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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.

Largest banger

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.

Largest panda

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 edition 1995.

Largest owl

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).

Smallest boat

The Guinness Book of Records, French edition 1990 reported a 1.19 millimetre long boat folded from a 1.5 millimetre square of paper.

Smallest frog

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.

Smallest flower

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

Most butterflies

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 Foundation.

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.

Wearable Origami

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, page 23.
Kunihiko Kasahra has published at least 28 books by 1989.

Youngest author

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 by BOS.

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 250 models.

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 Collection 1995.

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 Folders Newsletter.

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 entry above.

Keys and keys on rings: Ted Darwin, BOS.

Hearts: Francis Ow, Singapore. He has published several booklets of hearts.

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.

Largest society

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.

Largest bibliography

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.

Top-selling book

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 in 1968.

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 paper boats.

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 Netherlands.

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, page 168.)

First folding diagrams in the West

The Boys Own Paper, June 26, 1886, pages 618-619. Diagrams for The Flapping Bird.

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.

Paper music

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.

Circular Origami

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. Curved Folding.

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. --JW].

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.

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