Thursday, 25 November 2010

Foldageddon: Foldin' Around the Christmas Tree

Yes, you heard me right guys. There's going to be a Festive Foldageddon!

We'll be meeting on the 12th December from 4pm in The Victoria Pub (which is just after Craft Swaparama, which is my exciting new project, so come to that as well) where we will be folding special Christmas designs, including decorations and practical models, and a very special surprise! Decorate your home with origami this Christmas, and give your friends the gift of folds!


This is proving a very popular event, and places are limited, so if you are interested you MUST book a ticket. Tickets are free, and are available from eventbrite

We can't guarantee entry without a ticket!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Foldageddon at Handmade Nation

In case you didn't know, Leeds International Film Festival is on at the moment. Spread across several sites in the city, the three week long festival showcases the best of cinema from around the world. So far I've seen films about everything from russian metereologists to a plastic horse. It is a truly awesome event.

And it just got more awesome, because Foldageddon just got involved.

On Sunday 14th November Craftsville will be hosting a showing of Handmade Nation at Nation of Shopkeepers. Handmade Nation is a documentary about the rise of indie crafting in America, and from what I've heard of it, it's a brilliant film. To celebrate the rise of indie crafting in Leeds Craftsville have organised an afternoon of crafty fun, and invited Foldageddon to come along and do some origami. So I'll be hosting a workshop, and for the first time ever, I'll also be selling some origami merchandise!

So come along and join in from 4pm on 14th November. For more information visit Craftsville.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

More pictures of my project from Light Night

Andy Cotterill
Andy Cotterill

Andy Cotterill

Andy Cotterill

Andy Cotterill

Liann Jones
Liann Jones
Liann Jones
Liann Jones
Liann Jones

Foldageddon: Spooktacular!

Ha! See, told you it was just the beginning.

The next Foldageddon, which is a Halloween Special, will be held on Wednesday 27th October. 6.30pm start, venue (as always, must sort it out in advance) to be confirmed. If you'd like to come, let me know in the comments or via twitter (@gazpachodragon)

If you enjoyed the Light Night installation, or you're intrigued by origami, or you just want to meet new people, then come on down. Everyone's welcome!

End of song; start of story

So that's Light Night, all wrapped up. I'm getting together a gallery of all the pictures people have kindly given me of the installation, and I'll post a link as soon as that's up and running. If you do have any pictures, please email them to with your details and I'll add them with full credit.

Was it worth it? Undoubtedly. It was hard work, long hours, I'm out of pocket, I got RSI (I kept that quiet) and I've still not caught up on my sleep. But I've made some of the best friends I've ever had, got involved in amazing things with amazing people, and challenged myself more than I ever thought I could. I'm fairly (not entirely, but fairly) happy to call myself an artist now, and I'm not going to give that up for the world.

So what's next? I don't really know. I'm going to carry on folding (in fact I'm sat here with a pile of origami paper next to me and my fingers are itching to get going), and I'll still be doing Foldageddon. I'll post up on here when they are, and also any events I'm doing. I'm hoping to get a Foldageddon website going, so look out for that. For now, I'm going to fold, just for the hell of it.

Thanks for sharing my journey. We're only just beginning.


Light Night 2010

It was 5pm. There were (rumours of) 250 people waiting to get into the Town Hall. It was time to start Light Night.

We switched off the lights and the glow of the cranes was magical. I'd been worried we'd need uplighters, but there was enough light to walk around in, and it really did transform the place. My mum grabbed me for a hug and I was suddenly more proud of myself than I have ever been in my life. I'd done this, and it looked awesome.

People started coming in, and although a few walked straight past, most people trickled into the tunnels, and before I knew it, it was full. All I could hear was positive comments, and though a couple of cranes dropped, we managed to grab them and perch them on lamps. At one point it was too busy, and I started to worry that the cranes would get damaged, particularly as people kept reaching up to touch them (and we caught a few people trying to walk out with them!). Loads of people were taking pictures, and although I was exhausted, I was kept busy answering questions (how long did it take? did you do it all yourself? is it based on Prison Break?)

I popped up to the courtroom a few times, and Lisa and Dave were constantly busy not only helping with the boats, but showing cranes and boxes and who knows what else! The courtroom was full of people learning origami and talking to each other. It was awesome. Even after Lisa and Dave finished their epic shift (and thanks guys, for staying around so long), and I'd abandoned the courtroom thinking I'd just clear it all up later, I still saw people working through the instructions, or teaching each other, or just sat colouring in (and these were adults). It seemed to really capture the imagination of Leeds.

As it drew close to midnight, there didn't seem to be any let up in the amount of people coming down into the tunnels. Luckily I had awesome friends who stayed with me right through (particularly RobC and Aretha, who not only stayed until the bitter end, but never took a break). I'd thought it would be busy up until about 7pm, then really quiet, then a little busier when the pubs let out, but it was relentless. And everyone was so nice about my installation. As it ticked close to 1am, when the Town Hall shut, finally it quietened down. By that point, I was too tired to do anything but pack up my stuff, say goodnight to the cranes, and head off to the final event of Light Night, where we toasted what a successful night it had been.

Morning has broken...

First thing on Friday morning, I went into the Town Hall tunnels. My mum had come along to help, and as we opened the door my heart leapt into my mouth. Would the nets have frayed and fallen? Had the few that had dropped been an omen and they'd all be lying on the floor? I took a step inside, and saw that around 100 had fallen off their strings, but nowhere near as bad as I'd imagined it to be. Quickly we scooped up the fallen ones, and sorted a plan.

As the majority of the nets were already up, it was a case of filling in the blank spaces. I'd worked out the night before that if I did strips of netting with cranes hanging off it, we could then hang these like tinsel along the side of the tunnels and in the gaps between nets. We got to work, and my mum figured out a quick way of tying the fallen cranes (which had no thread) to the ones with thread, thus quickening the process and meaning we were saving on thread. Unfortunately as we went to put one 'tinsel' up the ladder it was tied to fell over, and we ended up with a clump, but that was the only problem.

