As I worked on updating and improving my origami facemask, I have also been working on an origami box for packaging the facemask. The box is folded from one single sheet of 80# paper without any adhesive needed. Conceptually, the box presents an unfolding ceremony fo the facemask. Functionally, the box protects the mask during the shipping (the nose bridge aluminum piece shouldn’t be folded flat completely as it will cause the aluminum to break). In addition, it can be reused as a carrying case. See below for more discussions on carrying and storing facemasks.
There are a lot of discussions lately about how to properly put away a facemask when you don’t need to wear it. While there are different opinions regarding whether one should fold the facemask outside face in or inside face out when storing the mask, the common consensus is that the facemask needs to be stored in a separate container to avoid cross-contamination. While the paper origami case can be doubled as a storing case for the face mask, it is a bit fragile. Below I played with the idea of folding and putting away the origami facemask in a pouch made from Olyfun fabric. The more I work on this project, the more I realize that the facemask is not just a mask. It is very unfortunate that we might need to keep the facemask on for longer — COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally and now the west coast is under the immense threat of wildfire — we can at least think about how we can better live with the facemask.
Since NYTimes’s Tara Parker interviewed me about my origami facemask design in early April, I have received many emails inquiring about the origami mask design from all around the world. Many people have sent me photos of the masks they made using various materials; however, the mask project was significantly slowed down as two of the manufacturers I had been working with forfeited the project in June — I won’t said it had nothing to do with the nonchalant rhetoric regarding mask wearing in the U.S. Recently, the origami facemasks gained some momentum again with various new interests. Here I will give an update on my latest design which will soon be going through alpha testing by a start-up company.
In my previous blog, I discussed the concept of an app that will allow people to upload pictures of their faces to get the right sizing for a custom-fit mask (I have developed eleven different sizes to fit various face widths and face lengths). This project is still under development. I have recently been working in Python and OpenCV to understand how to measure facial landmarks, and consulted a computer vision expert at Indiana University on the feasibility of the project. I hope to wrap up the development in October.
The new mask has many improved features. Aesthetically, the original stapler technique has been replaced by heat-sealing (the mask is still a no-sew mask to avoid tiny holes in the fabric as the result of sewing) and plastic snap buttons (the color of snap buttons match the many color choices of the Oly-fun fabric).
After wearing my own DIY masks this summer, I realized that there are two features I really need to improve: comfort and reusability. The original ear loop design, which causes discomfort behind the ears after wearing a mask for more than an hour, is now replaced with a single long loop that threads through the upper and lower borders of the mask and wraps around behind the neck. The single long elastic loop helps secure the mask tightly around the face.
For the reusability aspect, I want to be able to disinfect the origami mask at home just like a regular cotton mask. I have looked at many different kinds of materials other than cotton, finally arriving at Oly-fun fabric, a type of fabric made of non-woven polypropylene (PP), for the outer layer. Oly-fun fabric is similar to the fabric used in a typical surgical mask but a lot heavier and stiffer, with a weight of 65 GSM, making it suitable for the folding application. In addition, it is water repellent and breathable. For the inner layer, I use another type of PP that is thinner, smoother, and more comfortable when placed next to the skin. A disposable filter is inserted between the two PP fabrics and is made of melt-blown material that has more than 98 percent Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (I received a donation of the melt-blown material from Derek Yurgaitis of the Meltblown Technologies based in Georgia). The melt-blown filter material is very fragile and can’t be washed in any way, and the PP fabrics can’t be placed in the washer (hand-washing the PP fabrics with soap is OK). However, the PP can be disinfected in boiling water as the PP’s melting point is higher than 100 Celcius.
I have been working on prototypes for origami facemasks, or Fold-a-Face mask, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The early iterations of the design were published by IU Research and by various national and local news media include NY Times, Herald Times, Indianapolis Monthly, etc. Since then I have been working with multiple industry partners on improving the design. One of the ideas is to make the origami masks custom-fit to individual faces. Below I will show a few conceptual ideas related to custom-fit origami masks.
The Fold-A-Face mask is based on origami techniques. Choose the textures, colors, and folding styles that suit you best. It is folded from a single sheet of material and it can be flat packed for easy carrying.
How does it work?
Take a digital side view photo of your face using the Fold-A-Face app. (Out of privacy concerns, the Fold-A-Face app will create a photo showing only the silhouette of your facial profile, not the details of your face).
Upload the photos to Fold-A-Face through the Fold-A-Face app and it will come up with the custom pattern that best fits your face.
Choose the colors and folding patterns that best reflect your style.
Ford-A-Face masks are also available with three different folding choices to accentuate your facial structure. For each of the unique patterns, you can fold in three different ways to fold a face mask: Triangle, Square, and Diagonal. The Triangle fold gives your face a more cheerful appearance, the Square fold gives your face a more composed appearance, and the Diagonal Fold gives your face a more uplifting appearance. Fold-A-Face to suit your own style and mood!
