Articles and Tutorials

Basic Twists for Origami Tessellations

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Basic Twists for Origami Tessellations

The easiest way to get started folding tessellations is with grid-based tessellations using pleat intersections (like Spread Hexagons in Origami Tessellations by Eric Gjerde) and then practicing the basic twists to start folding tessellations one twist at a time.

The freedom in starting from a grid and folding one twist at a time is that any one of hundreds (or thousands) of patterns can be folded from that grid.

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Tiling-Based Origami Tessellation Design

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Tiling-Based Origami Tessellation Design

Origami tessellations are infinitely repeating patterns folded from a single sheet of paper.

My designs are in the twist-based style and I fold my patterns one twist at a time whenever possible.

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Advent of Tess 2023

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Advent of Tess 2023

Advent of Tess has become a beloved holiday tradition, with a new mini tessellation pattern tutorial released every day from December 1st through Christmas Day.

This year’s patterns were completely new, with no overlap with Advent of Tess 2022, and introduced trapezoid twists too!

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Tessellation Garden - a Living Library of Origami Tessellation Designs

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Tessellation Garden - a Living Library of Origami Tessellation Designs
Tessellation Garden is a collection of all of my origami tessellation designs, arranged in a portal with sorting by tiling and sorting by twist difficulty and structural complexity.

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OrigamiUSA Teaching Award 2023

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

OrigamiUSA Teaching Award 2023
When I started folding origami, I was completely unaware that people were making new designs all the time and I would have been blown away to learn that there are national organizations in many countries devoted to promoting and teaching origami.

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Advent of Tess: a taste of Tessellations

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Advent of Tess: a taste of Tessellations

Many origami folders have been admiring tessellations from afar for years, intimidated by the apparent difficulty and the length of preparation needed just to get started. Others have dabbled in tessellations with live classes at in-person or online conventions and books, but come away frustrated because they get lost and can’t continue or the instructions are unclear or they aren’t able to recreate what they folded live, much less extend it to fold more repeats. Folders often look for the right paper or the right tools to make tessellations easy, but don’t realize that the way they’re attempting to fold...

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Siren's Call Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Siren's Call Origami Tessellation

There are some patterns that when I see them, I know I have to fold them.

Usually I keep a queue of about 10 of these patterns, but sometimes one skips to the front of the line.

Siren's Call is one of those.

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Crossroads Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Crossroads Origami Tessellation

The ways that variations can be made are kinda endless.

You can change the spacing, switch a twist to the other side, change a position from closed to open or vice versa.

Or, in some cases, you can stick more twists in between the twists in your tessellation!

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Open Triangle Linked Flowers Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Open Triangle Linked Flowers Origami Tessellation

So many options! When you put triangles next to hexagons you give yourself many, many options of what to fold next. You can fold another hexagon (of a different type!), a rhombus in any size or side of the paper, and probably more options that I haven't explored yet. Open Triangle Linked Flowers shows a dense arrangement of closed hexagons, open triangles, and standard rhombi - all on the same side.   Details Matter Would you tuck your triangles under or over? The crease pattern won't tell you, but you must decide if you want your tessellation to lay flat....

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Hybrid Rosettes Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Hybrid Rosettes Origami Tessellation

A little tweak for big results As I'm folding I have a constant refrain of "wouldn't it be cool if ..." going through my head. This time that thought popped up as I was preparing for the square tiling lessons in the current round of Tessellations by Tiles and coming up with new designs that take advantage of extended symmetry patterns available in the tiling. I knew what would happen if I used the hybrid twists to add extra space to a closed square in a weave pattern - that's Square Knots Weave - but what would happen if the hybrid...

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Spinning Saws Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Spinning Saws Origami Tessellation

Let's talk rotated grids Rotated grids are a powerful tool for folding display-ready tessellations. Since I figured out the mathematical underpinnings of this tool last year, I've considered rotation for every single display-style tessellation that I've folded. But when I talk about rotated grids, many people's eyes glaze over. It's not obvious to non-tessellators whether a piece has been folded on a rotated grid or not - and even experienced tessellators can struggle to identify rotation if they're not familiar with the technique. The bottom line with rotation is that I use it to align repeating elements of the pattern...

