Ost in folds

Qin, 31, has an in­cred­i­ble abil­ity, and a driv­ing pas­sion, to bring a piece of paper to life by work­ing and fold­ing it into works of art.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By ZHANG LI ANDHUOYANin Guilin zhangli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Qin Kun is hun­gry but he re­frains from us­ing his hand to pick a morsel of sushi. He does use his hands, how­ever, for judg­ing and feel­ing the paper that he shapes into in­tri­cate rep­re­sen­ta­tions of an­i­mals and in­sects.

No scis­sors, noglue, no­cut­ting, Qin works day and night in this pur­suit.

Qin, 31, has an in­cred­i­ble abil­ity, and a driv­ing pas­sion, to bring a piece of paper to life by work­ing and fold­ing it into works of art.

“I keep fold­ing with­out know­ing where I am head­ing for,’’ Qin said “but then an idea grabs me un­til it blowsmy mind.’’

For years, he toiled on origami pieces alone in his stu­dio in Guilin un­til one of his works, a paper man­tis, was re­cently sold to a Span­ish col­lec­tor for 210,000 yuan ($31,400).

Some peo­ple think it’s in­cred­i­ble, they see noth­ing but a piece of paper trans­formed by my work, he said.

But col­lec­tors who know about origami view it as high art, he added, and most of them are for­eign­ers.

There are about 3 to 4 mil­lion peo­ple in China who dab­ble in origami and mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tions and the in­ter­net means that they can dis­cuss their hobby and work with even the most skilled prac­ti­tioner.

It’s free to talk to any­one on the in­ter­net even those masters who have achieved in­ter­na­tional fame,’’ Qin said. Un­der a nom de guerre of Soma Cruz, Qin posts pic­tures of his work on the in­ter­net, shar­ing his love of origami with thou­sands of e-pals.

In 2006 Qin struck up com­mu­ni­ca­tion over the in­ter­net with Eric Joisel, a French sculp­tor and paper-fold­ing artist, con­sid­ered among the finest origami masters in the world.

“It’s quite amus­ing for the two of us to ex­change ideas in poor English, so most of the time he just showed me how he went about his work on video”, said Qin.

Joisel’s friend­ship and en­cour­age­ment in­spired Qin.

Qin took a course in an­i­mal sci­ence and ve­teri­nary medicine at a sec­ondary vo­ca­tional school in Nan­ning , cap­i­tal city of Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion in 2007, to bet­ter un­der­stand the “struc­ture of an­i­mals”.

Born to a tai­lor’s fam­ily, Qin showed his ta­lent in pri­mary school.

I had no in­ter­est in study, he said, and would fold paper at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, he said.

He de­voted him­self to origami af­ter leav­ing vo­ca­tional school and quickly pro­duced some amazing work.

His work, like that of any artist, is time con­sum­ing.

“Fold­ing takesmuch­longer than you ex­pect, usu­ally dozens of days for a work like the man­tis, bu­ti­fy­ouworko­nane­spe­cial­ly­del­i­ca­teone, then you can on­ly­make twoor three a year.’’

Nei­ther can any work be copied, each piece has its own unique char­ac­ter and the in­tri­cate de­tail can­not be re­peated.

“Every­body­can­work­outabase ac­cord­ing to acreasep­at­tern, but­the­shapin­gofthe­ba­sic­fig­ure de­pends more on ta­lent and cre­ation”, ex­plained Qin. “Just think of how to cre­ate emo­tion from paper.’’

One such piece of work saw the cre­ation of a mon­key king, with each hair del­i­cately crafted. Af­ter 20 days sweat­ing and con­cen­tra­tion, the work was fi­nally com­pleted and it is es­ti­mated to be worth more than 1 mil­lion yuan.

Among the works he highly val­ues is a dwarf he made in 2014 when he thought he must do some­thing spe­cial to mourn the pass­ing of Joisel who died in 2010.

Joisel was renowned for his dwarf se­ries, es­pe­cially for their ges­tures, soQin­cre­ated a dwarf salut­ing, in trib­ute to a man he de­scribes as a self­less origami master.

“Eric passed away, but his style stays. The most valu­able les­son he passed on tome­was not about fold­ing skills but the univer­sal truth that spend­ing time on things you are not fond of is equal to wast­ing life.’’

LIU JIAOQING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Qin Kun de­votes him­self to origami and pro­duces some amazing work. None of his works can be copied, each piece has its own unique char­ac­ter.

LIU JIAOQING / FOR CHINA DAILY

A woman “plays” a vi­olin made by Qin.

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