Robert Harbin's Origami Skier

The problem with winter sports is that — follow me closely here — they generally take place in winter.
Dave Barry


The Model

I’m with Dave Barry on this one (see above quote). I’m not a great fan of being cold. That said, I’ve never been skiing and I’d love to try it at some point.  Even if I hate it, at least I can say I went.  For now though, this little guy is about as close as I am going to get.

This is quite an old model, designed by Robert Harbin.  It is based on Neal Elias’s well-known Figure Base, which he used for creating origami human figures.  Elias’s design The Last Waltz, previously featured on this blog also uses his Figure Base.  That model uses two Figure Bases joined together – one for the female dancer and one for the male.  I decided to fold the origami skier partly because I have a friend who does like skiing, and partly because I wanted to explore the capabilities of the Figure Base a little. I am hoping to use it as the starting point for one of my own designs later this year.  More on that another time. Also, I think that there is a tendency for some older origami models to get overlooked these days in the quest for ever greater realism or technical prowess, and that’s a shame.  Origami designs like Harbin’s Skier still have value and should be celebrated rather than forgetting them altogether.


Folding the Origami Skier

One of the drawbacks of the Figure Base is that it can lead to either the arms or the legs being out of proportion.  This Skier gets round that by using the extra paper in the legs to make the skis. It’s an interesting idea and one I think I might play with a little more.

It is an interim level origami model.  For people looking to move on from models like the traditional Crane or Frog, this would be a good one to choose. The Figure Base uses the Elias Stretch – a way of turning the middle one of three adjacent points to create two longer ones. This is used extensively in other more complicated designs.

It is pretty forgiving when it comes to paper.  I have folded this one out of an ordinary sheet of 15cm x 15cm (6in x 6in) origami paper or Kami. It has come out ok, but I think that it could have benefitted from some more shaping, and maybe some different paper would have helped with that.  Some metallic kami maybe. It takes ten minutes or so to fold.



Diagrams for Harbin’s Skier are available in his book More Origami: The Art of Paper Folding No.2.  This is the second of a series of four books on Origami written by Harbin.  It has been out of date for years but there are always copies available on Amazon UK or Amazon US for just a few pence. Many people started out in origami using Harbin’s books (including me) and if there is any such thing as a classic origami book, these four are it. I recommend them for everyone.

If you’ve folded this origami skier yourself, or you have a comment on this, or Harbin’s books, please let me know below.