Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review: LaFosse & Alexander's Dollar Origami

When I was gifted this Dollar Origami book by Origamido Studio recently, I was kind of dreading having to use icky old dollar bills.  Crisp new ones were hard to come by, as far as I knew.  But when I first opened the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find fake dollar bills to tear-out and use. I also learned from my local origami friend Janessa from Daily Dollar Doodle that if I wanted crisp new dollar bills I just need to call my bank to see if they have gotten a shipment of new bills.

Dollar bill origami seems to have become more and more popular in the U.S. these days.  There are quite a few books published on the subject now.  But to me, this was unexplored area of origami.

This book has a wide variety of models, simple to intermediate to advanced, modular to practical to animals.  Something for everyone.  I found some of more advanced models toward the end of this book  pleasantly challenging.  My favorite models in this book include "Reef Pony" (seahorse), Bunnies (2 versions: standing and sitting) and Teddy Bear.  I love when dollar bill origami designers incorporate models with eyes.

Sitting Bunny and Standing Bunny
"Reef Pony"
Teddy Bear
How fun it would be to use these folded money creatures to tip at restaurants or to give away to kids such as a tooth fairy!  LaFosse & Alexander's Dollar Origami is available on Amazon and Powell's.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: Origami Bonsai Kit by Benjamin John Coleman

I first laid my eyes on an artwork of Benjamin John Coleman on Origami Caravan website, over a year ago.  He was auctioning off an original work of his, which was a wall hanging of intricate origami flowers.  It looked very organic and sculptural, unlike most other origami flower models.  I loved it.  You can still see the photo of it here: "Outcropping II" by Benjamin John Coleman.  So when I acquired the Origami Bonsai Kit by Benjamin John Coleman, I was very excited.

This kit comes in a box with a full-color instructional book, a DVD, and folding papers in a variety of colors.  In the book, the author uses his own diagramming system called Glow-fold, instead of the traditional Yoshizawa-Randlett system which I'm very much used to.  Because of that, I needed to read the book a little more carefully than usual and get used to his own way of explaining the steps.

There are four types of simple yet attractive leaf models.  As for flowers, there are six varieties that are all very intricate and beautiful.  Five out of the six flower varieties start out from the same base model.  The last step of the basic flower form was a bit challenging for me, but luckily I got help from a friend.  The DVD is also a great resource for a time like this.  Aside from that small learning curb, I was able to fold all models with no problems.

The kit comes with folding papers in a variety of colors, a bit grossy and printed on both sides.  I love the subtle gradations of bright colors.  These printed papers give crease marks that are visible, as you can see in the photo below.

Rotundifolius, Ficus, Berlin Popular, and Ivy
(from left to right).
Black Eyed Susan, Primrose, Foxglove,
Buttercup, Pumpkin Flower, Morning Glory
 (left to right, top to bottom).

The crease marks look fine on leaves, but I was not fond of how they looked on flower petals.  Because of the crease marks that I couldn't seem to avoid, I used these printed papers only for practice.  For actual display pieces I chose to use washi.  I love the matte, soft texture of washi.  I have a good variety of washi at home.  The author says he paints the papers for his own creations, so that might be another option.

After folding flowers and leaves of my choice, with the papers and colors I like, even more fun comes next: finding a twig (and a stone) for the sculpture and assembly.  The author suggests to use an actual twig to attach to folded flowers and leaves: something that I had never thought of doing.  I've made a lot of origami flowers in the past but always used floral stem wires or pens/pencils with floral tapes around them to attach the origami flowers.  I found that using a real twig is much more elegant choice.  The author also talks in detail about leaf alignment and perspectives of sculptures, which really helped me figure out how to make it look more like a real plant.

As suggested by the author, I used a hot glue gun to attach the folded pieces to the twig.   I actually didn't own a glue gun before, but I picked up a seemingly good quality one from SCRAP for just $2! I was very happy and excited to see how organic and natural my first origami bonsai sculpture turned out.  I picked the combination of Primrose and Foxglove in pink and red: my favorite colors.

I can't wait to make more of these origami bonsai sculptures as center pieces for our Thanksgiving dinner and for holiday decorations.  Perhaps I could also give them out as holiday gifts.  I think this kit itself makes a great holiday gift to people who loves craft projects as well!

Origami Bonsai Kit is available to buy on AmazonPowell's, and many other book stores.

Origami Exhibit at Oregon Historical Society

Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami is a current exhibit at Oregon Historical Society.  Some of the world foremost origami artists' original works are in display, and they are absolutely amazing!

