Sophomore Grayson Cliff finished the final fold of his award winning origami masterpiece in March of last year, and is practicing and preparing to begin this year’s entry.
Cliff is the multiple time winner of the international origami competition called Origami by Children. Anyone under the age of 18 can submit designs from all over the world have a chance to compete and win. The organization chooses multiple winners, usually around 50, and those models go on display at the Natural History Museum in New York.
Cliff has submitted to Origami by Children for the past seven years, and has been one of the winners six times.
Cliff got started in origami when was in the third grade when he found an origami book in his school library that sparked his interest.
“I remembered that my mom bought me an origami kit from San Francisco years earlier, so I checked out the book from the library, and started to get into it,” Cliff said.
After this, origami became a very interesting activity for Cliff. As he became more immersed in origami, his skills grew, and he started challenging himself to harder designs.
Origami difficulty is judged based on how many folds there are. A basic model is considered around 10 to 20 folds, intermediate is around 30 to 50 folds, and usually contains some more advanced techniques. Cliff practices complex origami with some projects having up to 150 steps.
“There are levels beyond what I do, like super complex,” Cliff said. “I have tried to take on something like that, but it is a lot more challenging, and I haven’t finished anything.”
Taking into account buying paper, and cutting each piece, making competition-worthy origami can take anywhere from a week to a month.
“Actual fold time, not including folding the paper, all in one go can take several hours,” Cliff said.
Spending hours at a time on one project requires a lot of patients and self control. Especially in complex origami, some models require pre-creasing, which is the folding and unfolding of the paper to act as a guideline, on top of the 150 folds.
Despite his time consuming hobby, Cliff maintains good grades and has become used to balancing school work and origami.
“I tend to do it whenever I have free time as opposed to it taking place of school work,” Cliff said.
After doing it for so long, origami has almost become second nature to Cliff.
“I’ve memorized a lot of the less complex models,” said Cliff. “I can do them without any guide books now, but the ones I make for competitions I need instructional books for.”
Famous origamist Roman Diaz serves as a role-model for Cliff in terms of what kinds of origami he likes to make.
“I’m really into the fantastical characters like dragons and mermaids,” Cliff said. “Roman Diaz designs a lot of mythical creatures, and that’s that kind of stuff I’m into.”
His winning piece last year was a unicorn, originally designed by Diaz.
This year, the submission deadline is Mar. 31, and although Cliff hasn’t started his entry piece yet, he does hope to start planning, cutting and folding soon for his seventh win in eight years.