When Gabriel Vong Kin-meng stumbled on a book about origami five years ago, it brought memories of his late mother and his childhood flooding back. That trip to Wan Chai Public Library kindled his passion for the art and he has now developed his skills to such an extent that examples of his work are appearing in the textbook Origami Zoo. On the art of paper folding, Mr Vong says: 'Destiny drew me to it. I lost both my parents when I was seven. My only memory of my mother is how she taught me to fold a traditional Japanese flying crane.' While basing his work on existing models, he has tried to add his own variations and has even created a few new ones. Vong's Flying Crane is one such piece, inspired by the early lessons at the hands of his mother. Mr Vong says he tried to improve upon Japanese origami expert Kasahara Kunihiko's Crane in Flight. The result was so different that he named it after himself. 'I love everything beautiful, so I wanted to create something beautiful of my own,' says Mr Vong. Born in Macau 40 years ago, Mr Vong has lived in Hong Kong since he was 10. He earns a living as a private English and mathematics tutor, although he has a diploma in diagnostic radiography. Apart from origami, his artistic interests include classical music, oil painting and architecture. He believes that appreciation of art promotes his aesthetic sense and develops four-dimensional thinking, which he says helps to give his paper models good shapes. 'I add many elements of sculpture into my models and I usually spend a lot of time in shaping them,' he says. 'When others think it's the end of work, it's the beginning for me.' Nevertheless, he says it only takes him a night to finish a complex piece that would take others a day or two. His secret is that he usually succeeds in making a model at the first attempt. But even now Mr Vong bemoans the lack of paper folding guides on the market. 'All the books about origami are too simple,' he says. 'Perhaps people regard it as a recreation for children only.' He joined Hong Kong Origami Society and got access to specialist textbooks. He then turned to the internet to expand his knowledge. In January last year, he launched his own webpage, which helps him to keep contact with other origami lovers and to exchange ideas and diagrams. And to promote origami in Hong Kong, Mr Vong toured public libraries in August. So far he has given lessons in libraries in Aberdeen, Kowloon and Lai Chi Kok. 'I believe origami can help promote one's dexterity as it needs the co-ordination of hand and brain. In Japan, origami has already become an official course in school.' Mr Vong says that after he got his diploma in diagnostic radiography from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1988, he realised he could not bear to work in a hospital. 'I have an artist's personality. I am self-centered and prefer being alone. So I became a private tutor. I only need to work five or six hours a day at most, which leaves the rest of the time for my interests.'