A Magical Origami Convention -PCOC 2013 Albuquerque, NM

A colorful origami vignette of Albuquerque NM “Albuquerque Kingdom” by Yuri Shumakov and Katrin Ray.

My hair is long and I often wear it in a braid. Last year I saw an origami girl, with her brown long braided hair, on a poster, announcing the Pacific Coast OrigamiUSA Convention (PCOC) 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I knew my inner playful girl was calling me to attend. Origami conventions are always fun!

If you attended PCOC 2013, this post and the accompanying video will help recall some great memories. You might even spot yourself in some of the footage!
If you were not in Albuquerque, my hope is that this post will motivate you to consider attending a future origami convention.

So… these are my memories of a great origami convention in Albuquerque, NM, Oct 4-7 2013.


A Amazing Hosts
L Lavish Origami Decorations and Goodies
B – Beautiful Setting
U – Uncommon Exhibition
Q – Quadruple Fun
U – Unique Thematic Publication
E – Excellent Class Choices
R – Resounding Pin-Exchange Success
Q – Quality and Quantity of Special Guests
U – Unforgetable Side Activities and Tour
E – Enchanting Last-Night Pizza Party

Amazing Hosts
To describe this convention, I must start by naming its amazing hosts. Led by Patty Grodner, the Albuquerque Origami Society worked diligently to put together a grand event. And they succeeded, BIG TIME!

A round of applause to Patty Grodner, Bunny Sanchez, Vicki Bolen, Dawn & Brian Jackson, Annette Hatch, Ema Tanigaki, Andy Wilson, Mary Saunders, Raphael Perea, Jason Stearns and Sara Cole.


Lavish Origami Decorations and Goodies
The Marriott Pyramid Hotel, site of the convention, was profusely decorated with a multitude of origami balloons, origami hot peppers, origami coyotes, origami cacti, banners and posters. In addition, all attendees were given a small folded bag full of origami goodies, candy, and an origami folder with a program. The Arizona group also contributed with a present for each attendee.

At the banquet on Saturday, each table was decorated with a lovely bowl at the center, designed by Robert Lang and Vicki Bolen, and folded by Any Wilson. Each banquet guest received a small triangular box filled with candy made by Linda Smith.


Beautiful Setting
Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city with a population of over 500,000. It straddles the Rio Grande at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. Its mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo people affords the visitor a wonderful variety of cultural experiences.  The region is blessed with dramatic scenery and 310 days of SUNSHINE every year. As expected, the gods of weather graced us with four days of sunshine, blue skies, and mild temperatures.

Uncommon Exhibition
All special guests and other origami artists exhibited their most recent origami work. I’d like to highlight the “Albuquerque Kingdom” a display by Yuri Shumakov and Katrin Ray. Their work was a fantastic origami vignette of Albuquerque’s Old Town Church – San Felipe de Neri. Around the church, there was a park with many figures representing people, gardens, and hot air balloons. No glue or cutting was used!


Another unusual display was a lovely homage to the work of Norman K. Schide (1925 -2007). Norman was a paper folder, teacher and mentor to many origami practitioners. He used flat origami models to create a large collection of inspiring greeting card designs which were shown on several panels. You may see them in the video. A book with Norman’s designs was published and is offered through the The Source.

Quadruple Fun
Over two hundred people gathered at this Origami USA convention for four days of inspired fun, during which I was transported to another dimension. No sooner had I stepped into the hotel on my first day,  I saw groups of people busy folding. In no time I integrated myself into one of these groups as well.


On Friday we had  workshops on topics related to paper folding such as how to create origami diagrams, origami jewelry, making and preparing paper, and map folding.

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to regular classes for learning how to fold a broad range of origami models. On Saturday morning and Sunday evening I attended the Annual Balloon Fiesta. What a special treat and visual feast that was! Wow!

For Monday there was a post-conference tour. Read more on these extra activities below and see pictures on the video.

Unique Thematic Publication
A themed origami book, with a collection of Southwestern origami models, was published for this convention. This volume includes diagrams from the special guests and from many other origami artists.

Some of the models appearing in the book include six different hot air balloons, New Mexico’s Sandia Hairstreak butterfly, a hummingbird, a coyote, a roadrunner, two chili peppers, a cactus, a feather, an alien and many more. For those who could not attend, the book is available through The Source online bookshop at OrigamiUSA.


Excellent Class Choices
I took several classes and learned some other models informally in the main room. I’d like to make a special mention of the class I took with Laura Kruskal. Laura taught a traditional paper canoe and several charming and simple models based on that canoe.

It cannot be overstated what an inspirational gift Laura is to the origami community. She is a wonderful 90-year-young teacher with a great sense of humor who includes singing in her teaching. Here are the lyrics of a verse she composed for the occasion of this PCOC 2013 convention. Laura sung it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Ode to Origami –
I’m in picturesque Albuquerque
Sharing my beloved origami.
I’m as happy as I can be
When I am folding origami.
Folders everywhere will agree
We’re a happy family.


I learned many other models from different teachers such as Beth Johnson (sheep), Alrene Gorshov (woven box), Char Morrow (map folding),  Virgil Manning (dollar-bill teddy bear and balloon shirt), Rachel Katz (cat and sewing kit), José Tomás Buitrago (rocking horse) Cathy Wilimzig (rabbit and star).

I also got in on the teaching action myself and taught a Hot Chili Pepper and a Calla Lily. To my surprise and satisfaction both of these classes sold out and were filled with lively and skillful groups of people.


