The MIT OrigaMIT Club Made A Thanksgiving Meal Out of Paper

Members of OrigaMIT spent 40 hours folding the sheets into weird shapes.
Photo via MIT

Photo via MIT

If you’ve ever attempted to construct a paper football or put together one of those fortune tellers, then you know manipulating paper into unnatural shapes is a tough task.

But for members of MIT’s Origami club, OrigaMIT, it’s a pastime. And this holiday season, they used their club meetings and personal time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

After putting in around 40 hours of work, slowly and meticulously folding small bits of colored paper, Yongquan Lu, 22, a math major and president of OrigaMIT, and members from the club, were able to construct a replica of a Thanksgiving dinner spread, complete with a turkey, cornucopia, leaves, pumpkins, and pine cones. “I am really excited about it. It looks really nice,” said Lu, who worked hard to weave brown paper together to create an 11-inch long cornucopia. “It’s very intricate. By using the paper, you can make a basket-like weave type of texture, but from there I had to figure out how to roll it up to make the shape.”

Lu said eight people from the club took on the paper-folding task, creating more than 25 pieces in all.

Each piece is continuously hand-folded, until the right shape is created. None of the paper is cut or glued together. “Everybody did it on their own time, so we had weekly club meetings, but some of the models were people folding at night after class,” said Lu. “The pine cones are really nice. They are really realistic, they have these scales coming out. I was just really happy with how it turned out.”

The club meets weekly and often welcomes in first-timers and alumni to teach them how to fold paper.

When workers from MIT found out they were putting together the replica, they decided they wanted to take photos of the display. This was the first time they did a Thanksgiving spread, but last year, Lu said, the club folded enough giant green sheets of paper to make a life-size Christmas tree, which was later displayed on campus.

They held a study break for students to come by and make their own ornaments to put on the tree. “People came, ate snacks, folded something simple and nice, and hung them on the tree,” he said.

That display was on campus for the entire month of January. Lu wasn’t sure if the club, which has been around for 15 years, would do a similar thing this Christmas.

OrigaMIT Thanksgiving

OrigaMIT Thanksgiving

OrigaMIT Thanksgiving

Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine