Using these simple instructions, Green Valley High School senior James Lucas surrounds himself in a world of color, texture and life with the art of origami.
"My room is like a museum," Lucas says. "I've got around 220 (origami) on the shelves in my room right now."
Deciding on a creation begins with selecting a subject, usually an animal. Decisions involving the type, width, sheen, texture and color of the paper follow.
"There's a store named Dick Blick's (Art Materials) here in Vegas," Lucas says. "They sell paper made halfway around the world from some very durable plant fibers."
Saving money for college is a reality for Lucas, who charges commissions for his more complex creations.
"I charge based on the amount of labor needed," Lucas explains. "I made a tyrannosaurus skeleton for a tutor of my friend, and it cost him $150."
Lucas occasionally creates creatures free of charge for teachers and friends. Biology teacher Cindy Kern taught Lucas in his freshman year at Green Valley.
"He made a beautiful red dragon for my son that still sits on the shelf in his room," Kern says. "My son named the dragon Draco after the constellation."
Once one masters the basics of origami, the next step is to invent different methods of folding and creating new animals. Lucas invented his own weevil last summer and utilized ordinary zip ties to aid the process.
"I had trouble folding insects, because the legs would not get thin enough," Lucas says. "I decided to use zip ties, and it has worked really well."
Origami requires complete dedication and extreme patience on the creator's part. Projects can range from a few days to a few months.
"Anybody who can take the time and look into the minuscule detail that he puts into all his origami has a lifelong skill," Kern says. "He puts this same skill into everything he does, and he's a great thinker."
The most difficult origami Lucas has created was a cobra invented by Richard Koh of Singapore. The cobra was folded from a piece of paper 22 feet long and 8½ inches wide.
"It took me four months to fold the cobra," Lucas says. "I had to do 5,500 scales, which was very tedious, but I completed it."
At age 10, Lucas began hosting his own origami workshops at branches of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District under the coordination of youth branch department head Sandra Williams. Lucas has run three workshops, one every three years.
"He wasn't a big guy back then," Williams says. "But taking on the role of a presenter, he did such a great job."
Williams has held countless workshops at the library over the past 20 years, placing books that deal with the guest speaker's topic on display for each event. About 15 to 30 kids showed up to take Lucas' workshop each time.
"Lucas has a certain finesse with kids," Williams explains. "All the origami books I put out on display, about 30 or 40 of them, were checked out."
High school provides Lucas with another venue to fold his creations. During most classes he orchestrates his next piece as the teacher discusses the topic at hand.
"I have to do something when I actually pay attention," Lucas says. "Folding while listening really works for me and allows me to absorb the knowledge."
Lucas' journey into the realm of origami began at age 5. Owning exotic pets such as a cockatiel and a tarantula fathered his love of nature.
"As an origamist, you always want to fold something new and different," Lucas says. "I've always loved nature, and I wanted to realize in paper the beauty of animals that nature has created."