Origami, paper collecting, style and formatting, typesetting, fontography (special interest in new and experimental and dynamic font types). Collecting personal journals and fountain pen inks.
I’ve been doing origami since I was 5 or 6, around the same time as I started knife sharpening. I certainly don’t do it every day, and it’s not my primary vocation, but I have done it long enough and often enough that it’s my hobby. I’m good enough to fold a stegosaurus (John Montroll) in a couple of hours, which has some very tricky complex reverse folds that embed water bomb bases into the middle of the paper, but not quite good enough to fold a black devil angler fish (I tend to get stuck somewhere around hour 3 or 4). I can also fold very tiny classic cranes. Usually the fine, thin paper you can find wrapping some disposable Japanese chopsticks is the right texture and a good size. I think my cranes end up being smaller than a dime. I have normal sized hands (maybe a bit big) and I can do those tiny cranes with just my fingers, no tweezers required. I’m also a snob about origami and I generally don’t like to do folding projects that also involve cutting or using glue or tape, though I will occasionally moisten the paper to help mold it into 3D shapes. When I can, I also like to fold in the air, not against a flat surface. This usually only holds for patterns I know well. I also tend to collect fine Japanese papers (washi) for nebulous origami projects, and the paper section for art supply stores can be my wallet’s bane, as can specialty stores like Berkeley’s Miki’s Paper. Fontography has also fascinated me. I often think that in another, quieter, more contemplative life, I might have been one of those who in this world quietly churns out font sets for others to buy and use. Perhaps when/if I retire. I have dabbled with fonts and font design, have occasionally created derivative font sets (starting with someone else’s), for specific uses, and am especially fascinated with algorithmic ones that introduce some variation in the fonts as they’re used, and I’m also fascinated by font scaling hints and other very deep aspects of font design that most people don’t even know is happening. I’ve also on-and-off collected fountain pens, usually the demo models, because I like seeing inside of things. My favorite ink brand is usually a Noodler’s color. I tend to like the complex, antiqued-but-not-blue-or-black types of colors. I like a nice walnut gall-based ink (these tend to be more permanent) but I also like the interesting reddish or aqua-ish colors. I tend to like off- or antiqued-looking gem colors. And my background in chemistry definitely affects how much I geek out (rather a lot) in selecting and talking about inks. I also like super technical, fine-work mechanical pencils that engineers and architects use — with interesting features like springs build into the lead-holder that reduce breakage of the lead. I have a fascination with these kinds of writing tools. Finally, I’ve also been known to enjoy Chinese calligraphy, though I’m not a Chinese reader, writer, or speaker. It’s in my heritage, but I’m solidly American, and an English speaker. I know how to speak a very few Chinese words (Taishanese dialect). I know how to write even fewer. But I do like to practice with calligraphy sometimes (calligraphy has strong links with martial practice, sometimes, depending on philosophy and practice, too). There are some practicing equipment you can get these days — brushes with reservoirs that you can fill with water, and paper that only shows brush strokes when wet, so quite reusable. I don’t have that equipment right now, but knowing it exists is enough for now.