With the recently-released Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut Out and Fold from Laurence King Publishing, you can build tiny models of Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, and Taliesin West. There are also templates for some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s lesser-known structures, such as the Mayan Revival-style Storer House, constructed in the 1920s with textile blocks, and even one Wright failed to realize himself: the National Life Insurance Building designed for Chicago with 25 stories of copper panels.
It was that unbuilt model that I decided to tackle from the book by Marc Hagan-Guirey. A kirigami and paper artist, he previously authored the 2015 Horrorgami, with models of haunted houses and scenes from horror films. (The Ennis House, setting for the 1959 film House on Haunted Hill, is in Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models, for a bit of crossover.)
Kirigami is distinct from origami, as it uses both cutting and folding. Many of the details for the Wright models are already die-cut, with lines and thorough instructions for the rest. However, the kirigami is definitely challenging, and although I have some origami skill (or at least can make a decent crane and horse), I quickly mangled the paper into a mess of unstable folds.
After failing, like Wright, to build the National Life Insurance Building, I would recommend having a very sharp X-Acto knife, self-healing cutting mat, and time for concentration. Don’t just rush in with the dull blade sitting around your office, using cardboard from an old box, and try to complete one among the noisy din of a workday (this is now from experience). Nevertheless, even though I was not successful with my first attempt, I did enjoy how the craft caused me to spend time thinking about each line of the architecture, considering Wright’s decisions in its angles and perspectives. Much like my experience with Zupagrafika’s Brutal London paper models (which I had an easier time with, blocky Brutalism being a bit more straightforward for folding), the model created a tactile connection with this building.
Along with the model templates, Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models has brief texts and photographs of the real place. So if you finish, say, Unity Temple or the Robie House, you can compare them to the original, and see how Hagan-Guirey engineered their forms into paper.
Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut Out and Fold by Marc Hagan-Guirey is out now from Laurence King.
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