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Maria Sinayskaya’s Tips for Creating Origami Modulars

When Maria Sinayskaya left Samara, Russia in 2008 to live in South Africa, the only origami model she knew how to fold was the traditional flapping bird. But since discovering the world of origami and its many enthusiasts, Maria has been folding and creating non stop, becoming, in the process, a prolific paper folder and designer.

Maria shares her creations on both her website and flicker page.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Maria about her practice and passion for origami. Here are her thoughts.

Why are you passionate about origami and modulars in particular?

  • I have a mathematical background and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I just love geometry! I find it really amazing that you can fold complex geometrical models just from square sheets of paper with no cuts or glue. And apart of that, I think modular origami is relatively easy for a beginner to start with. On average, there are about 10 folds in each unit, and although folding many of them does take time, the final result is always worth it.

Do you have any tips to share regarding the origami design process?

  • Fold a lot! There are so many various models out there, the most simple and remarkable ones have been discovered already, get familiar with as many of them as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to change or modify a model. Minor variations are not new models of course but this practice helps to get a better feel of how paper works.
  • Look at crease patterns and ask yourself what changes you can make and how it affects the model.
  • Modular origami is not only about units, the way you connect them does matter too. Explore all possibilities!
  • Try to reverse-engineer a model you like by looking at a photograph. This is the best exercise I know, and there is nothing to lose! It’s a great satisfaction if you succeed and there is a good chance to come up with something new along the way. I don’t think I would have ever designed a thing if there had been diagrams available for all models I wanted to fold.
  • Be ready to find out that your new original design is not so ‘new or original’ after all. It’s not that difficult to design a modular model actually. The only problem is that all the good ones are already taken.

Who’s work influences you in the world of origami?

  • There are plenty of origami designers whose work I admire:  Tomoko Fuse (I’m the biggest fan of her, there is so much one can learn from her books!), Kunihiko Kasahara, Mio Tsugawa, Meenakshi Mukerji and many-many others. I’m very fond of Krystyna Burczyk’s work because her models are mathematical in nature and very artistic at the same time.


Diagrams for Maria’s  Chandelle Kusudama

This star created by Maria is based on an icosahedron. Have you folded it? Share with us your experiences or links to photos of your work!

14 thoughts on “Maria Sinayskaya’s Tips for Creating Origami Modulars”

  1. Found the diagram for the chandelle kusudama and just finished folding it…. modules easy to fold but took me a bit to construct the model. I’m thrilled after a couple of tries of getting it together

  2. Great site which I will explore again of course but at the moment we are trying to solve the final modular construction of Sok Song’s “Sakura Blossom Lampshade” published in his Crease and Fold Book. We are open to any suggestions. We wish a video existed. Any suggestions? The completing diagrams to pull it together are very ambiguous or should we say frustrating,

    Origami is a great field for problem solving for both young and old. Keep up the good work.

  3. I definitely agree with Rosemary. Origami showed me incredible people and their awesome works! It’s a present having blogs like “origamispirit.com” and “goorigami” that teach us techniques, folds, inspire us and give very good tips and information. Congratulations!!

  4. Thanks for sharing – I’m a modular junkie too – with a math/engineering background. I love the simple elegance of so many of the geometric models – and experimenting with new and different papers – origami & otherwise. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Leyla:

    Thank you for introducing Maria to us! Her work is stunningly beautiful. I cannot wait to give her kusudamas a try. I am assuming it will be the 5 and 3 application as in the Bascetta star?
    Leyla, I would like to say that your efforts to share with us those who are, “the cream of the crop” in the origami world are unsurpassed.
    Thank you,


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