Artists around the world never fail to come up with amusing ways of turning ordinary objects into something extraordinary. Japanese artist Harukiru repurposes packaging from used products that would otherwise end up in a trash bin and eventually add to the billions of tons of waste we accumulate every year to create miniature works of art. His three-dimensional pop-up pieces crafted with the kirigami technique range from detailed characters or animals to whole tiny cities.
Harukiru is keeping an ancient art of designing paper, called “kirigami,” alive. It dates back to seventh-century Japan. The term derived from the Japanese words “kiru” (to cut) and “kami” (paper) quite literally explains the technique. Rather than manipulating a single sheet of paper by folding in the more common and widely-known paper craft form origami, kirigami also involves cutting, which opens up a lot more creative possibilities. Though similarly to origami, the canvas for artwork is a single piece of paper, being able to cut and fold results in great precision and more complicated designs.
An unimaginable amount of different types of waste is dumped each year―a real-time global waste counter is already at 1.25 billion tons this year and statistically, it will grow by almost half of that size by the end of 2020. While the world is struggling to manage all the waste that is created by mass production, Harukiru takes an extra step by not only mastering his craft with regular paper, but reusing trash and giving back to the environment. The artist sets a positive and inspiring example of how to turn a crisis into something beautiful. Harukiru gives a second life to packaging of everyday things and snacks by transforming them into impressive sculptures and at the same time, he draws attention to ever-rising ecological issues in our society.
Harukiru uses every single detail from the packaging to craft sculptures in the most creative way: a dragon from Starbucks coffee packaging turns into a dragon and even the mermaid logo transforms into his own version of Khaleesi; a few boxes of chocolate turn into a little port; two boxes of sweets can turn into a fighting scene with action figures. Every sculpture he tweets out into the world gains hundreds of thousands of likes—no wonder this kirigami artist has 472.8k followers on Twitter and over 50k Instagram fans. He obviously uses Japanese packaging for this art, but if you have a few empty boxes laying around (and you’ve probably been snacking even more during quarantine) and got inspired to challenge yourself to try to create something out of them, check out his YouTube channel to find out the step-by-step creation process of some of his best artwork.
This is not the first time Bored Panda has featured artists who shift their art towards a more environmentally friendly approach. A 23-year-old recently made an eco-mural in Venezuela from 200k bottle caps, metal revolutionist Brian Mock makes spectacular sculptures from reclaimed materials, and Dan Tanenbaum creates steampunk sculptures from broken watches. If you are interested in recycled art, check out these articles and support these progressive artists!