By Robert E. Neale
(This book arrived right at deadline time, but so many people have asked me about it that I thought I should include it in this month's column, even though I have only been able to go through it quickly and fold a couple of the models.)
By now you should be well aware of the fact that I'm a big fan of combining origami and magic. One of the gurus of origami-magic is Robert Neale, author of Tricks of the Imagination, co-author of Magic and Meaning, and columnist for the Linking Ring. In Folding Money Fooling, Mr. Neale offers 19 magical models which can be folded from standard United States currency. They are all charming, ingenious, and well worth your time.
The 19 models are separated in to four categories. The first chapter, Action, contains models which flap, flutter, shrink, jump, perch, and transform. The "Fluttering Butterfly" is a lovely fold in which the animating mechanism requires only a very subtle action to produce movement. Consequently, when the butterfly flutters its wings, it is very mysterious. Also beautiful is the "Crane in Flight," which uses two bills and is modeled after Sam Randlett's "New Flapping Bird."
The chapter titled Puzzles contains just that - four interesting (and in the case of the "Baffling Bill Braid" enormously frustrating) puzzles folded from money. You'll learn how to make a Tangram set from seven bills, and you'll discover how to turn a bill into a "Hyperbill" and then transform that model into a Flexagon.
The are six folds included in the chapter titled Tricks, including a method for folding a snake in a basket (the interesting thing about this is that when the snake appears, it is twice as tall as the basket), a animated mouth which can perform Bill Nord's "Skull-Location," and an indestructible pyramid of power. The book concludes with a full explanation of Mr. Neale's most famous fold, "The Bunny Bill." Jay Marshall was gracious enough to allow this marvelous fold to be included in this collection, and you will find several new ideas concerning its use. If you own the original instructions but have had trouble finishing off the model you'll be delighted to learn that Mr. Neale has included a new method for forming the head and ears.
Earle Oakes (himself an origami enthusiast) did the remarkable drawings and they are as clear and understandable as any that I have ever seen in an origami book. If you are new to origami, there is an introductory chapter which teaches you the basics such as reverse folds. Also be sure to read Mr. Neale's helpful hints in the Preface.
Understand that what is being presented here is not profoundly amazing magic (although I think that the ability to create these folds is profoundly amazing), nor is it meant to be. Anyone who works for real people knows that often it is the incidental moments of our act which are more memorable than the blockbuster miracles we perform. Folding Money Fooling is full of fascinating folds waiting to become memorable moments. I'm delighted that this book has finally been released. Both professional and amateur magicians will find it to be a valuable resource.
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