OUSA Convention 2012

Origami USA Convention June 2012 New York

For both Dennis & myself this was not only our first OUSA convention but out first trip to the big apple, just our luck that we had to run into a heat wave. Walking the streets of Manhattan in 100F+ was certainly not the highpoint of my week – the real highpoint was the convention itself.

Even before it started it was obvious that this was going to be a little different from a BOS convention – there were over 600 folders in attendance including a significant proportion of junior members. Hence, in addition to the folders there were also around 200 guardians in attendance – a busy place indeed.  This was also a perfect opportunity for Dennis & I to shamelessly plug the BOS convention in Edinburgh next year, and if the enthusiasm expressed translates into bums on seats then we should have a great convention!

If you haven’t been to an OUSA convention before reading the rules for “class ticketing” on their website can strike you as overly complex and regimented.  However, given over 600 folders and up to 109 classes per day then the rules begin to make considerably more sense.   Between what would appear to be well-established rules, and some great organisation the entire ticketing process was smooth and straightforward.  Being lucky enough to get a low ticketing number (i.e. an early choice of classes) I was able to secure a place in my first choice classes.  One of the difficulties, as always with any convention is choosing between classes – especially when (invariably) the two classes you want to attend are on at the same time!

The truly spectacular “model menu” was on display throughout the weekend showing a folded example of all 193 models being taught split by day, by difficulty level, and identifying the specifics of the model and the time of the class.

For me one of the most enjoyable parts of the convention was the Sunday night “out-size” folding competition where we had 41 teams, each armed with a 9 foot by 9 foot square of paper and given 45 minutes to fold something. After the folding there was then just as much, if not more, fun watching each team presenting their model.  Anyone who has tried folding from BIG sheets of paper will be aware that it’s not easy, and some models are no longer self supporting when scaled up.  That said the standard and complexity of the models some of the teams came up with in 45 minutes was genuinely amazing!

On the Monday, there were fewer people, and consequently fewer sessions, and the sessions were more lectures, and discussion groups, on designing, publishing, education, etc with only a relative handful of practical workshops.  This included a very interesting discussion regarding both the history, and the future direction of the  Origami database.

For anyone out there who has not yet been to a convention, and is feeling intimidated at the prospect I can only advise you to sign up and go for it.  Conventions are there for folders of all ages and abilities, and are a great opportunity to meet other folders, and to learn from them.  Conventions seem to be populated with people who are only too happy to show you what they’ve been folding recently, and to teach others how to fold it.  OUSA was no exception, for the phenomenal number of formal classes, I suspect there were at least as many other models folded on a casual basis.

The generosity of spirit, time, and enthusiasm is always an appealing aspect of conventions, but over the week Dennis & I were in New York the sheer generosity of individuals was overwhelming. It felt like everywhere we went, and everyone we met was mad keen to give us things-  to the extent that I would estimate the 60% of the excess baggage we brought home was made up of gifts!

My thanks for a great weekend to all of the organisers of the convention,  special thanks are also due to Elsa, Jean, Jan, Anne, John, Phyllis, Tricia, Luus(?), and Patty among so many more. Much as I would love to thank everyone individually I doubt if even Dennis is that desperate for column inches.  However I must just mention the special generosity of Mark Kennedy, not only for the very generous gifts, but also for the gift of the extra suitcase we needed to get the loot back home!

Photos of the convention & out-size folding can be found here.

Photos from the (incredible) exhibition can be found here.

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