Look and Feel
Model Suitability (out of 10):
Attributes (out of 10):
As a tessellator, I admit that I love Elephant Hide, but I am always looking for other options. Unfortunately, there are not that many good, thick (but foldable) papers out there. One candidate however is Efalin, made by Zanders from Germany – yes, the same company that brought us Elephant Hide.
Unsurprisingly, it is not intended as an origami paper. Far from it! It is mainly used for book-binding, and as such, it is strong, durable, resistant to dirt and moisture, it has a lovely finish and can be wiped clean!
But it is thick! Thicker than EH or any other paper we have tested so far, which does raise a question when one considers using it for origami. On the other hand, it has a lively palette of colors and it is wood-free and acid-free: all properties to indicate that it might be quite good for origami.
But there is only one way to decide how good it is, so we took out our scalpels, turned on the flash lights and set to work.
- Thickness: The measured weight is 115gsm, whereas the stated weight is 120gsm. The paper is 182 microns thick, the thickest paper we have tested.
- Sizes: It is only available in sheets of 700×1020mm. Not even A4 is available.
- Colors: There are ten colors in the Zanders Efalin range, plus an additional 14 colors in the Fine Linen surface version.
- Paper Coloring or Colorability: This time I used FolkArt water color. The paper curled a little, but no color seeped through to the other side. After a few hours under heavy glass it was flat again. There was no change to the paper's proportions.
- Texture: Five surface treatments are available, although we only checked four of them: Crash; Fine Linen; New Linen and Smooth. Crash has a marble-like texture, similar to Elephant Hide, but embossed. The Fine Linen texture has a weave pattern embossed on the paper (see the red flower image). The New Linen texture is like lines of pearl necklaces. The Smooth is, well, smooth with an even spread of color.
- Photogenic: The many options of surface texture, plus the vibrant palette of colors promise to give you very good images. And with no reflections at all, it is all pros.
- Aging and Wear and Tear: This is one of the toughest papers, with numbers from the tear machine going up to 1600. For comparison Elephant Hide is 1100 and Lokta is ~2000. Being acid-free and resistant to dirt and moisture despite not being coated clearly makes it a long-lasting paper. 9.5 out of 10.
- Memory: Very good, as expected. You make a crease and you get a very definitive bump. However it doesn't stay flat after being creased, it slowly crawls back to a more open position. 9 out of 10.
- Forgiveness: There is no way you will miss the crease line when you try to reverse a fold. You will need to apply some force, but the paper will re-fold exactly on the line. 8 out of 10.
- Tensile Strength: We refer here to the maximum stress the paper can undergo while being stretched or pulled. With the grain, it held 14.3kg before tearing, and 8.5kg against the grain. This makes it second only to Elephant Hide amongst the machine-made papers. 9.5 out of 10.
- Bending Resistance: This section rates the amount of force you need to apply to get a sharp crease and how strong the paper is while being curved. Efalin measured extremely high numbers (100-281). This is so high that it actually becomes a problem to make sharp creases. 7 out of 10.
- Where to buy: It is hard to find sources for small orders.
Traditional Crane, 15×15cm
This paper fights back. Some extra force is needed to get all the sharp points you want. I immediately switched to my bone folder to have this extra power. Folds reverse easily, and puffing the centre back is done without effort.
Traditional Flapping Bird, 15×15cm
The flapping bird flaps consistently with even movements of the wings. There were no signs of tears or fatigue in the paper; the wings kept coming back to the desired position again and again. You get a sense of a very long lasting model here.
Traditional Jumping Frog, 15×15cm
The frog jumps amazingly far. The tension of the 12 layers in the legs is overwhelming and the frog is released like a shot out of a cannon!
Angry Fish by Bernie Peyton, 23×23cm
The Angry Fish requires red and black paper. I colored the red linen paper with black Folk Art water color. Painted, the paper feels and looks like leather, yet it still folds like paper. Predictably, the result is sturdy and works perfectly; it puffs immediately, and the push-pull mechanism is highly reliable. We have both beauty and strength here!
Pineapple tessellation by Ilan Garibi, 30×30cm
Folding the 26 by 26 grid was a struggle. The paper resists at first and then gives up in a very definite way. The inner side, when flattened, has a visible bump. With tessellations the most important property is the behavior through the collapse. This paper, being thick, is also a little too stiff for my taste. It made me a little clumsy and, through the first stage of the collapse, I made too many wrinkles. However, the second phase benefited from this stiffness, as flaps jumped into position with little effort.
Star Puff by Ralf Konrad, 28cm hexagon (edge to edge)
First, I folded a 32 division grid. This took some effort when breaking the fibers, but was significantly easier when folding with the grain. Reversing all the fold lines of the grid demonstrates an interesting behavior; it's not easy to reverse, but when the paper does break, it breaks on the mark. Folding the molecules is easy. The paper is thick, but this isn't a problem in this phase, it even helps as the paper is sturdy and breaks only where needed. Puffing the triangles was highly satisfying. Almost no misfires, all but one became flat and perfectly aligned to the others.
