A Sculptor’s Origami Inspired Woodland Creatures (Plus One You Can Make Yourself)

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A Sculptor’s Origami Inspired Woodland Creatures (Plus One You Can Make Yourself)

UK resident Joe Thompson decided he wanted a sculpture for his garden. Joe first made paper versions of both the squirrel and reindeer before making the “final” steel version seen below. According to him:

The overall idea took a bit longer than the design. I wanted to make a basic sculpture for the garden, so spent a while trying to think of something that would look OK but wouldn’t be too difficult to make. I settled on the idea of an origami / low poly effect (i.e. straight lines only) cut out of sheet steel or ply.
Once I’d decided that, the actual design didn’t take long at all. I used an existing origami design as a template and traced it in Adobe Illustrator, making adjustments where needed.

Both look great, and it’s nice to see someone actually prototype something before cutting metal. I’m definitely guilty of jumping into things before all the details are worked out, but mocking it up, whether in paper or virtually, can certainly be beneficial.


The fact that the squirrel is carrying a hex nut is a nice touch, and the deer came out nicely as well. Somehow the legs on the deer remind me of a Strandbeest (my version) or other walking robot, but I suppose robotics imitates organic life in many instances.

Though the steel critters are what will stay in the garden, after he’d prototyped the deer in paper, then made it out of steel, Thompson repeated the process with cardboard and glue. This final process got a ton of attention on Reddit, perhaps because it’s a very approachable project, not needing specialized equipment.

To simplify things further, he even provided a cut pattern in PDF form for people to follow along at home. You just have to print the pattern, cut it out of cardboard, then glue everything together. Also, you’ll need to find and “install” appropriate twig antlers. Another option would be to cut the whole reindeer body out of wood, or perhaps setup a CNC router or laser cutter to do this for you.

Thompson adds about the build:

The steel ones take a couple of hours, the cardboard is a lot faster. I probably spent longer looking for the twig than I did on the construction.

You can see his build proocess in the images below, or if you’d like them with added directions, check out Thompson’s image set.

As you might suspect, these “animals” aren’t Thompson’s firs endeavors into the world of making. Until recently, he worked as a designer in the print industry, but currently is starting a ceramic company called Old Forge Creations. His product is custom ceramic wedding coasters, which look quite interesting. According to him:

A few months ago my fiancee and I made save the date coasters for our upcoming wedding as we couldn’t find anything that was quite what we wanted. One of the combination of techniques we used allowed us to stamp a unique design onto each coaster, and I felt that there was a lot of potential there for personalized gifts

After years of designing on screen, there’s something very satisfying about working more manually to produce a physical object.

I wish him lots of success in his new business venture, and hope that he keeps making awesome garden decorations!

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook
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