Bowled over by paper folds

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Bowled over by paper folds

Little did MRC Nagarajan know that a simple query by his daughter about paper folding would develop a love for origami in him. “I started 35 to 40 years ago when mydaughter, who was in school then, came to me for help when she was trying out some paper folding. I didn’t want to say no to her and decided to give it a try,” he recalls. That was the beginning of the retired government official’s tryst with origami.

Always ready to try out something new, Nagarajan says, “I had never imagined the extent that I would go to and the numerous creations that I would bring out.”

Fascinated by the art which requires minimal cutting and gum, Nagarajan says, “It’s an intricate art and the final product that comes out, just from folding paper, is amazing.” Nagarajan, who is also into ‘model origami’ says, “There are two kinds of origami, regular and model. While the regular one only involves folding the paper to get a particular design, model origami requires a lot of innovation. Different parts are created and then assembled. And this involves a lot of imagination since there are no books to give you specific instructions.”

His vast collection includes decorative pieces, animals and insects. And don’t be surprised if you mistake the insects to be real. Ask him about his favourite piece of work and Nagarajan says, “I have put my heart and soul into each of the creations.

I ensure that I give each piece my best shot. Each of them requires a lot of time and it’s impossible to pick just one favourite.” In fact, he has made so many designs that only some are in his house in Banashankari, while the others are in his daughter’s house. “Actually, I’ve lost count of the number of pieces I’ve made. As soon as I finish a particular work, I spray some adhesive on it so that it remains in place,” he points out.

The hobbyist, who has participated in several exhibitions, says that visitors always have a word of appreciation for his creations. “Although I am always ready to teach them, I have gathered from my experience that while many of them say that they will come and learn, few actually turn up,” he says, adding, “It’s important to stick to the art to master it. It cannot be learnt in a jiffy.

Origami is all about being patient. Some of the designs take several days.” Nagarajan, whose work has been published in the journal of the Origami Society of America, says, “During the ‘Year of the Dragon’, I sent one of my works to the society, which was published in their journal.” Nagarajan, who visited Japan in official capacity, picked up a couple of books on origami in the 1980s. “At one point, I loved anything to do with Japan. I had even learnt Japanese,” he says.

Explaining how he goes about the art, he says, “It’s important to follow the procedure step by step to get a good final product. A lot of my work is made from scrap paper.” However, the challenge that Nagarajan faces is with the quality of paper. “To get the right design, it’s important to use the right kind of paper. Some designs can only be done on certain kinds of paper. Otherwise, they won’t come out correctly. But that becomes an expensive affair,” he rues.

Nagarajan, who has several other interests too, says that he uses his time fruitfully. “I also love literature. I divide my time between all of them,” he says. Nagarajan, who has also displayed his work at the ‘Japan Habba’, is never at a loss when it comes to gifting his near and dear ones.

“Origami has a personal touch and people love it,” he smiles. However, due to an accident a couple of months ago, Nagarajan has been unable to work on new designs. “Although I have been out of touch with origami for a while, I can’t wait to get back to my favourite pastime,” signs off the 80-year-old. 

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