Show at the GooglePlex

When:  Starting March 22nd, 2017 and continuing until late summer
Where: 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View CA, B43 Lobby Stage/Wall (Google main lobby)

I am incredibly excited to announce that I have been given the honor of being included in Google's GoArt series. Starting on March 22, 2017 and continuing until late summer, I will be displaying a variety of my pieces in the main lobby of the Google campus, right under the spaceship.  The lobby is ideal for showing my art; the space allows for viewing from near and far and the beautiful lighting will bring out the shadows.  A big thank you to Janice Myint and the GoArt program for this amazing opportunity!

On display will be a number of my signature pieces, including:

  • Gravity Well: A piece inspired by the physics concept of the same name.  The icosahedron nestled in a ridge is an impossibility created out of contiguous interconnecting liles.  
  • Lens Flare:  The first large Rokoan origami piece incorporating both lilies and cranes.  I use contrasting colors, scale and shadow to draw your eye along its folds.  
  • Red Cranes:  My largest fold, comprised of 230 interconnected cranes built into a massive, symmetrical shape that creates a field of shadows as impressive as the physical piece itself.

While this show is not open to the public,  I will arrange a few tours during the show, so please contact me at if you would like to be included.

In addition, the evening of March 18th I will be hosting an open studio where you can preview the pieces in this show.  Stop by to see these intricately engineered, expertly constructed, and unbelievably beautiful creations. Public Facebook event at


Celebrate the end of 2016 with new art

To celebrate the completion of my 2016 collection, I am selling one of my green icosahedrons for the cost of materials. Just $125 plus shipping if you aren't close enough to pick it up.  Have your eye on another of my pieces? Use the code 2016collection at checkout for 15% off before 12/31/2016 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

To make it fair to all my friends and fans, near and far, if you are interested in this green icosahedron made with italian paper and mounted in a custom acrylic box, send me a private message or email by 24 hours from now.  I will randomly choose one of you and let you know.  

See the details on this piece in my shop at

You are not the User

My new mantra when designing security systems needs to be "you are not the user."  Below is a link to a great article that includes the kinds of tasks that the different user skill levels can handle. This should be mandatory reading for all who design systems.

"What does this simple fact tell us? You are not the user, unless you’re designing for an elite audience. (And even if you do target, say, a B2B audience of nothing but engineers, they still know much less about your specific product than you do, so you’re still not the user.)"



So happy!

Finally, a successful ridge with no tension issues!  The wider connections allowed me to sculpt the form to a degree the narrow connections never allowed.  


Finally, a breakthrough

Larapinta Study, 2015

Larapinta Study, 2015

Last spring Bill and I took a trip into the center of Australia to hike a portion of the Larapinta trail.  The ancient red and white quartz mountains had the most amazing textures between the giant ferns, skewer-like grasses, and the crystalline rock formations.

For my Larapinta study, I wanted to play with these textures and develop an expanding ridge.   The breakthrough came as I started to cut out the piece. Rather than my usual  1/8 inch connections, I decided to try 5/16 inch instead. That slight change made all the difference. Even though this design has a few connections that take the bulk of the strain, not one broke.  Not one even got close.  

I couldn't be happier as I have finally opened the door that will allow some of my truly complex designs to take physical form.  Time to get back to work.


I have spent the past few months working on a problem with tension in ridge design.  

How to approach the densest of my designs, the ridges?  So many of my upcoming designs are based on this structure, yet I have not yet figured out how to fold it without terrible tension issues.  I have tried folding from the outside-in, inside-out, and even added more pre-folding prior to the connections being cut.  But the one move that requires me to bring the four corners of each lily together (or at least close to it) is simply too hard on the whole structure and it pulls apart.   

After hours of pondering the issue, I am starting to think that I need to find a way to add slits or other points that can open the structure up and allow it to move more locally.  To this end, I stopped fixing breaks so I can analyze the points that need the most tension relieved even though there is no pattern yet.

The hardest part of a fold going badly is that it can be hard to sit down and finish it.  I fear that it will fall apart.  So I procrastinate.  Endlessly.  I read, I clean my place, I sit in front of the fold and simply do not touch it.  

