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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Folding Fallingwater

Yesterday an advance copy of Mark Hagan-Guirey's Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut and Fold arrived in the mail. It was a pleasant surprise.

So today I couldn't help but try one of the projects, even though it's been a while since I've wielded an X-acto knife. The directions recommend an X-Acto knife with plenty of blades, a self-healing cutting mat, a metal ruler, skewers, and a bone folder. I have most of those from my days of architecture school and practice so was ready to go.

I started with the Jacobs House, since it has the fewest cuts and folds and no overly tricky cuts; even then, I goofed and folded the "mountains" as "valleys" and vice-versa. After I reversed those folds and got kind of comfortable with the technique I moved on to Fallingwater.

Like Jacobs, it made sense to start with the straight cuts (solid lines), then tackle the freehand jagged cuts, and finally "half-cut" the mountain and valley folds (red and black dashed lines, respectively). The last are particularly tricky, given the weight of the paper (135 lb) and the ease of inadvertently cutting straight through the sheet. After the cuts, half-cuts and taped repairs to the half-cuts I had a ready-to-fold Fallingwater:

That's when the fun – and frustration – began. The instructions look straightforward enough:

And my in-progress folded model looked promising:

But it was very hard to get everything to lock neatly into place. This is best I could do before nearly pulling some hairs out of my head and crumpling up the sheet:

Although Hagan-Guirey doesn't say so, one way to know if the model is perfect is being able to close it completely flat. I was able to do that with the Jacobs House but not with Fallingwater, which is much more complex with its landscape and terraced cantilevers. Nevertheless, after tackling an easy and hard kirigami, I'll probably move on to one that falls somewhere in between – just not today.

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