There are creations by origami artists that you may have heard about - Robert Lang, Satoshi Kamiya, Eric Joisel, Michael LaFosse, Tomoko Fuse, and many, many more.  Some of my favorites include a tiny paper crane folded by a needle by Sadako Sasaki (the girl who folded 1,000 paper cranes), the most intricate looking tessellation that is dyed in beautiful gradations of colors by Tomoko Fuse, a wearable star tessellation dress by Linda Tomoko Mihara, a lifelike pangolin with hundreds of scales by Eric Joisel, and a lifelike grasshopper with anatomical details by Brian Chan.  But there are too many more to mention.  From complex modular pieces and tessellations, to lifelike animals and abstract pieces, you will be mind-blown and inspired.

The link to the web page at OHS shows photos of just a few pieces in the exhibit, but there are over 140 amazing works gathered from all over the world.  You'll just have to see them all in your real eyes!

Another exciting part of this exhibit is that OHS is adding a new showcase full of local origami artists from POPS - Portland Origami Paper Shapers, which is a local origami group that meets once a month.  The showcase will be full of very talented artists in the group, including Janessa Munt from Daily Dollar Doodles, and up on sight sometime this month (November).  One of my little shadow box pieces will be there as well!

Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami is on exhibit now through January 11, 2014.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Origami as an Art Therapy

Many people claim that origami works as an effective art therapy and practice it to ease their anxiety.  I am not particularly an anxious person, but I do sometimes get nervous when I have a big work event coming up.  As soon as I start folding sample pieces to prepare for the event, I feel much better.  This is not only because I feel more confident in my work once I'm better prepared, but also because focusing on folding paper, thinking about sequences, and admiring the beautiful paper materials and simplicity of the model give me soothing feel.

Sadako Sasaki, the girl who folded 1,000 paper cranes for her wish to recover her leukemia, perhaps was driven by the same kind of feel.  It had also given her something to do while she was at hospital.

I have not been trained as an art therapist, but using and teaching origami as an art therapy is the area of my career that I would love to explore in the future.

One of my students at a senior assisted living facility just gave me this calendar, published by the Parkinson's Disease foundation.  Her artwork was chosen to be included in this 2014 calendar.  Her quote, "Four years after I was diagnosed with PD, I started making origami. the Japanese art of folding paper.  When I am transforming paper into stars and sunflowers, my mind is distracted and happy.  My tremors seem to cease.  At that moment, there is no Parkinson's Disease."

I am so happy to have heard that what I teach has positive impact on someone's life.  It made me feel better.  This is one more of many reasons to love origami!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Upcoming: Halloween Family Workshop at Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg

Create unique decorations for this Halloween season.  Learn how to make a 3-D, life-size pumpkin in origami, using orange butcher paper. You will also learn to make origami bats, ghosts, and other fall-themed characters.

For ages 5 and up. Children ages 5-8 must accompany their guardians. Children ages 8 and up are encouraged to attend with parents but not required. Adults are welcome to attend on their own.


$35 for Adult and Child
$20 for individual 

Sign up at: the Chehalem Cultural Center link from here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Origami Peace Signs

My sister-in-law had requested that I fold peace signs, but whenever I tried to make one up I failed. Luckily I found this peace sign model by Jeremy Shafer on Youtube.  

This model is also a tato (Japanese money wrap). The difficulty of the model is about intermediate, but the instruction of it is very well explained.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 4

This blog post is continued from: Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 3.

I started teaching in front of approximately 50 inmates, the largest group that I've ever taught.  I had been so nervous to do this, but for some reason I was not scared at all, once I was there.  I first asked my usual question: "What have you made in origami?," as an ice breaker and started conversing with them.  It was like talking with any adult males with good manners.  Perhaps, I would've forgotten about the fact that they were criminals, if they weren't in their blue uniforms.

I showed them some photos of my artwork, as well as some world famous origami artists on the computer.  Jumping from my artwork photos to some profound origami artists' was like skipping from kindergarten all the way to graduate school.  Needless to say, they were impressed to see the artworks of Satoshi Kamiya and Eric Joisel.

After the presentation I did the demonstration of paper crane, the most known origami model of all.  Some asked if I would teach them how to make paper crane, but at the time I thought it would take too long to teach it to a group of that size.  Besides, I had a few other models in mind so I stuck to what I had planned.

1)Heart, 2)Box, 3)Sail boat, and 4)Tato (Japanese money wrap) are the four models that I had planned and taught.  I thought that the heart can also be given away as a gift to their visitor, or mailed off to a loved one.  This box model is be made out of any rectangular paper and quite practical.  The sail boat model is a seasonally appropriate, good looking display piece.  The tato, like the box, is another practical model.  I thought those were pretty good choices, since they were all very simple, practical, and/or visually pleasing.

No, I did not teach how to make origami guns, knives, hand saws or keys to the inmates, that would not have been appropriate!

