What is Ullagami?
A few years ago my family and I moved to northern Scotland, where the winters are long and the nights seemingly without end. And so, in order to beguile the many hours of darkness, I began working with paper. I have been doing origami for over a decade, but here I quickly moved on to kirigami, fascinated by the possibilities I found available by interrupting the folded surfaces that origami generally likes to keep intact.
The parameters I set for myself were simple: each model should collapse folded flat when completed; and each model should be created from a single sheet of paper — nothing should be added or removed, but rather the surface of the paper should be rearranged without loosing a shred of its area.
Beginning with simple building-block designs, the pieces evolved further and further within the limits of my basic parameters, and my manual and mathematical abilities.
The name Ullagami is a portmanteau; it is a mixture of origami and kirigami, and because the village I live in is called Ullapool. It wasn’t until I decided to create a Japanese “chop” to stamp the backs of the pieces I was constructing that I learned, quite by surprise, that the transliteration of “ullagami” into Japanese is ウラガミ, which literally means “the back of the paper” — exactly where I wanted to put the stamp! Perfect! A very happy accident indeed.
(You can imagine how hard my palm hit my forehead when I proudly showed a Japanese friend my new stamp, and she said, “That’s cute and very American. But we normally write it top-down and right-to-left.”
D’oh! So I remade the stamp. Like everything else I design: you have to cut it, evaluate it, and then cut it again right.)
Of course I soon learned that these models fall loosely into the more general category of Origamic Architecture, but since OA includes a huge variety of crafts which, though often amazing, do not match specifically with my own purely geometric approach, I use the term Ullagami instead. And besides: it’s a lot easier to say!