Thursday, November 01, 2007


That was the title of an email that I received recently: ORIGAMI EMERGENCY!!!! It read:

Dear Mr. Clark.

My name is Dave McKean, and I'm directing a feature film starting this weekend called Luna. A scene in the film requires an origami crab made from white paper. This little detail has been left to the last minute to source, and has proven to be a big problem. I found a beautiful paper crab on a website called ORIGAMI DATABASE which I believe was folded by yourself from a diagram by John Montroll. From there I found your blog and website, with what I hope is a correct email address for you. So, the reason for this emergency email; would you be willing to make me a couple of white paper crabs to use in the film and ship them to me in the UK straight away. I can pay you a small fee out of our props budget for your time, credit you as the model maker in the end credits, and give you a fedex number to use.

I hope you will be able to help us out,
Yours sincerely,
Dave McKean

I have about two dozen origami books in my library, and I made an index of the origami designs in these books to help me find origami designs. When I discovered the Origami Database website, I contributed my index to them, because it is built by volunteers. I also had many photographs of origami models that I had folded, which I also contributed. That is how Dave McKean found me.

That email came on Tuesday, and he wanted it for the 'shoot' on the next weekend. I agreed, and folded these, which have been FedEx'ed to the UK on Thursday:

It took me four hours to fold each crab, turning a 12 and 3/4 inch square of paper into a 3-inch by 4-inch crab. One crab will be a stand-in for the other. No, I don't think a crab will show up for work drunk, but somebody might accidently step on one.

Dave McKean is a artist that has made many CD covers, has illustrated children's books by his friend author Neil Gaiman, and more recently has been directing movies. I asked him if his new movie Luna was an English remake of the Italian movie La Luna by Bernardo Berttolucci, and he said:

Luna is not a remake of La Luna, a film I really liked being a Bertolucci fan.It is an original story, and there will be a website and IMDB page up soon. It is a low budget independent feature funded here in the UK. It is a contemporary drama, with a strange dream-like fantasy sequence running through it.

He then described how the origami crab is featured at the end of the film. I don't think I should repeat what he said, because maybe it will reveal too much about the ending of the story, but I guess it's OK to say that something magical happens to the crab.

So I'll be looking for the Luna web site and the listing on And it will be fun to see my origami featured in a movie!

read more about it..


iam said...

Oh how wonderful! Your origami crabs are very cool and I can totally see them in a starring role! I absolutely love Dave McKean's work (MirrorMask is very good - go rent it!). I'm from Hawaii, and whenever a Japanese friend or family member got married, my aunts organized the 1001 origami swan folding party. Best of luck to you, and I wouldn't be surprised if you'll get more origami emergency emails!

Andrea said...

What a fun story! Now I'll have to keep my eye out for the movie too.
(came over from Mr. Neil's blog)

kathy said...

Step 15. :eyeroll: was it just me, or was it one of those "you have got to be kidding" moments, looking at the little caption of "fold the small triangle underneath" and then realizing a simple sink wasn't gonna do it.

Nice job on the folding! I made two as well, just in case no one else answered the call on Neil Gaiman's blog, but you got the legs much cleaner than I did! It'll be neat seeing them in the movie!

Dee said...

Very very cool! :)

JC said...

Kathy -- Nice to hear from another folder. Yes, John Montroll has some scary moves, sometimes, doesn't he? I add notes to my origami books. On the step 15, I wrote "Sink triangle, pointing up underneath" and drew a diagram of an inside view. I open the area carefully so that it can be re-collapsed, and sink the point, pointing it up and behind.

Your crabs look nice for kami, but I folded mine from foil/paper composite, so the white paper shows, although tiny bits of the grey/silver foil shows on edges of the legs.

JC said...

I found this web page by someone who seems to know something about the new film:

JC said...

The crabs arrived a few hours ago at the hotel which is the 'base' for shooting the movie. They had been delayed because British customs was closed over the weekend.

Donna-Jean said...

Very interesting! In Baltimore, where my husband grew up, he had a friend who used the term 'paper crab,' but it meant a very light (weight) crab, in other words, one with little meat on it. (and therefore undesirable!)

Your paper crabs are much better :-) Nathan is trying his hand at origami, inspired by you...

Origami Instructions said...

very cool. them crabs look great and well done you..

How To Make Origami Balls

Ku said...

I KNOW THAT MODEL... I think. Is that the one where you don't split the legs with a cheating cut...? Love those things. ^_^

Every day should be an origami emergency.

JC said...

Yes, Ku, there is no cutting. There is more than one crab folded from an uncut square, but this one was a John Montroll design. It's harder when you don't 'cheat' -- it took me 3 1/2 to 4 hours for each crab.