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Folding a Galaxy
An Interview with Star Wars Origami Artist Chris Alexander

By Kat
Staff Writer

July 13, 2010

Through the years Star Wars origami artist Chris Alexander has created over 40 Star Wars origami designs, taught Star Wars origami classes at conventions around the United States, and overseen the creation of a life size origami Jabba the Hutt. Now he's in the process of trying his Star Wars origami book published. Chris Alexander describes how he got started making Star Wars origami and what lies ahead.

How did you become interested in Star Wars?
It all started a long time ago in the summer of 1977. Star Wars had just opened in the theaters and it hadn't yet become the summer blockbuster. My mother had just finished reading the novel and thought I might like the book. I was instantly hooked. I spent the next week pestering her to take me to see the movie. When that star destroyer passed overhead and the audience drew in a collective breath in awe I became a fan for life.

How did you become interested in origami?
That started even a longer time ago when I was 4 years old. My mother would take my brother and sister and I to the library and read to us. One day she picked an origami book off the shelf thinking it was a Japanese story. When she opened it up It had all these cool diagrams in it. She ended up teaching me a paper cup from the book. I fell in love with the art form.

When did those two worlds collide?
That happened in '97. Up until then I'd always dreamed of folding some Star Wars models, but that was before the internet and no books with Star Wars designs existed. I was driving home from an origami demonstration I had given at a preschool. I was thinking about the penguin I had shown the kids when it occurred to me the short wings of the penguin were just like the wings of the B-Wing. I pulled out a piece of paper and refolded the penguin and changed it into the rebel starfighter. After that, I set myself a goal of creating the X-Wing within one month. I'd never tried designing a model before so it wasn't easy but I did it. I showed both the X-wing and B-wing to a friend who convinced me to write my own Star Wars origami book.
Origami X-Wing by Chris Alexander
Photo Credit: Chris Alexander
The origami X-Wing was one of Chris Alexander's early Star Wars creations

How and when did you decide to put your Star Wars origami designs on the internet?
Just about the time the book was in the final stages, I attended Celebration I. I was hoping one of the book companies there might be interested in publishing the book. I thought it might give the book a bit more credibility if I had a web site. The amazing thing (to me) is getting email from people around the world who visited my site and liked my designs.

When did you start going to Star Wars conventions?
The first Star Wars convention was in Los Angeles in 1987. (braggart alert) I won the trivia contest at that one. Since then there have been 4 [Star Wars] Celebrations. I attended the first two and did origami events at the last two. I'll be demonstrating again at Celebration V.

What are some of your favorite designs?

Of my own designs my favorites are the X-Wing, Slave I, and Jabba the Hutt. As for other artists designs, the list is endless. If you want to see something truly impressive, do an internet search for "Lang's Black Forrest Cuckcoo Clock."

Which of your Star Wars origami designs is the easiest to make and which is the most difficult?
The lightsaber is very easy, and pretty impressive for having just 7 steps. The hardest is probably Slave I. There are a lot of tricky steps. But the final result is definitely worth the effort.
Origami Slave I and Origami Lightsaber by Chris Alexander
Photo Credit: Chris Alexander
Alexander says origami Slave I (left) is one of the trickest designs, while the
origami lightsaber (right) is one of the easiest.

Can you describe the process of creating a new Star Wars origami design?
Not really. :) For me it's a trial and error process. In some cases a lot of dumb luck is responsible. Take Jabba the Hutt for instance. At one point while I was trying to invent the X-Wing model I took a very wrong turn. What I ended up with was a good start for Jabba. Another time when I was trying to create the Skyhopper I ended up getting interrupted and shoved the piece of paper I had been working with into my pocket. When I pulled it out later, believe it or not, I had accidentally added 2 new folds and that lead to the final design.

Most of the time however, it's a bit more purposeful. I'll decide on what I want to make, which details I want to add and what I think would be a good place to start. Then I just experiment until it comes together.

What's the most challenging part about making a new design?
There are several things to balance when making a new design. There's the balance between how difficult the model is to fold versus how recognizable it is when done. You also don't want to create a design that has 50 extra steps to include a rust stain. There is also the economy of paper usage. In other words, if you have to start with a piece of paper 12 inches on a side to end up with a model 2 inches long with most of the paper buried inside, that to me is a poor design.

You created four life size Star Wars origami figures for Star Wars Celebration III in 2005. Where did that idea come from?
In one of the books in my origami collection is a picture of an elephant 5 feet tall. I saw that and thought how cool would it be to make a life size Jabba the Hutt. I happened to be at a convention in San Diego and met Mary Franklin, head of fan events for Lucasfilm. I put the idea to her to have volunteers from the audience fold him at Celebration III. She thought it was a great idea and asked me to write up a proposal. I couldn't stop with just one model and did a star fighter from each of the new movies as well.

Star Wars Origami Jabba the Hutt
Photo Credit: Chris Alexander
  Life size origami Jabba the Hutt stole the show at Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis, Indiana (2005)

Life size Jabba, along with three other life size starfighters, raised over $4030 for the Koret Family House.

Chris Alexander (far right), along with the all volunteer Jabba folding crew, poses next to their larger than life creation.

Will you be creating more life size origami at Celebration V?
Yep, The audience will be folding Luke's Landspeeder, The Trade Federation Battleship, The Falcon, and Slave I (that should be a heck of a chalange).

You're in the process of trying to get a Star Wars origami book published. How is that going?
I've been trying for the last 10 years to show Lucasfilm that there would be enough interest to justify publishing a Star Wars origami book. I'm biased of course, but I believe it would be very successful. Even George Lucas thought my work was awesome. I'm just about to finish assembling the second book. The first one could be called Star Wars Origami: Empire. The second will be called Star Wars Origami: Republic. Each is based on one of the trilogies.

How many hours a week would you say that you spending designing, making or just thinking about origami?
I'd say at least once a day I'm folding something or trying to create a new design. I like the challenge. When I'm not doing something more interesting I'm usually tinkering with a piece of paper. Its my form of stress relief.

How has your approach to designing and making origami evolved over the years? Is it easier for you to come up with a new design today than it was in years passed?
Definitely easier. This is not to say I can pop out new designs faster, just that I've grown as an artist since that first X-Wing. I can now look at an object and figure out which base to start with to get close to the over all structure. I have a better feel for which types of folds will give the results I'm looking for. It's a little less of a random process.

What's next for you?
I'm planning on folding a life sized Star Destroyer at Celebration X. I figure I'll need a piece of paper the size of Kansas. At the moment I'm wrapping up a boxed version of my book. It has 15 designs and includes special paper for each model. The paper has the windows and engines printed on it so when the model is folded it adds that extra level. I'm hoping a publisher like Scholastic might be interested in it. I'm also wrapping up that second Origami book. Next I plan on working on a book based on the Clone Wars TV series, and maybe editing a book which includes Star Wars designs from other artists. Even if I never get published I hope my name will become synonymous with Star Wars Origami.

A big thanks to Chris Alexander for taking the time to share his story with You can catch Chris Alexander at Star Wars Celebration V from August 12-15 in Orlando, Florida. For more information, visit Chris Alexander's website at

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