About a year ago, 10-year-old Danny Cauz, of , picked up a book, "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda." That book sparked a passion that would not only take up 5-10 hours per week for the student, but encourage him to teach his peers and community citizens about the ancient Japanese art form in upcoming weeks.
Yoda was the first figure Cauz constructed of paper. Since then, his interest in Origami has taken off to the point where he reads Origami books, watches Origami movies and follows well-known Origami artists' videos on YouTube.
A few of Cauz' creations are currently on display in the lobby of the and a special reception was held for him on Saturday to unveil his art. His mother, Kathleen Cauz, is encouraging of her son's hobby and helps him shop for the specialty paper needed.
"The fine motor skills are great, but, I mean, these are all angles and math and he doesn't even realize it," Kathleen Cauz said.
"I just realize it as fun!" Danny Cauz added.
The author of "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda," Tom Angleberger, reached out to Tri-Boro Patch to express how proud he is of Danny Cauz.
"Danny's Origami skills are really remarkable! It's hard to believe he started with my book, because he has greatly surpassed me in ability," he said. "His library display features the legendary Kawahata Yoda -- a difficult design created by Japanese Origami master Fumiaki Kawahata. I'm especially impressed that Danny folded one... because I can't!"
While Danny Cauz does try to teach his older brother Origami, his mother said it has not become a full family affair and her son is really the only one who spends time with it. Since he has made hundreds of Origami figures, Danny Cauz chooses his favorites to be displayed on book shelves at home and stores the others.
Depending on what he is attempting to construct, Danny Cauz follows diagrams with hundreds of steps, carefully folding and pressing paper in precise lines. He said he uses his fingernails to smooth each crease. But having a hobby like Origami does come with its frustrations.
"If you make a wrong fold, you can't get rid of the fold," Kathleen Cauz said.
When he does get frustrated, Cauz's mother said he simply steps away from the paper for a break. Still, Danny Cauz said there is an inherent satisfaction that comes with completing an Origami figure.
"You start with a piece of paper, then you put your mind into an Origami masterpiece," he said.
Danny Cauz is hoping to inspire others to feel the same way when he leads a Family Fun Night at the library. His mother said he could be teaching Origami to children, adults and senior citizens. Danny Cauz said he has also brought Origami to the classroom and around the time of Thanksgiving, he attempted to teach his classmates how to make a turkey.
Danny Cauz hopes to be able to teach Origami to his peers more in school through special programs. If Origami can have the same impact on other students as it has on Cauz, his mother thinks it would be beneficial. According to Kathleen Cauz, since taking up Origami this year, teachers have seen improvement in her son's reading skills and test scores. She attributes this to the Origami books he reads with pages of directions to follow.
As for the future, Danny Cauz hopes to refine his skills and be able to make Origami sculptures. He already has one in mind, "Last Waltz" by Neil Elias, which involves figures of a man and woman dancing. Danny Cauz may watch a video to help him with this Origami piece, but he prefers videos where the narrator does not talk as much because, he said, it tends to distract him.
While he continues to construct more complicated objects, Danny Cauz said the very first Origami figure he made, Yoda, is still his favorite.
"I like to remember back on how I started. I like to think, 'Wow, that was really easy,'" he said.