Paper Folding at Eden with Benja Harney



For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an origami enthusiast. I’ve always found the repetition, and the concentration it requires stills my mind like nothing else; when I’m working with paper, I am at peace. So when my editor informed me that Eden, a series of holistic wellness workshops hosted by the Canberra Centre, was putting on a paper-craft master-class, and that I was to report on said class, I was, to say the very least, rather pleased.

The event was to be run by Benja Harney, a ‘paper engineer’ based in Sydney, who has been in the business of paper-craft for over ten years. Having never heard the name before, and being curious as to what I was in for, I found his instagram and looked it over thoroughly. There I found not origami, as I had assumed I would, but sculptures, masks, gowns, ad campaigns, and magazine covers, all made from dozens of sheets of paper and held together with glue. So with my curiosity sufficiently piqued, I put on my coat and headed to the class.

I arrived at the Canberra Centre on a rainy, gloomy Sunday and headed up to the event area with all speed. I was greeted at the entrance by a miniature buffet filled with pastries and puddings; not being one for the god awful chia pudding, I opted instead for what appeared to be the missing hole of a donut. After securing my provisions and taking some photographs of the area, I noticed the arrival of the master himself; he was dressed head to toe in pink and yellow, no doubt a statement of defiance against the grey outside. As he made his way to the stage, I followed suit with the rest of the students and took my seat.


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Benja introduced himself to the crowd and told us that today, using the masters own methods, we were to make a paper flower. We were each provided with a small set of tools to accomplish this task: a piece of hard foam card, a pair of scissors, two wooden skewers, a bottle of water based craft glue, a stencil of the three shapes needed to make the flower, a large pile of variously coloured sheets of card, and three 20 cent pieces graciously provided by Benja.

I immediately set out tracing, cutting, and gluing, following the master’s every instruction (see below) as best I could. As I worked I found myself enveloped in the same serene calm that takes me away when I fold my paper cranes in the comfort of my home; and before I knew it, my hour with Benja was up and I had before me a rather pitiful looking flower. Fortunately the blame for my sculpture’s sorry state didn’t fall entirely on me: the wet weather and the resulting humidity meant that our glue was unable to dry as quickly or as effectively as it would have been able to in drier conditions.

Despite the adhesive issues, I can’t help but feel a glint of satisfaction as I look upon the childish mess that currently sits upon my desk at home. The joy of creation, and the meditative silence of the process is, after all, why we are drawn to craft in the first place.


For those of you who wish they could have taken part in Benja Harney’s paper-craft master-class, here are my very own steps (based on Benja’s of course) to make your own paper flower.


  1. Using a 20 cent piece, trace three circles on foam card, cut each one out and glue them together into a stack.


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  1. Using the flower template, trace five large petals, five small petals, and 2 stamen, on to the coloured card.


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  1. Glue the small petals on to the large petals and roll or crumple the edges inwards to give the leaves some curvature.


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  1. Cut a 5cm long slit along the centre of the bottom of each leaf. Bend the two halves of each leaf together to create an angled base, secure with glue.


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  1. Using a rectangle of leftover coloured card, cut multiple small slits along one edge to create fringing. This step can be done on a second piece of card to add more variety (or can be repeated as many times as you feel). Wrap the base of your fringing around the edge of your foam card coin stack, fasten with glue.


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  1. Cut your skewers in half to yield four sticks. Fold stamens in half, glue around the end of your skewer, then jam the other end of your skewer into your foam card coin stack. This step is optional.


  1. Glue the bases of your petals to the edge of your foam card coin stack. Glue each petal one at a time. They will need to overlap slightly so that they can all fit.


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  1. Marvel at the beauty you have wrought.




Jesse Petrie

Jesse Petrie

A dashingly handsome man with many talents and a humble heart. Jesse has been on board with Leiden since it’s inception, tirelessly writing his opinions down for all the world to see. When he’s not with us he spends his free time reading, writing, and obsessing over fighting games.

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