A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Paperfolding in Mon Journal|
page records articles about paperfolding which appeared
in Mon Journal, a French children's magazine, between
1898 and 2002. Please contact me if you know any of this
information is incorrect or if you have any other
information that should be added. Thank you.
The articles on a brown background are taken from issues available at Gallica. However, many issues are missing from the Gallica collection. See Minor Sources Consulted.
The articles on a white background (which I cannot date to a specific issue) are taken from the modern private publication 'Les Pliages selon Froebel et les autres'. I have tried to make them as readable as I can. My thanks to Edwin Corrie for providing this information.
Many of these articles are by the Prestidigitateur Alber (or Alber-Graves) but others are unattributed and possibly by other authors.
In some cases Alber states that the paperfolds he explains are of Japanese origin and attributes his knowledge of them to a Japanese friend variously named as Mlle Kawala, Mlle Kawada or Madame Kawada. This is somewhat odd if 'Mlle Kawala' etc was a real person.
In his article on 'Le Soufflet' and 'Le Grenouille', Alber refers to another article about 'une fleur de lotus'. I have not been able to locate a copy of this.
Issue of 27th January 1894
Story featuring Playing Card Cubes.
The pictures are misdrawn but the text and the footnotes make it clear that the magic box is a cube.
A hole is cut in the top to facilitate the making of smoke rings.
Issue of 17th June 1899
La Bouilloire en Papier / The Kettle
Issue of 9th September 1899
Escamotage / The Coin Fold
Various unidentified issues 1900 and 1901
Bonnet de Police / Bourse (The Turban) / Le Chapeau de Gendarme (The Pyramidal Hat) / Le Casque Moyen Age (The Medieval Helmet)
The introduction says, roughly, 'Today I am starting to explain to the readers of Mon Journal the interesting things that can be made from a single sheet of paper. In France we know how to fold paper to make trinkets and animals; the few objects that we know almost all derive from a single fold, which is the 'cocotte', and which can be modified to make trousers, a simple boat, a double boat etc. But there is a country where where paperfolds are held in more honour: Which is Japan.
I have to explain to our young friends that the life of the Japanese is, or once was, very different from theirs. Instead of playing outdoor games, young Japanese concentrate mostly on inside amusements: painting, folding paper. Also they have invented many things that are unknown to us. At the 1889 Exposition, Japan has covered a complete wall with the work of school children. Today this kind of occupation is more neglected, the Japanese acquiring more and more European habits.
Unable to travel to this faraway country to study what, from any point of view, may interest you, I consulted, especially for you, a young Japanese woman, Mlle Kalawa, who lives in Paris, and was kind enough to reveal to me for Mon Journal her little paperfolding secrets, do them before my eyes and explain them to me. Unfortunately I cannot show you the rapidity with which Mlle Kalawa cuts, folds her papers and makes before my eyes, in an absolutely extraordinary way, complete collections of storks which stir their wings, cranes of all sizes, lotus flowers, magic boxes, cicadas etc. But I can, thanks to her explanations, to explain to you how to make the same objects, perhaps not so quickly, but equally well, if you take a little care'
About the Bonnet de Police the author says, roughly, 'This headwear being unknown to the Japanese, they invert it and make a flat purse or a wallet.'
Le Lampion et la Pelle (the lantern and the shovel)
(Le Lampion is a version of the Mushikago)
The introduction says, roughly, 'In France children happily amuse themselves making cages for flies by means of two 'rondelles de bouchon' (lit. plug washers but probably paper filters?) joined together by pins. In Japan, where the glow-worm is more common and more brilliant than it is here, the Japanese catch them and enclose them in the small paper lantern which I will describe to you, and thus have a lantern whose light is not very bright, but which is original and does not cost much. If you find glow-worms in your garden or the countryside you will make a lantern from very transparent paper ... but, if you can't find glow-worms you will simply make a four-legged vase, which will be very pretty with its shape absolutely reminiscent of Japanese perfume burners.'
About la Pelle the text says, roughly, 'Now here is another very easy Japanese paperfold and one you will suceed with on the first try.'
Le Soufflet / The Bellows
The introduction says, roughly, 'We continue our series of paperfolds. In a recent issue, we have explained how to make a lotus flower, which was, we believe, unknown in France, and is a true curiosity.'
Le Bonnet carré (The Square Hat) / La Coiffure aux plumes de paon (The hat with peacock feathers) - A version of the Kabuto
The introduction says, roughly, 'We have already made, in our series about paperfolds, different hats such as le casque, the police helmets, French and Japanese ...'
Le Palanquin / The Palanquin
The introduction says, roughly, 'The imagination and ingenuity of the Japanese is extraordinary, and the designs that they make by folding paper are of a considerable number. I have already had the pleaseure of explaining several to you; today I wish to show you how to make, after their method, a kind of portable chair or palanquin which is carried on the shoulders.'
Fleur D'Iris / The Iris
The introduction states, roughly, 'I have already had the opportunity to teach you how to make a number of paperfolds, and I told you that most of these folds, absolutely unknown in France, but very familiar to young Japanese, had been communicated to us by Mlle Kavada.
You will certainly be pleased to learn that Mlle Kavada has obtained for you from her friends in Japan a whole new, very curious, series which will be published in Mon Journal; today I want to show you how to make an Iris flower.'
The introduction states, roughly, 'Today we continue our Japanese folds, and we are going to show you how to make a crab. Madame Kawada, of whom I have already spoken, with a paper four centimetres square can easily make a tiny one centimetre crab; it is enough to tell you that, with a little patience, and by taking a sufficiently large paper you will arrive at a good result.'
Le Kiosque Japonais
The penultimate sentence says, roughly, 'The lotus flower, which we have explained at the beginning of the year, and the frog are certainly the most curious paper constructions of the little Japanese.'
The final sentence says, roughly, 'We believe we can affirm that this design is until today unknown in France and that our readers who have had it first.' (This was untrue since it had already been published inter alia in 'La Nature' in 1889.)
Moulin a Vent en Papier / The Cut and Fold Windmill
Issue of 18th October 1902
Cigogne (Stork) (Flapping Bird) and Grue Japonaises (a version of the Paper Crane)
The introduction states, roughly, 'Today Mon Journal resumes the interesting series of paperfolds made in the Japanese way with two curious birds: the swan and the crane.'
Issue of 8th November 1902
La Boite Japonaise / The Japanese Box
Issue of 21st February 1903
The Cocotte / Pajarita and the Waterbomb
Issue of 6th June 1903
Le double bateau (Double Boat) / Serviette (Double Fishbox / Portfolio) /
Boite a Bonbons (Junk Box) / Boite des Patissiers (Patisserie Box)
Issue of 6th January 1912
Cocottes decorating a lampshade.