Origami is a centuries-old art that requires focus, attention to detail, and, most importantly, vision. One young origami artist conceived a plan for an intricate pattern that would take him years to complete. The result is stunning — especially when one considers the fact that the whole work was formed from a single sheet of paper.
Origami artist Juho Könkkölä
Juho Könkkölä, a Finnish origami artist, dreamed up an intricate duel between two knights originating from a simple piece of Wenzhou rice paper. The pair face each other in battle; one wielding a longsword against the other, who defends himself with a shield.
Könkkölä described the battle scene, invoking a sense of drama. “Both are shouting with their mouths open while the capes are flowing in the action and the wind.
“The shielded knight has scaled armor with many rectangular shapes to convey a more grounded and defensive character, while the other has sharper angles and diagonal shapes to imply aggressiveness,” he added.
Hailing from Jyväskylä, Finland, 24-year-old Juho Könkkölä began origami as a pastime 15 years ago. After gradually mastering more and more intricate pieces, he started creating original works in 2018, using various “mediums, materials and methods.”
The process of creating a masterpiece
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While he sometimes folds mulberry and other rice papers, Könkkölä mainly uses Wenzhou rice paper. He finds this “one of the best papers” because, in addition to the fact that it is large, thin — yet strong, easy to fold, and has a good wrinkled look; it also “holds creases well.”
According to Könkkölä, the idea for the fighting knights arose in 2019. After much thought, he began designing the crease pattern for the pair in Jan. 2021, which enabled him to begin folding in Sept. the same year.
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In his wish to create a “more complex” structure with his art, he found that “one of the greatest challenges was to overcome efficiency requirements.”
Moreover, he had to devise a way to balance the symmetry of the characters with the asymmetry of the structure, a feat that offered no elegant solution from one sheet of paper.
It took two and a half years to complete the work after the idea germinated, with 109 hours spent in folding time. He worked incrementally, starting with the “individual parts,” and going through “dozens of iterations” just for the swords and knights.
After Könkkölä worked out the details, he transferred the design of the main structure to the paper, taking into account the flow of the capes and the placement of the limbs and faces. He then folded thousands of pre-creases, before unfolding it all into a “blocky figure.”
He continued to move forward folding more of the shapes and details, exercising great care all the while to avoid tearing.
In January 2022, Könkkölä proceeded to wet-fold the art into a “dynamic form” which is on display in his portfolio.
As his ideas developed, Könkkölä became confident that the concept would work.
“At around the 95-hour mark of folding the final piece, it was a huge relief to see the capes finally working. Before that, I only knew that it would be a possible theory,” he said. “The rest of the process after that was mostly just finishing touches, so I was already excited to see it finished.”
Though he doubted that he would pull it off, he broke through the barriers with determination and effort.
“It is the greatest origami of mine and is a culmination of years of work in a single sheet of paper,” Könkkölä said. “Before I thought it wouldn’t be possible to create such a thing, but I managed to prove myself wrong.”
In the process, Könkkölä has come up with a new way to design his complex figures in the future. “Many of the other challenges I overcame by trusting the process and my skills and just doing the piece,” he said.
His origami knights join Könkkölä’s gallery of other works, including a figure riding a dragon, and a Samurai. He has assured those who wish to see more of his works that he has more to come.
The origami artist says, “We will see what I can come up with next year.”