After a fairly slow period north of the border, we have recently had three public events in the space of only a few weeks.  The first was a request for a static display for a shop window during the annual Helensburgh Blossom Festival.  This was then rapidly followed by a display and teaching stand at “Japan Day” organised jointly by the Scottish Japanese Society and the Edinburgh University Japanese Society. One week later we had another, slightly larger display and teaching stand at the annual fair to mark the opening of the Japanese Garden at Laurieston Castle in Edinburgh. 

As many of you are no doubt aware, whilst great fun to do, there are some pitfalls in doing these events, some expected, and some less so.  Problems with rocky/rough surfaced tables, awkward locations, unexpected breezes etc are only to be expected.  Lots of grubby little fingers (courtesy of the paper making stand), audio competition from Japanese Drum bands whilst teaching, and last, but by no means least, a shower of rain, are some of the less predictable hazards. (The Laurieston Castle display was in the open air!)


However, the major dichotomy I have noted from these events in is that whilst we strive to provide a display to attract the eye, and to impress the casual observer, ideally with a few “wow” factor entries.  We then spend large amounts of time trying to explain that it’s “not that difficult really”, or that it’s just a matter of a little time and patience.  We can ever go so far as to demonstrate, in general terms, how some of the more complex models are folded.


Regrettably, whilst most adults understand that “not that difficult really” actually means lots of time, practice, considerable effort, and a lot of failed attempts, most children don’t! Thus whilst we are happy to teach people of all ages who “want to have a go” we are constantly faced with having to explain to 5/6 year olds, “I’m sorry, but I cannot show you how to fold your own Pegasus in five minutes - and certainly not from a six inch square!” (If ever, to be honest since I didn’t fold it in the first place!)


Once they have tried one of the simple models we teach at these events though, most people will begin to gain a better understanding of just what has to go into creating the more complex display models.


My ultimate moment though, was when I was asked, very politely, by a 7-8 year old if I could show her how to fold a crane, rather than a flapping bird. Um!


All of a sudden, “Not that difficult really!” takes on a whole new meaning when your brain traitorously refuses to remember the necessary folds!


Written by Martin Quinn, first published in BOS Magazine issue 239 August 2006.

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