Red Flower Tessellation by Ilan Garibi, 25×25cm (Fine Linen texture)
This paper screams Tessellate me!, so I tried one more. Folding the grid and the pre-creases went well. Some of the pre-creases are not done directly on the fold, but with two layers of paper on top of it. Using a bone folder, those also went well. The collapse showed the springiness of the paper, and the puffing went perfectly.
Zig Zag Corrugation, 25×25cm (Fine Linen texture)
The zig zag pattern needs sharp angles. It wasn't hard to fold it, but collapsing it showed the paper's limits. In these corners the paper broke and lost its surface tension, and from there it went downhill. It couldn't be fixed. Nevertheless, in the final model the pattern is still visible, and it even looks nice, but I wasn't really happy with it.
Owl by Katsuta Kyohei, 35×35cm (New Linen texture)
I used the new linen texture; see the image for how lovely it looks. This texture totally changes the behavior of the paper. All the imprints make the paper softer and more responsive to folding. It is as if the paper had been scored in advance. The first steps, making the grid and getting to the base, were easy, like 90gsm paper and not the 120gsm it actually is! The paper is still thick, though, and when you have to make a crease through six layers (step 34), this cannot be done accurately and must be done by folding the layers two by two. Thickness becomes even more of a problem when trying to get the small details. The tail has 12 crimps; I only managed six. On the good side, the paper has a memory similar to foil and all the wing details hold surprisingly well.
Pointless Cube by Ilan Garibi, 6 units, 15×15cm (Fine Linen and New Linen texture)
Using two different textures; fine linen and new linen, the immediate feel is stiffness and springiness. The linen texture makes it even harder to fold (as you need to break all curves in the paper). The fold lines are highly visible. Wooden pins are required during assembly, but when all is in place, the friction as well as the sturdiness gives a stable model.
Rabbit by Hideo Komatsu, 20×20cm
I didn't dare to try it from 15 cm. During most of the stages, you ask yourself why should you fold it from such a thick paper, especially when you get to the ears and have to squash fold eight layers. But then, after going through it all and you start to shape it, it's amazing - the 3D shaping is achieved with such ease! It was not a bad experience, but I needed to use my bone folder often, which helped a lot. The final model is totally worth it!
Omega Star by John Montroll, 20×20cm (Smooth texture)
This is a geometrical model and I thought it would be a good candidate for such a thick paper. But I was disappointed to see that it was too thick. The corners are far from sharp and the final shape looks sloppy.
Triceratops by Jun Maekawa, 20×20cm (New Linen texture)
The texture does give the feeling that it is thinner than it really is. I managed to fold the model easily through most stages, but finalizing the model was difficult and I can't say I am happy with the result.
Horned Owl by Hideo Komatsu, 25×25cm
First steps went well, until a speed bump in step 15, when you have to squash fold a flap. The paper resisted this move and I got a long crumple instead of a fold line. I had no such trouble with thinner paper. From there on the thickness is no longer an issue and sculpting the model into its full 3D shape is easy. The lock, based on two edges of the paper stuck on each other, benefits from the thickness and stiffness.
Polar Bear by Giang Dinh, 25×25cm
I had no white paper, so this one is a blue polar bear. I used the smooth texture. The paper doesn't absorb much water and drops were left on the surface. When wet, the paper does curl a little. Shaping with the wet paper is very easy, but it is doubtful whether it's necessary, since the paper can hold form even when it is dry folded. After drying, the new form is very stable, but the surface is a little wrinkled.
Thick papers are bound to have weight issues. We all prefer thin, elegant papers that yield to our will and fingers. This is not that kind of a paper. It fights back, and you need time and patience to train it. But when it is tamed, you will get interesting results.
This may be the most divisive report so far. Gadi doesn't like it at all, saying it is way too thick, but I found it to be intriguing and usable.
Why should you buy it?
Efalin is great for 3D animals and models. It stays in place without the need to wet it, and if you do, you get even better results. For tessellations it is highly appealing, with a wide color palette, and very good behavior, both through the pre folds, and the collapse. For action models it is exceptionally good! It will work again and again without any fatigue signs. Modulars will benefit from high friction, although I can't see anyone cutting it to 7.5 cm squares to make a nice globe; too much hassle and it won't work at that size. For complex models it is not suitable, unless you go really big!
On Flickr, I found only 30 images of Efalin, mostly with tessellations and mostly from Germany!. Also some boxes, 3D roses, two animals and a single modular. It may not say much, but it looks like Efalin isn't widely known in the origami world.
For those who are looking for a sturdy paper that will last and has bright and dominant colors, this is definitely a good choice. For those who vote for details, sharp visuals, and working on small scale models this is definitely the wrong paper.
Bottom line: thick and strong, but still foldable!