Occasionally a client would like something of mine that is not on my website or seen on display.  Sometimes I can modify one of my folding designs and send the client pictures for their approval. When I don’t have a design, I most often recommend my colleagues to the client.  Corporate clients rarely have sufficient experience with origami design to offer realistic jobs in terms of compensation or time needed to complete the job.  Often I will receive a request with only a few weeks to design and make a display for a trade show booth.  My favorite unrealistic request was a Hong Kong outfit who wanted 2012 flower blossoms from a $ 100 note I would have to print from a PDF for a new shopping mall.  They additionally wanted the 12 zodiac animals of the Chinese calendar; all to be done in 3 weeks.  And could the dragon be done in life size?  The following sequence of pictures describes how long a commission took to design a bald eagle for someone who worked in the security industry. I received some indication of what size piece to make, whether it was to be wall mounted or free standing, and the attitude of the eagle. Fortunately I had a basic design I could modify. Here are the steps I did to complete this project:

I sent the client several drawings like the one above for their approval. Once approved I did several folding designs before settling on the final crease pattern. The eagle had to folded from one bi-colored sheet of paper, and have a wingspan of at least 10-inches wide. To get the wing width I would need at least a 4-foot long piece of hand-made white paper which I ordered from a store in New York.

The white and brown paper were glued together to create one sheet in a process called “backcoating”. I used my living room window as a surface for the sheets to be pasted together and then allowed to dry. I had to cover the white sheet with two brown ones because I could not find a long enough brown sheet in the right color. I had to invent a way to hide the seam between the wet brown sheets.

Initial folding on the brown side of the paper took several hours after removing the sheet from the window and cutting it into a rectangle 47” long and 29.5” wide.

After the basic folding was done on the eagle, I make an armature to mount it consisting of a brass rod glued to a shaped sheet metal form. Before gluing it into a wing pleat, I painted the inner surfaces of the wing with acrylic medium to prevent the glue from discoloring the paper. The oak burl base for the piece is to the right.

Legs and talons were moistened, and then tied with threads to hold their shape when dried. The brass rod from the armature can be seen exiting the wing on the right after it was glued into place.

The oak burl base was painted with oil paints to look like a landscape, and fitted with felt feet to prevent scratching the surface it was to be placed on. A hole was drilled for the end of the brass rod.

Finished piece called “Above” required 21.5 hours to make spread over 4 days. I offer a money back guarantee on my art as long as it is returned to me in excellent condition. Flaws that become evident that are caused by me I will repair at no cost.

I sent this client a complete description of the process as well as the time needed to complete each step.

Description: “Above”. Bald Eagle originally designed 2008, made from a rectangle (29.5” x 47”) of Korean hanji backcoated with Thai unryu. Time to complete: 21.5 hours

Day/Time Activity Total Minutes
3:00 – 5:30 pm enlarge design
5:30 – 6:10 apply methyl cellulose to paper and backcoat layers
9:24 – 10:01 cut paper
10:18 – 1:31 inital folding
1:57 – 4:03 fold toes
7:50 – 8:33 fold tail and wings
8:33 – 11:08 finish wings and clamp body
8:39 – 9:38 shape wings and prepare wire
1:21 – 3:11pm make armature and grind burl
3:41 – 3:55 paint inside of wing with acrylic
3:55 – 4:15 paint burl
4:15 – 4:49 work on upper wing surface
6:06 – 7:35 glue eagle to armature, shape head, position feet
8:35 – 10:54 shaping
7:33 – 9:17 am leg shaping and final tweaking
9:52 – 10:31 cut rod, drill hole in base, position eagle

Also used: 12 gauge brass wire, sheet metal insert for wings, cotton, epoxy glue, methyl cellulose for backcoating, acrylic coating on the inside of the wing to prevent glue from discoloring it. The base is an oak burl painted with oil paint and fitted with felt feet.