Time to finish this fold and move forward.   


Recently a friend asked me whether I could make a mobile for him out of a few pieces.  Honestly, it had never occurred to me to do so, but the trick was one of simple algebra.  The weight of side A simply needs to equal side B.  I decided to combine three groups of lilies on one side, (one with four, one with five, and one with six lilies) balanced by a large octahedron of butterflies.  

I love the results and I want to add more to this series soon.  So happy.

See the full photos



City lights as waves

We were on a boat at dawn within site of San Francisco through the fog.  The light waves show how the boat moved during the short exposure.  

Fun with Hexagons

This little hexagon is my favorite new design element this year.  Starting as a simple 3X2 rectangle with two splices, it is easy to fold, easy to build into larger designs, and absurdly strong.

I even built them into the corners of my latest fold:

Design Evolution: Nautilus

I have always loved the geometry of shells.  The way a simple curve of calcium carbonate becomes a dome, then the dome curves upon itself to form the interior spaces.  So simple, yet infinitely variable.  

One night in August, in an effort to simplify future designs, I had begun to catalog different shapes and forms.  Of course I couldn't just catalog my known forms and later that evening I sketched a little bridge.   The little bridge caught my attention, but I didn't know how I should use it yet.  Later, on August 21st, the little sketch of a curved bridge became a series of bridges of different lengths/heights connected on the outside.  I had found a segmented dome with outside pivot points.  At this point I started playing with the shape in my head, adding and removing pieces, trying to see what I could do with the shape. 

Of course I found myself unable to sleep that night.  I tossed and turned trying to shake the dome design spinning in my head.  I knew I was close to something, but I felt it was still far away.  Suddenly, long after I should have been asleep, I narrowed one end of my dome, curved it on itself and had a rough nautilus design.  

Since then I have been working on the details.  The angle of the bridge pieces, the sizes of the segments, the angles of the whole, the connection points, the contrasting central ridge of cranes, and so many more.  At one point, stuck on a few of the angles I remembered Montroll and Lang's Chambered Nautilus (I folded one almost a decade ago).  Their design was a crucial shortcut to a few of the more challenging angles.  

Waves 1 Photos

This wave study surprised me.  The structure was so dense that I didn't know if the details would be visible to the viewer and the fold was very technically challenging.

As the outside L-shaped waves took shape, the gold side of the paper exploded from the center.  The geometry of the unfolded paper was so perfect that I decided to leave the center line unfolded.  

Now the paper rests before the final shaping.  


My special hell

My special hell

After the tension failure of the Waves design last month, I embarked on a technique that I have only used in my platonic solids: simultaneous folding.  Simultaneous folding is simply an expanded prefold technique where I further break down the folding process and completely unfold each lily after each step.  This process ensures that tension is kept at a minimum until the final steps of the fold.  

But for me, this long, drawn-out prefold is torturous.  Day after day, I perform the same small set of folds, over and over and over.  108 lilies means that I have been folding 361 petals over 50-60 hours.  All this time I need to pay attention, fold accurately, give the paper frequent rests, and not lose my mind.  Tonight I hope to finish the last of the petals and finally be free to begin the final lily construction.  

Thoughts on failure

Paper failures circled

Paper failures circled

Failure is a necessary part of the process of finding new forms.  Two nights ago while working on Waves I, the paper suddenly gave up on two connection points at once with a pop.  I can repair the connections and complete the fold (after all, learning how to repair connections was a part of learning how to connect), but the failure is important.  

I could expound upon failure as so many blogs have in recent years, but instead I will just say that I see failure as a sign that I am successfully pushing boundaries.  Boundaries are important to my work.  Knowing how far I can push my medium and what types of tension can be managed is crucial to creating structures that I find interesting and that I want to fold.  

Why did the paper fail?  I can think of three reasons:

1.  The original study also had critical tension that resulted in a similar breakdown.  One failure could be a failure of folding technique but two failures of the same essential design is a design issue.

2.  It was a particularly steamy night in San Francisco.  Humidity is not the friend of paper.  A wiser woman might have decided to not fold that evening.  I think that I will move onto a different project while I wait for the weather to change.

