Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Running total

I haven't done much folding yet, as I've been busy with other stuff (did I mention that as well as doing this, I work full time and am also studying for TWO diplomas?)

I have made ten cranes though, which is 1%. it's enough to actually register as a percentage!

A few people have asked about me starting to fold before I've definitely had the go-ahead. I had planned on waiting, but it's a lot of work in addition to everything else I have going on. Not only is there the folding of the cranes, but getting the paper sorted takes ages, plus putting the LEDs in, then connecting the batteries. It will all take time, and I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Plus if I don't get in, I can always have a giveaway of the cranes I've folded so far!

Monday, 29 March 2010


Thank you to Rachel, who gave me the html for a totalizer, which my lovely husband has basically badgered around with it until it was the colour I wanted. Now you can follow my progress as to folding the cranes!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

How to fold an origami crane

If you want to join in with folding 1000 cranes, here's how you do it (apologies for the somewhat blurry photos):

1. starting with a square piece of paper, fold in half diagonally

2. fold in half diagonally again, so it's in quarters

3. lifting the triangular flap you just made, open it out and press it down

4. it should look like this

5. turn over and repeat on the other side

6. fold the edges into the middle. turn over and repeat

7. you should have a kite shape

8. fold the top triangle down along the top of the previous folds (so it makes an inverted triangle)

9. unfold the folds from steps 7 and 8. lift the front flap along the fold from step 8 (it looks like a bird's beak)

10. flatten out. turn over and repeat. (incidentally, this is the bird base)

11. fold the lower outside edges into the middle. turn over and repeat

12. it should look like this

13. turn the right hand flap over as if turning the page of a book (i know that sound rubbish, but it's hard to describe! you should see what i mean)

14. it will look like this

15. fold the bottom point up to meet the top point

16. turn over and repeat steps 13 to 15. it will end up looking like this

17. turn the sides over, again like turning the pages of a book. it will look like this

18. gently pull the inside points out from the centre. you just kind of squash the bottom bits down to keep them in place

19. it will look like this

20. fold the front flaps down - you'll see a natural place to fold them along the middle bit. turn over and repeat

21. take the top of one of the points and gently fold it down. as you fold it down, you'll see a crease in the middle - if you press on that, it will sort of collapse in on itself and create the crane's head

22. it will look like this - you can see how it looks like a crane now!

23. take the wings and gently pull them apart. you'll see a square bit forming in the middle

24. press the square bit down gently and it will pop into place. this is the body of the crane

25. ta da! crane is done!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

It's just a fold to the left...

As it is pretty much a waiting game now until the deadline, it feels a bit odd. the prototype is done, and until I'm making masses of them, I can't foresee the problems that are going to come up. I don't want to buy all the expensive electronic bits until I know I'm definitely going ahead, so I felt at a bit of a loss.

So I did what I always do when I'm at a loose end. I started folding.

I bought a ream of paper, and started making the cranes.

Getting the paper "ready" is a three part process: first I have to fold it to make a square, then cut the excess (which will be what I make the sailboats from), then stick a bit of sellotape into the centre to reinforce where the LED is going to stick through. Only then is the paper ready to fold into the crane. That's the bit that's a pain, rather than the actual origami stuff.

I'm trying to find a sort of totalizer for the blog, so that you can see how I'm getting on, but at the moment, I've folded two cranes. Okay, not so many, but I've made paper for loads more.

I'm also working on making a "how to" post, so if you want to join in, you can learn how to fold your own crane!

Monday, 22 March 2010

And they're off!

I've sent in my submission.

There were five main parts - firstly the idea itself, then four seperate sections for the four aspects they're looking for. These were:

Site specific was it designed with a specific space in Leeds in mind?
Durational i.e. will it last all night and will visitors get the same experience whenever they turn up?
Immersive can visitors get involved in the work? The organisers don't really like stage/audience stuff, but obviously this is more relevant to dramatic stuff than things like mine
New Work because they don't want people bringing old stuff that they trot out at every opportunity (my words, not theirs)

I wrote it all out last week. I really struggled with putting what my project actually was into the required 150 words (first you send in the brief form, then if they like that, you're invited to present your idea). I finally came up with it, then saved it and left it for the weekend. Then I read it again, and got a couple of other people to read it. Then I thought I should just stop faffing about and send the damn thing in.

So here it is, in all its glory, so you can read it for yourselves (after all, so long as I impress the organisers enough to let me put it on, it'll be you I have to impress enough to come and see it):

    Your idea for Light Night.
    Summary of idea

    LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL– an installation.

    There is a Japanese legend stating that whoever folds one thousand origami cranes will be granted their heart’s desire.

    Down in the tunnels under the Town Hall, it is hard to believe that dreams could ever come true.

