CHENNAI: A red seagull with elongated legs, webbed feet and pointed beak stands mighty impressive. Precise folds, attention to detail and enhanced features — this origami model looks similar to the real bird. But it took hours of painstaking effort and years of practice for Jagan Raj to complete this piece. Jagan was always drawn to the world of miniatures. As a child, when his peers pursued music or dance as hobbies, he opted for crafts.
“My father used to make paper crafts and help me with school projects. That’s when I developed an interest. I started with basics like toys and flowers. Over the past 12 years, I’d have made more than 10,000 paper miniatures. Out of the lot, a swan from the Prison Break series is close to my heart. I’d have made them a 1,000 times, each time it only gets better,” said the software developer from Avadi.
Jagan has a liking for origami and kirigami. He spends after-work hours practising them. The artist likes challenging designs, incorporating math and technical detailing into his craft. “There are many stages in origami involving complex calculations. A design can take even eight hours to complete.
It’s said to stimulate both sides of the brain since both hands are involved. The art is a mix of meditation, focus, science, and math. I’m glad that the early days of education can be put to use in this way,” said the artist, who will be making a debut at an art exhibition in the city next month.
He’s inspired by the works of Robert J Lang for the technicality in origami and Akira Yoshizawa for his artistic touch. “It’s a rule that an origami artist cannot take credit for another’s work but only for his original designs. I have around 30-50 models. Unfortunately, not many people pursue this craft because it’s time-consuming. A papercraft is easy as it’s all about cutting and sticking. But origami has many factors and involves only one sheet of paper. I’m also working on illuminated origami with circuits for Christmas,” said Jagan who is popular for his kirigami as well.
Kirigami is a variation that involves cutting of paper rather than solely folding. “I make pop-out cards using kirigami for gifts. It looks simple but takes a lot of effort to make the design work. The angles and sides have to be balanced in this craft to produce the effect of popping out. I have a template design that I refer to every time I start afresh. First, I decide the medium based on whether it’s a two- or three-dimensional image. I measure the dimensions, prepare a layout with reference points to cut or fold, and then start with the job. Sometimes even the clients suggest designs I can work on,” said Jagan. He also conducts craft classes.
The artist feels that this is one of the dwindling crafts and can soon become extinct. There are a bunch of people in his area who practice it. “I made a Taj Mahal that took me six months. I haven’t even displayed that anywhere. This is not a money-making business, but a mere passion to unwind. Every design is stored in my data to preserve. My dream is to come up with a book of designs,” he says. Jagan also makes bags using paper weaving.
He’s trying to keep paper art alive in different forms. His tutorials are available on YouTube under Jagan Raj Artistry. He also takes customised orders. For details, call: 9791106031 or visit Facebook page: Jagan’s Paper World, and Instagram: Jagan Raj