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.
After almost 10 years of folding alone, I attended my first origami convention - OrigaMIT at MIT.
It immediately became clear that these people were designing their own patterns and the variety of styles was incredible.
You had massive modular polyhedra next to super-complex box-pleated figures next to tessellations and snapology and miniature folds.
Was there anything that origami couldn't do?
It turns out that the answer is no - you can use origami to make any connected 3D shape - and Erik Demaine proved it mathematically.
Now it's still an open question whether you can fold any shape from a square sheet of paper instead of an infinitely long strip, but it's still amazing to have the general case proven.
That's another thing that I learned while I was at MIT - there are actually people who do research on origami and then present their findings at conferences!
So, not only are there social conventions oriented around teaching models and sharing ideas, but there's also nerdy conferences where origami artists, mathematicians, engineers, and educators can share best-practices and new results.
These days I try to attend at least two conferences or conventions each year.
This year I went to the third Convention for Creators of Origami in Bogotá in February and I'd already submitted a paper for the Bridges conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July when I found out that I'd won the OrigamiUSA 2023 Teaching Award, which came with financing to attend the OrigamiUSA Annual Convention in New York City in June!
This award honors outstanding origami teachers who are nominated to the award committee each year.
Since I've only been actively teaching origami tessellations for the last two years, I was quite surprised that I won the award - even though I had asked my email list subscribers to send in nominations.
So, thanks to everyone who nominated me - the convention was a blast and I hope to see everyone there again next year!
If you haven't ever attended an origami convention I highly encourage you to go and if you're worried about finances then look for some of the online options that have popped up in recent years.
OrigamiUSA's online events often come with a social gathering space where folders can chat about whatever they want, so it's not just Zoom lectures.
There's a wide world of origami out there and I'm honored to be recognized for growing my little corner of it.
Happy folding, everyone!