Wallpaper* talks to Dutch paper artist Ingrid Siliakus, who designed our limited edition cover for W*119, to discover exactly what goes into creating her stunning three-dimensional work.
W*: How long have you been creating paper architecture?
IS: I started this technique about fifteen years ago. There where no classes or books on any of it back then. I had to rely on Japanese pattern books to learn the technique. It has taken many years to get to where I am currently.

Ingrid Siliakus

For a look at some of Siliakus' past projects, including the piece she calls her personal favourite, click here
Can you describe your process?
When I started out, I was doing my designs by hand, with pencils and graph paper. Later I switched to using computers, which helps with making neat adjustments. With each design I’ll make up to forty adjustments and alterations so that’s important.
Originally, I was cutting by hand – scanning the hand-drawn design onto a computer, printing it, transferring it manually to cardboard, and then cutting between marked coordinates. But for large pieces this quickly became unworkable. You have to realize that cutting even a very small design can easily take an hour. Cutting by hand the large pieces with more sides would take weeks.
So now I use a laser-cutting machine, which reads the designs directly from the computer. I still have to adjust the settings on each cut to get the correct depth depending on the paper brand and weight, which is not simple. I then do all the folding by hand, with the help of bamboo skewers, a folding bone, and a sharp stylus pen.
What kind of paper do you use?
I use paper weighing between 160 and 225 grams for small pieces and 200 to 300 grams for larger ones. The amount of paper used per piece varies. A lot is used during the testing stage to get the laser settings exactly right.
How long do the pieces take to construct?
It all depends on how large and intricate the piece is. First there is the design stage, which can take several weeks. Then there’s testing of the laser cutter to determine the correct settings, which can take hours or even days. Each cut, then, can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, and than there is the folding. This can take days, depending on the intricacy and how maybe parts need to be folded. Last but not least there is the assembly stage, in the case of a multi-faceted piece or a book.
What is your favourite piece?
It is hard to choose one favourite. Usually I like the last piece I created because I’ve been focussing on it so much. Overall, though, I really love ‘Reflection on Sagrada Familia. (pictured in the gallery above).
What are the biggest frustrations?
For exhibition purposes, it is hard to ship the large pieces - for instance ‘Reflection on Sagrada Familia’ - to a location abroad, because they’re so fragile. They can be dismantled but require a huge amount of care and skill to re-assemble, and I’m not always able to attend the exhibitions personally.
What are you working on next?
I’m doing a design based on a New York building for a specialty invitation. Also, I will participate in a group-exhibition in the Pulitzer hotel in Amsterdam in a while. This is keeping me busy, because it is a special location requiring special equipment. I am also thinking of creating some more book-like pieces, like ‘Windows to Balcony’ (in our gallery above).