I showed how to fold on a big sheet of paper and checked on everyone at each step, like I always do.  Thanks to Kurumi-san who went around to check on the group along with me, everything went smooth.  Everyone was able to finish folding each model, without getting too frustrated.  There were moments where I witnessed people in excitements, who were so happy and proud to see the finished products.  It was like their inner children emerged.  I can totally relate to the excitements that they experienced, and that is exactly why I love what I do: teach origami.

The two hours of origami session passed so fast.  As we left, many club members came to shake our hands and thanked us profusely for coming to teach.  From beginning to the end, everyone was so welcoming, polite, and appreciative of our visit.  I guess that it is not every day that they have visitors, or that they have a chance to learn something new.

Kurumi and I were escorted all the way back to the front door where we entered with an officer, and of course, there were just as much security to exit as it was to enter, but finally we got out.  After we exited the building, we took some photos in front of the prison building: a typical Japanese tourist thing to do.  Then we talked about how fun and interesting the whole experience was, and were very happy to have done what we did.  We even said to each other that we would love to come back to teach there again, which, by the way, will most likely be arranged some time next year, as it was talked about in e-mail exchange with the club afterwards.

Does it sound shallow to say that I feel like my experience has widened my perspective?  But it has.  I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to have arrived, and happy that I decided to do it.  I realized that the people that I met in the prison are just people like us, rather than bad people.  They just made bad choices.  They cannot undo the bad things that they've done in the past, but they can try to eclaim to be a good, productive part of society.  And we could help reclaim them.  I will be back there to teach.

Thank you for reading all these long posts.

Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 3

This blog post is continued from: Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 2

The day of my work at the prison arrived.  OSP is in Salem, over an hour drive away from my assistant Kurumi and I drove together.  We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there on time, but the traffic was really slow most of the way.  We finally arrived there 20 minutes before the scheduled time of teaching, but we had not yet gone through the security.

As we arrived the entrance of the building, we realized that we couldn't just open the door and enter.  We were at the maximum security prison, duh.  Of course the security is tight to get in, just as it is tight to get out.  We read the sign at the door, saying to enter the driver's license number on to the push panel, and we were finally let in by a prison officer.  He once again checked our IDs and told us to put all our belongings into a locker, except for my teaching materials, our IDs and our locker key.  The officer put us through security checks that are almost exactly like ones at airports, like metal detectors and x-rays.  After that, the same officer guided us down further into the building, and there, we were told to turn in our IDs to another officer.  He gave us stamps on our hands, which we couldn't see in our naked eyes but apparently glow in the dark or something.

After many security check points and heavy metal doors, we are finally let in to the official main part of the prison, where inmates live.  The same officer who first let us in walked us through hallways and to the meeting room.  There, I saw several men in light blue shirts and jeans setting up tables and chairs.  One of them came to greet us, introduced himself as the President of the Asian/Pacific Islander Club, and kindly asked if we were scared of coming.  At that point, I realized that I wasn't scared at all, once I got there, not like how I felt before.  Of course, I didn't answer him like that, instead I just said, "No, not scared..."

Some of the other club leaders came to greet us, and also offered us water, juice, and big cookies.  They were all extremely polite and grateful of our visit.  One of them said, "Make yourself feel at home!" but nah, I just couldn't feel myself at home in a prison (of course, I didn't tell him that, but I thought was funny).  As more club members arrived in the room we started talking about their club activities.  The  Club consists of not only Asians and Pacific Islanders but also other ethnicities.  They are all eager to learn more about their respective cultures as well as their neighbors, and they often invite a guest speaker or entertainer (such as myself) to teach them a new topic.  Not all accept their invitations, but some decide to come.  Their club activities also include fundraising for various charities, and they are proud to have raised money to help build a school in Vietnam, to relief funds affected by the tsunami in Japan, to help out troubled youth in Lane County, and so on.

There is actually a documentary made about their effort to help build a school in Vietnam, called 7,500 Miles to Redemption.  None of the club members had told us about it at the time, but after our visit Kurumi found out about this documentary while doing a research about OSP.  Here is the trailer of the documentary, 7,500 Miles to Redemption.

The first man who is being interviewed in the documentary is the president of the club, who initially sent me the invitation to OSP.  I actually have not seen the entire documentary, but I would love to watch it and write a review on it.

Now, it's finally about me teaching at the prison, but this post is getting a little long, so it is to be continued to the next post... Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 4.

Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 2

This blog post is continued from Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary.

I always considered myself an adventurous type.  If I weren't, I wouldn't have come and lived in a country different from where I was born in the first place.  But for some reason I was really nervous about having to work at a prison, especially when it's an all-male, maximum security prison.  Maybe it was all the movies that I had watched about prisons, I'm not sure.  I did, however, found myself a little therapy whenever I felt nervous: watching Dr. Evil's prison rap in Austin Powers on YouTube.  And it worked!  Ah, how embarrassing to admit that I love Austin Powers movies.