Until the pigeon. When I'd gone to get a couple of chairs from the cells, I'd noticed a pigeon lurking (I actually thought it was the ghost for a moment). We'd left it alone, and it had stayed out of our way, but then unfortunately two town hall people came down and one freaked out, which understandably freaked out the pigeon, which then started flying up and down the corridor. I chased it out of the way of the netting, as much concerned that it would get caught and hurt itself as to the damage it could do, and grabbed a warden. Who then decided the best course of action was to shoo it BACK down the corridor full of netting and string. The poor pigeon was frantic, I had visions of everything coming tumbling down, and the town hall people weren't really helping. In the end we managed to get it back into the cells, covered the end of the tunnel with material to stop it getting back in, and it finally left through the now-open door.

This seemed a good time to break for lunch, when I saw the only part of Light Night I would see this year, the giant heron in the Tiled Hall. Which was cool. Then it was back to work, and shortly after my friend Rachel, who has done a great blog post about Light Night, and her husband Andy arrived. We showed them what to do, then left them to it while we went and tackled the courtroom (you'd forgotten about that hadn't you?)

The courtroom was fairly straightforward. Material for a river, worksheets to make boats on the table, and cherry blossoms EVERYWHERE. The foldageddoners had come through strong, and I had a massive bin bag full. Big shout out to Rob, Lisa, Dave, Sue, Elly, Liz, Fran and everyone else who I might've missed out who made blossoms for me.

Back down in the tunnels, and we had about fifty cranes left. I'd kept saying we could just perch them on the heating pipes as if they'd roosted, but we were so close to having all one thousand 'flying' that we pressed on. At five minutes to five a steward came down to ask if we were ready to open in five minutes, just as I tied the last cable tie to hang the final string. We were there. One thousand cranes were flying through the Town Hall tunnels.

Piece of cake, huh?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The day before...

On Thursday morning I got up early. The cranes were all packed and ready to go - glowing away flatpacked in sandwich bags then wedged into holdalls and bin bags. More sandwich bags filled my rucksack full of useful things like duct tape and netting and scissors and pritt stick (I never used the pritt stick, it just seems like the sort of thing you should carry if you're an artist). My helper for the morning (who was also giving me a lift in) had dropped out at the last minute, so I was going it alone. The taxi dropped me off outside the Town Hall, and I lugged my bags inside.

I got down into the tunnels and the first thing I noticed was that it was full of stuff. The porters hadn't got round to clearing it yet, so there were crates and chairs and trolleys and even a chaise longue! One of the Light Night organisers promised to get it sorted quickly (which she did), and disappeared off to fetch the ladders I was borrowing. She returned a few minutes later with the tiniest stepladders I've ever seen in my life. Seriously, they were the sort of ladders old ladies use to reach the top shelf in the kitchen. By standing on the next to top step and stretching really hard I could just about reach the pipes we were hanging the netting off. Unfortunately, because I was on my own, I wasn't allowed up the council ladders in case I fell off (which to be fair was a real possibility due to the rubbishness of the ladders). Pleas on Twitter for someone to come and sit with me were unsuccessful (though I had amazing people already coming later on). I was left, after a brief recounting of ghostly encounters by the porter, on my own with a thousand cranes, lots of netting, and absolutely no way of attaching them to the ceiling.

I have to admit I sat and had a little cry. Suddenly it looked like all the hard work was going to go to waste, because I needed the set up time so badly, and here it was ticking away with me sat on the floor in a dusty corridor with only a ghost for company.

Then I shouted at myself. I reminded myself how brave I'd been attending that first Light Night meeting when I hadn't known anyone and everyone else seemed to know each other. How easy it would have been to run away after I fell down the stairs at the budgeting meeting and embarassed myself. How when I'd got to 600 cranes and I was sick of the sight of them I could have given up. I stood up, shook myself off, introduced myself to the ghost and told myself to get on with it.

I emptied out all my bags and tried to work out a way to get going. My original plan was to put all the netting up then as more volunteers arrived they could climb ladders (I'd envisioned decent ladders, and at least a few sets) and string the cranes through. Clearly that wasn't going to work. So I hit upon the idea of laying the cranes out on the floor, then laying the netting over, tying the cranes, then lifting the whole thing into the air when more people arrived. I cut the netting into chunks for different parts of the tunnel, and started work.

As I was getting on with this my husband RobW (there were lots of Robs involved in my project) rang to say he'd left work to come in and help, and he arrived shortly after with a sandwich and a big hug, then got on with tying the cranes onto the net. For about five minutes before declaring it would take a million billion years to do 1000 this way (he wasn't quite so dramatic about it). We stood and puzzled for a bit - could we jam the thread through the netting rather than tying? Should we tie the netting up with cranes ABOVE it, like a balloon net? Finally we hit upon the idea of making strings across the netting which meant it was easy to tie the cranes to it, but we could still use the netting to hold it all together and to space the cranes. Then he chanced upon the idea of tying the nets at waist height, making it amazingly easier to tie them on, and also giving us the first glimpse of flying cranes. My friend Jane arrived and quickly and quietly got on with laying out cranes ready for us to tie on - taking an extended lunch break for me.

Soon we were flying, and by the time Katie arrived, an acquaintance from Twitter who'd responded to my plea for help, we'd got it down pat. She, like a trooper, took control of a net and got on with it. A while later Fran, Dave and Lisa (Foldageddoners), Brett, Aretha and RobC (friends from my husband's work), RobE (a fellow LightNighter) and the lovely aforementioned Jane arrived, and we soon had most of the nets ready to go up. With the teeny ladders it was a struggle until someone suggested rigging up a pulley system. This worked really well, and our first net was up! Then a porter walked through, laughed at our ladders, and offered to go and get us some proper ones.