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Shrinking Violet Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Shrinking Violet Origami Tessellation

Atypical Symmetry Pattern Most of the time when you see a tessellation with only hexagons and triangles, there's only one hexagon and only one triangle and they alternate back and forth. But that's not the only way! Using the Hexagons and Triangles 6-fold Islands symmetry gets you a choice of a second hexagon too. You can choose an open or closed central hexagon, a triangle of any type on any side, and then a hexagon of any type on any side too! I figured out that all of the options work by playing with my crease pattern building block templates,...

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Groovy Triangles Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Groovy Triangles Origami Tessellation

One Space Away Groovy Triangles and Emergent Hexagons are one space away, yet feel worlds apart. The dominant feature in backlighting of Groovy Triangles is a Star of David made with open triangle twists on alternating sides, while the dominant feature of Emergent Hexagons is a honeycomb structure of solid dark bars. This is something I've found with other closely related tessellations too. In equilateral triangle tiling tessellations with clusters of four twists, there are several spacing considerations: between clusters, within clusters, and global lines.  In Groovy Triangles, the spacing within clusters is as dense as possible, with spacing between...

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Skew Lines Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Skew Lines Origami Tessellation

What are skew lines? Skew lines are the lonliest pairs of lines - they don't intersect at a single point, and don't maintain a constant distance from each other like parallel lines. They just pass near each other then continue out to infinity. It's pretty rare for a tessellation to have pattern elements align this directly when the twists are on opposite sides of the paper - much less have lines in two different directions on the two sides! How is this possible? Skew Lines is made up of clusters of four closed square twists, which are then mirrored all...

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Star Weave and Reverse Engineering

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Star Weave and Reverse Engineering

Oh the thinks you can think! So, it turns out that we have more choices available to us than we might suspect with Hexagon and Triangle 6-fold tilings! Instead of just having one choice for the next hexagon out from the middle, we actually get four hexagons to choose from - closed or open on either the front or the back. And that's after we choose the central hexagon (2 choices) and the triangle twist (also 4 choices)! Taking all of these options into account, we have 2*4*4=32 options for arranging hexagon and triangle twists in this extended symmetry and...

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How to Fold from a Crease Pattern

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

How to Fold from a Crease Pattern

To start folding from crease patterns, we must first decide what part of the pattern to fold - what to put in the center, and how many repeats we want.

Next, we need to actually fold the grid.

Finally, we can start folding!

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Hybrid Hex Weave Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Hybrid Hex Weave Origami Tessellation

An Unusual Symmetry These hybrid hexagon twists (there's actually two kinds) are 3-fold rotationally symmetric. This is weird for something with 6 pleats - usually these kinds of twists have 6-fold rotational symmetry. But by putting the 3-fold six-pleated twist in the middle, I was able to push the remaining two 3-fold symmetries out to the next hexagons and use two different kinds of triangle twists. And so Hybrid Hex Weave uses three different kinds of hexagon twist and two different kinds of triangle twist while the simplest patterns in this tiling use only one of each type of twist. I've found...

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How to Read a Crease Pattern

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

How to Read a Crease Pattern

It's easy to get sucked into the details of the exact placement of mountain and valley folds when you start looking at crease patterns for tessellations (and then think you need to precrease and collapse them!), but there's a simpler way to see these patterns.

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Dancing Pyramids Origami Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

Dancing Pyramids Origami Tessellation

A Whole Lot of 3   Sometimes it can be hard to tell what's 3 and what's 6. Now this may sound confusing - how can you not know the difference between 3 and 6? But when there's 6 things, with alternation between each one, is it 3 or is it 6? In terms of rotational symmetry, the answer is 3. In terms of twists in a loop, the answer is 6. And to make matters worse, you can't look for 3-fold symmetries around the point in question to decide - they're all going to be 3-fold in either case!...

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How to Fold Your First Tessellation

Posted by Madonna Yoder on

How to Fold Your First Tessellation

Managing many pleats at once is one of the harder things about tessellations, but using these three-way intersections one at a time lets us minimize the difficulty and focus on the steps.

These three-way intersections can be put together in a huge variety of ways, from rotational to mirrored to combinations of both.

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