World Origami days: #17 – I’m Dreaming of an Origami Christmas


Despite the warm weather, it’s getting to be that time of year again…  In less than two weeks, my parish will have it’s annual Christmas Fair fundraiser.  I’m hoping to contribute some origami christmas decorations to the wares on sale!  Last year, I made all of my Christmas tree ornaments out of origami, so I may make a few more for the fair. However, my focus is on making an origami crèche.

Back when I was in my early teens, I used to make and sell origami crèches using the designs by Ligia Montoya (found in Robert Harbin’s book “The Secrets of Origami“, the first origami book I remember owning) supplemented with a few additional models, such as the three kings (based on Montoya’s basic design for the other figures), a camel, etc.  Nowadays I generally prefer making my own desgins, so a few years ago I came up with my own models for the principle figures of the crèche: Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, an angel, and ox and a donkey.

However, the last time I did those models was several years ago, and the designs could still use some improvement. So, I spent some time yesterday and today remembering the design and trying to make some modifications. I have only worked through Mary and Joseph so far.

On the left: the models I made a few years ago with tissue foil.

In the middle: the working models I used to remember and try to improve the design. You can tell they were used for experiments – they look a bit frazzled…

On the right: the model of Mary remains unchanged. I tried a few things to add detail to the face, but they didn’t really work well. I think Joseph looks better with the beard. (I think most men look better with beards, but that’s another question completely. Joseph is usually portrayed with a beard, which was my motivation here.) I think they will look better when folded from tissue foil.

I don’t need to make changes to the angel, the Baby Jesus, and the crib, which I think are satisfactory. I do need to do some work on the donkey and the ox – mostly, remembering the details of the donkey design, and figuring out how to make the animals in the right sizes to be proportionate to the other figures.

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About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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7 Responses to World Origami days: #17 – I’m Dreaming of an Origami Christmas

  1. Gail Green says:

    Joseph still needs a staff imho. Also, if you don’t have and would like to see the originals you sold, I have a set. God bless all of you on the occasion of the Christmas Fair. Hard work comes first. Then I wish fun and much profit to you all! Our bazaar for St. Joseph’s is Dec 3. We are preparing baskets for raffles and all sorts of goodies. I love Christmas and I love the church community as we share projects. About now I feel like I should be saying, “And world peace.”

  2. CMSmith says:

    I’m very impressed that you can do all this. The creche figures are wonderful.

  3. Olivia says:

    Oh, I remember the beautiful Christmas Tree from last year, didn’t know it was your creation that beautified it!

    I do like the ones on the left, (with the tissue foil creases, I know how difficult it is to fold with that material).. and Joseph with his staff, of course, minus the beard… Can’t agree with you on the beard part… 😛

    Now, I don’t wanna sound like a critic, buttttt… Joseph on the right…reminds me of a cloistered nun, maybe you could work on him too !!! 😦

    • Are you saying that cloistered nuns have beards? ;-). Really though, what about it looks like a nun, that is different from the one on the left? The only thing that changed is the head. The other differences in shape are due to the lesser malleability of the “kami” paper as compared to the tissue foil. Please do let me know, because one reason I posted this is precisely for constructive criticism…

      • Olivia says:

        Lolz 🙂

        With regards to Joseph on the extreme right, his beard looks a lot like a nun’s “guimpe”… (to me) maybe if you could shorten it’s broadness a bit it might work. The bearded Joseph in the center has a tiny white gap on the face, which I feel is fine. Hopefully you will be joining the edges of his cloak, like the one on the extreme left…???

        If you’ve noticed the ancient Jews wore some kind of a narrow band over their headgear, sort of a “fillet”…. I suppose [not the food… 😛 ] somehow if you could add that too!!

      • Hmm. I think the “guimpe” effect may be due to the angle and 2D perspective of the image. When seen in 3D, I think it looks more “beardy” than “guimpy”. The white gap doesn’t look bad in the photo, but in real life, it is because the two halves of the beard are lifting a bit off his face, which makes it look like he’s wearing a centurion-style helmet with cheek protectors…
        Yes, I will be joining the edges of his cloak. That works well with the tissue foil, not so well with the plain paper. I might be able to work in something fillet-ish – that’s a good idea.
        Thanks!

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