With big ladders in play, it was nothing (nothing! it was a LOT of work!) for Dave, and later RobC to scamper up to the ceiling like a spider-monkey-super-squirrel, and before we knew it, the ceiling was covered in nets and we were rushing to sneak up the last one before the Town Hall kicked us out. We got it up, and around 700 cranes were dangling from the ceiling. As we were leaving a few cranes dropped down where the thread had slipped through the sellotape, but that was a problem for the next day. Saying goodbye to the ghost, we left for the night.

Thanks to Dave 'boiler-man' Naylor (@caramboo) for the awesome pics. I forgot to take any of the setting up!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

On the night...

Full report coming soon...

The final countdown

Sorry I haven't updated the blog this week - it has been more than manic.

On Monday morning I woke up at half past four in the morning, and had a panic attack that I wasn't going to get all the batteries in the cranes.

Wednesday I woke up and couldn't move my right hand, and it was all swollen. I still had 300 cranes to put batteries in.

Thursday I went down to the tunnels and half the people who had offered to help had pulled out. Then I wasn't allowed up the ladders on my own because of health and safety. Then the way that I had planned to attach the cranes didn't work. At lunchtime there still wasn't a single crane in the air.

It wasn't looking good...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

What is Light Night Leeds?

There's been a bit of talk on Twitter from people who don't know what Light Night Leeds is; and as there are people coming from outside Leeds who are a bit in the dark (excuse the pun!) as well, I thought I'd give a bit of an overview.

Firstly, I can't really tell you what Light Night is. Not because it's a secret, but because it changes year on year. So I'd only really be able to tell you about this year's event after it had happened. That's a lovely thing about the Leeds Light Night, as it is so heavily driven by the people who take part.

Light Night Leeds is based on the Nuit Blanche event. It is now in its sixth year, and there are currently 11 cities in the UK who have Light Nights (Leeds was the first in the UK). Other cities are completely different to Leeds, with some having one or two big events, or taking the "light" part literally and using lasers and stuff. Leeds Light Night focuses on the artists and the people of Leeds. It asks for submissions and is open to anyone (obviously, as they took me!) What submissions come in form the basis of Light Night. Basically, it makes the whole city into a giant playground for the arts, and for the people of Leeds.

Light Night is spread over the whole of Leeds - from the university buildings and Hyde Park Picture House in the north to Round Foundry and Templeworks in the south. There are around 100 events going on, including theatre pieces, sound installations, art exhibits, bands, children's entertainment...and some really crazy stuff. How about visiting a crashed spaceship in the library, or going on a static rollercoaster in Victoria Gardens? What about a moving maze in Millennium Square? Light Night embraces all the different grassroots and established arts and culture in Leeds. There are a lot of events that you might stumble across, such as projections on buildings and theatre pieces that travel around the city centre, and there are set pieces in certain places (such as mine) that you can plan to go and see.

A lot of the fun of Light Night is that buildings open late, such as Leeds City Museum, and some buildings open that normally you wouldn't be able to get into, like the tunnels under the Town Hall. So it's a brilliant way to have a nosey about as well.

The thing that I think is best about Light Night is the way it embraces the people of Leeds. If you're not into art, you'll probably still enjoy the virtual spray painting in Millennium Square. If you're interested in Leeds history, why not check out the Underworlds tour from Leeds City Museum which fuses local architecture and history with that of ancient mythology. If you like music, drop by and see the sound on a wire piece in the Town Hall. If you hate all the arts, you can still get a free fortune cookie from around Little Woodhouse. Everybody likes cookies. Light Night is about celebrating the city and the people who live here. It's not trying to be a highbrow arts event (though there is high-end stuff going on), it's trying, and I think succeeds, in being a fun, varied way of linking up lots and lots (and lots!) of stuff that goes on in the city, and making it more accessible for everyone. It promotes what's great about Leeds, makes the city more inviting (don't worry too much about getting lost - you'll probably find a dancing urban nymph round the corner) and might just get a few people interested who weren't interested before.

Plus, don't forget that it is all free. Every event is free. The artists involved do it for free, the buildings that open late don't charge. Bands and performers and the people who will point you in the right direction for things all do it for free. Light Night Leeds is a night put on by the council, and the guys that run it work really hard on a tiny budget to put on over 100 events, with no charge.

So what have you got to lose? Come and play with your city.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Light up, light up

The LEDs arrived.

I started putting them in the cranes, through the bottom, and realised that at the rate it was taking me I wouldn't make Light Night 2012, let alone the Light Night in a few weeks. I was having to virtually completely unfold the crane, put the light in, then refold it.

This was the first real problem I've had since the start of the project, and at this late stage it panicked me that something so massive could go wrong. I'm also a little bit fixated with planning, so to have not factored in that my plan wouldn't work made me really angry with myself, and made me panic more.

Hours later, with a prototype crane so mangled it looked like the victim of a road traffic accident, and me sat sobbing on the sofa because I still couldn't figure out a quick way to put the LED in, and the way I was doing it was so complicated I couldn't possibly ask anyone else to help, and my lovely, gorgeous husband looked at it and said

"why don't you just cut a hole in the top, and drop the LED in?"

The man's a genius. It now takes around 30 seconds to do a crane, and once they're hung up, you won't even notice the hole in the top (it's covered over with sticky tape so the LED doesn't just pop out again).

I'm back on track!

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I've finished my cranes. A few of us gathered in the pub whilst I folded the final ten, and they're all done. Whilst I was doing the last hundred, I thought a lot about how much has changed since I started, and everything that I've done since I folded my first crane for this project.

