Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inside my bag

I sometimes see female bloggers disclosing what's inside their purses and makeup bags.  I have nothing interesting in my makeup bag, maybe except for an Ebony pencil that I use to draw my eyebrows.  But I thought perhaps I could show what's inside my bag that I carry around wherever I go to teach.  People often ask me where I get my materials, and there are some special items that I always recommend.  So here it is...

This is my big purse, made by Ellington, a local handbag company.  It has many pockets inside and out.  I love it.  I use it not only for my teaching excursions but also for other trips.  It's so versatile.  I have a friend with the same bag in another fabric as a diaper bag.  She loves it too.

In this bag, there is always this tin box for all my origami papers, which keeps them wrinkle free.  It was originally a gift box for Japanese cookies.  Depending on the lesson I'm giving that day, I switch which kinds of papers to put inside, but typically I have a big economy origami package purchased in Japan.  They are so much cheaper to get over there, so I stock up on them whenever I go back home.  But when I'm in a pinch for origami papers, I buy at Anzen, Uwajimaya or Kinokuniya.  They have the best selections of origami papers I've found in Portland area.

I also carry around this stuffed animal... no, it's a pen case!  Isn't he so adorable?  A lot of children become envious of my doggie pen case.  It was a gift from a Japanese boy I used to tutor, and I think his mom got it in Japan.  I know, so many cute things are from Japan.

Inside this doggie, you will find a Signo Uniball 0.28mm pen, permanent markers (bold and thin tip ones), a Japanese calligraphy brush pen, metallic colored gel pens, a glue stick, a bone folder, a Hello Kitty mechanical pencil and an eraser, lead refills, a small snap blade utility knife, a metal bookmark, and self adhesive photo squares.  Obviously, not everything in here is for origami artwork, and some are for manga drawing and card making.

My favorite items among these are the Signo pen, the utility knife, and the self adhesive photo squares.  This pen writes really well, and the point is extremely fine.  It makes a good manga drawing pen too.  As for the utility knife, I don't even remember where I got it.  But this Stanley Snap Off Knife 9mm might be similar to mine.  I find it easier to use than an X-acto knife.  I also like that it's smaller than a regular utility knife for household chores.  I often cut a piece of paper after folding it, putting the blade between the folds and sliding it across.  I also use this utility knife to make straight cuts, by putting the bookmark next to the blade.  The self adhesive photo squares are great to use when I need to glue papers together but am afraid that glue might make it messy.  They stick much better than regular double-sided tapes.

Questions on any items?  Do you have any materials that you recommend for origami art?  Please e-mail me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Comfort for Kids by Mercy Corps

I just received a nice comment saying that my postings on ways to benefit Japan were helpful.  Even though I've been writing a lot about Japan lately, I am now inspired to write another one again.

Mercy Corps has a program called Comfort for Kids, which recovers the emotional traumas that the young survivors are experiencing from this disaster.  Ever since the initial earthquake and tsunami on March 11, there has been so many aftershocks.  The crisis with the nuclear reactors still remains serious.  There has also been a lot of rain in the northern Japan in the last couple of days, which could cause a landslide.  They must be so scared, beyond our imaginations.  I'm so grateful that Mercy Corps is responding to not only physical needs but also emotional needs of the children, who are probably most traumatized.

As a part of their Comfort for Kids program, Mercy Corps is asking people to leave messages of comfort and encouragement, which they will translate to Japanese and give to the little survivors.  You can leave your message here.

I haven't left my message there yet.  I find it hard to try to write a comforting note to someone who is experiencing possibly the worst thing anyone could go through in life.  But I have some ideas of what I'm going to write, and I will write one, eventually.  I'm sure that the children have heard so many "Hang in there," so rather than using those phrases, I want to tell them to take it easy on themselves.  Cry when they want to.  Rely on people who offer to help them.  Always look for enjoyable things in life.

