor skills and lots of practice. very few people could fold his pattern without quite a few attempts to get it right. This can be very frustrating, especially if your audience isn’t too interested and has a short attention span.

    I would very highly suggest joining the Origami Mailing List- a great email mailing list that has tons of origami folders of all types and ages (and countries!) on it. Asking your question about “what should I teach these kids?” there would no doubt result in quite a few very good answers, as there are people on the list who do exactly that sort of thing.

    You can subscribe to the list here:

    I have a very hard time teaching/explaining some of the work that I do, even to seasoned origami folders- so I’m not sure how I would even begin trying to explain it to kids with no prior experience. I don’t think it would work terribly well. I’d probably stick to simple action models (which would, of course, require me to actually learn some “normal” origami designs…)

Leave a Reply