My cranes have been to and been folded at, and during:

Foldageddons Light Night budget meetings Leeds Pride a new dr (who) Unity Day various pubs Brighton Chorley Manchester trivial pursuit partiesTabby's naming party beer train a general election testspace Nuneaton Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorial the last ashes to ashes various club nights Manchester Pride secret tearoom my birthday party other people's birthday parties over the rainbow house sale a (very minor) house fire michael mcintyre ilovewestleeds festival the world cup Sheffield lots of motorways and lots of other things!

thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, and a special thank you to my husband Rob, who cut 1000 pieces of paper into squares for me to fold!

There's still lots more to come before October, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Final furlong

Have a quick look at the Totalizer in the right hand sidebar. At the time of writing this, it is at 940. By Friday the total will be 1000. One. Thousand. Cranes.

I've got it all planned out, twenty a day until Friday, when I'll do ten through the day, then I'm going to go to Nation of Shopkeepers pub to fold the last ten in the company of friends, then I'll have a big drink to celebrate.

If you're in Leeds, and you'd like to see the final ten being made, or you just want to come for a drink, then please feel free to drop in. I'll be there from half past four.

It feels weird being on the home straight. There's still LOADS to do for Light Night, but this part of it is almost over. It doesn't seem very long ago that I fudged the totalizer because 8 cranes didn't even show up on it, and now it's almost full. I have bags everywhere with cranes in, and I've got used to always carrying some paper just in case I have five minutes. My fingers won't know what to do!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

One more thing...

Yesterday I was sat at work when the phone rang. It was one of the organisers of Light Night saying that the courtroom, which is the room next to the tunnels where my project will be, had come free, and would I be able to do something with it?

This is where people will be coming in to get to the tunnels (you walk into the dock of the courtroom then down some stairs, the way the prisoners would have done), so of course I said yes. I hoofed it over to the Town Hall to have a look. The room is huge, and all traditionally wood-panelled with chandeliers. It isn't actually used as a courtroom anymore, but it's quite often used for filming of Emmerdale and other TV programmes, so you may have seen it already. There's a huge table in the middle of it which would be perfect for folding.

I came away a little nervous, but very excited. To be offered an opportunity to do more is great, but it's only five weeks away and I don't want it to look like a half-arsed attempt. We were discussing ideas as I wanted to keep the cranes separate from the courtroom so you still had the impact, but I want it all to look connected. After a bit of thinking, and some messing about with models, I hit upon an idea.

The 'thousand crane' story is an ancient Japanese legend, popularised by the story of Sadako Sasaki, and I often have to explain this. What if I made the courtroom into a sort of prelude to my thousand cranes? I could have some information up, and the sailboat folding in there. Thinking about making it about Sadako and the Japanese legend led me to thinking about making the courtroom into a peace garden. Lots of origami cherry blossoms 'growing' out of the courtroom, taking over the place of judgement and turning it into a place of peace and contemplation.

So this is my challenge. As well as finishing the thousand cranes project, now I need to make cherry blossoms. I'm planning on calling on volunteers to help, so if you want to get involved, please let me know. And wish me luck!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Back to school Foldageddon

There's going to be another Foldageddon. 16th September at 6.30pm (venue tbc)

And to celebrate September, it's going to be a Back To School Special. We'll be making origami models you might remember from your childhood - a fortune teller, a waterbomb and a banger. I'll also go over any previous models we've done, or if you have any queries I'll try my best to answer them.

As usual, Foldageddon is completely and utterly free and materials will be provided, but it's nice if you buy a drink at the bar as a thanks for hosting us, and there will be a donation box to cover costs of paper etc.

Also, afterwards, I'll be folding boats for Light Night, if anyone wants to help out! This will be the last Foldageddon before Light Night, so if you've any questions about my project, feel free to come along and quiz me!

If you're coming give me a shout on Twitter or leave a comment here, then I can arrange a suitable sized venue. Fold on!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Calm before the storm

Things have been a bit quiet round here of late. I've been folding, but in terms of everything else, it's all on hold until September (when the funding will come through, and it will be a mad panic of rigging up the lights etc).

Last night I hit 800 cranes, and 200 seems completely doable (heck if need be, I think I could do 200 in a weekend, so there's no way I'll not make 1000). It feels a bit flat though, like because there's not much else going on there's no excitement over such a milestone; and because everything is just "ticking over", it's all feeling a bit ho-hum. I'm still mega-excited about Light Night, but at the moment there's few people to bounce it off, and those not involved are bored of it by now (and some who are involved!) and those who are are getting on with their own projects.

I've not lost my Light Night mojo, I've just temporarily misplaced it. I think we need to organise a Light Night drinking session to get the energy back up.

Want to get involved in Light Night?

This is taken directly from the Light Night website, but thought it may be of interest to some...

Light Night is an annual arts festival run by the council, which takes place at numerous venues across the city centre. It is a celebratory showcase of diverse creativeness, and gives visitors free access to art and venues that they might not normally see.

This year we are looking for a group of volunteers to work on Light Night with us and join our pool of volunteers for future events. This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for experience of working in the arts, or just to enjoy Light Night from a different point of view!

Most of the volunteers will be required to provide information and collect feedback from audiences and performers (through asking people to fill out feedback forms). Some volunteers may also be asked to help with events. You will be expected to work for a shift, but we will make sure you have time to enjoy Light Night as well!

Volunteers must be age 18 or over and the deadline for applying is 5pm Friday, 27 August.

Please note: Volunteers will be required to attend a short briefing session in the afternoon on either 28 and 30 September, and will receive a Light Night t shirt.

Please send your CV and a covering letter explaining why you would like to work on Light Night to Mo Rowlands on or ring 0113 247 6419 for further information.