But I think any kind words would be nice for them to receive.  The whole point of this project is to let them know that so many of us care about them.

What the people lost in this disaster are tremendous, but I hope that their emotional pains will eventually heal.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Spring

It has been such a wet spring here in Portland.  It rained almost every day in March and just about the same way in April so far.  Cherry blossoms which are my favorite flowers in spring only lasted a few days in downtown because of all the rain.  We had a nice sunny day last Saturday, but it didn't last long.  Sorry for complaining, but I'm sooooo ready for more nicer weather!

Today I went to teach my monthly class at the senior assisted residency, and the theme was the spring celebration.  We made tulips and butterflies and pasted them on a sky blue background.  Some of the people wrote "Happy Spring" and "Spring Has Sprung" on the cards.  Those are our wishes right now, for sure.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More paper cranes for Japan

These are over 100 paper cranes made out of recycled magazine paper by the middle school students at my school.  They wanted me to mail them to Students Rebuild for Paper Cranes for Japan project.  According to their website, however, they have already reached their goal of 100,000 paper cranes.  In fact, they have received way more than they asked - 610,351 cranes!  Amazing!  This has also inspired the donor, Bezos Family Foundation to double its initial donation of $200,000 to $400,000 in order to reflect the participants' commitment and support.  How awesome is that!

Now instead of sending the cranes to Students Rebuild, I decided to send them to another donor that matches donation to every crane made.  Osh Kosh B'gosh, the children's clothing company will donate a piece of clothing for every paper crane they receive, up to 50,000.  Here is the details of this project.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Japan Benefit Auction!

There will be an arts & crafts fundraiser (silent auction) for Japan!
I donated two framed pieces I folded and put together, titled "Origami Ninja Star Quilt."

I also decided to donate 3 bags that are handmade by my aunt, who is an amazing quilting artist/seamstress.  She has been quilting for about 30 years and uses a lot of vintage kimono fabric for her work.

This one is a Bento Bag, typically used to hold a Japanese style bento box and such, but as you can see, it's big enough to hold American style lunch.  It even has an outside pocket for tea bags, etc.  (I put stuff in the bag just to take this photo, but it's actually brand new.)

Here is a quilted bag with drawstring, made with kasuri (Japanese ikat) fabric.  Perfect size to put crafting/knitting/crocheting materials.  Again, this bag is never used.

This last one is zippered bag that is perfect to hold A4 size folders or notebooks.  This fabric is Oshima Tsumugi, a special silk made in a small island off Kyushu.  I hear that the process of making this kimono fabric is extremely long and complicated (My aunt didn't make the fabric, she just used it).  As you can see, the pattern is so intricate and beautiful.  Never used of course.

I went to drop off my donations to the auction organizer today, and I got to see some really cool handmade items!  I don't have any photos, but there were knitted and crocheted clothing and accessories, handmade necklaces, earrings, purses, stuffed dolls, photographs, paintings, drawings, pop art prints, books, felted goods, to name a few.

I hope that there will be a lot of people to bit on items at the auction!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Origami Birthday Party

Today I went to give an origami lesson at a birthday party.  The birthday girl was turning 7.  I heard from her mom that she loves to "build things," so I thought it would be fun to make these spin tops, which are made of 3 pieces of paper each.  After folding 3 pieces of paper, they are assembled together without glue or tape.  They are not only fun to spin but also pretty like flowers!  It was a bit challenging for them especially toward the end, but they all managed to finish making them.

After the lesson, I asked the party host (the mom) to write a check to Mercy Corps, instead of writing me a check.  I brought the check to Mercy Corps at Cherry Blossom Festival, which I went right after the party.  This origami lesson was tribute not only to the birthday girl, but also to my beloved country.

I met up with my friends at the Cherry Blossom Festival, watched some taiko performance, walked around and admired the beautiful flowers, and then browsed Saturday Market too.  It wasn't sunny like I hoped, but it was at least not raining or hailing.  It was a good day.