Adam O'Grady

Modular Origami

From 2006 to 2008 I spent a of time making paper lucky stars, eventually hitting my goal of filling a small jar with 1000 of them. This turned out to be good practice for the next few years where I eventually folded over 1000 paper cranes after reading the classic tale Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes. It took the better part of 6 years and I don’t keep all of them in one place, many decorated spaces at work or were left with thank you notes for waitstaff or friends.

Having been without my papercraft tools and materials lately I decided to jump back into origami but find a new area of it to fall in love with. My friend Jay recommended the book Zen Origami by Maria Sinayskaya and I set to work on some of the more three-dimensional pieces.

Most of the work relies on creating identical “sonobe” units which are then interlocked to create a final, geometric structure. Oftentimes, you can use different amounts of the same type of unit to create all kinds of forms. The picture below demonstrates a two shapes, one built using 4 units and the other consisting of 90 identical pieces.

Four and ninety piece sonobe modular origami

Depending on the effect you’re after, you can also fold sonobe units in different ways, which create different textures on the end products and often interesting patterns when using double-sided paper. The below image shows two geometric forms using the same number of pieces assembled in a similar manner, but by using different types of folds for the indentical units it creates vastly different end results.

12 unit sonobe pieces, using different folds

There are many other modular origami forms besides those created with sonobe units, you can find examples of finished works on my Instagram but I’d strongly recommend purchasing the aforementioned Zen Origami book for a great introduction to folding and assembly techniques. I’ll leave you with probably my favourite creation, based on the instructions in Matt Parker’s YouTube video. You can see both the individual units and the final creation, which I kept to a single colour.

Modular origami dodecahedron