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Origami Designer's Secrets: Alexander Kurth
Who is Alexander Kurth ? Please tell me in five sentences what I must know about you.
Alexander: Words that describe me are: creative, dreamy, crazy, quiet, versatile, emotional, as well earnest and funny. I love Jesus and my wife! Besides that I like natural materials, chocolate, board games, colors, music, the internet, youtube, cooking, baking, books and mocking games. I think I am sometimes not easy to get on with, but if you try to get to know me you can have great fun with me. Come on and try it!
What is origami to you? Why are you interested in origami? What was your first model to fold? What was your first model to create? Can you say origami changed your life in anyway, or is it just a hobby?
Kurth: Origami for me is the possibility to create things out of my imagination as the chance to receive results which weren't in my mind.
I guess the first model I folded was an airplane in school. But I think the point where I became really interested in origami was when I created my first design in 2011. It was a hummingbird, and that first version was not that nice. I improved it until 2016. But the important thing in 2011 was that I realized I was able to design my own creations. This moment was very inspiring for me! The possibility to put my imaginations and fantasy into forms.
The second moment in my life that has brought me forward in origami was when I met Giang Dinh the first time in 2013, and he called me a good wetfolder! I was completely overwhelmed, because Giang with his wonderful art is a really big role model for me. To hear from him that I have to teach wetfolding to other Germans was crazy for me and motivated me a lot. Until now I have designed more models and made origami my second job. I sell models, draw instructions and design models on request. I'd like to extend my job as an origami artist and it's definitely the better and cooler one of my two jobs. Would be great to have my own atelier someday. (dreams)
What is your muse? What drives your creation process? Do you fold other people's models? If so, do you have a favorite designer? What one origami book will you take with you to a desert island?
Alexander : I become inspired by nature, arts and my faith. After I noticed I can design without mathematics, only with some basics and trying out I received much more results than before.
I like to fold models from other designers but because of little time I can't do it that often. Eric Joisel with his rat and dwarfs is still my biggest role model. But also models from Sébastien Limet, João Charrua, Beth Johnson and Hoàng Tiến Quyết as others inspire me a lot. I prefer origami designs that are non or less realistic and include fantasy.
I think if I were forced to mention one book as my most loved book it would be Eric Joisel's The Magician of Origami – just because I have to see his wonderful creations again and again... and again!
For me, one of the highest points for an artist to reach is when one can recognize your style by looking at your models. It is easy to divide your works into groups, which intersect within themselves. What do you like to create, and why?
Alexander : I like to design figures which I don't meet in everydays life. I guess I design two kind of models: abstract wet folding figures and cartoonish fantasy creatures. I love abstract models, because you can receive and see something with less folds. Sometimes several people can see different things in it which is great, in my opinion. For the other kind of designs, I like when they are cute, interesting, crazy, funny or strange. So my models have two categories.
A: Simple elegance B: Craziness
Can you shed some light on your work process? Do you plan in advance, or doodle with the paper? Do you makes sketches first? How long is the process? What type of a designer are you? you have many models that have no reference points and can hardly be diagrammed and reproduce. What guide your hands?
Alexander: Sometimes I have a rough idea what to design, but most often I just start doodling around with paper without knowing what to receive. While folding I see forms and try to extend them until I have a clear idea what it could be. With this technique I designed models I could not imagine before like a creature that steals geometry...
For sure there are also moments I like to design a very specific model. In that case it needs some failed attempts until I get a satisfying result. Generally I have much more fun designing without a plan. Every time I come to a point I can't fold useful new steps on a started design I pick a new square and try to improve the previous folds. Sometimes I need 2-3 attempts/papers to receive a result I like. And sometimes it needs many more attempts. So I have designed models in a few minutes and others over some weeks.
It's correct that there are often less clear reference points in my folding sequence. But I fold like about 3/7“ or almost in the middle of the belly“... For some folders that's horrible but it helps me to get several different and unique results from one design. And while doing so I learn to estimate dimensions with my eyes. So what leads my hands in my opinion is god who gave me the gift of skill and the fact that you can learn to feel the behavior of paper. Also you can learn to see which proportions are beautiful and which are not.
What papers do you usually use? Why? Do you prepare them yourself? How do you decide what paper to choose? Do you try to match the paper to the topic of the work?
Alexander: A paper I use regularly is Arches Watercolor Paper. It's the best paper for my wet folding models because after drying it stays very strong in its new shape. This is important for the curves and only half folded creases in my models. I use weights between 180 and 600 GSM. Sometimes I paint it with acrylics before folding.
For my other models I use many different papers. I have a big stock of papers I use often, as well as papers I have not used yet. When I need a paper for one of my models I search in my paper stock and pick a paper I think is good for the model. It depends on how many folds a model will have, if it has big clear surfaces, thick layers, needs wet folding, and so on. Sometimes papers are not used for a long time until I find a model that fits it.
Beyond that I like to treat my finished models. So I use textile stabilizer, various pastes and art powders as varnish to make them more stable or give them an interesting surface. In my opinion it's important to have a really finished model at the end which holds the shape and colors for years. It's terrible for me to see origami animals that spread the legs after a few days and lying on the belly after a week... It's a pity for all the folding effort. So it's important for me to use good papers and materials.
Do you have a motto in your life? Is origami part of that motto? Is there a message in your art?
Alexander: I think my motto in life is to remain creative and happy. I try to find a good balance between being grown up and remain a child. If my art has a message it's that god and his creation are absolutely wonderful and I am thankful for the gifts and talents he gave to me. I try to show this variety, beauty and happiness in my designs.
I am sure there is one model of yours that you would like to point out for us. Which one is it, and please tell us why you chose it?
Alexander: Yes, there is one model which means a lot to me. It's called "Follow me,“ I designed this model at a time I was not doing well. I was very unmotivated, frustrated and sad. I had lost the will to do something. Out of frustration I picked up a good wet folding paper and started folding without any plan. It needed only few minutes and there was "Follow me.“ When I looked at it, I saw a man lifting his arm with gown like he was saying "follow me!“ I interpreted for myself that it could be Jesus who asks me to follow him. Ironically at this moment I became aware that I lived far from God in the past weeks. In the following time I focused on Jesus again, and if you believe or not my joy of life came back.
Is there one last question I should have asked? Ask yourself, but don’t answer. Just let us know what is the question …
Alexander: Would you tell us about your crazy origami-combination ideas you plan for the future?
|Place of residence||Syke, Germany|
|Profession||Social Care Worker and origami artist|
|akorigami.qm [at] web.de|
To really know a designer, you must fold his models. Here are the diagrams for the Abstract Figures.