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Origami Bonsai: A Review

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If you love the look of origami flowers, Benjamin John Coleman's Origami Bonsai kit will show you how to make your own beautiful arrangements. Coleman, a former high school math teacher, is a full time origami artist who spends 60 to 80 hours per week making origami bonsai sculptures for sale through his website and Pawtucket, RI studio.

Diversity of Projects

Origami Bonsai includes an instruction book, a companion DVD, and a selection of specially designed papers for your flower folding projects.

Origami Bonsai tells you how to make four leaves, all of which are very simple to fold:

  • Rotundifolius Leaf
  • Ficus Leaf
  • Ivy Leaf
  • Berlin Poplar Leaf

There are six different flowers covered in Origami Bonsai:

  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Primrose
  • Foxglove
  • Buttercup
  • Pumpkin Flower
  • Morning Glory

With the exception of the Black Eyed Susan, all of the flowers are folded using something Coleman calls the basic flower form. The basic flower form is a little like an origami bird base, which is the form used to begin making a classic origami crane.

Coleman encourages readers to put their own spin on the models by combining different flowers and leaves into complex arrangements, offering suggestions for selecting twigs and rocks from your backyard to use for showcasing your work.

Ease of Use

Origami Bonsai devotes a fair amount of time to covering basic concepts, such as how to make a book fold, how to make a collapse fold, and steps you can take to improve the quality of your folds. Nevertheless, this is more of an intermediate level origami book. The leaves and the Black Eyed Susan are fairly easy, but the other flowers can be tricky if you have minimal origami experience. If you've never done any origami before, I suggest going through a collection of basic projects like Coleman's Origami 101 first.

If you have the skills necessary to work your way through the instructions, Origami Bonsai deserves props for providing perfectly designed paper for realistic flower flower folding. I've purchased a few origami flower kits in the past and the paper with this kit is by far the best suited for creating lifelike flowers. I wish you didn't have to take the time to cut the paper down into smaller squares before folding, but I'm assuming that was a production decision to keep the cost of the kit as affordable as possible.

I generally prefer to work off written instructions, but I like it when origami books have DVDs that I can refer to if I get stuck on a particular model.

When I was working through the models, I found it most helpful to work with larger sheets of practice paper before attempting to fold flowers using the paper that is provided in the book. Larger paper allowed me to more easily see where I was going wrong as I attempted to master each step of the project.

Quality of Illustrations

Origami Bonsai is illustrated with diagrams and photos of the different steps in the project. There are also photos of some of Coleman's finished sculptures.

The glow-fold diagrams were a little hard for me to follow because I'm accustomed to working off traditional diagrams or photos illustrating each steps. But, the diagrams are workable if you're also using the DVD and written instructions.

The photos of Coleman's sculptures are beautiful, but it would have been nice to see more photos of projects made using the paper included in the kit so readers could get a realistic look at what they can expect to fold by following the instructions.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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