Origami Records and Curiosities
by John Smith
I have always enjoyed reading about the biggest and smallest of almost
anything. Naturally, I enjoy the Guinness Book of Records (or
superlatives). At odd times I have been collecting origami records and I
thought it about time I exposed my collection to the fierce gaze of
the Internet. I would welcome corrections, updates or new entries.
In addition to records I have this time included curiosities. These are not
necessarily records, but are of interest. My thanks are due to Ralf Lane of
Leipzig for some new world record contributions.
Model folded from largest square
- Square 33m by 33m used to fold a crane. Maebashi, Gunma Pref. Japan,
October 30th 1995. Reported by Joseph Wu. [From an article in the
Japan Times. --JW]
- Jim Mockford, a Japanese language teacher in Washington State, USA, reports
that in the fall of 1995 a class of 20 of his students made an ori-tsuru
(paper crane), out of a single sheet of paper that measured over 23 feet
wingtip to wingtip. Of course there have been larger cranes made from many
sheets of paper pasted together such as the Maebashi record (see above), but
Jim's crane seems to be the largest made out of a single square sheet of
uncut, unpasted paper. It was a great teambuilding project and a lot of fun.
- Paul Jackson, in November, 1980 at the University College, London,
successfully folded and banged the classic model made from a paper
rectangle 108 ins. by 66 ins. See report in the BOS magazine no. 86,
pages 14 and 15.
- Twenty-five students in Fontaine-Saint-Martin, France, folded a 3 metre
tall panda from an 8 by 8 metre square of paper on the "Salon du Livre pour
la jeunesse de Montreuil", December 1993. Guinness Book of Records, French
- A team of six from the MJC Maison-Blanche ,Reims, France folded a 2.6 metre
tall owl from a sheet of paper of 16 square metres. Guinness Book of
Records French edition 1990.
Model folded from smallest square
- Square 1mm by 1mm used to fold a crane using a microscope and sewing
needle by Assistant Professor Watanabe at Nigata University, Japan.
See British Origami, No. 119, page 22.
- Lluis Bigas, a Spanish watch maker, has folded a pajarita from paper
measuring .36 millimetres by .3 millimetres using a 20 times magnification
lens, and two pairs of tweezers! The photograph, shows the tiny
pajarita along side a flea. The pajarita is about as large
as a full-stop!
Smallest flapping bird
- A. Naito, Japan, folded a flapping bird from paper a mere 2.9mm
(about 1/10in) square in response to a 'smallest flapping bird competition'.
The bird was only about 2mm from beak to tail. To display it, Naito mounted
it on a needle inside a transparent globe. However it was still very
difficult to see so Nigel Keen fitted a contact lens to the outside of the
globe through which it could be viewed. See page 160 of Complete
Origami by Eric Kenneway (ISBN 0-312-00898-8).
- The Guinness Book of Records, French edition 1990 reported a 1.19
millimetre long boat folded from a 1.5 millimetre square of paper.
- Christian Elbrandt, Denmark, has folded a 2.77 millimetres long frog using
a pocket lens, scalpel and tweezers. The frog achieved a jump of 103
millimetres. Guinness Book of Records, Denmark 1995.
Smallest paper aircraft
- In October 1985 a Swiss man folded a paper aircraft 9 millimetres by 7
millimetres. Guinness Book of Records French edition 1990.
- A flower with a diameter of 3.2 millimetres folded by Christophe Brault,
France was shown on the Festival des Records in Beslon, France, July 1986.
Guinness Book of Records, French edition 1990.
- A Kawasaki rose as found in Origami for the Connoisseur
with a diameter of approximately 3 millimetres was folded by Joseph Wu.
This may have since been superceeded by Winson Chan, against whom I am
competing in an ongoing smallest rose competition
- Evelyne Girard, Quebec, Canada, folded 3000 butterflies in December 1994
from recycled paper. Guinness Book of Records French edition 1996.
Largest fleet of paper boats
- In September 1980, 13-year-old Markin Kunz of Germany folded 13,131 paper
boats in 432 working hours at a swimming pool in Landau in September 1980.
To qualify the boats have to the actually set on water at the same venue.
Aktuelle Quatsch-Rekorde 1980.