Fold-A-Face masks are offered in a variety of hues, shades, and tints, as well. Choose anything, from jewel turquoise to Alice blue. Fold-A-Face uses three-layer materials to provide you protection again viruses and germs. The outer layer is an elastomeric nylon fabric that has a negative triboelectric effect and is hydrophobic, the middle layer is a filtration media that is consistent with the BFE95 material found in normal surgical masks, and the inner layer is material that is soft to your face and is hydrophilic.
Ruga Ribbons is a 14 feet tall permanent sculpture commissioned by Rowland Design for Liberty Fund library that is located in Indianapolis. “Ruga” is the Latin word for making winkles, creases, pleats, and folds. Inspired by the use of winkling and folding in the material as a primary genesis of artistic forms, Ruga Ribbons is a digitally-precise form created from flat sheets of corrugated plastic material that mimics fabric-like ribbons. Suspended in the void of the main stairwell, Ruga Ribbons creates an ever-changing visual experience for people who come to interact with it as they move up and down the staircase.
The building architecture and art displayed in the building, which was designed by Rowland Design, provided the initial inspiration for Folded Light Art’s use of abstract geometry. Folded Light Art then worked with Ignition Art, a fabricator and installer, on solving issues associated with unrolling a couple of hundred unique panels for digital cutting and assembly. These unique panels were then connected in order to create the two ribbons that are intertwined with one another.
Ruga Ribbons installation
Ruga Ribbon installation
See the above for a stop-motion movie, showing the installation-in-progress a wonderful crew from Ignition Arts, a designer/fabricator based in Indianapolis.
Tempa, Florida. Ruga Swan has been touring in the United States and Canada in the past five years. It has been to 13 museums so far. Many thanks to the Museum of Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Florida and International Art and Artists staff who did a great installation for this!
Recently I had an opportunity working with two great local artists who have a lot of experiences in public art: Lucas Brown and Brian McCutcheon. As a team, we proposed a public art, entitled Orix, for the Bloomington Trades District. Orix is inspired by naturally occurring origami folds. ‘Ori’ means fold in Japanese and ‘X’ refers to both the seed of the origami folds and the ambiguous, futuristic, and bionic form that results from the folding and distorting process. In nature, folding can be seen everywhere, and for some scientists, nature, at both the macroscopic and microscopic level, ‘folds’ rather than ‘builds.’ Through the manipulation of folds, colors, light, and its conversation with the people who come to experience it, Orix, as a mystical being, actively engages, encloses, protects, and connects the Trades District site and the community.
Light, if rendered into art, must be transmitted and transformed through multiple materials. Non-material light, either emitted or reflected, interplays with a material surface that is folded from thin aluminum sheets and perforated with generative patterns inspired by Indiana limestone fossils. When light interacts with the mountains and valleys of the perforated surface, it is transmitted and reflected through the porosity of the colored aluminum. The folded form anchors to the ground plane through a series of similarly faceted limestone benches.
The design draws from local inspiration at multiple scales. The color palette pulls from the interplay between autumn foliage, sky, and water. The folded form references the order and chaos found in piles of discarded limestone in area quarries, while the porosity is inspired by overlapping crinoid patterns.
The generative seed of Orix is a triply periodic bi-foldable mathematical surface that is the result of a collaboration between IUB mathematician Matthias Weber and artist/designer Jiangmei Wu. The DNA of the surface is an ‘X’ shaped vertex that can be aggregated in three-dimensional space. Through a process of adding, subtracting, folding, and distorting, Orix can be generated and optimized into various potential solutions based on artistic compositions, engineering analyses, and community engagement.
A folding workshop and collaborative ideation session will be used to familiarize community members with the form-making process and to allow participants to provide design input. The artist team will use feedback from the session to help define the final location, form, pattern, and colors.
Our proposal is one of the five finalists selected to present proposals to the city of Bloomington. We are seeking public comments. Feel free to leave us feedback here:
In March 2018, I worked with two contractors and a group of volunteers to move the Synergia installation from the North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana to the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The volunteers included my former students Tristin Moore and Siqiao Gao, and Bloomington High School South students Dexter Wu-corts and Levy Burdine. The site was the nice and quiet green space between the Simon Hall, Chemistry building, the Lindley Hall, and the Kirkwood Hall. It took us about four days to complete the job. While Synergia was originally designed for the site at the North Christian Church designed by Eero Saarinen, it also fitted well on IUB campus. The white pristine geometry worked in contrast with the Collegiate Gothic style structures in the background. The installation definitely had caught the eyes and curiosities of students and faculty who happened to walk by the area. For one instance, Molecular and Celluar Biochemistry professor Adam Zlotnick took his entire class to see the pavilion as Synergia’s cellular structure resembled the viruses they had been study. For anther instance, biology student Ari Williams, found peace and serenity in the pavilion while playing some guitar. He was amazed at how the cellular structure enhanced the acoustic experience in the outdoor on windy spring days (video above, shot with a iphone).