3.  I have a growing suspicion that folding 3D structures without collapsing holes is a recipe for fatal tension.  The wave design I am testing is, in many ways, the worst case scenario for this type of tension--only four holes, each lily connected in all corners, over a hundred lilies...    

Yup, failure.  



While I was in Australia earlier this year, I was working on some basic hexagon shapes.  One was a relatively complex icosahedron half and the other was a much simpler rectangle that I folded into six three-sided lilies.  As is almost always the case, the simple rectangle design proved much more versatile and easier to connect to other shapes.  

So during my trip to Buffalo last weekend, I took my sketchbook and looked back at some hexagon designs I created last year using the icosahedron half.  As I suspected, each of those designs were greatly improved by using the rectangle hexagon.  Now I just have to decide which one(s) I want to fold.  

Why fold a design completely out of hexagons?  In order for me to create my more complex pieces, like Lens Flare, I need many different modules and a huge variety of different types of connections.  For the large wave piece that I am working towards, I will need many different 3D shapes and forms AND I need to know how to connect them.  So all of the wave pieces, the hexagons, the platonic solids--all of them are leading towards this future piece.    

Waves II Folding Process

Taking photos of a fold as it progresses both serves to document a failure before it happens and also catalogs the number of unique shapes the paper temporarily takes.  

Waves II started out normally enough.  The top photo shows the paper after the second round of prefolding.  The individual lilies are twisted and deformed from the tension, but overall the model is lying flat.

Now that I am four rows into the final round of folding, the model is now fully 3D.  Rather than chasing the tension to the edge of the paper I decided to transmit the tension inward, where the unfinished lilies could unfurl and twist.  

The second and third photos show that, with four rows completed, the model now resembles some curled-up spiky animal.  That was a surprise.

Waves III Diagram

Finally, a breakthrough.  For over a year I have envisioned folding lilies into waves and ripples that resemble dropping a stone into water.  The challenge has been how to resolve the tension so that the final form does not self destruct within hours or weeks or months.  The trick, as I see it now, is that ripples require at least some remaining tension if the design is to be ideal (that is, with few holes in the paper and few or no splices).  If the wave studies I am already folding work, I will have proven that tension can be balanced through paper prep and the framing process. 

This design is remains too symmetrical but I am getting closer to the image that has hovered, just out of reach, for the past year.  To translate my messy diagram, diagonal intersecting waves form high ridges with lower, slightly rotated depressions between the high ridges.  In the center of each depression is a single lily folded from the reverse side of the paper, creating a spike in the contrasting paper color.  


Circles II

Circles II

In an attempt to speed my process, I have started three folds at once.  The first few steps are all about precision.  The measurements, the prefolding, and the cutting must all be as precise as possible to reduce tension in the final piece.  

Circles II will be a combination of my previous circle design with a 3D hexagon within the center circle.  This design is a study for my next piece.  

Waves I

Waves I

Waves I is the extension of my wave study.  The meeting of the corners still worries me and the overall tension could be problematic but I believe that this design--my densest structure yet-- should work.  



Wave II

Wave II

Waves II is a modified chevron pattern.   This piece depends on the paper withstanding being bent into a tensioned form that will not be at rest when the fold is completed.  I might give this large study a 50% chance for survival.  


Wave Study

Wave Study

I have been working on waves for almost a year now.   Originally the waves were just a few sketches where I tried to create wave-like forms out of my 2D shapes but the designs never satisfied me.  In Australia I was testing two different 3D hexagon designs and I realized that I could take a half-icosahedron, fill in the reductions to elongate the shape, and my current wave design was born.  What I like about this wave design is that it can be convex, concave, or I could even fold it inside out to change the color of the paper.  In the final photo, the wave would continue out of the right and bottom.    

The 90 degree curve in this study was far more difficult to fold than I imagined.  The tensions were so high on the inside of the curve that one of the key central connections needed repair.  As the process of folding reduces each element (here 3 and 4-sided lilies) by around 50%,  it is critical for me to bring the accumulated tension to a point of rest as quickly as possible possible.  After all, my sculptures are held together by tiny paper(!) connections of no more than a few millimeters, so tension is and will always be, my enemy.

The full process photos can be found here!