    On Light Night, one thousand illuminated origami cranes will “fly” through the Bridewell tunnels under the Town Hall, transforming a space traditionally associated with anxiety and imprisonment to a peaceful haven which allows the visitor to contemplate their own hopes and dreams.

    After spending time amongst the cranes, the visitor can take an origami sailboat, which they can decorate to reflect their experience of the installation, and as a representation of their hopes. These can then be left in the tunnels or at another Light Night event for a stranger to discover and ponder, or taken home as a memory of the event.

    Site Specific

    The Bridewell tunnels under the Town Hall, usually barred to the public, evoke trepidation and a sense of trespassing. Famously used for imprisonment and punishment, with rumours of hauntings, they have instilled fear and despair for over 100 years. Created specifically for this space, the installation brings light and hope, transforming an oppressive environment to an illuminated space of serenity and wonderment.


    The installation is continuous after set-up, allowing visitors to stay for as long or short a time as they wish, whenever they wish. There are no maximum number of viewers at any one time (health and safety notwithstanding), and more sailboats can be quickly made on the night if visitor numbers demand it, meaning that every visitor will be afforded the opportunity of the same experience.


    Visitors can walk amongst the suspended paper models, viewing from different angles and interacting with other visitors. Additionally, the sailboat models allow visitors to interact with the event, contributing their own interpretation or alternatively allowing them to take away a material memory.

    New Work

    I am not a professional artist, and have created the installation specifically to be involved in Light Night. It draws on my experience and viewpoint of what makes Light Night special, and so is a completely new work specific to Light Night, from a completely new artist, specific to Light Night!

    What do you think? Do you think I pitched it right? What do you think I could improve or expand on if I get picked to go forward to the presentation round? What would make you want to come and see my project?

    Monday, 15 March 2010

    And there's more

    Now I'm firmly set on my installation, I was thinking about ways that it could be more...interactive isn't the word, but so that people could be more a part of it.

    Walking through it is going to be amazing, and that's the main thing, because it will really put across the idea of lighting up the darkness and bringing peace and hope to the passageways of confinement and despair (good description huh? That's going on my submission). However, I know I like stuff I can interact with, or that does something, as sometimes I'll go and see something and I won't know when is a suitable length of time to stay there, or if I should say something about it or keep it would be nice, for philistines like me who don't really know how to appreciate art, to have a bit of a focus. Plus, who doesn't love a freebie?

    At first I thought of folding cranes on the night (in addition to the thousand) so people could join in and learn how to do it, but that would be crazy in the tunnels (hey! join my impromptu origami class in the dark), so then I thought of a piece of origami people could take away that could represent their hopes and wishes. Obviously the crane is a well-known symbol of that, but it would mean folding loads more cranes, and the thought of 1000 in an allotted time frame is making me gulp already.

    I can make paper boats though. Not the paper boats you made as a kid (well I can make those, but I don't mean those ones). I mean the sailboats that are the symbol of the US Origami Society and the model I folded when I did a foldathon a couple of years ago (88 in an hour!):

    I think that boats are pretty representative of taking a journey, which implies moving into the future etc. Plus, they're pretty. I had an idea that people could take one, and write their hope/wish onto it, then either take it home with them, or leave them somewhere (maybe at another Light Night event?) for someone else to find. Kind of like PostSecret. It means that people have something tangible to associate with my project, and it gives another dimension to my project. What do you think?

    Friday, 12 March 2010

    Tunnel vision

    Yesterday I got the opportunity to go under the town hall to explore the tunnels. I'd asked one of the organisers of Light Night, so I could check them out before submitting my proposal, and he gallantly braved the ghost (yup, there's apparently a ghost, a murderer called Charlie Peace!) to show me round.

    When Leeds Town Hall was built in 1858, there were 13 prison cells, offices for the police and accomodation for the warder built into the basement. New cells were later built under the front steps. Passages led from these cells to the courtroom, with locked gates keeping it secure.

    The tunnels themselves were a lot bigger than I remembered from last year, the only time I've been down there. With all the lights on, they were quite similar to the corridors at work with high ceilings and archways:

    However, as soon as you switched the lights off, they became the passages of imprisonment that they used to be, and you could quite imagine a ghost sweeping up and down the corridor:

    I pulled out Blue Canary (the name the new prototype has acquired), and it lit up the tunnel a bit, and suddenly it was easy to see just how amazing 1000 cranes could look. I think they'll totally transform the space.

    There were a lot of pipes and hooks and things that could easily support the cranes, and the ceilings (which I would say were about 10ft high) were plenty high enough that they can be strung over people's heads out of the way:

    I'm completely convinced that it could all go ahead, and that if it does, it will look really really amazing. I'm also completely convinced that this is the right installation, in the right place, and I'm even more excited than I was before.

