Previously, we wrote about the origami “wet folding” technique that was pioneered by origami master Akira Yoshizawa. His technique involved wetting the paper so that it can be molded more easily. With wet paper folding artists can create more non-geometric designs such as animals. This is because wetting the paper allows the artist to preserve a curved shape more easily. Dampening a paper allows it to increase its rigidity and structure. It usually involves a water based adhesive such as methylcellulose (MC).
How does Methylcellulose work?
As the paper dries, the methylcellulose bonds with the paper fibers. This results in a crisper, stronger sheet and gives the origami models a softer and gentler look. Because damp paper can dry out very fast, MC can slow this down. And because it strengthens paper, it can be applied to thin paper which is usually used on more complex models and designs.
How do you mix Methylcellulose?
Depending on the brand of MC you buy, there are actually manufacturers that sell in a pre-measured container. All you need to do is to add water and mix until the lumps disappear. Many origami enthusiasts add some hot or lukewarm water to the mixture for more consistency. Or you can stir 2 tablespoon of MC in a jar with 2 cups of water. The consistency of the mixture should be like raw egg whites. If it is still pasty or lumpy add small amounts of water until you reach the egg white consistency. A good tip: don’t over mix as over mixing will make the MC lose its viscosity.
Methylcellulose vs. other adhesives
Methylcellulose or MC is usually preferred by origami modelers over other adhesives such as glue because MC seeps into and becomes part of the paper. Glue on the other hand just makes paper stick together. Others use nori paste, however this can be hard to apply especially in bigger paper sizes.
How do you fold with Methylcellulose?
The best way to apply MC to a sheet of paper is to brush it. The tricky part is knowing when to fold as the MC will eventually dry out and stiffen the paper. Other wet paper folders simply use water. They apply water with a spray bottle or with a damp cloth to the paper. The trick is to make the paper damp, not wet.
Applying methylcellulose allows artists to create more origami forms and divert from the typical geometric designs. Flowers and animal models made from wet fold origami tend to look as though they are made from cloth and not paper, however they are sturdier and the shape preserved longer which is great especially when travelling with the models.
If you are interested in experimenting with methylcellulose, you can purchase it at our online store here.