Too elaborate! The World of Paper Creatures,” a hot topic on SNS | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Too elaborate! The World of Paper Creatures,” a hot topic on SNS

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A panoramic view of a salmon’s life becomes popular on Twitter

A paper craft has become a hot topic on Twitter. It is a paper craft that shows a panoramic view of a salmon’s life before it returns to the river. On the cylindrical surface of the craft, there are images of salmon growing, as well as northern sea creatures such as saury and pollack.

The artist, Mr. 1031, is an active university student at a famous private university, and in August, he participated in an exhibition in Shinagawa Ward, which attracted a lot of attention.

The Life of a Salmon
The Life of a Salmon Click here to see more!

Materials cost about 100 yen per piece…

He says that the reason he started making paper works in earnest was when the university was closed due to the Covid-19 disaster, but his “starting point” was origami, which his parents used to make for him when he was a child, and which he himself started making when he was in junior high school.

1031’s works have a realism that makes it hard to believe that they are made of paper, but the secret lies in his attention to paper as a material.

For works with a rounded shape, I use soft paper like thin Japanese paper and roll it up with a bond to harden it, and try my best to make it round. I always have a wide variety of papers at home, so I try to match the texture of each paper to what I want to create.

There is a corner on the second floor of the art supply store Sekai-Do in Shinjuku that sells various kinds of paper in bulk, so I go there and buy the ones with textures I like.

The Sage of the Forest and the White Messenger

In 1031-san’s case, rather than choosing a paper to match the work she wants to create, she often considers what she wants to express from the “paper with a texture she likes.

He also uses materials other than paper, such as toothpicks and erasers, but why paper in the first place?

Why paper in the first place? “Because of its softness and warmth, but also for economic reasons (laughs). On average, paper costs less than 100 yen per work (laughs). (laughs) I often buy postcard-sized paper, which costs about 15 yen per sheet, and I only use a small portion of that, so it doesn’t cost me much at all.

When you think that you can make realistic creatures for less than 100 yen, it makes you want to try it, but that is entirely due to 1031’s sense and skill.

There are also difficulties that only paper can offer.

Paper is very difficult to store. The worst enemy of paper is humidity, and if it is not kept in a case, it will deteriorate. When it contains water, it becomes squishy and starts to fall apart. That’s why I use 100-yen collection cases and put magnets on the bottom of the pieces to keep them from falling over. The collection case probably costs the most (laughs).

The palm-sized work took about two weeks from conception to completion.

Recently, I’ve been making works of water creatures,” he says. “I go fishing or to an aquarium, and I think of a place that I want to create, and then I start making it.

I’ve loved living things ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t until I became a high school student that I was able to go on trips by myself, and in my second year of high school I started going fishing and taking underwater videos with my own submerged camera. I sometimes create works of art with the creatures I see in the underwater images.

Fish in the Izu Islands

Self-taught. New Challenges

In addition, Mr. 1031’s pursuit is not limited to sculptural realism.

I try to think about the relationships between the creatures, who is being eaten by whom, and what kind of environment they live in. For example, if a fish is only found at night or in the shade of a rock, I make sure to place it in the shade of the rock in my work. I also try to include a fish that is chasing a fish that is about to be eaten.

The work “The Life of a Salmon,” which has garnered many likes on Twitter, is another example of a work that expresses an actual ecosystem.

When I first started making water creatures, I wanted to express the life of something, but I didn’t have the technical skills at the beginning. When I finally felt that I could do it myself, I came up with the idea of salmon.

When I was in elementary school, there was a salmon release event, and the experience of raising salmon from eggs at home was very strong in my mind, so I decided to make salmon.

The quality of your work seems to be that of a craftsman, but did you ever consider going to art school?

(laughs) My own image of people who go to art school is that they want to eventually make a career out of their creative work, or that they want to make money in some way.

On the other hand, I just want to create as I like, and I want to do it completely as a hobby.

I make one or two pieces a month, and each time I make a piece, I secretly try to create a new expression.

The work for “Kobudai” was a challenge to express scales by weaving paper, which was new to me personally, and I think it worked well. I had to cut the paper into thin strips and fit them together, but it took me about a week just to weave the paper (laughs).

Incidentally, it is also surprising to note that all of these “new challenge” techniques are completely original, and not based on guidebooks or information from the Internet.

I’ve been attending craft classes since I was in kindergarten, and I even did origami in junior high school. I think I’m pretty handy.

Cobbler’s territory
Nushi in the stream

A work that starts from a blueprint

In addition to the highly realistic creatures of the waterfront, the world of “tissue rats” is also unique and interesting.

Tissue mice start their work with a kind of blueprint. I often make buildings and furniture, so I draw up blueprints for everything. The opposite is true for the works of water creatures. I don’t draw any blueprints, but I make all the creatures first, and then I think about how to arrange them, and then I make rocks or seaweed and arrange them. It’s because I’m not very good at drawing natural objects (laughs).

The secret base under the stairs

Mr. Ichimaru has always been very good at mathematics, and is a top-ranked “genius” in his department. You might think that his knowledge of science would be useful in designing three-dimensional objects, but he simply says, “I guess it doesn’t matter (laughs).

What I would like to work on in the future is a large-sized work. For me, the life of a salmon was quite a large work, but I’d like to make a large work that covers the whole surface, not just a circle like that. The size of a fish-related work cannot be determined until I have made all the creatures, so the size will depend on how many creatures I want to include.

It would take an enormous amount of time to make something close to life size, so if I had that kind of time, I’d like to try it (laughs).

  • Interviewed and written by Aika Ohta

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