    Now I have to do all the paperwork.

    Thursday, 11 March 2010

    Why I love Light Night

    I was asked today why I wanted to take part in Light Night, and why I evidently love it so much, particularly as I've only been once. Well... I could tell you about how it brings communities together, or it advocates the arts, or it promotes the individuality of Leeds, but for me, personally, it’s a little more poetic than that.

    Do you remember when you were at school, and your hormones were raging and everything was either amazing or the end of the world? Remember when, in a particularly vulnerable moment, one of the popular kids spoke to you, a teacher took more than one minute to suss you out, or an older sibling’s friend was nice to you? That overwhelming, all-encompassing, head over heels, falling in love, they’re-the-only-one-who-understands-you feeling you got? That’s how I feel about Light Night.

    I first visited Light Night in 2009, a mere two weeks after I moved to Leeds. I didn’t know Leeds and I didn’t know anyone in Leeds (apart from my husband), and I was feeling unsettled and like a fish out of water. I got lost nearly everyday, and my new job wasn't what I expected. I missed my friends from "back home" and I was scared I'd never fit in "up here".

    I’d seen Light Night on the website before I even moved here and it sounded fun, so I grabbed a booklet and planned. I like planning. I highlighted everything I was interested in in one colour, and passed it to my husband for him to highlight with another. I marked out on a map where everything was, and worked up a timetable. There was even a spreadsheet in time used/enjoyment. We had strict routes to follow, and it was all drawn up into a handy “Light Night” pack that would fit in my pocket. Then on the actual night I wrapped up warm, donned my beret (it was an Art Event, after all), and dragged my husband out.

    First we got lost. Then the performance we’d turned up for either weren’t there, or we’d turned up to the wrong place. Then “while we were there” it was decided (not by me, I had a schedule) to drop in on a couple of events. Then we were hungry, so detoured to a pizza shop.

    We took in about 30-40 events that night, some because we stumbled upon them whilst trying to find somewhere else, and some because you just couldn’t miss them (like giant projections and a travelling theatre). I never got to see the “sea of bunnies” (it was something like a sea of bunnies, I can't remember exactly), but I made a lego animal instead. We lost all sense of direction, but we found half a dozen shortcuts to places we now visit regularly. We felt safe and comfortable in wandering around a strange city because wherever you went there was a Chinese dragon or a vintage tea party.

    Much like that first love, where you start with high hopes and it rarely works out how you expect, Light Night wasn’t what I imagined at all. Rather than Gone With The Wind, I got High School Musical. But for that first night, because of the people involved, Leeds grabbed my hand and dragged me dancing. And just like the first love of your teenage years, it’s something I’ll never forget, and I hope never fades.

    Tuesday, 9 March 2010

    A picture tells a thousand words

    I'm finding a difficulty with photographing the prototypes. I'm not the world's best photographer by any means, and even after spending hours trying to get it right, I'm still getting mixed results, as you can see:

    It's mainly getting enough light that you can see the crane rather than just a glow of light, but without it being blurry or grainy. I vaguely remember ISO and stuff like that from my photography course, which is helping a little, but I'm sure the pictures could be better. This is why I discounted photography as a Light Night proposal!

    And just to prove my non-photographer credentials, here's my "studio" - my wardrobe. See the clothes horse/air dryer thing? That's what I rest the camera on to keep it steady.

    So can anyone suggest hints and tips, that don't involve shelling out thousands on new cameras and such?

    Crane 2.0

    Now I had the paper, LED and the (3v) battery, I could make a proper prototype, one that I could test for longevity, for useability...and mainly for problems.

    I folded a crane from the printer paper, slid in the LED, and pushed the sticks through the top. This presented the first problem - the top of the crane is the weakest point, and I'm basically pushing holes in it. So I need to work on that.

    Then I added the battery to the LED, and wrapped it up in insulation tape. This presented the second problem - the insulation tape is too sticky, and the adhesive was getting between the contact on the LED (the stick! I found out the proper name!) and the battery, which was making the light flicker. Annoying enough for one crane, but can you imagine a whole roomful, all flickering intermittently? So I swapped the insulation tape for sellotape, which worked much better, but was still a little flickery, so that's something else I need to work on.

    However, if you ignore these problems, I have my new, all improved, prototype!

    Overall though, the idea is pretty sound. It seems feasible and feedback so far has been pretty good. I'd like loads more feedback though, so I'm going to put the idea out there a bit more, and if you want to let people know about the blog, and leave comments, I'd be ever so grateful!

    A meeting of minds

    I've just got back from the Initial Planning Meeting for Light Night Leeds.

