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Yuko Nishimura Style Folding

Yuko Nishimura Ripoff

Originally uploaded by Owesen.

Fredrik Owesen did some reverse-engineering of the folding techniques mastered by Yuko Nishimura, a long-time favorite of mine. (if you like pleating and tessellations, Nishimura is probably also a favorite of yours, too!)

Fredrik gave a little description of how to accomplish this type of folding:

I’ll try to write up some sort of how-to, although I suspect they tend to be confusing.

I’ve grown pretty lazy in terms of folding methods lately, so this will be based on that. You begin by drawing the crease pattern on the sheet you want to fold, using a sharpish ballpointpen, one without ink or a color matched to the paper is good. First lines divide the sheet in long rectangular lines (1). Turn the sheet, then using some sort of curved guide (found a cheap flexible ruler well suited for the purpose), fill in the curves that go between the lines from the previous step.

Use the lines you just drew, both curved and straight, to mark up a grid by forming lines perpendicular to these. The curved lines will give the grid some unevenness, but when forming the grid treat them as straight lines, ignoring the spacing. Turn the sheet over and create a similar grid 50% ofset from the other.

Using these marks it is easy to fill in the zigzag pattern, mountainfold on one side, then flip the sheet over for the valley folds. Collapse it into shape when all the creases are there.

I’ve long wanted to fold something like this, so thanks for the hints, Fredrik. Now to sit down and give it a try…


  1. I have an old attempt at this kind of folding on my office wall at work- I’m looking at it right now, actually. I never could figure it out, and it’s driven me crazy ever since. I’m surprised at how easy it actually is (other than just taking up lots of time).

    I’d love to see Nishimura’s work in person, hopefully I have a chance someday. I’m a little worried that I would spend the entire day at the museum or gallery, though, and would have to be forcibly ejected at closing time…

  2. Well done Fredrik! Understanding this helps me make sense of Nishimura’s radial versions — they are circular versions of this parallell technique (still, there is other work that has not one straight line in it). I was completely blown away when I first saw this work, but now I think I’m starting to understand… Eric if you ever happen to come across an exhibition of Nishimura’s work, please post it!! I bet the two of us can take as many security guards as a normal museum employs.

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