This feathery white baboon almost looks real. You’ll never believe what he’s really made of: paper! Canadian sculptor Calvin Nicholls shapes animals out of thousands of tiny pieces of paper. So we asked him how he does it. All that fuzzy fur is made out of rectangles of paper ½-inch wide. He cuts 50 little slits in each piece of paper to make all the little hairs. Then he glues down those pieces of paper, with just the fuzzy part sticking out. He squeezes about 25 of them in each tiny 1-inch-by-1-inch area, to make lots of fuzziness. It takes him about 10 hours to study the animal and sketch drawings of it, then about 8 hours to cut and glue all that paper to match it. At least when he’s done, he has a new pet that doesn’t need to be fed!
Wee ones: If Calvin glues the next 5 pieces of paper onto that baboon, what numbers would he say to count them?
Little kids: If he makes 3 claws on the bear’s left paw and 3 on the right paw, how many claws does he make? Bonus: If each claw nail uses 10 little rolled-up pieces of paper, what numbers do you say to count up the pieces in 10s?
Big kids: If Calvin starts gluing the fur at 9:00 in the morning, and spends 8 hours working and takes a 1-hour lunch break, when does he finish? Bonus: If he can cut and glue 1 piece of paper per minute, how many pieces can he power through in that time?
The sky’s the limit: If the baboon’s fur covers an area 8 inches tall and 10 inches wide, how many tiny fuzzy pieces of paper does it use if there are 25 pieces per square inch? (Hint if needed: How many pieces of paper are there in 4 square inches?)
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Little kids: 6 claws. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60.
Big kids: At 6:00 in the evening (9 hours later). Bonus: 480 pieces, since he worked for 8 hours x 60 minutes each hour.
The sky’s the limit: 2,000 pieces of paper!
And thank you Calvin for sharing the numbers behind your amazing work! You can all check out more photos here.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.