After nearly an hour of folding and unfolding, it was time for the final step to turn Joan Smith’s black-and-white plaid paper into an origami creation.
But as the 68-year-old from Westerville struggled to nestle the valley and mountain folds onto one another, a fellow folder came to her rescue: 11-year-old Daniel Sechel of Amherst in northeastern Ohio.
The two strangers maneuvered their hands around one another until the paper collapsed into place, forming a hexagonal box.
“I’m amazed that I could fold it,” said Smith, who has done origami on and off for 20 years. “Once I make it once, I make 100 of them and give them all away.”
More than 150 origami enthusiasts, or “folders,” as they like to call themselves, will spend their weekend at the Marriott Columbus Northwest at the 10th CenterFold Ohio Origami Convention. Attendees learn new techniques in step-by-step seminars and by mingling with other folders from all over the world.
An exhibit room showcasing ornate origami creations — think thousands of centimeter-tall paper cranes threaded together to form a dream catcher, or a 4-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex folded from a single sheet of paper — is open to the public for the weekend.
John Skully is the vice president of Ohio Paper Folders, a central Ohio origami club sponsoring the convention. His wife, Monica Salisbury, founded the group 14 years ago.
“There are only a handful of artists who make a living on origami,” Skully said. “It’s more of an obsession.”
John Herrity, 39, of Roselle, Illinois, drove in at 3 a.m. Friday for the convention. It’s his second year attending. He’s been folding since he was 14.
“For me, it’s more about the people, the designers,” he said. “It’s the intricacy and complexity within the simplicity of building to a final step and knowing you can get to that.”
Classes range in difficulty from beginner to “super complex,” and one-third of the classes are taught by noteworthy origami artists such as Sipho Mabona, Giang Dinh and Talo Kawasaki. The other classes are taught by convention attendees.
Joshua Crawford, 13, of Chicago, taught a class at last year’s convention. His family is back again this year in what has become a family tradition.
Crawford has his 52-year-old father, Richard Crawford, to thank for his passion for the craft of folding: The elder Crawford attended his first convention at age 20.
“I give away 99% of what I fold,” Richard Crawford said. “If there are nervous people on a flight, I give them a flying bird. And every time I fold a duck for a flight attendant, the flight lands safely, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
The convention runs until 5 p.m. Sunday at the Marriott Columbus Northwest, 5605 Blazer Parkway on the Northwest Side. The exhibition room is free and open to the public.