Since I’ve rarely been able to fold a napkin into a rectangle or create a paper figure that looks like something other than a ball, I’ve always been impressed with origami. The news that origami artist Sipho Mabona has created a life-size elephant from one sheet of paper had me drunk with envy, or as they say in the origami world, sheet-faced.
Sipho began making paper airplanes when he was five and finally ran out of airplane designs when he was 15, which says something about the early skills of this Swiss artist or how boring it can be growing up in Switzerland. He switched to origami and his art is now exhibited around the world in works ranging from traditional animals and flowers to abstract geometrical shapes.
In late 2013, Sipho started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and eventually raised over $26,000 for the elephant project. The money was used to produce the 50 feet by 50 feet sheet of paper, build the support scaffolding needed to stand the elephant up and pay for the camera to film it and for his three assistants to help. While Mabona can quickly fold an identical small elephant by himself, there were points in the process when he needed ten people to lift and crease the 2500-square-feet of paper. The paper elephant was completed in four weeks and is currently on display in the museum KKLB in Beromünster, Switzerland.
While there’s no category (yet) for paper elephants, Guinness World Records reports the largest origami paper crane was created in Hiroshima, Japan, in 2009 by 800 members of the Peace Piece Project. It had a wingspan of 268 feet 9 inches and was folded from a 328 feet by 328 feet sheet of paper that was made by taping smaller pieces together. Taping paper together – now there’s a project I can handle.