If you are interested in the history of origami you may find yourself wondering about the connection between Samuel Randlett and the legendary Akira Yoshizawa. Samuel Randlett, an American origami artist, helped to refine the diagramming system first introduced by Akira Yoshizawa. Today, this system is known as the Yoshizawa-Randlett system. It provides a way for folders to communicate how to make their creations without worrying about language barriers or unclear written instructions.
A Brief Biography
Samuel Randlett was born on January 11, 1930. He became interested in origami in 1958, when he was 28 years old. After just one year of folding, he had figures on display at the Copper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration in New York.
Randlett published The Art of Origami in 1961. The Art of Origami was later followed by publication of The Best of Origami. Both books are considered important contributions to the advancement of paper folding in the United States. The Yoshizawa-Randlett system was first described in The Art of Origami.
From 1969 to 1976, Sam Randlett edited a newsletter called The Flapping Bird. The newsletter issues were later compiled into a book. The Flapping Bird was significant in the history of origami because it served as a way to connect people with similar interests. With the plethora of origami websites that we have access to today, it is easy to forget that at one time paper folders learned their craft mostly through trial and error.
Randlett's published models include many animals, such as an angel fish, brontosaurus, butterfly, camel, dove, duck, fish, snapping fish, song bird sea turtle, and rooster. He also created designs for an African mask, Trojan horse, Christmas ornaments, and presentation box.
It has been reported that Randlett's favorite origami model is the flapping bird design that he created. When you pull on the bird's tail, the wings flap to add an interactive element to the design. You can view instructions for Randlett's flapping bird in a Google Books excerpt from Robert J. Lang's Origami in Action.
Unfortunately, Randlett's books are no longer in print. However, you can buy used copies from third party sellers on Amazon.
In addition to writing books, Randlett also created a series of origami classes for public television during the 1960s and 1970s.
Sharing Origami With Others
Origami was something of a family pastime for Randlett. His first wife Jean continued diagrams to The Flapping Bird and did illustrations for his several of his books. His daughter, Susan, also help create models for his work.
Although many noted paper folders like to participate in origami clubs and associations, Randlett seems to be a bit of an introvert. He has worked with noted origami figures such as Lillian Oppenheimer, Neale Elias, Robert Neale, John M. Nordquist, and Robert Harbin, but generally does most of his folding alone. In an article by Terry Lorbiecki of the Wauwatosa News-Times in Wisconsin, Randlett said "Every sizable city has a club and there are national and international gatherings. Do I go? No. . . I like to stay at home. "
Avid paper folders often compare the art of origami to painting or making music. There may very well be a link between origami and other forms of creative expression, since it seems like many paper folders also engage in other artistic pursuits.
In addition to his origami work, Sam Randlett is an accomplished musician. He studied music theory at Northwestern University and worked as a music professor for many years.