Most paper cranes
- To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on
Hiroshima, two hundred thousand folded paper cranes were completed by
December 15th 1995. Each crane had someone's name and peace message written
on it. The intention is to preserve them to hand on to the 21st century.
Reported on Internet. Sponsored by the Hiroshima International Cultural
Largest origami construction from identical modules
- Jeannine Mosely USA, completed a level 2 Sierpinksi sponge in December
1995, with 2400 identical modules. It took about 15 hours total to
construct, and over a period of about 2 weeks, working on it for 2 to 3
hours at a time, every couple of days.
Sierpinski's sponge is a fractal solid that can be described as follows.
Take a cube, divide it into 27 = 3 x 3 x 3 smaller cubes of the same size
and remove the cube in the center and the six cubes that share faces with
it. You are left with the eight small corner cubes and twelve small edge
cubes holding them together. Now, imagine repeating this process on each
of the remaining 20 cubes. Repeat again. And again ...
Largest number of units in a modular origami
- 2200 mosaic wall showing the swan logo of the Origami Society
Nederland folded at the OSN Convention. Reported by Maarten van Gelder.
- 900 Sonobe units assembled into a "sphere" by the students of
the Ikeda Institute in Osaka. See Origami for the Connoisseur by
Kunihiko Kasahara. Reported by Valerie Vann.
- 600 unit arch by Maarten van Gelder.
- Lluis Bigas of Spain has made a cat's face from 10,375 modules. See BOS
magazine, October 1996.
- A waistcoat and hat has been assembled from units by Maarten van Gelder of the
Nederlands (reported on Internet 1995). The waistcoat is made of 814 units and
is life-sized; it has been shown at some conventions. It is pretty warm (paper
is a good insulator).
Origami book with largest size pages
- Origami Package Design, Klein. 36cm by 36cm.
Origami book with smallest sized pages
- Origami Encyclopaedia by Kunihiko Kasahara. 9cm by 9cm.
Most prolific author
- Yoshihide Momotani, 36 books from 1971. British Origami, No. 174,
- Kunihiko Kasahra has published at least 28 books by 1989.
- In 1993, Peter Budai of Hungary had two books of his models published when
he was 12 years old.
Most prolific creator
- Akira Yoshizawa, 50,000. Reported by Peter Engel in Folding the
Universe, Vintage Publications (recently re-published as Origami
from Angelfish to Zen, Dover).
Book with most pages
- Proceedings of COET91, 461 pages, edited by John Smith, published
Book with least pages
- Pop-up-Origami: a Johnnie Book, 8 pages, Japan Publications, 1962.
Book with the most models
- Origami Zukon: Picture Book of Origami, by Okimasa Uchiyama, has over
Book with the least models
- F14-Tomcat, by Michael G. LaFosse, 16 pages, one model.
- Dragon, by Tom Stamm, 18 pages, one model.
Most revolting move in origami
- The inflation of the classic Japanese blow-up frog.
Greatest moves in origami
- The Chinese junk or ship of state. Following the folding
method in Paper Magic by Bob Harbin we arrive at a tray and then
turn this into a shape which seems dull in the extreme. Yet by pulling
out the two ends a most wonderful transformation takes place and a 3D boat
is revealed with a hold and fully locked shape.
- The unfoldable box by E.D. Sullivan in which the last move forms an
unfoldable box. (Paul Jackson's book, Classic Origami)
- Also in the same book is Fujimoto's cube. Paul calls the move that
forms the cube the best move in origami and who can disagree?
- Hallo Fox by Mitsuo Okuda. What a wonderful last move to suddenly
reveal the fox and how gloriously simple.
Model with the most steps/folds
Note: following advice from Hans Birkland and Robert Lang, I have given up
just counting the number of steps or diagrams, which as Robert points out is
likely to be dependent on the authors use of a computer which makes it
easier to produce diagrams. Instead I have counted the total number of folds
needed, so the total I have given is the number of mountain/valley folds,
plus the number of reverse folds, plus the number of squashes and so on. But
a reverse fold requires the manipulation of 4 creases simultaneously, and a
squash is a reverse fold plus a valley fold so requires 5 folds,and a sink
of many layers can require the manipulation of 10 or more creases and so on.
An approximate estimate I have made suggests that, if half of the folds are
valley/mountain (equals one crease) and on average the other half require
the manipulation of 5 creases, then the average per fold is 3 creases.)
