Introduction: The Spiral Data Tato -- a Curiously Complex Origami CD Case

About: Oschene is Philip Chapman-Bell, a human resources drudge living in western Massachusetts. I probably should mention my deep and abiding enthusiasm for Open Source Origami. Clever catchphrase du jour: It isn'…

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The Spiral Data Tato is an origami CD or DVD case of the origata or tsutsumi ilk, that is, a complicated presentation model, intended as a gift for an honored recipient. Tato is a Japanese word that means purse or wallet.

The Spiral Data Tato opens and closes, using a charming innovation we like to call The Origami Zipper. It is available in American letter paper and in A4 versions and I have made some .DOC files (editable in MS Word or in OO Writer), in case you want to make a mix CD or display the contents of the disk on the outside of the model.

This is not a quick and simple fold and is not intended to be. There are several quick and simple origami CD holders out there, if that's what you looking for -- I highly recommend Tom Hull's American CD Case. This model is for the discerning hunter of geek chic, the intrepid seeker of cheap thrills and complex beauty for its own sake. It's also for the little nerdy guy who thinks he can get that beautiful blonde in Calculus 102 to talk to him, if he could only get her to listen to his ultimate roadtrip mix CD...yeah, buddy, this will do the trick. But you better have some conversation prepared for when she does talk to you and not just stand there, babbling on and on the way you do. All right? All right, let's fold.

Step 1: Crease Patterns

With most origami models, you start with a piece of paper and move from step to step, making landmark creases and folding this part to that. And this model can be folded that way. Trouble is, the American letter paper version starts out dividing the width of the paper into nine even sections; the A4 version needs eleven even sections. I could show you how that works, but it involves math and a leap of logic or two and maybe 90% of the readers will click out at that point. If you want to learn more about this, try here. The rest of you, come with me and download a crease pattern.

The American letter paper version is 8½ inches by 11 inches -- this is the one you want if you live in the US or in Canada.

The A4 version is 210 mm by 297 mm -- this is the one you want if you don't live in the US or in Canada.

Why are they different? It has nothing to do with my wonted (and much vaunted) hostility to the metric system, if that's what you're thinking. No, it's just that the arithmetic works out slightly differently with the change of width. The A4 version has a couple more folds in it and makes a rather prettier model. All part of life's rich pageant.

Step 2: Printing Out the Crease Pattern

Adobe Reader or KPDF or whatever you're using to view the file may want to shrink the crease pattern when you go to print it. The print dialog may seem quite plausible, but I urge you to resist it and to print without scaling. You'll lose the ends of the crease lines at the edges of the page, it's true, but there'll be more than enough to see where the lines are going.

Step 3: Folding the Crease Pattern

Examine the lines on the paper: the black, solid lines are mountain folds, the red, dashed lines are valley folds. (For those unclear on the distinction.) I tend to fold all the mountain folds first and then the valley folds. I also tend to fold the valleys as mountains and then reverse them, but that is to taste. Any way you can get the creases going in the right direction is cool.

Step 4: Super Double Secret A4 Step

Shh...don't tell the Americadians. This is the secret step for folders of the A4 version. You fold down this flap.

You could, I suppose, cut it off, but it's not a bad place to have some reinforcement.

Step 5: Collapsing the Spiral Data Tato

Once you have all your creases in place, it's a good time to switch to video. This is how we collapse the crease pattern.

Your first time through will take you a little longer. Do not despair -- fold one or two of these and you'll be able to fold them as fast or faster than this.

Step 6: Inserting the Disk

Take your CD or DVD and insert between the helices.

Nice fit, eh? If it isn't, check to make sure you didn't scale the image when you printed it.

Step 7: Closing the Spiral Data Tato

After you've inserted the CD or DVD, collapse the upper spiral onto the disk and use your thumb to push the little flaps into the little pockets.

This is what we call The Origami Zipper.

Step 8: Opening the Spiral Data Tato

Holding the tato by the edges, pinch the edge of the band as shown and pull upwards. Zip!

The number of times you can zip up and unzip your disk depends on the quality of the paper you use. I like 24 lb. parchment, myself, but you may wish to experiment with what you have on hand.

(Oh, and little nerdy guy? You still with us? This is where the blonde in Calculus 102 goes, "Oooh!" and you get to show her the zipping several times over, until she can do it, herself. That's when you need to start a new topic. Make it good -- you start prosing on about your linux box or your LOTR figurines, this has all been for naught. Offer to teach her the model. There you go.)

Step 9: Afterword

Would you like to try printing words onto the model? Here are the files:

Spiral Data Tato A4 for Word
Spiral Data Tato American Letter Paper for Word

I have tested these in Word and in Open Office Writer. Feel free to move the text boxes around and change fonts and such. Indeed, this model is Creative Commons licensed and I hope you will take it and modify it and make it your own.

There are a lot of folks out there who will say (in a Stewie Griffin voice, moreover), "Oh, that's a rectangle, that's not origami", or "There's lines on the paper, that's not origami." Well, modern origami conventions are pretty much just that: modern and conventions. There is no Académie Francaise for paperfolding, nor ought there be. If you're pure of heart and your skill is strong, you can fold it any way you like.

But I'll tell you a secret, just because I like you: it isn't origami until you share it.

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