Hutt 12-year-old already a master of ancient folding art

Simon Edwards Simon Edwards Simon Edwards Simon Edwards supplied

Joseph Simes, 12, of Normandale with some of his origami creations.

Origami turtle, by Joseph Sime.

Origami 3D plane, made up of hundreds of little folded paper triangles, by Joseph Sime.

Origami swan, by Joseph Sime.

Origami insect, by Joseph Sime.

Bhamut origami sculpture by Joseph Simes of Lower Hutt, 12.

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A 12-year-old from Normandale has mastered the ancient art of creating three-dimensional sculptures from a single sheet of paper.

The fiddly and often complex world of origami has seen many who attempt it...well, fold in disgust.  

But Joseph Sime has persevered and at the weekend completed the last of eight entries in the internet-based 5th Open International Origami Olympiad.

He hopes his folded gorilla, butterfly on a heart, large turtle and other creations will impress the judges, most of whom appear to come from Russia and Japan.   

The Olympiad's website indicates there are at least 289 competitors from 50 countries.  Joseph is one of the youngest.

He says the fixation with folding started when he was five.  His mother was given an origami book as a gift but found it too hard.  Joseph said he initially pestered his parents to help him but they would tell him to wait until he was older.

He kept at it and remembers one of his first models was a penguin.

After a year or two his interested faded but it was revived again in a big way when a friend showed him that origami experts had put some of their projects - and how to do them - on YouTube.

Origami started in China around 105 A.D., and was brought to Japan by monks in the sixth century, but these days it is on the internet that enthusiasts find and show off designs and link with their peers.  Joseph runs two blogs (;

An intricate swan and aeroplane he made look amazing but he explains he constructed them from thousands of little 3D origami triangles fitted together like a puzzle.  Time consuming, but not the hardest.

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His top creation so far is a flying kabutomushi (rhinoceros beatle), which took scores of folds of a single 70 x 70cm sheet of paper.

One day he'll tackle his origami Everest - the Ryujin 3.5.

 "It's pretty much like a dragon," he says. "Super, super complex with heaps of scales and everything."

The year 7 student at Hutt International Boys is also an accomplished pianist and loves playing football but the ancient paper art is what lights up his imagination.

 - Hutt News


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