Origami has been a hobby of mine for over thirty years now. The first origami book I owned (like millions of others) was Teach Yourself Origami by Robert Harbin. I acquired more origami books over the years via car boot sales and library book sales…but then life kind of got in the way. As I got older, I imagined people would not be as impressed by an inflatable origami frog as my primary school friends had been (who am I kidding, I used to make them to impress a girl). The stupid thing is, of course, the odd time I did while away some minutes making something, there was usually a “Wow, you made this??”
Newcastle Origami Club
About ten years ago I started the Newcastle Origami Club. We only ever met once, and I only ever had one student, but through the advert, I did get a couple of interesting enquiries;
“I hope you can offer your help. I am the Art Director on a feature film currently being filmed in the Newcastle area. Part of our story involves a character who produces small origami planes of different varieties. I am useless at this and was wondering if anyone would be willing to make some up to be used in the film? They would be made from random scrap pieces of paper which would be lying around the house. It’s a lovely side story to the film, the little aeroplanes will be dotted around the sets.“
Origami Maker to the Movies!
I’ll confess I had forgotten all about doing this until I thought about writing this article, and it had certainly never occurred to me to seek out the completed film. Best I can guess, I think the film became ‘Bypass’:
“A fractured, poetic narrative tells the story of Tim (George MacKay), a sensitive man unable to cope with the demands of his council estate life, in Duane Hopkins’ haunting film.”
After agreeing to do it, the brief was expanded a bit:
“We are wanting the finished planes to look like they were made 15-20 yrs. ago by the grandad, so they would be quite worn and aged & maybe made from old magazines or newspaper or old notepaper.“
This is a picture of what Lisa ended up with – I used some brown packing paper, a couple of old 80’s comics, and some writing paper. I have to say, it was a lot of fun. I think I got petrol money if I remember rightly, but I was happy enough at the time.
The ‘Neville’ Origami Spitfire
Another thing I was happy with was the fact I had ‘created’ my own origami aeroplane; I called it a spitfire, but really, it’s just a vintage-looking fighter plane. I say created, like most origami I just adapted another design I found online. Still though, I was happy I could make the adaptations! I had a go at making these again today and after FOUR attempts, some ripping, a little frustration I made this:
MORE Origami Film Work
A year or so after the great origami aeroplane caper, I got another email via the club:
“Strange request time. I am an Art Director on BBC1’s costume drama called The Paradise set in 1875 and being filmed just outside Newcastle. We are looking for someone/someone’s to help out with making large origami Birds of Paradise for a shop display. We have all had a go and failed miserably and are in need of some professional help. Do you think your group or yourself help us here? We would supply the paper etc and maybe a small contribution to your club. It’s quite urgent as we need to have the set ready for next Wednesday.“
I was working full-time when this email came in, so I passed it on to a friend who did a wonderful job…for minimum wage.
Why Hobbies are Worthwhile
The debate on when to offer skilled work for little or no money is one for another day; these two jobs show how a hobby can introduce you to different and interesting worlds – so don’t neglect them, and make sure you can be contacted by people who might want to get in touch!
Even though the Newcastle Origami Club only met once, it was a really fun session, and I think the lady enjoyed it. We ran through the classics, and here’s what even a novice can make in the space of an hour (and yes, that is an inflatable origami frog!):
I did run a couple of workshops for kids as well, and a very sweet little girl went away with a garland made of origami pigs. Other than that though, I tend to save my folding for birthdays and Christmases now, but that in itself is enough, because I get the kudos of being creative and thoughtful, while at the same time being extremely cheap (kidding, these things sometimes take me hours and I’d rather buy something ready-made!).
A Load of Junk(s)
While there is an almost infinite number of things you can make with paper, my two favourite origami models are junks and sampans (both boats). They each involve an unusual move in that they either get stretched, or turned inside out. It makes them very good for classes, as until that final move you aren’t sure what it’s actually going to be.
I know I mentioned money-making in the title, but have then downplayed what I actually made – but I think I’ve proved there WAS money to be made from, in my case, origami. Online sites like Etsy and Facebook marketplace have come a long way in the years since I tried to monetise my hobby, and I’ll bet there is a market for ‘bespoke’ origami models now (in fact, I know there is because I’ve just had a look!).
Why not take a look at what other people are doing to monetise YOUR hobby, and maybe you could do the same (only better, right?).