Like many people, I was devastated to hear about the passing of Max Hulme. As a newcomer in the ’80s, I was staggered by his work on such designs as his “Jack In The Box”, “Sports Car” and “London Omnibus”. Each one a masterpiece of carefully engineered folding. Many of his animal designs required a “touch” that I simply didn’t have in those days, but his more geometric designs were just about within reach and fascinated me.
I saw him at conventions, but was too nervous to really talk to him and being a naturally quiet person, it was hard to really get to know him. However, as the years and conventions passed, a strong friendship emerged and I found that in a one-to-one chat, he was open and friendly, with no trace of ego. Had he been more outgoing on social media, without doubt his name would be internationally revered, but he had no interest in self-publicity of any kind.
As you got to know him, it soon became apparent that he had a great sense of humour as well as being adept on the mandolin and ukulele. Again, his shyness meant that few people saw this side of Max. His knowledge of origami design was at a high level – he once displayed an insect at a convention and I asked how it was made. He said “give me a second, I haven’t folded this for years”. Maybe 10 seconds later, he said, “4×1 multi-sunk waterbombs” and proceeded to teach it to me. He created a huge quantity of design over the years, some realistic, some light-hearted (his stunt plane cleverly made use of the fact that paper airplanes don’t always fly straight!) many geometric and more recently, explored the use of A4 paper, producing some modern classics such as his “Angel”.
His early diagrams were hand-drawn and minimal, it was thanks to the likes of Mick Guy and Dave Venables that more accessible instructions were made, allowing mere mortals to fold his designs. Some time ago, he sat down to produce computer diagrams of almost everything he’d created, an enormous task and an archive we must treasure.
In forty years, I never saw him cross, grumpy or even to raise his voice. Everyone who met him went away charmed and he never sought recognition for the amazing work he produced. He was a very special man and we will miss him enormously.