When I was in second or third grade, an exchange student from Japan visited my classroom and showed us how to make paper cranes. I have been hooked ever since. I have the paper, I have the instruction manuals, and a continued obsession with making cranes ever-smaller. I can make a paper crane out of a piece of paper 1 cm square. Seriously.
Last week, a gal in my Nerd Club started a story where one of her characters shows one of my characters how to do some origami. She posted a link to a site that explains how to make what they were making – a dragon. I got terribly excited about it and decided to have a go for myself.
Keep in mind: to date, my most complicated accomplishments in origami have been exceedingly miniature cranes and one nice looking frog. Otherwise, it’s all about balloons and boats. Maximum number of steps involved: about 12.
The dragon had fifty steps. Looked like fun to me! I got out a pink piece of origami paper (the color being used in the story) and settled down. The instructions said to use a 10″x10″ paper, unless you could find something bigger. My paper was 5″x5″. “Oh well,” I thought to myself. “If I can make cranes the size of dust bunnies, I can make a half-sized dragon.”
Lesson A: If you’ve never made a thing before, use paper at least twice as big as recommended so you can see what you’re doing. By the time I got to step 35, I was so confused and the folds were so tiny, I couldn’t even begin to figure it out. So I gave up, flopped a few extra (self-invented) folds into the mix, and came up with something “close enough.” It’s what my character would have done.
But, determined not to be shown up by a piece of paper, I tried again at work yesterday. I got the biggest piece of paper I could find (without having to raid the large-format printer stock): 18″x18″. I had to clear off my whole desk to have enough space. Truly, bigger is better. Even with a paper that big, I was running into fumbling finger problems around time to crimp the poor dragon’s legs.
Lesson B: When you’re doing something complicated and the instructions tell you to use two-colored paper, do it. When both sides are the same color, you’ll never know what’s up and what’s down.
Here is my final result:
But then, because I was curious what this might look like if a professional did it (since Instructions Man only provided a drawing), I did a little search for “origami dragon.” Check this out:
If that isn’t the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, I’m not sure what is. That dragon took about 40 hours to fold, says the website. That sounds ridiculous until I realize that MY dragon took about 3 hours to fold, and he is infinitely less complicated. I am in awe. The picture links to the site that tells a bit more about how it was made.