Further details on Light Night here:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Folding for Peace - The Event

Last week a group of people gathered to fold. Ten volunteers folded 160 cranes in just a few hours. The people there weren't origami experts or professional artists - they varied from bankers to a couple of tourists on a day trip; and all of them donated their time for free. This is the result:

It was so lovely to see, and I was so proud of the Foldageddon regulars who came, as they barely needed reminding how to fold a crane before they were teaching others:

The reason these lovely people were folding so many cranes was to commemorate the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters, when atomic bombs were dropped on cities. This year is the 65th anniversary, and there are still many people feeling the aftereffects of the bombs.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds organises a memorial service each year in Park Square, where there is a memorial stone and a tree that was planted by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today (the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing) I attended the memorial service. It was very moving, and there was a really good turn out. At the end of the ceremony people were invited to take a crane and place it around the memorial stone, or to fold their own. We showed several people how to fold cranes, and the whole thing seemed to really have an impact.

Thank you to everyone who passed on the word about this, everyone who came to fold, and everyone who came today. I was so proud to be a part of this, and I'm so glad that the awful events of 65 years ago are not forgotten.

Here's some pictures of the memorial after the ceremony:

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Whilst the cranes are ticking along, I'm thinking ahead to the other aspects of my Light Night event. The electrical aspect is on hold for the moment (until I get the money through to buy everything. Don't panic before you need to.), so there's only the boats to worry about. This is my dilemna.

If you've read my previous post about the sailboats, you'll remember that the original was a traditional origami sailboat. Easy to fold, recognisable, not a problem. Apart from some people have mentioned how they are quite two dimensional. Someone even asked why I couldn't have a boat he could sail down the river.

Which got me thinking.

Would it better to have a different type of boat? I'm still loving the boat idea, particularly as there seems to be a bit of a theme of 'journey' going on at Light Night this year (completely coincidentally). There's three types of boat up for consideration (excuse the blurry photos):

The original idea was this one:

Like I said, instantly recognisable as a boat, but a little...flat.

This is the second option:

A bit more artistic, but not as obvious as a boat. It does travel across a flat surface if you blow it though.

The third option is the classic "newspaper boat":

Most people recognise this as a boat, and it sails on water; but is it recognisable enough?

What do you think? Please leave your comments below before I start making a load of the wrong type!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


That's right. As of Saturday night, I've folded 500 cranes. That's halfway there. Okay, we won't focus on the amount I've got left to do. I'll post a picture of them all at some point, sat in their little bags, waiting to be illuminated.


It seems like forever since I started, although this blog tells me it wasn't all that long ago. A thousand seemed like such a massive number, but now 500 seems like an even bigger number as the deadline looms. I know I'll do it though. After all, I'm already halfway there.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Folding for Peace

I will be attending the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial Ceremony on 9th August at 10.40am. This is a memorial ceremony hosted (is hosted the right word?) by the Lord Mayor in Park Square in Leeds, where we will remember those affected by the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These memorials are held worldwide on 6th August (when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) and 9th August (when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki). As part of the ceremony, I will be showing people how to fold cranes, which are used worldwide as a symbol of peace, and are linked to Hiroshima and Nagasaki because of the story of Sadako Sasaki. If you'd like any more information, please let me know and I can answer any questions or point you towards the right people.

I will also be folding cranes on 4th August between 12.30pm-1.30pm at the City Museum cafe, then from 5.30pm onwards at Nation of Shopkeepers for those who can't attend the ceremony but would like to mark their remembrance, and to make some cranes in advance for use during the memorial ceremony. Hopefully we'll get a really good turnout and lots of cranes. If you can help, either by coming to the memorial or by popping along to one of the folding sessions (if you can't fold cranes, don't worry, I'll show you), or even just telling other people about it, it would be really appreciated.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Update and missed deadlines

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while. Everything is just ticking along, really. Meetings are over, and there won't be another for a while; cranes are slowly but steadily being made and the totalizer is creeping up (well it's not, because I forget to update it until I've done about 20 of them). It's really just a waiting (and folding) game until nearer the time, but I didn't want you to think I'd forgotten you.

I did miss my self-imposed deadline of 500 by my birthday (16th July) by around 50 cranes. So I'm behind on where I wanted to be, but I did have two assignments and a load of personal commitments at the same time, which have all been done now, so there's a clear run for me to catch up.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

i LOVE I Love West Leeds!

Today was the I Love West Leeds Festival, and it was great! I got a shed to set up in, and I'd made loads of underwater decorations (fish, crabs, turtles, shells, seahorses, stingrays and seagulls) so it looked good.

Even with it being ridiculously windy, and a little bit rainy, I still had a really good turnout and made loads of penguins (I'd planned to make fish, but after the first couple of people struggled, I switched to penguins). There were a few people who knew origami and it was nice to share stories with them, and it was brilliant to see kids make the crappest bit of paperfolding you've ever seen, but be SO thrilled with it! I've never really taught kids before, so I was pleased that they got on so well (and that I handled them well without them nicking my stuff or making them cry!).

Unfortunately because I was on my own and pretty busy, I didn't get a chance to look at all the other fab stuff that was going on, and there was LOADS, but there's a report on Guardian Leeds with lots of pictures. I Love West Leeds has events going on until the end of the month, so if you can, get along to one and say hi!

Here's a lot of pictures of my shed:

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Exciting news: I Love West Leeds!

There's a fab festival in Leeds, called the I Love West Leeds Festival. As the name suggests, it celebrates everything in West Leeds, with loads of events going on through July, and a mahoosive festival day which moves venue every year (this year it's at Farnley Hall Park, on Sunday 4th July). There are loads of activities and lots of entertainment for the whole family.

I'm going to be a part of it. I'm going to be doing a drop-in Foldageddon event throughout the day, working alongside proper proper artists, at a massive festival. I'm very scared, but also very very excited.

I get an area (which may or may not be in a shed, depending on numbers) so I'm currently making a few decorations to jazz my space up a bit. I'm going for an underwater theme so I'm making fish, seahorses, shells, crabs and turtles; then on the day I'll be making fish and boats (plus bangers because what says a family festival more than kids running around making lots of noise?)

