1070: Massimo’s Western Dragon

It is not every day you open your email and find a gift from a design legend. Friday Francesco Massimo sent me the diagrams for his Western Dragon, and I knew what I would be folding this weekend:

Francesco Massimo's "Western Dragon"

Having folded many dragons (western and not), I was keen to explore the morphology and layer management of this new model, and pretty soon realised paper selection is REALLY important for success with this model.

Essentially a “birdbase”, 2 structured have been grafted on (a Lang “KNL”-style dragon head, and a luscious set of wings), meaning that the “legs” would emerge from the centre of a tangle near the middle of the sheet, accumulating layers as they were formed.

Francesco Massimo's "Western Dragon" views

I decided to fold a maquette from thin crispy Kraft paper first – there were LOTS of baffling manipulations and I did not feel confident to risk nice paper on a first fold. In wrestling with the maquette, I “made good” the wing connection and body trimming, learned about initial angles of things like the neck (deciding I did not like the designed angle, changing it in my final fold), and the sequence for the collapse of the head – the pre-creasing strategy is prone to gross inaccuracies that impact the look and sit of the features, so adopted more of a CP mentality when I knew what was being used for what.

Early inaccuracies really play forward here, so being accurate is important (it always is, but lots of models have “fault tolerance” that lets you adjust as you go – this one has flow on effects that catch up with you later). Wing formation and isolation of the legs was interesting (if not entirely diagrammed), but the emergent morphology makes sense and results is a pretty stable model in the end.

Francesco Massimo's "Western Dragon" development

Having completed the maquette, it was time to select suitable paper for the presentation fold. I toyed with a sheet of brown unryu-do, and a small sheet of origamido, but settled on a sheet of blue pearlescent crumpled VOG paper I had won a few years back, and set about cutting it square (few papers in large format arrive in anything approximating a square). This model shows front and back of the paper, so although it says that Duo colour is ok, I think it the wings look a little odd because you see the back colour in part on them.

I managed to get a 60cm square and then set about carefully folding. This is the result.

I like that this model already free-stands, without ANY “assistance” from wire, glue or MC. Features lock other features, layers sort of manage themselves (when folded accurately) and it has a bulky body which places the centre of gravity low, making it stable on it’s feet.

Francesco Massimo's "Western Dragon" scale

I will probably “stabilise” it later, by closing some seams and anchoring some top layers, just so it stays looking nice, but it is a satisfying model, and represents some interesting challenges to fold it nicely. I feel honoured to have been given a chance to fold it, given how little the diagram has/will be circulated (I think it will be part of a folding competition some time this year). I also feel blessed to have had a conversation with Francesco about this (and other) design elements, astonished by the inter-connectedness that the Internet affords.

Happy to extend the invitation to anyone else (who has read this far in the post) – I will happily test fold, edit diagrams and provide feedback on your designs.

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