- Red Sea Urchin, by Hans Birkeland, has 913 folds which I estimate
require in excess of 2700 creases to be manipulated. OrigamiUSA Annual
- Flying Kabuto Mushi (Japanese Samurai Helmet Beetle), by Robert Lang,
with 306 steps, many involving several separate folds. (Note: The actual
steps shown come to 200. However 21 of the steps simply call for the
repetition of a previous sequence, one or more times. If these had been
illustrated in full this would give the total of 306, thanks to Doug Phillips
who pointed this one out.) OrigamiUSA Annual Collection 1995.
- Scorpion, by Robert Lang, with 158 steps many involving several moves.
Origami Insects, Dover, 1995.
- Sea Urchin by Toshiyuki Maguro published in the book of the first
Origami Tanteidan Convention 1995, has 145 points and quite clearly
exceeds the number of folds required for the Red Sea Urchin.
Model with least folds
- Greek Warrior, by John Smith, modified by Snr. Pomaron, 2 folds.
- One-fold stegosaurus, by Joseph Wu.
Click here for diagrams.
- In Paper Play, by John Smith, several models are shown without any
folds at all.
- How to fold an origami square, by Jeremy Schafer. Bay Area Rapid
Greatest eccentric in origami
- Peter Kopper, a Munich bus driver, who only folds the classic boat
(like a hat). He calls them Microships and folds hundreds of them in
different colours and then assembles them into collages. He has been
reported as having folded over two hundred thousand (200,000) of them. See
der falter, No. 5, April 1991, for more about this extraordinary man.
Most dedicated thematic folders
- Classic boat: Peter Kopper. This is the only model he folds, see the
- Keys and keys on rings: Ted Darwin, BOS.
- Hearts: Francis Ow, Singapore. He has published several booklets of
- Birds: Dokuohtei Nakano, Japan. His correspondence course was almost
totally concerned with birds.
First Origami Society
- The first democratic society with elected officers and an open membership was
the British Origami Society founded in London in 1967.
- The Nederlands Origami Society had about 8200 members in 1993. In
1995 this had fallen to 6800. This is still the largest number of
members per population with one member per 2240 people.
- Origami USA had over 2000 members in 1995.
- In 1996 the Nippon Origami Society had over eight thousand members.
Reported by Jan Polish on Internet (origami-l mailing list).
Largest convention ever held
- OrigamiUSA's Convention '95 in New York had over 600 attending.
- Origami in Education and Therapy, by John Smith. The last edition in
1993 contained 262 references.
Most influential book on origami published in the West
- Paper Magic, by Robert Harbin, Oldbourne Book Co., 1956.
- Origami, also published as Teach Yourself Origami and
Origami 1 is qouted as selling 750,000 copies in the 1976 impression
by Coronet Books. The 1976 version was the 25th since the first impression
- Origami: the art of paper folding, by Robert Harbin, originally
published as Teach Yourself Origami, Hodder, 1969. The last report I
had was 375,000 sold.
- The sales of Robert Harbin's Origami books published by Hodder
paperbacks exceeded 1 million by 1978. See BOS magazine, number 69.
The most beautiful origami book
- Pfiffiges Origami, by Paulo Mulatinho, 1995, Augustus Verlag, ISBN
3-8043-0368-4. Every spread is a superb example from a great graphic
designer and paperfolder. [Obviously, this is a matter of taste! --JW]
Earliest map fold
- In the City Museum, Milan, is a map dating from ancient Egyptian times,
which has crease lines showing it was folded in a similar way to modern
maps. Complete Origami, Eric Kenneway, page 106.
Earliest illustration of an origami model
- Sphaera Mundi, by Johannes di Sacrobesco, 1490, Venice, has an
illustration of an Eclipse of the Sun and on the sea are shown two classic
Earliest letter folds in Europe
- In Envelope and Letter Folding, third edition, page 4, edited by John
Cunliffe, an illustration is given of a letter fold, dated 1670, from the
Earliest published module
- Maying Soong gave diagrams for folding a Chinese pagoda bookmark using 9
squares of different sizes but all folded in exactly the same way. The
diagrams were in a book titled The Art of Chinese Paper Folding
published in 1947 by The World's Work Ltd.