If you're in Leeds, pop over and have a look at what's going on!

One hundred...

Today is one hundred days until Light Night Leeds, so it seemed a good time for a little retrospective.

I started out my project for Light Night thinking it would be nice just to be involved in something that I really enjoyed last year.

Since then, I've made friends, been to budgeting meetings, got involved in arts festivals and been funded by the Council to put on my installation. I've gained confidence and the whole thing has really helped me settle in in Leeds.

There's still 100 days to go, who knows what that will bring...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Quick reminder

Foldageddon is next Monday, the 5th of July.

I made new flyers, but I really like it so I might keep it/adapt it for future foldageddons:

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The results are in...

I've got in. Not only have I got in, I've got in with full funding.

I'm doing Light Night.

Now it's sorted (in terms of being 'approved'), it's all become a bit more real. The eagle eyed of you will have noticed the totalizer rocketing up this week - well that's because I'm panicking slightly!

I know I'll be alright, and I'm really really excited about doing it, it's just a little daunting. But isn't that what it's all about?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Meetings two and three

First of all, apologies! I've kept you all on the edge of your seats about how my presentation went...well here it is.

It went a bit crap.

I turned up at the second meeting and the first thing I did was trip up the stairs. So, you know, that was a good start. Despite wearing my lucky socks, I fumbled and stumbled through my idea; the room was really light so you couldn't really see the LED inside Blue Canary and a few people threw questions that seemed like they hated my idea. I was feeling really down, and thought they were just going to say "well you tried, but we think it would be best if you just went home and came to Light Night as a visitor"...but the feedback I got from people was pretty good. Good enough that I'm not going to get thrown out anyway!

Both the second and third meetings had a lot of good ideas, and I'm really looking forward to going ahead and getting to know the people involved. I should hear this week about the funding, and then I just have to get on with the folding!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Meeting number one

I went to the first of the budget meetings yesterday, and got to hear about ten of the proposals for Light Night.

There were over 200 submissions sent in, with 56 of those asking for funding. Of those 200, 75 will take place, and 30 will be funded. I'm in that 30.

Some of the proposals were really good, some (I thought) were rubbish. As with most art stuff, some I just didn't "get". However, it did bring home how diverse the range of projects at Light Night, and how diverse the people involved are. There were inclusive projects for youth groups, people asking for student volunteers and people like me who are doing something creative for the first time.

It was all very informal, and I think my powerpoint presentation was mahoosively overthinking it, so I'm going back to the drawing board on that one. Tomorrow is my presentation, so I'll let you know after I've done it what I decided to do!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Nerves are kicking in

The budgetary meetings start next week. I had planned on just getting up and reading out my submission, but then I started thinking about what I would like to see. I certainly wouldn't like to see someone with little confidence stumbling over words, and if you can't be confident in front of a few people, how can you feel confident in putting on an art exhibit?

So I thought, and thought, and thought. I practised adapting my submission into a "speech". I tried it out on my dogs. I incorporated Blue Canary, my prototype. It was so much easier to show people what I meant, rather than trying to tell them.

Which led me to wondering...was there a way to show people what I meant? A presentation done via powerpoint, or something similar, wouldn't just take the heat off me somewhat, but it was also different, exactly what I wanted.

Only one problem. I can't use powerpoint. Or anything like that.

At the moment I've storyboarded it, and I'm going to work on it over the weekend. Another thing I need to sort out is if I can even use powerpoint at the meeting - will there be facilities? There's a spark of an idea there, I just need to work at it to get something practical.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Foldageddon: The Sequel

Foldageddon!! was such a success, and I had so many people saying they'd have liked to come but couldn't make it, I've decided to go again.

Foldageddon: the sequel will be held Monday 5th July at 6.30pm in Leeds city centre at The Victoria on Great George Street (back of the Town Hall) - tell your friends! There'll be many new exciting models to make, including MODULAR origami!

Please let me know in the comments, or via email ( - a new email address, but the old one still works too), or on twitter (@gazpachodragon) if you'd like to come, so I can make sure there's enough space and paper. The more the merrier is true, but it got a bit squished last time so we could've done with an extra table!

The event will be free, but there will be a donations box if you want to contribute towards the cost of materials (and allow me to keep getting nice patterny papers for future Foldageddons!)

If you can't make this one, but would like to be put on the mailing list for future Foldageddons, please drop me a line with your email address at

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Sunday was my day at Testspaceleeds and it went well. Due to the fact that it was a drop in workshop, and the idea of testspaceleeds being rapid-fire creativity, I kept the models simple and limited.

I’d made up worksheets by scanning in origami at various stages (hopefully these will be available as pdfs on here this week) for the penguin, the box, and the yacht. These are all easy models that I’ve been folding since I was tiny, so I was pretty happy that everyone could have a go. Armed with paper, my worksheets, and Blue Canary (so I could explain my Light Night project), I set off.

It’s not the first time I’ve been involved in workshop/festival type things like this, but it’s the first time I’ve done origami at one, and I was pretty nervous, made more so by the fact that everything had been arranged by email so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I got there and arranged for a couple of tables, set out my stall and waited.

