Sunday, May 19, 2013

Origami Interlude: Rafaelita

To catch up with my monthly series of Origami Interludes, this month I folded two pieces using a module designed by Lukasheva Ekaterina of

The Rafaelita Module

Both pieces were created using the Rafaelita Module, which is folded from a square piece of paper. I went total bling and used a textured gold foil paper for these modules, cut into 3" squares. Foil paper is a double-edged sword to work with; it makes very crisp, clear creases that are easy to see and manipulate. However, once a crease is made in foil paper, it's there for good, so it's much less forgiving of errant creases compared to more fibrous papers such as washi.

Here's what one individual Rafaelita Module looks like after it's folded:

The 12-Unit Kusudama

For the first completed kusudama, I wanted to test out the Rafaelita unit before folding all thirty pieces called for in the original pattern, so I folded and connected twelve Rafaelita modules together using the symmetry of a cube. I found the individual modules pretty straightforward to fold, but the joints were much tricker to do correctly than I had previously thought; the pockets have to be almost completely unfolded before the tabs can be inserted, and then additional creases are made in the tabs as they are enclosed by the pockets. However, no adhesives are needed to keep the finished Rafaelita constructions together. Here's what the 12-unit construction looks like:

It's slightly smaller than a baseball:

The 30-Unit Kusudama

Once I was comfortable with the 12-unit construction, I folded thirty Rafaelita Modules for the 30-unit construction. This kusudama uses the symmetry of the dodecahedron, and I really like how its shows a floral motif on each side. I also like how none of the white backside of the foil paper is visible in the completed construction.

The 30-unit construction is a bit larger than the baseball:

I think both pieces will make gorgeous Christmas ornaments!

Same Unit, Different Symmetries

I can't count the number of times that I've used this same process to explore a new origami module. First, I'll fold the individual module. Then, I'll try the 12-unit construction. Finally, once I'm comfortable with that, I'll move on to the 30-unit construction, and sometimes I'll try other combinations of units. As Ekaterina shows in the gallery of her website, this series can be extended to 60, 90, and even 120-unit pieces!

Have you noticed the same strategy in my beadwork?

A free diagram and how-to video for the Rafaelita Module is available at Check out some of my previous interludes into paper origami here.

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