Time-Lapse Video of the Making of a Life-Size Origami Elephant

Slate’s design blog.
March 18 2014 9:00 AM

Time-Lapse Video of the Making of a Life-Size Origami Elephant

The life-size origami elephant by Swiss artist Sipho Mabona weighs roughly 550 pounds and is nearly 10 feet high. It is currently on display at the KKLB museum in Beromünster in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Courtesy of Philipp Schmidli

Last time we checked in with Swiss origami artist Sipho Mabona, he was in the midst of launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to achieve his ambition to fold a life-size elephant out of a single sheet of paper.

The other day he wrote to let us know that after four weeks of working with up to 10 helpers at a time, he did it! And here’s the 37-second time-lapse video to prove it.

Mabona mentioned in an email that “the transformation of the sheet of paper into a real [elephant] body proved more difficult than expected." He used glue in some places because the strength of the folds was overpowered by the weight of the paper; clamps and super-strong magnets held certain folds in place as the glue dried. “In this sense the White Elephant is not a classic origami,” he wrote, saying that “origami merely served as the basis of the realization of a challenging work of art.”


The project was crowdfunded by more than 600 contributors from around the globe. The elephant is currently displayed at the KKLB museum in Beromünster in Lucerne, Switzerland, but Mabona noted that its future remains unclear. For one thing, the life-size origami elephant is too big to squeeze through the windows or the doors of the museum.

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.


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