The Fine Line Between Failure and Success

— Dandelion —

At the beginning of the summer I took many pictures of dandelions. Their soft round translucence stayed in my heart and slowly transformed into a persistent wondering of how to make an origami dandelion*.

I thought about the origami dandelion constantly. While riding my bike one afternoon, I remembered how Beth Johnson made a sheep from a tessellation. Perhaps I could make an origami dandelion from a tessellation as well.

For two solid days I neglected everything in my life and  attempted several dandelions based on Beth’s sheep. It worked to a degree, and I could get the paper to curve. But ultimately it was a failure, the model didn’t quite work out as the basis for a dandelion.

  • What I had learned by now: A humble idea might grow into an obsession.

After a few days of folding and exploring different tessellation options I discovered a ball made by Yuri Shumanov. Yuri’s ball was made by collapsing a grid of staggered waterbomb bases from a rectangle. A simple concept and perfect for my flower, I thought. Now I only had to make this model very small using translucent paper. I had a vision of success!

To do this, I set out by preparing a rectangle measuring 8 x 4 inches  (20 x 10 cm) of glassine paper and began to fold first by scoring multiple creases on the paper.

I worked for hours on end, ruining more than a few pieces of paper because a crease was missed, or put in the wrong place. Failure again, I felt like crying!

  • What I had learned by now: A need to focus on the present moment; to release all anxiety and sense of urgency. Origami is the power of here, and now.

I started to fold one last piece of paper after breakfast on a hot, humid, morning. I worked in complete silence away from duty, noise, or distraction. Finally, I had made all the needed folds.

Now I had to collapse the sheet into a ball!

It was a struggle made more difficult by paper that was limp from high humidity. The collapsing just wasn’t happening. From moment to moment I had to exercise restraint, resisting a persistent urge to crumple the paper into a boulder and hurl it into the furthest corner of my studio.

Ha! Maybe that was the solution! After all, a nice, round origami boulder could pass for a dandelion, right?

  • What I had learned by now: It’s better not to collapse a miniature tessellation on a hot and humid day.

At this point my heart was aching equally with a desire to achieve a goal, and the frustration of much failure. I checked the weather report for the following day: Sunny… Cool… Dry. Good!

Twenty four hours would give me just enough time to take care of other obligations.

The next day was weather perfect, as announced. A good portion of that morning was spent forming the tessellated ball and the balance of the day devoted to completing other pieces the dandelion needed. These last pieces were not nearly the challenge the main body of the dandelion was, but they still took time.

Was I satisfied? Not completely, but I had before me the dandelion I’d imagined. I could call it a success!

  • What I learned with the dandelion experiment:  There is a fine line between failure and success. The opposite of success is not failure, it’s giving up!

* Here is the video showing the steps to make this origami dandelion. Other videos are referenced, and it will take time and focus to put it all together. If you persevere, I’m sure you can make an origami dandelion too!


Video References:
Magic Ball, video by Jo Nakashima
Water Bomb, video by Leyla Torres
Windmill Base, video by Leyla Torres


26 thoughts on “The Fine Line Between Failure and Success”

  1. Hi Leyla, your Dandelion is incredible. I love that you were guided and inspired to make it. Someone commented that Dandelions were a scourge in the garden, well there really aren’t many so called weeds in the garden that are scourge’s it just so happens that we are ignorant of the gifts of these plentiful herbs that are labelled ‘weeds’. Dandelion root is a excellent tonic to the liver and has proven anticarcinogenic properties. If you apply the sap of a dandelion on to a wart it will dissipate over a short period of time. Another unfairly labelled herb is the Nettle, it’s high in iron and is excellent in relieving hayfever and allergy symptoms as it effectively reduces inflammation.
    There is a reason why, despite humanitys ignorance these herbs are freely available and growing abundantly if only we would open our eyes and our mind’s.

  2. Never really considered a dandelion beautiful before, it was always just a weed in the lawn. But this model really captures that essence of the dandelion seed head and shows that it really is beautiful. Thanks for the sharing your thought process and video. Thanks also for finding the beautiful in such a common plant.

  3. i can finally make one! when i started, i kept wasting paper because i couldn’t make one and my sister (ryynete at the bottom) started yelling at me because i was wasting paper. but now i can make one! :)

    • Hi Misty,
      I know it is hard, but congratulations for trying to fold this origami dandelion. Even if it seems that you achieved nothing, your mind stretched and learn a lot. Be sure of that!
      I hope you take up the origami dandelion and give it another try in the future again.
      It is a high goal to aim for. Go for it!

    • Hi misty, Try using a larger piece of paper until you get it down, sometimes that will give success that gives clues to fold with smaller paper… *-)

  4. That is a really good dandelion – the way that the collapsed waterbombs make little ‘V’ shapes evokes the little parachute shapes of the seeds – you have captured the essence in just a few folds, like a good pencil sketch can capture the flowing hair of a model without having to draw each one.
    (Just a few folds for each seed, I mean! There are many folds in the whole model)

  5. Trying to reconstruct “The Peaceful Cat” from the Origami USA gallery, I tried in vain to get the face right, so I bought the book. Turns out it was a two piece! I had just started folding so it never dawned on me it was two pieces… However I did make a dog from it and the tail became the basis for the ears and tail of my Bunny Container. Subsequently Himanshu just posted a link that had a bunny that used a similar ear formation though the rest of the model was not the same. I had independently discovered something and created two models in the pursuit of another. Also what you did by taking a break and waiting for the right conditions helps (wet folding under humid conditions won’t let it dry however you don’t have to fold as fast!) Once the mind gets focused on a puzzle it is hungry for a solution. I’ve also discovered that when there is an idea brewing that the initial base that I thought would get me there, turns out to be a different base.
    That is the coolest dandelion! When an obsession turns into reality there is such satisfaction….
    Thank You for sharing…

    • ” I had independently discovered something and created two models in the pursuit of another.”
      Yes, David, we should keep our mind open when we are in the process of creation. We might not arrive to the intended destination, but we might end up in a different and perhaps better place.

  6. I loved the entry, but I specially love the center of your dandelion. with that stem, leaves and everything… I had never seen so much care in realism in one of your models =O

  7. Very beautiful, and thanks for giving us the genesis of this plant model, a lovely story that brings extra interest to the model.
    I will make a dandelion, too. Yours.

    Best regards,

  8. That is so beautiful! Of course, I could never make something like that as much as I try, but I’ll give it a shot

  9. What a beautiful lesson applicable to many of life’s passionate struggles!

    (Taking it a step further… we must remember that success is not perfection, and practice only makes improvement.)


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