Arnold Drake World By Steve Duin 

A paper flower, forever at Arnold World's fingertips. Paper sculptor Arnold Drake World turns napkins into flowers. Arnold Drake World, 52, has been folding napkins into flowers for years, often at Powells Books on Burnside's coffee house.


Before he found his calling -- and his calla lily -- Arnold Drake World was a professional jump roper, a gymnastics coach, and a used-car salesman on Southwest Canyon Road.  He was parked in that Beaverton car lot a dozen years ago when a woman handed him a paper flower and said,  "I bet you can do better than this," "And I did," World says. "The rest is history."


History unfolding in paper towels.


Arnold's world of paper flowers.Precisely rolled napkins turn into beautiful petals. Arnold World has been setting up his paper flower making hobby at Powells Books on West Burnside nearly every day for two years. He once made flowers for Mayor Charlie Hales and wife Nancy.


World can be found carefully manipulating the sturdy white napkins he buys at the café nearly every day, but one thing he wants everyone to know he does not sell the flowers. He never asks customers for money, instead preferring to give away the snowy blossoms, and then perhaps getting donations in return.


Another thing he wants to make clear is that the flowers do not happen in a free-form way they follow a careful mathematical formula called the Fibonacci Sequence.


The sequence, named after Italian mathematician Fibonacci, uses “a sequence of numbers that repeat throughout nature. (We) are hardwired to like art; the art reflects the numbers and the number reflect the art,” World says.

Oregon Art Beat by Greg Bond 


He sits in the coffee shop at Powell’s Books creating his art. Paper flower artist, Arnold Drake World, uses common paper napkins to construct three basic types of flowers; the morning glory, the calla lily, and the rose. After 11 years, he’s learned these are what the customers around him prefer.Earbuds in place, Arnold sways to music and flips and juggles paper strips to attract attention.


“Different flowers dictate different music,” he says. He tears and rolls the napkins into the complex designs people from around the world enjoy. “It’s magic,” says a woman who loves to watch his hands at work.“You’ve got to bring beauty to the world that the world wants to see” Arnold points out. And many of the Powell’s customers are eager to agree that the flowers made from simple paper napkins are indeed beautiful.