The doubly periodic Miura pattern was named after Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura, and is a well-known origami pattern for its rigid and flat foldabilities and its ability to deploy and retract in a restrictive way. Miura pattern is also known as rigid origami, which is concerned with folding structures using flat rigid sheet material with certain thicknesses, such as metal, wood, plastic, etc, that are joined by hinges. Rigid origami has also studied as Thick origami by Tomohiro Tachi. In this article, he proposed using a new method called Tapered Panels in addition to Hoberman’s symmetric Miura-ori vertex method and Trautz and Kunstler’s Slidable Hinges method. Recently, Tomohiro Tachi and Tom Hull presented Double-line rigid origami as an extension of the crease offset method of thick rigid origami.
Interestingly, Miura surface can also be understood as a generalized example of bi-foldable infinite polyhedral complexes, or zonohedra, that are bounded by parallelograms. Similar to the weaving of a cube or other zonohera that has been studied by artist Rinus Roelofs, a polyhedron weaving technique can be used to construct these polyhedral complexes. A Miura surface can therefore be woven by strips of paper (see a diagram below), or thick materials such as corrugated cardboard. More images below show the added thickness and the stylization to the woven Miura surface in 4 mm thick corrugated cardboard. It was interesting to learn that weaving Miura surface with thick and rigid panels is a lot easier than adding thickness to the Miura origami panels.
I have been collaborating with mathematician Matthias Weber on a new class of infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes. Currently, our initial result has been published at: https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.01698. I would like to showcase two examples of triply infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes: Butterfly and Dos Equis. I made Butterfly and Dos Equis using a polyhedral weaving technique. The material is Mi Teintes paper. I’m also including two nice rendered videos made by Weber.
To learn more about the mathematics (explained in layman’s terms by Weber) behind these fun infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes, or the process of how we found them, I encourage you to visit Weber’s blogs here:
Butterfly has three vertex types: valency 4, 6, and 8. Butterfly is named after the vertex of valency 8 as it resembles a symmetrically balanced butterfly. This vertex is translated to create the triply periodic construction. Butterfly is made using a polyhedral weaving technique that employs a four-color complementary scheme. Each color represents a distinctive zone using the concept of zonohedron proposed by H.S.M. Coxeter. Each face is alternated and interwoven by two zones of two colors. A few deviations from the regularity are inserted to create the rhythmic changes.
There are three vertex types in Dos Equis: two of valency 4 and one of valency 8. Dos Equis is named after the vertex of valency 8 as it resembles the image of an X. Using a four-color complementary scheme, each color represents a distinctive zone using the concept of zonohedron proposed by H.S.M. Coxeter. Each zone, using two unique unit patterns, is then folded and interwoven with other zones. Notice that the four colored zones, with its two unit patterns, and its under or over weaving alternations, create a total of sixteen design variations for the quadrilateral faces.
Installed on the site of Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Synergia is a public pavilion by the students of the IU School of Art, Architectuare + Design in Bloomington, who were directed by me in my D475 design studio in Spring 2017 and in the summer of 2017 as volunteers. The graduate students of the IUPUI School of Engineer and Technology in Indianapolis, directed by Professor Andre Tovar and myself in our ME59700 course in Spring 2017 on designing complex origami-inspired structures, also participated at this project by conducting the structural analysis and optimization. Synergia is open to the public at Exhibit Columbus between August 26th and November 26th, 2017 in Columbus, Indiana.
Synergia embodies the reality of life, community, and harmony through its simple parts working together to create a complex and light-filled space. Sitting next to Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, the translucent quality of the light found in Synergia in the daylight alludes to the hushed secondary light radiating from the perimeter of Saarinen’s structure. Colored LEDs further illuminate Synergia at night, creating an ephemeral atmosphere as Saarinen’s concrete façade serves as a backdrop. The interplay of light and shadow, acting in conjunction with the movements of compression and expansion, creates a space that fosters peace and reflection.
The generative seed for Synergia is a bisymmetric space-filling polyhedron that tessellates the space when stacked in interlocking layers. Over five hundred of the polyhedrons, measuring about two to three feet each, work together to form elongated hexagonal units. This hexagon geometry echoes the overall geometry of Saarinen’s mid-century modernist architecture and at the same time serves as the building block of a complex and diverse structure in a way that is similar to the development of biological forms, soap bubbles, and crystal patterns.
Synergia is constructed of translucent corrugated plastic sheets that are made from recycled plastic and are one hundred percent recyclable. The plastic boards were laser cut at Noblitt Fabricating in Columbus Indiana and then hand folded like origami to form each of the structural units in the studio at IU. The origami folds add the structural strength to the otherwise light and flexible plastic sheet material without the need for additional framing and assemblage. These units were then bolted together to create the overall installation. The fold lines of each unit thus form an interconnected space lattice that is light and yet structurally sound.
Students scoring the plastic board using a template by hand..
Special thanks: I would like to thank many individuals, including my colleagues at IU SoAAD (Kelly Wilson, Marleen Newman, Peg Faimon, Ryan Mandell, Tai Rogers), Exhibit Columbus members (Janice Shimizu, Josh Coggeshall, Anne Surak and Richard McCoy), community members of Columbus (Tricia Gilson, Jerry Karr, and “Bill” who lives near the North Christian Church and who is helping to ensure that the lights are on every night), and my most dedicated students Tristin Moore and Guanyao Li. Thank you all very much for helping with this project during its ideation, fabrication, construction, and installation process.