Resounding Pin-Exchange Success
Shrikant Iyer took on the task of organizing this convention’s origami pin exchange. To make pins participants choose appropriate origami models, made very small versions of these models, and attach them to a clasped pin.

The pin exchange has become a delightful and lively tradition at many conventions I’ve attended in the last few years. Shrikant made the exchange at PCOC 2013 even more fun by creating a “Facebook event” prior to the convention, and featuring the pins as they were made. It was a pin-perfect event!

In the photo below I feature my three favorite pins. See forty pins in the video!


Quality Special Guests

For an origami convention there are usually no more than two guests. PCOC 2013 had six.  Not only quality, but quantity! Six origami artists whose origami design work and teaching experience is making history in the contemporary origami world:  Michael LaFosse and Richard AlexanderYuri Shumakov and Katrin Ray, Beth Johnson and Sok Song.


Unforgetable Side-Activities and Tour
The weekend of the convention coincided with the annual 42nd Annual Balloon Fiesta. The convention was scheduled so that we had the time to enjoy the early balloon ascension, which I attended on Saturday morning. I also attended -lucky me!, the Balloon Glow and the Fireworks display on Sunday evening. This spectacular event lit up the sky with color and sparkles and  illuminated my spirit for the entire convention.



On Monday, two chartered motor coaches took many conventioneers up the historic Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (Highway 14) to the small town of Cerillos. Our first stop was at  the Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden, which is also the studio of sculptor Kevin Box and his charming wife, Jennifer.

Kevin uses origami as a foundation for his large bronze sculptures. One of these “Flight of Folds”, was in the studio and represents a collaboration between Kevin Fox and origami artist Robert Lang. What a wonderful piece of work. Watch the video to see Kevin talking about his background, work, and inspiration.


From Kevin’s studio, we continued on to Santa Fe, the charmingly famous capital of New Mexico, and the historic Santa Fe Plaza. From here people went in different directions to satisfy their own individual touring choices.

I elected to take a leisurely walk around town and appreciated the great crafts being sold everywhere. Also, I visited the Loretto Chapel to see it’s legendary “miraculous staircase”. If you’ve not seen it, and have the opportunity to travel to Sante Fe, I recommend a visit to this special place.


Enchanting Last-Night Pizza Party  
To close this very special origami convention, Patty Grodner opened her home and treated all her guests to a pizza party. Among these happy halls and walls, we enjoyed more paper folding, laughter, raffles, and a tour of Patty’s impeccably organized origami room; a dream studio to anyone who loves paper folding.

Amid this pizza fueled pageantry, Michael LaFosse taught for the first time a butterfly he’d specially designed in Patty’s honor. In the near future, Michael will be publishing diagrams for this model.


From the Land of Enchantment, my return home to Vermont was with a heart filled with happy memories. I also brought a suitcase filled to the brim with origami goodies… much appreciated by my sweet cat, Coco.


Many thanks to Patty, to her team of organizers, and to all the volunteers who made PCOC 2013 a wonderful origami convention.

See you all next time!

16 thoughts on “A Magical Origami Convention -PCOC 2013 Albuquerque, NM”

  1. ENAP Xochimilco, D. F., Mx

    Good morning/
    Buenos di’as.

    Thank you so much for the love and friendship/
    Muchas gracias por el amor y la amistad.

    Folding hugs and blessings/
    Abrazos y bendiciones plegables.


  2. Wonderful video Leyla, you definitely appear to be having a great time in beautiful Albuquerque. Do you know if there any diagrams/video instructions for that beautiful Beth Johnson sheep above – or any way to contact Beth directly?? Perhaps they will choose Portland Oregon sometime for this convention. And second, my 3 pin choices are your red chilis, the redbird and the steer skull – so great!!

  3. Leyla,

    Thanks so much! I truly enjoyed seeing you again and taking a class with you. I am so glad you had a good time in our neck of the woods. New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment. La belleza de Nuevo México está dentro del corazón!


  4. Hi Leyla:

    In a word: WOW! What a fantastically-wonderful time you must have all had at the convention. You have given us a superb overview of all the aspects of the convention. I always like to study the photographs showing the joy as well as the focus of the students. Everyone is so happy!

    Thank you for sharing with all of us who were unable to attend, Leyla.

    Best wishes … always,


  5. Wow! Excellent video – you captured everything in a nutshell!!! I really enjoyed myself again watching your video! THANK YOU so much!

  6. Thank you very much, Leyla! Now I can add another name to the list of things I’ll answer to, although I admit ‘Any’ is a little unusual!

    (Seriously, this is becoming a running joke among ABQ Origami folk. I’ve got three names so far.)

    I am delighted that you enjoyed your visit. That’s the best news I could possibly have hoped for.

    • Dear Andy… you have NO idea how mortified I am when I find one of these typos.
      I fixed your name on the post, but I’m afraid it’s a little too late to fix it on this version of the video.
      I will fix it for future versions.
      Thank you for your light-hearted comment. I hope you don’t keep acquiring strange names!

  7. que rico la pasaste Leyla y que bueno que pronto encontremos videos de estos broches y de la oveja etc etc ,ese globo fantastico aprender a hacerlo¡

  8. Thank you for this lovely post Leyla! I was there at PCOC 2013 and taking your class (Im in the pic!), and meeting you was a HUGE highlight for me! It was my first ever origami convention and I was so taken with how well organized it was, and how friendly everyone was! Thanks for all the lovely photos, especially of the things I didn’t get to do (I left mid day sunday).

    • Hi Angel, I’m happy you enjoyed the convention and this post. I’m happy you found yourself in Origami Spirit. You might be hooked into going to many more origami conventions now ;-)


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