Origami World Record
Ever since I was a child, I loved the idea of World Records. To know definitively that you are the best in the world at something always appealed to me. During one of the lockdowns of the pandemic I thought it would be a good time to keep myself busy and attempt an official Guinness World Record. I wanted something to help promote Apparel of Laughs and the perfect one was the record for the Largest Display of Origami T-Shirts.
folding the shirts
The record started by officially applying to Guinness to make sure they knew that I was about to start. They also give you all the guidelines that must be followed so all the records are above board. Once I’d applied and been accepted to attempt the record, the next challenge was finding enough origami paper. Believe it or not, buying origami paper in bulk is quite difficult. It took a good while searching online for the perfect supplier. Once I’d found one, I was able to order a large box of 4000 pieces of origami paper. One of the stipulations made by GWR was that I had to submit to them the exact method I would be using to fold the paper into t-shirts. Thankfully, they accepted the method and I was able to get cracking.
I started folding the shirts on March 31st and continued folding each day until April 28th. I certainly got quicker the longer I did it. Folding thousands of shirts wasn’t as boring as you might think. As most of it was just muscle memory by the end, I was able to enjoy plenty of Youtube videos, TV, and podcasts while folding. Each shirt has 10 different folds to turn it from a boring sheet of paper into a recognisable t-shirt. Every shirt took around 2 minutes to make with the average time I was folding each day around 3 – 4 hours. My personal record for a day was folding 250 shirts, but to be honest I don’t think I got much else done that day.
setting up the display
Once I had folded all 4036 shirts and wrote a number on each, it was now time to find a place to display the shirts. The record is for the largest display; it doesn’t mean anything until they are shown to the public. Thankfully the first place I contacted were very happy to allow me to use their space to show off my hard folding work. The Maketank in Exeter was the perfect venue for my display and they were incredibly hospitable while it took us a few days to set up. The setting up was a bit of a struggle early on. We had decided to use some wooden batons to hold up string on which we would hang the shirts. The problem was that the wood would bow out and cause the string to sag too much. Even by the end we still couldn’t completely remove the sag. It took us a day and a half just to set up the wood to be able to hold the weight of the shirts. Once everything was pretty firmly in place, it took us another three long days to hang up all 4000 shirts over the two windows.
Thankfully the whole plan came together and the whole display looked great. Once it was up, I needed to get an origami expert to be an independent verifier for GWR. I was able to find a local origami expert as well as a couple of trusted friends who were able to verify everything that was needed. GWR needed these verifiers to count each shirt, accept the folding method, and see all my notes and inventory pertaining to the project. The whole display was up for around a month in the two windows of the Maketank. While it was up I was able to get some good publicity for the project by doing an interview with BBC Radio Devon and with Devon Live.
getting the record
The next four months were an agonising wait. Had all I done been okay? Was all my paperwork fine? Will my evidence be good enough? Thankfully I got my answer in December. I was now an Official Guinness World Record holder! I then was sent my certificate which is now in pride of place in my office. I contacted BBC Radio Devon and Devon Live to tell them the good news and they both interview med again now I was an official record holder. Then the news spread everywhere!
A few months after the record was completed and I was incredibly satisfied with the results, I looked up my record online to find that it was an international news story! My escapades featured in the New York Post, Iran Daily, the Malaysian daily newspaper, and the Irish Daily Mirror. It was incredibly surreal seeing people so many miles away talking about my world record.
The greatest place my story was featured was in the world famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not daily cartoon. The strip has been running since 1919 and my record was illustrated for the cartoon on January 21, 2022. Finding this cartoon really took me by surprise and was a nice cherry on top of the fun I had with the record breaking.
It really was a life’s ambition to get a World Record. I thoroughly enjoyed every process I had to go through. From folding all the shirts, to displaying them, and then publicising them, it was really was a lot of fun especially in a year that was very dull for most of us. It worked very well as a PR stunt and got me column inches all over the world as well as being immortalised in a very famous comic strip. Hopefully the record will also appear in the 2023 edition of the Book of World Records, and if it does, I’ll see you in there!