What is VCon?
If you spend much time doing origami, sooner or later you’re going to come across one of the origami societies. There are national societies, regional ones, and smaller organisations, such as university clubs. Many of the larger ones organise conventions – social events where people can get together, learn different models, exhibit recent creations and buy / sell origami supplies.
Unfortunately, the current global health crisis has put a stop to a lot of this and many conventions have been cancelled. The British Origami Society usually holds two conventions a year – one in the Spring and one in the Autumn. Both of these were cancelled due to the pandemic. Faced with the loss of the society’s convention programme for the year, the BOS organised their first ever virtual convention – VCon – as a substitute.
The VCon Experience
Although British Origami Society Conventions usually last two days, as this was the BOS’s first ever virtual convention, they decided to make this a smaller scale event, lasting just the one day. Compared to the recent World Origami Marathon that ran non-stop for 48 hours, this was much smaller. That said, there was still quite a lot packed into that day! There were eight folding sessions, running from 10am to 7pm, with an hour for lunch. Tickets were only £5.
The models selected for the programme were very well chosen. Most of the models were simple or low intermediate. That meant that all the models were accessible by as many people as possible and reduced the chances of the sessions ending with models unfinished. This is more of a problem with an online convention as there isn’t really the chance to catch up with the person leading the session later in the day, which is what you’d do at a ‘normal’ convention.
The only one of the folding sessions that felt a little rushed was the Modular Cube, but that was because it needed twelve modules. By the time the hour was up everyone understood how to fold the remaining parts to finish the cube later. I managed to complete mine at the same time as folding the Penguin Chick in the next class.
Four of the eight models were modular designs which are not usually my favourite things to fold. Nevertheless I have to say that I was impressed with the Modular Cube, designed by Lewis Simon and taught by Edward Holmes, and by Tomoko Fuse’s Modular Flower taught by Lizzie Burns.
Lizzie’s session was different to most origami classes in that her teaching style is very conversational and almost feels like an informal chat over coffee that just happens to have some folding in it! I will definitely be watching out for any sessions that she runs at future BOS conventions – either in person or online.
The model of the day for me was Lee Armstrong’s Penguin Chick. This is a cute little 3D model with a delightful little sense of personality. This is a high intermediate model and the most complex model of the day. (If you are looking for a simplier penguin model, check out my five fold origami penguin.)
Some of the other models I folded during the VCon sessions include:
Duck and Ducklings by Nick Robinson
“Ambrose the Skunk” by Michael Lafosse
Bristol Balloons by Tony O’Hare
Although this was a new departure for the BOS and there is no indication yet of whether in person conventions will be possible next year, I hope this will not be the last VCon organised by the British Origami Society. I do prefer the traditional convention format, the chance to catch up with people and the impromptu folding sessions in the bar that are the hallmarks of a good convention, but I have attended a few of these virtual events now and I think there is definitely a place for them going forwards – even when the world returns to normal. An occasion like VCon is a different type of experience and another way of making origami accessible to a wider audience.
This was a very successful event, which everyone seemed to enjoy. My thanks to the British Origami Society, the VCon organisers, and the people that taught the classes for putting together such a great first virtual convention. It’s not been an easy year for the society, with the cancellation of both conventions, but VCon did more than just fill the gap. It brought people together and allowed everyone to have fun – which ultimately is the purpose every convention sets out to achieve.
I’d love to hear your views on the British Origami Society’s VCon. Did you attend any of the sessions? Which models were your favorites? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or you find can me on Instagram or Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards too!
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