I didn’t have to wait long. Apparently people had been asking about the origami workshop (I’d billed it as Foldageddon!! again, but that hadn’t caught on!) so soon people were dropping in regularly. Also, origami was the only ‘interactive’ thing (there were video screenings, and a lady demonstrating hatmaking) so anyone coming in for a look tended to want to ‘have a go’, which I loved. Soon there was a pile of origami at the side of me:

By the end of the day there was a veritable waddle of penguins (seriously, I googled it - a group of penguins is called a waddle!):

One gentleman (hey Henry, if you’re reading!) came in who explained he wanted to buy some art. However, on a limited budget and with not much for sale (most stuff was being sold at another site), he was a bit stuck. Whilst the organisers had a look round for stuff, he sat with me and asked if I could show him how to make a crane. Although I wasn’t really showing cranes (it makes it difficult if you’re halfway through one and someone comes in and wants to join in), he’d asked especially so I said yes. We sat and made cranes together, then he decided he wanted to buy a couple. He gave me TEN POUNDS for the two cranes, asking me to take out whatever I was charging (I wasn’t! I wasn’t planning on selling any!) and give the rest as a donation. However, he then also wanted a piece of cake that was being sold, and in the confusion of sorting out change for that etc. all the money got put in the donation box. So I did sell some artwork, but I didn’t get to keep the money!

It was a good learning experience for me, and they’ve asked me to take part again in July, so I’ll have to have a think about it. Unfortunately I’m really busy for the rest of the week so I won’t be able to check out the other stuff going on, but if you’re around it’s worth having a look.

Just a quick FYI – I’m planning on holding another Foldageddon!! at the start of July, so register your interest now!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Foldageddon!! on Culture Vulture

Foldageddon!! has been featured on Culture Vulture, the Leeds arts and culture guide.

Check it out here

Friday, 28 May 2010

If you fold it...they will come...

Last night was Foldageddon!! and it was a great turnout.

i got there around a quarter of an hour early, and the barstaff pointed me to a table in a corner, and one person was already there, so i said "oh well we'll wait until six because a few other people are coming" got to ten past six and nobody else had turned up.

i was nearly crying, because one person is worse than none isn't it? at least if nobody turned up i could slink out and pretend it had gone brilliantly. so i said that we should start, and as we finished folding the first model, a girl walked round the corner and said "oh are you kirsty? there's four of us waiting for you at the bar - they said you hadn't arrived yet!" so we did the first model again, then three more people arrived and joined in - and there were some people behind us who were taking the piss out of us a bit, then i noticed they'd made penguins out of the flyers on the tables, so obviously they wanted to join in but thought it wasn't cool enough, so that was brill.

and everyone had a great time (well at least they told me they had a great time) and made their own models to take away, and they were all helping each other which was lovely, and they all want to do it again.

and Elly came who wants to write a feature on me for a local Leeds culture guide. and when we left we left a load of cranes on the table, and i saw a fair few people sneaking over to take one. i should have put my website address on them!

so all in all, it was really good. there's a couple of things i'd change (not least the venue, because they had a band on at 8pm, but they started 'warming up' at 7pm, which i'm sure they did on purpose because we were sat enar them, because they warmed up with shouty metal music, then when they started playing at 8.30 they were singing stuff like stairway to heaven!), but yeah. it was good, and hopefully we will definitely be doing it again. So thanks to everyone who came:

(sorry Edward, you got missed off the picture!)

Foldageddon!! at Testspace

I'll be doing a blog tomorrow about Foldageddon!!, which went really well, but I quickly wanted to give you all the exciting news which I promised earlier in the week.

I've been asked to put on a Foldageddon!! workshop at Testspace Leeds, which is an initiative to bring together the creative (they use the word creative! hurrah!) folk of Leeds.

Go check out their website here.

I'm really pleased to be involved with this, as like Light Night, it reaches out to people who maybe wouldn't get involved in 'arts' events normally. Plus, I'm pretty damn pleased to be asked!

So on the 6th June, from about 11am, I'll be at 42 New Briggate in Leeds (near the Grand Theatre), hosting a drop-in, free workshop. Feel free to come along, and if you say hello, and that you're a blog reaader, I might just fold something a little special for you!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I've just had an email from Light Night, and I've been accepted! I now have to attend three meetings to decide on the budgeting, but I'm definitely in!

I feel SO proud of myself, I can't even begin to tell you. I never thought I would be involved in an arts project, let alone having my own exhibited at a high profile event. It's really a testament to the idea that if you want to do something, you can. So go out there people, and try something you've always dreamed of.

Oh, and put 8th October in your diaries. You'll find me in the tunnels, most likely a nervous wreck and twitching, but glowing with pride (and with the help of 1000 glowing cranes).

Monday, 24 May 2010

Just a quick update... say that Foldageddon!! will be taking place this Thursday starting at 6pm, at Carpe Diem in Leeds (opposite Mandela Gardens).

If you would like to come, please let me know so I can make sure there's enough table space/paper for you. If you can't make it until later, that's completely fine, just let me know. I'm really looking forward to meeting some of you, and hopefully we'll have some great pictures to show those of you that can't make it.

In other news, no word yet from the Light Night committee, but I should have some very exciting news at the end of the week! Stay tuned, folks!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Two hundred!

Last night, I folded my two hundredth (is that even a word?) crane for my project.

This currently puts me at having to fold 7.33 a day to make my target (I'm hoping to have them all done by September, so I have wriggle room and time to wire them all up). However, I'm hoping to get a bit ahead then I'm not obsessively folding all the time like a crazy person. Plus, I'm going to stop folding other stuff, because that's a bit silly really when I've so much to do, even though I really love sonobe units.

It's funny, but when I hit 100, it still felt like there was a really long way to go, but all of a sudden, getting to 200 feels like a real achievement and 800 seems totally doable. Ask me again nearer the time and I'll probably growl at you whilst my hands make foldy gestures because they've taken the paper away from me in case I hurt myself...but for now, it's totally doable.

Monday, 10 May 2010


It's the news you've been waiting's Foldageddon!!

Foldageddon is an informal origami class, where you can learn to make three origami models. It will be held in Leeds city centre (exact location to be confirmed depending on numbers, but will probably be around Millennium Square) at 6pm on 27th May. Best thing of all, Foldageddon will be completely FREE!

