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paul jackson: organic origami

I’ve been folding paper since I was 9 years old.  Miss Heimer, my fourth grade teacher, taught us how to fold a cup.  I was hooked.  My early fascination with Origami has fueled my appreciation of the paper arts for decades and Paul Jackson is a perennial favorite.


Jackson is one of the premier origami artists in the world today. Equally drawn to the way that he hand colors each sheet of paper and to the pleated folds that become organic abstract sculptures, in 2006 I wrote about one of his vessels on The Empty Vessel (plicated).


One sheet of paper, hand colored, folded


Inspiration for the pieces comes from organic forms such as bacteria, seed heads and shells. Controversially for many origami purists, the paper is coloured with charcoal or dry pastel and sealed to create a surface with a matt lustre. I do this because the simple truth is that for me, untreated paper doesn’t have the ‘presence’ of paper customised with pastel. This customisation of the surface somehow changes a model or a craft object into an art object.


Watch Jackson fold a flexible form in this video.

More Origami Instructions videos at 5min.com

Origami  is also responsible for the beginnings of my art-research-mania.  As a teenager, before the internet, before online videos, before there were organized groups, I started to gather what eventually became a collection of more than fifty books on the subject as I searched for instructions and information about this ancient art.

Thank you, Miss Heimer.

Did you have a teacher that unknowingly set you on a creative path?  Would you like to thank them?  Do it right here.  In the comments section.

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5 Responses to paul jackson: organic origami

  1. Great blog. Jackson does amazing work and his beautiful coloring of the paper enhances his wonderful organic forms. Another person who explores in the same vein is Goran on flickr. Joel Cooper and Eric Gjerde are also artists to check out, Joel has a great Etsy shop and is also on flickr. Eric’s got a great website at http://www.origamitessellations.com/

  2. Susan,
    Do you have in your origami collection the huge two volume set (in Spanish) of Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish author of the late 19th/early 20th century, who also had a passion for origami? It’s called “Papiroflexia zoomorfica” and it has detailed folding instructions for many animals – in Spanish.

    My father taught me origami when I was very young. I still calm unhappy children on airplanes by tearing an advertisement out of one of the in-flight magazines and making the flapping wing bird. And I get a lot of pleasure teaching it to Japanese, as it is so similar to the Japanese peace crane but has the motion added.

  3. Laura thank you for sharing that – it is a GREAT story! I hope others join in here because I think we all benefit and it is a good reminder that you never know where or when inspiration will find you.

    Thanks again – would love to see a page from one of your journals some day…

  4. Our HR Manager at work once gave me a small blank notebook because it had a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it, and she knew I’d been to Paris. I didn’t know what to do with all those blank pages; I’d never kept a diary or journal before. I am also one of those people that rip out pictures of things I find interesting from magazines and catalogs. I save brochures and calendars if they are pretty. I would make copies of interesting books and movies and websites and poems that touched me. I had an accumulation of bits of paper floating around my house that I just HAD to save, but I didn’t know what to do with. I began to glue them into the notebook. I began to add in notes, lists and my own sketches for jewelry designs. When I had my babies, I would write about them and their firsts in the notebook. I began to illustrate my writings. I began to draw more and more and learn new art techniques. I learned what gesso is. Once I even wrote a poem about my son. I am on my twelfth journal now, and it goes where I go. It has become a necessity for me–a creative outlet and record of my life. And I have that piece of paper ripped from a magazine listing those really cool art websites glued in there somewhere. Thank you, Harriet; I don’t think you have any idea of what you really gave me.

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