First Escher-type tessellation
- In the BOS magazine number 60 (October 1976), Mick Guy published diagrams
and constructions for a fish tessellation of the Escher-type.
First use of origami as a therapeutic tool
- In 1914, the Englishman Charles Gibbes became tutor to the nine year old
tsarevich, youngest child of Nicholas II. The boy was withdrawn and had
difficulty communicating, so Gibbes showed him how to make something from
a piece of paper. The first fold the tsarevich learnt was a paper hat and
this encouraged him to speak. (See Complete Origami by Eric Kenneway,
First folding diagrams in the West
- The Boys Own Paper, June 26, 1886, pages 618-619. Diagrams for The
Longest jump by an origami frog
- Lisa Hodson, USA, reported that, under controlled conditions (a flat surface
of paper over hard wood floor and no draft), a leap of 74.7 cm was achieved by a
variation of the American Jumping Frog by Kennedy published in a FOCA annual
(1992?). The frog was folded out of a 15 cm square of white photocopy paper with
the grain of the paper from top to bottom at step 1 of folding (the length of folded
frog was approximately 5.5 cm). Lisa did not record the date, but it was in
April, 1994. Excluding this jump, this particular frog had a mean jump length
of about 30 cm. Lisa scientifically demonstrated that for this particular frog
model folded out of photocopy paper, the orientation of the paper grain does
not significantly affect jump length.
- A 40 minute piece was commissioned by the Maltings Arts Centre, St
Albans, England, in 1991. It consisted of 8 movements which included the
clicking and wobbling of paper, paper bangers, paper buzzers, etc.
The origins of paper music go back to 1978 when Paul Jackson as a
student of Fine Art created moving sculptures which made sounds.
These sounds were extracted to be performed as music by musicians.
An extract was played by Paul Jackson and others at Charlotte, USA in
1996. Paul Jackson has told me that Marieke de Hoop has written a
musical work for flute and paper crumbling sounds.
- Between 1966 and 1972 Keinichi Fukuda published 10 books
illustrated with simple actual folded models using circular paper.
They went under the generic name Sunny Origami They included the
life of Buddha, the life of Jesus Christ, and the life of Shinran
Shonin. David Lister, origami-l mailing list, Internet January 1997.
The idea of making curved folds has always been a challenge. The
problem is that some mechanical help seems necessary. In spite of this
some beautiful geometric creations using curved folds have been
achieved. The famous mathematician Dr. David Huffman has created
geometric structures over many years with both straight and curved folds
using mathematical techniques that he has developed. Paulo Barretto
has also created many superb forms using curved creases.
Curved folds in animal models are rare, but have been noted in Herman
de Goubergen's work.
Square Root paper
- I have used the term square root to introduce the rectangular
papers in common use in Europe, with the sides in a ratio of one to
the square root of two. They were introduced into France in 1792,
followed by Germany in 1870 and Great Britain in 1959. They are now in
common use throughout Western Europe, but not in the USA [or Canada.
The special property of the square root paper, is that if the sheet
is folded in half lengthwise, the resulting rectangle retains the
same relationship of sides as before. John Cunliffe in his booklet, the
Silver Rectangle, 1983 BOS booklet No. 21, called attention to the
folding possibilities of square root paper. Thoki Yenn created many
superb models using A4 paper and this size has been much used in letter
folding. A4 paper is 210 millimetres by 297 millimetres. David Lister
has pointed out that the length of an A4 sheet of paper is almost
exactly the same as a original Roman foot.
TV Champion Origami contest
- Joseph Wu has reported seeing the second Origami championship
broadcast by TV Tokyo in September 1996. The were five contestants
and the competition started with an event that tested the contestants
ability to think quickly and fold quickly. A syllable was chosen at the
beginning, and the first person had five minutes to folding something
that started with the syllable. The next person had to make something
starting with the last syllable of the object folded by the previous
person. The next event was to fold a life sized ant based on a live
subject. The next event called for the contestants to build a unit
Origami Tower of two metres that could stand for five seconds. The
final event was to make a diarama based on one large model folded from
a 5 metre square. The winner of this TV championship Origami contest
was HOJYO Takashi.
Life sized Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton
- A life size Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, 18 feet by 30 feet, was
shown at the Charlotte convention in October 1996. The original
model was created by YOSHINO Issei and requires 21 equally sized square
sheets of paper.