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 the tessellation -- by precreasing and collapsing -- is much harder than folding twist by twist. Additionally, learning from a book is much harder than learning from a recorded video with a top-down view - especially if those videos are coming from someone with hundreds of hours of tessellation teaching experience.
It was with these facts in mind that I designed Advent of Tess to introduce tessellation techniques to folders who had been intimidated by tessellations in the past. More than 800 folders signed up to join me in a daily tessellation exercise in which I released a new mini tessellation tutorial every day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, Christmas Day.
These tutorials built skills gradually, moving from beginner level in the beginning to high intermediate (on the tessellation scale) by the end. I first introduced closed triangle twists, then closed hexagons, open hexagons, open triangles, closed rhombi, and open rhombi while showing the various possibilities of twists to put around a given start.
Since everything was folded on a 16-fold triangle grid on a hexagon, it was easy to prepare grids in advance and several folders prepped all of their grids before starting any of the tutorials. This limited size also made the patterns more approachable; something to fold in 30 minutes instead of 2+ hours.
That’s not to say that people didn’t struggle - they definitely did - but it was easy to get help in the community I set up for the challenge and my long-time students even offered to set up Zoom meetings and help in real time. When I checked my statistics at the end of the month, I saw that at least 40 people were posting photos of their own folds for the challenge every day and I know that many more were folding without posting.
So why am I sharing this with you now? Because you can still participate!
If you’ve been looking to get into tessellations the easy way, I don’t know of any better resource to get started (and many comments I’ve received agree). It’s free, it walks you through step-by-step, there’s no precreasing after the grid is done, and you can get daily reminders with extra guidance by signing up through my site here. The videos are also on YouTube, so you can translate the captions to whatever language you prefer.
So go ahead and start folding the tessellations of your dreams today - I’d love to see what you make!