    It was a bit unnerving, as there were around 40 people there, and most people seemed to have been involved with Light Night before, and a lot of people knew each other; so me on my own with my light up crane prototype (in my bag) felt a bit odd. The Arts and Regeneration Team (who organise the whole thing) went through a lot of stuff, mostly administrative stuff - such as how to apply and what Light Night is all about - and talked about previous years.

    The main thing was that in order to control the size (to make sure that people can see as much as possible) and quality of Light Night, they're limiting the funded events to 30, and the overall events to a maximum of 90. Realistically I need funding to pay for materials, so I really need one of those 30 spots.

    I still have a couple of questions, mainly about the venue arrangements, so I'm going to investigate those - the team were really open and kept saying we should ring or email if we're unsure on anything, and I've been in email contact with one guy in the team already, so I'm going to get those sorted, then I have to get the forms filled in to apply!

    Monday, 8 March 2010

    Light at the end of the tunnel

    The realisation of how much it was going to cost to buy materials had got me down, and I was fed up of reading around trying to work out a way to understand circuitry to get the costs down. I was trying to explain it all to my husband, and he just wasn't "getting" what I was trying to do, so I went to the LED throwie site to show him an example.

    LED throwies don't use 1.5v batteries. They use 3v batteries, meaning you'd only need one to make the LED light up.

    I did know this, but I think I'd discounted it because I couldn't find anywhere in town that sold cheap 3v batteries, whereas I'd managed to pick up a humungous stash of 1.5v ones at Ye Olde Pounde Shoppe. I quickly went onto a few wholesale type battery websites and realised that just because they were around £3-£4 in the shops, didn't mean I couldn't get them cheap. In fact, I could get them cheaper than the AG12s I'd been pricing up, and I'd be using half as many!

    So off I went to my local battery shop (it isn't really a high street battery shop, that would be odd. it sells other things as well. like pens.) ready to shell out the £4 I knew the 3v battery would cost. After all, it was for a prototype. You have to have prototypes, right? There were a few to choose from, and I picked one up, and walked to the counter, and the woman in front of me was asking loads of questions about different styles of attendance registers (the shop sells those too). I waited, and the shopkeeper went and got some catalogues, and they discussed colours. I waited, and she tried to explain what her register was currently like, because she hadn't thought to bring it in with her.

    I'm not the most patient person in the world, and I was getting annoyed that the shopkeeper didn't think to say "I'll just leave you with the catalogue while I serve my next customer", so when she said she didn't know what she wanted, but had a vague idea, I nearly shouted at her. Then I thought, actually, maybe I should check which of these batteries they use for LED throwies, so I know I'm getting the most suitable one, which was pretty much the same as not bringing your register. So I popped the battery back on the shelf, and left. Then I thought I'd nip next door to Another Ye Olde Pounde Shoppe, to pick up supplies for a birthday party, and lo and behold I found a pack of 8 3v batteries for £2. Well, £1.99 actually (it wasn't actually a pound shop, it's just cheap).

    Digging around in my bag whilst waiting for my bus home, I pulled out an LED (I always have LEDs and batteries in my pocket or bag nowadays. I'd be handy in a powercut) and checked the throwie website for the right battery (which luckily came in the pack, because I didn't actually check that), and I popped the two together, and...let there be light! It worked!

    So now I'm back on track! It all seems feasible again!

    Tomorrow is the initial planning meeting for Light Night, which is where I'll find out a lot more (hopefully) about how Light Night works and what I need to be considering in my planning. Then I can put together my proposal...

    Wednesday, 3 March 2010

    Positives and negatives

    I've spent most of my time since the last post testing out batteries. Big ones, little ones, watch batteries and torch batteries; attempting to figure out circuits and safety systems, and how voltage and ampage works. I still can't get my head around creating "strings" of cranes, but I've discovered something: batteries last longer than you'd think.

    I've been using rudimentary circuitry - I've taped the sticks of the LED (still not found out what the correct term for those are) to the batteries. The plus side of this is that it is easy, you can put a tab in (so you can make them up prior to needing them and only activate them when you pull the tab), and there's little danger of electrocuting myself, anyone else, or setting fire to the whole shebang.

    I started a test using AG12 batteries (which are coin batteries, but still relatively small) on Monday, and as of Wednesday night, it is still going strong enough to light up the inside of my crane - in fact it is still as bright as it was when I first connected the batteries up:

    The batteries are only 1.5v (roughly), whereas the LEDs are around 3v, so I need two batteries to each LED. Which means 2000 batteries in all. 2000 batteries. And who knew that batteries are so expensive?

    I'm looking at two options now: figure out another way to do it, or figure out a way to get cheap batteries. Anyone reading this from Duracell?