Review: Origami Bonsai


Origami Bonsai is the art of embellishing natural stone and wood bonsai plant structures with colorful folded paper leaves and flowers to create strikingly realistic bonsai displays. Ben Coleman’s kit and instructional guidance allow even the fledgling origamist to achieve exquisite results.

The creation of a bonsai display begins with the selection of the ideal combinations of stones and twigs, either from your own yard or a nearby park or recreation or wilderness area. The stone you select becomes the anchoring base for your bonsai, and the various branchlets or twigs you settle on become the articulated trunk and branches of your final bonsai plant. You would therefore do well to select an appealing stone — one with character and interesting visual aspects of texture and color. Likewise, more interesting twigs or branchlets — those that turn or twist or have unusual growth patterns — will generally lead to a more felicitous final composition.

Your plant’s ‘trunk’ can be easily secured to its anchor stone by means of hot glue, in whatever fashion most pleases the eye. You may also wish to conceal any application of hot glue with paint matched to the colors of your stone or trunk. Then you can proceed with planning and arranging the eventual leaves and flowers to be attached to the bonsai structure’s trunk and branches. Here the author offers effective guidance in achieving the most naturalistic and realistic arrangements. Mr. Coleman also provides very useful tips in the fine handiwork necessary to properly trim and prepare twigs and braches to receive leaves and flowers, and in attaching leaves and flowers in the most artful fashion.

However, the greatest savings of time and energy for the beginning origamist is provided by the vari-colored folding papers contained in the kit, along with Mr. Coleman’s effective instructions in folding. His ‘glow-fold’ technique simplifies the learning process for the beginner, reducing trial and error. It thereby facilitates the ready creation of a variety of attractive flowers and leaves, while the fully colored papers lend natural tones to the finished products.

The author was instrumental in creating the many different patterns and colors of included folding paper, to insure the most attractive and realistic depictions of true flowers and leaves in the resultant bonsai.

Origami Bonsai is a complete origami instructional kit, containing a 64-page step-by-step color guidebook, an informative DVD of over 3 hours duration, and patterned papers sufficient to produce over 400 flowers and leaves for your own origami bonsai. Guidance is offered for 8 different flower forms and 4 different leaf types. The entire kit measures 8.5” x 8.5” x 1.5” (216 mm x 216 mm x 38 mm).

The kit is published by Tuttle Publishing, an imprint of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., of North Clarendon, VT, and Tokyo, and is available in North America, Latin America, Europe, Pacific Asia and Japan from Tuttle Publishing and its affiliates. A brief history of Tuttle Publishing and its origins occupies the instruction booklet’s rear page.

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