Carnegie boy, 12, teaches origami


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In the hands of Rory Dougherty, a flat piece of paper can be quickly transformed into a star box, a little sumo wrestler, a Santa Claus, a boomerang or even a Transforming Ninja Star Frisbee. He works this magic using no scissors, tape or glue, and the list of what he can make is endless.

Rory, 12, of Carnegie, does origami — the traditional Japanese art of paper folding that transforms a flat piece of paper into a piece of sculpture. He’s going to teach this art to other students at four free workshops at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie.

The workshops will be on four consecutive Saturdays, on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, 8 and 15. Classes start at 11 a.m. and last for about 45 minutes. No advance registration is needed. Each class is self-contained, meaning interested students can attend as many sessions as they wish. The workshops are recommended for children 5 and older. Younger children can participate if they are accompanied by an adult.

The library will provide all necessary supplies, which is basically just paper.

His mother, JoLynne Dougherty, who is children’s program coordinator at the library, will help with the class, though she’s quick to admit she’s not as proficient as her son.

Rory has been making origami since he was in third grade. The family was at a church conference, and Mrs. Dougherty was looking for an activity that could keep her son quiet and occupied for long periods of time. He has never taken an origami class, though now he will be teaching one. He learned everything he knows about origami from books and the Internet. He also comes up with some designs of his own.

Craft stores sell paper especially made for origami, including some that are coated in plastic or foil. Rory has also figured out that rice paper “folds well” for origami projects, and occasionally he makes origami from Post-It notes. He says he sometimes practices “money-gami” -- folding dollar bills into bow ties for his friends.

His origami boomerangs really work, coming back to you with the correct flick of the wrist, Mrs. Dougherty said. At Christmas time Rory made 40 little paper Santa Claus figures for a church member who asked for them.

“Our house is full of origami,” Mrs. Dougherty said, “It’s nice when Rory finds someone to give them to.” There’s no fear of being completely over run because the sculptures “are paper, so none of them last forever.”

Rory is a seventh-grade student at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School, where he sings in the choir and plays the French horn. He’s also a Boy Scout.

The academic class he likes best is math, probably because of what he calls “its exactness” — which is the same thing he likes about origami.


Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0087.

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