Orikane Guest Interview With Money Origami Expert John Montroll
John Montroll mastered his first origami book, Honda’s How to make Origami, at the tender age of six, the same age he began creating his own origami animals. He became a member of the Origami Center of America at age twelve and attended his first origami convention at age 14. John now teaches mathematics at St. Anselm’s Abbey School in Washington, D.C, teaching small groups of advanced math students, AB and BC Calculus.
John pioneered modern origami with the publication of his first book, Origami for the Enthusiast; Dover Publications, 1980, which was the first origami book where each model is folded from single square sheet and no cuts.In the same book he also introduced the origami term “double rabbit ear fold”.
1) On your web site you say that you started learning origami when you were six years old, what inspired you to do so?
Actually, I was 4! A neighbor taught me some simple origami. When I was 6 I purchased some origami books and it was easy to follow the diagrams. However, I don’t remember folding when I was 4.
2) Your first book was published 30 years ago in 1980 and was called “Origami For The Enthusiast” and in this book your introduced the term ‘double rabbit ear fold’. This changed the face of Origami and influenced folders and designers around the world which in itself is truly remarkable. When you first published the book did you foresee the impact that you would make?
I knew there was nothing like my work back then. I attended conventions and met several folders so I had a sense that I was doing something new. Several Japanese folders told me that my style, of breaking away from the traditional folds, creating new bases, and doing all without cutting or multiple sheets, inspired them to develop origami. I had no idea what the impact would be, but I am very glad!
3) You have a long list of books that are published now and we recommend to our readers to get a copy of all of them. Out of all of these books though, have you one that you are especially proud of?
Tough question. Each book has its own theme, making each interesting in its own way. I did put a lot of work into my recent book Origami Polyhedra Design, which includes some math sections along with diagrams for 64 models. But I enjoyed working on all the books.
4) Your books are packed full of interesting and amazing folds, does any single fold stand out as being a personal favorite of yours?
Also a tough question. I do like the horse in Origami Sculptures, partly because at the time it was a quite a breakthrough in development. When Master Akira Yoshizawa saw it, he kept repeating “Is it really from one square?!” I have it memorized and can fold it pretty quickly. When I meet someone (who doesn’t know about my origami) I typically fold them the horse.
5) What other money origami artists inspired you along your way.
I learn from everyone!
6) Are you working on anything at the moment that you would like to share with us?
I am working on a ton of projects. My first app, Dollar Origami, came out recently. I plan to do more apps and other electronic methods and see the future heading in that direction. (As I tell my high school students who carry heavy book bags: that will soon be history!) I also have a line of Dover books to come soon. Indeed one will be Easy Dollar Origami (scheduled for May 2010).
7) Have you ever left a money fold as a tip, if so what did you make and where did you leave it.
To add a bit more: I enjoy developing origami and always look for new ideas. Some time ago my work was considered complex, though today it is more of an intermediate level, and intended to bridge the beginner to develop to whatever level they inspire. I do try to make my models accesable to the mainstream folder, and consider that to be a good quality of origami.
I have all kids of animals, found in many books, including color change models. When I came out with Origami Inside-Out (models showcasing the color and white side), at first I did not know how to title the book. A friend came up with “Origami Inside-Out” and “Both Sides of Origami”. I am glad I chose the Inside-Out title, and folders now refer to such models as origami inside-out. I have a line of dollar bill folds, some in books and the app, with more to come. I have a large collection of polyhedra, each from a single uncut square (three polyhedra books and more to follow).
I am always happy when people fold my work! It is also good to see origami continue in so many directions.
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