The Oculus

The Oculus


The Truelux Group had been commissioned to create a feature light fixture for the Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi Tom and Nik from the Truelux Group needed
a little over 1200 origami cranes for the light fixture and they wanted the cranes
to be folded from clear colored material. Their client wanted 8 different colors, and
they wanted the colors arranged randomly on the fixture. Could I fold the cranes for them? I had a whole summer to do it, and summer
tends to be a slower sales season anyways, so I thought, why not? When we found out that shipping all 1200
cranes would cost much more than folding them, I offered to take the closed cranes in my
luggage and then I could just open them once I got there. Tom, Nik, and their clients all loved the
idea, and we were in business! So, how excited am I about this Dubai Project? AHHHHHHHHHHH! I’d say super excited! When Tom and Nick got the sample cranes I
sent them, they actually chose a larger sized bird than what was in the original plan, that meant they only needed me to fold 980 for the project itself. Now, the first step was to find the right material
I had to order enough of it for the project. And after a lot of research and doing some test folding, I decided to go with lighting gels and I placed a large order from the Lee factory
in California. I ended up choosing red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, purple, as well as peacock and pink that gave me 8 colors. Now, the sheets were rather large, so this gave
me the perfect excuse to finally buy a 24 inch paper cutter that I had been wanting
for years. [music] First I had to cut the sheets in half – this
could be done with 2 or 3 sheets at a time and the cut didn’t have to be perfectly
straight for this step. Next, I took a single rectangular sheet and
cut it into two precise 10.5 inch by 10.5 inch squares. I stacked those squares in a clear Iris case, the whole time I kept the layer of tissue paper behind each gel layer just to keep them from getting scratched
or scuffed. This time lapse video of me folding a crane
is the one that got me dubbed “the bird lady” by everyone in the UAE. I sent it to Tom and Nik so they could show
their clients I was up to, and they shared it with their clients, and eventually other
people working at the mall got to see it too. When I got there they all greeted me saying,
“So, you’re the bird lady!” I thought that was pretty funny. I calculated how many cranes I needed to fold
every week, and I made a calendar in order to keep track of how many cranes I actually folded
each day. I found out that folding more than 20-25 cranes
a day left my hands sore, so I decided to fold 25 a day and just take one day off a
week to give my hands a break. This would get all the cranes done in time,
and give me a week to string them up and pack them. I filled an Iris case with 25
cranes every day, and when I had 5 cases filled with one color, I’d transfer that color
group to a cardboard box. My pile of cardboard boxes grew into two,
and soon I had 8 boxes filled with cranes! Before stringing up the cranes I had to make
a plan for how the cranes would be arranged on the fixture. They had to be in random color order, so I
printed out four copies of the rendering, labeled each one based on the location of
each layer, and used my favorite Gelly Roll pens to color each one in. I used the pen caps to help me arrange each
set of 8 before I colored them in on the papers. Once all the cranes were colored in on the
rendering papers, I was able to get started on the process of actually tying the cranes
together in groups of four. For this I had all 8 boxes on the table and
I’d gather one bird of each color, arrange them in the order they had to be in for their
position, and then thread them in sets of two at a time. I made a little paper tag for each string
of birds so that we could keep track of where that specific line went in the actual fixture. Once four birds were strung together and their
little tag was tied to the line, I’d pack that string in the suitcase. I used tissue paper between each layer of
cranes to keep them in place, and also to protect them from each other and from getting tangled. I also used the smaller pieces from the squares
I had cut to help build up the sides of the layers so they would be as level as possible. In the end, each half of the suitcase had about 85 layers
of birds, and 87 layers of tissue paper, so 172 layers plus some cardboard to protect
everything and to help squish down all the layers on each side. I did buy two suitcases for the birds, but
as I stacked the layers in the first suitcase I realized that they’d be safer if they
were packed more tightly in a single case. This would keep the birds from shifting around
and getting damaged in the suitcase during the trip. So I returned the second hard case, and just
kept this maroon one. Because everything was so compressed inside
the case, I was a little concerned that the zipper might just bust open when the case
got tossed around at the airport, so I bought a strap to go around the case to take off some of the
strain from the zipper. At the airport I asked for a Fragile tag for
the suitcase as well. During the trip, I didn’t want just some
random person opening up the suitcase at the airport, so I got a TSA approved lock for it. and if TSA did happen to open the case for any reason,
I included a note inside explaining what was in the case, saying that it was packed very
tightly, and asking them to please handle it carefully. I also added a picture of the rendering to
show the purpose of the birds. Once all the cranes were packed up, and the
cardboard boxes were collapsed and put away, the basement looked REALLY empty and sad. The cranes were ready to go by Friday afternoon,
even thought the flight wasn’t until late Saturday night. The suitcase only weighed 15.5 kg, which is
only 34.2 pounds, so it wasn’t very heavy, and as the case rolled off on the conveyer
belt I felt panic for a split second that I might not see it again, but I did have faith
that it would arrive safely in Dubai. In the end nobody opened the case on the trip and the
birds arrived in perfect condition! [music]

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