It'll be a case of pitch up, I'll demonstrate/give out instructions, then wander round helping out where people get stuck, so it definitely won't be a "teaching" thing. Plus, that means that if you can't get there for 6pm, still pop your name down and come a bit later, as you won't be missing out! If you already fold, still come along as it'd be lovely to meet fellow origami people. If you've never folded before, trust me it's easy, and it's a lot of fun. Nobody will judge, and even if you completely mess up (which you won't!), you can scrunch it up and call it art.

If you want to come to Foldageddon, please leave a comment, or let me know via twitter (@gazpachodragon) so I can get a ballpark figure and arrange a venue. Also, please tell your friends/family/random strangers in the street. Feel free to tweet about it, or link to this blog, or make origami cranes and leave them in shops with a note attached.

Foldageddon!! You know you want to.

UPDATE: Hello! If you've been redirected here for details of upcoming Foldageddon or Fold For Peace meetings, please have a look at the latest post on the blog, and keep an eye out for future announcements (there's TONS coming soon!). Also follow me on twitter @gazpachodragon (or use the buttons on the top right of the blog) and I'll announce the latest news/meetings/exciting things on there!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

No word yet, btw...

The deadline for the Expression of Interest Form for Light Night was Friday, so I'm expecting to hear any time now.

Which is horrible, as I'm really terrible at waiting.

Every time my phone beeps with an email, I get tense thinking it's a response (it never is). I'm checking my email every ten minutes through the day. I'm obsessively googling and checking twitter to see if anyone else has heard (they haven't).

The longer I go without hearing, the more I think I obviously haven't got in and that the whole thing is being planned without me, and it will only be in October that I realise, when I'm sat at home alone with 1000 light up cranes as my only friends and tears running down my cheeks.

Yep, I'm pretty desperate to find out.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

You might have noticed...

...something rather exciting on my blog. No? You haven't? Then you haven't been paying attention.

Look. (This arrow is supposed to point to the totalizer. Look at the totalizer.)


I have made one hundred cranes. That's right people, 10% of my cranes are now folded, packed into bags and ready to go!

Alright, admittedly as my mum said, 10% of 1000 still means there's a long way to go, but let's not be all "glass half empty" about it. 10% is still a fair percentage.

So yay! One hundred cranes!

Monday, 26 April 2010


I know some of you have tried folding a crane, and some of you have got stuck, so I was thinking...would anyone be interested in an origami class? It will be really informal, just a group of people and I'll show how to make a few models (including the crane).

If so, when and where? It'd have to be Leeds, obviously, and I was thinking probably midweek after work-time (so around sixish)? Where would be best - pub, library, park? I'd probably be looking at the last week in May, just to give time to organise stuff.

Any ideas, let me know, and please feel free to tell your friends. Also, if you're interested, please let me know either via the comments on here or email/twitter then I can make a ballpark guess at numbers.

Why I'm not an artist

Last week, I went to some art galleries in Leeds. I've never been before, but my husband had suggested we take the day off and it seemed a "day off" kind of thing to do.

I say art galleries because...well Leeds is an odd place. For a start, there's about four different galleries all linked to each other, so I've no idea what was in where and we started in the Henry Moore Institute and ended up in the "Craft and Design Gallery" (the shop).

I'm purposely not looking anything up while I write this, so you get an idea of how I experience art. So, according to me, some of the things we saw included an exhibition about art students, some nice pots and a ceramic crab which I liked, an exhibition about typography or the space between text or something (I didn't really "get" that one), a funky-ass mobile made of old chair legs, and loads of handmade stuff which I loved (in the shop).

Some of it I loved, some I thought was rubbish. Some had me muttering "my dog can do art better than that", some of it I thought was genius. There were some (in particular a family tree diagram of a tree) I thought were brilliant but Rob (my husband) didn't like. Some of it I hated, but "got", some of it I didn't understand at all. I dallied over some parts, Rob over others (although it has to be said I dallied most in the shop).

It really showed me how subjective art is. I think the flowing design of the art galleries, whilst scarily confusing ("Where are we? Find a window!") is really useful, as we probably wouldn't have gone to see half the stuff we ended up seeing because we kept wandering into it (although it would've been nice to know this was the case when we started, and a clear 'Start' would be nice if you want to meander as we missed the Ice Age exhibition and I'll have to go back for that). It showed me that I don't just like pretty stuff, or stuff that I can easily understand. It reminded me of when I used to go to art galleries and thought "I could do that".

But I still wouldn't call myself an artist. You might note that I rarely call my cranes an installation, but rather a project or an event. I'm uncomfortable with these words - Artist and Installation. As we were walking round, I was comparing my Light Night project with the work displayed, and I kept asking myself if mine was as good. For some, yes I really do think it is. But I'm not an artist. To me, an artist is someone who does art "proper". Who gets paid for it, who quite possibly does it for a living. I'm a dabbler. I've no pretensions that I'm going to win the Turner Prize, and I don't expect Saatchi to be knocking at my door; but I'm more than an observer. I'm dipping a toe into a world I've little comprehension of, and I often feel really really out of my depth, but I'm still trying.

So what do you call someone who's more than an art appreciative, but less than an artist? I've decided that, for me at least, I like the word creative as a noun. I'm a Creative. It's more often used for people in advertising and such, and I'll probably annoy everyone in the art world for using it because it's not proper and such, but for me, it works. I'm happy to be a Creative, and I'm happy to have my Project.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

They just keep coming!

I don't know what it is about this week, whether there just happens to be lots of links to origami stuff, or if origami art is suddenly trending, but today I stumbled across an article on about a shop in Carnaby St, London, that seems to have been overrun by origami bunnies!

Here's a sneak peek:

and the original link is here

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Amazing Origami Art

Just a quick blog post, to implore you to check out this origami art installation

Here's a quick preview to entice you to click the link, if you haven't already:

isn't it just beautiful? be sure to check out James Roper's own site for more stunning artwork.