Anyways, as much as I was nervous I knew that I would feel more comfortable once well-prepared.  So I spent a lot of time getting ready.  Since it would be for a large group, I decided to give not only origami instructions but also presentation and demonstration.

Over the two months of slowly getting ready, I exchanged phone calls and e-mails with the prison staff.  I came to realize then that I would have to follow all kinds of rules that I never had to worry about when I teach elsewhere.  First of all, Kurumi and I had to go through background checks.  I also had to give them a list of all the materials that I planned to bring in to the prison.  Originally I wanted to bring some of my framed artworks to show, but since they contain glass I couldn't.  I thought of bringing my own laptop so I could show photos on it, but bringing in a computer was not allowed for security reason.  I wanted to show a video clip from YouTube, but no internet access.  Instead, I was told to bring in a flash drive with all the photos and downloaded video clips so that's what I did.

I was restricted not only as to what to bring but also what to wear to the prison.  I needed to dress conservative, not to show my skin.  No wire bra.  No blue clothes are allowed whatsoever because that's the color that inmates wear.  All of these things made me realize how restricted inmates live, and also how much freedom we take for granted out here.

I informed my friend/assistant Kurumi about all the rules, flow of the day, and also the origami models that I was going to teach.  After all that, we were all ready to go and hoped for the best.

To be continued... again to my next post: Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 3

Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary

Over a year ago, I got invited to teach origami at Oregon State Penitentiary.  The invitation was from the president of the Asian/Pacific Islander group there.  At first, I didn't realize that it was from a prison, since I didn't even know the word "penitentiary" meant at that time (Ha!  After living in the U.S. over 10 years, I'm still learning new words...).  After reading the entire letter I looked up the word "penitentiary" in my English-Japanese dictionary app, and I was shocked especially since it was such a very polite, well-written invitation.

Nonetheless, I started to hesitate about accepting this invitation.  As much as I knew how origami could be beneficial to inmates in so many ways, I just wasn't sure if I could do my job, to teach origami, without being too nervous or intimidated.  After finding out that it would be for a large group of male inmates, many of whom committed serious violent crimes, I felt too overwhelmed.  A little wimpy Asian woman that I am, declined their request.

Even after I decided not to go, I kept wondering what it might be like if inmates learn to fold paper.  They could definitely benefit so much from learning origami.  It could help relieve their anxiety and stress.  It could build their self confidence.  It could teach them to be precise and patience.  It could help them learn logic, social skills, and so many other things.  Perhaps, I could make a positive change, to someone who need it the most.

A year after the initial invitation I finally decided that I want to go there to teach, after all.  A friend of mine, who is also an artist from Japan and living in Portland (glass artist Kurumi Conley), offered to come along and help, so I felt much more comfortable knowing I wouldn't be alone to teach.  Many of my friends also supported the idea of me teaching at the prison.  One friend had said, "the more you are put in uncomfortable situations the more you grow."  Another friend said, "you probably stand to gain as much as them."

Since I had let them know already a year ago that I would not be able to make it, I wasn't sure if they would still like me to teach there, after all.  But after an e-mail and a follow-up phone call, I was able to set up an appointment to visit.  The date was set after two months.  It was plenty of time to get ready.  I still felt nervous about doing this job, but at the same time, I became excited for this special opportunity that I got to have, thanks to my origami skill.  My new adventure had begun.

To be continued to the next post... Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 2

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Origami with Seniors

As I've mentioned here in the past, I teach origami to senior residents at an assisted living facility every month.  I always enjoy teaching them, as it is a nice change of pace from teaching children.  These are photos from our recent sessions.

Each of these flowers below is made out of 5 pieces of paper and glued together with a chopstick (or a pen). The assembling part is kind of tricky so I gathered pieces that the residents folded and put together at home.  I delivered the flowers to them a couple of days later, and they were very happy!

If you google "origami kusudama flowers" you will find instructions and photos of these flowers decorated in so many different ways.  A traditional model, I believe.

These stars below are folded out of pentagon shape.  Aren't they pretty?  I see this 5-pointed star model all over internet but wasn't sure whose model it was originally.  I just read from at least one source now that it is a model by Tomoko Fuse, but not sure which published work.

I love the simplicity of this traditional sailboat model.  I put them in a box that I decorated as a diorama.  It was displayed in the lobby for Father's Day.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Upcoming Events: Orizomegami Workshop and Mother's Day Foldings

Hello World!  It has been a while since my last post.  Lately I've been sort of neglecting my blog, partly because I find it much easier and quicker to post short updates, photos and events, and not to mention to receive comments from the viewers on my Facebook page than this blog.  With that said, if you would like to see more of my work, please "Like" my Facebook page!  You will see much more updates there than here.

But today, I am posting this because I have some exciting events coming up!

I will be offering an orizomegami workshop as a part of the Newberg Artwalk at the Chehalem Cultural Center this Friday, May 3rd from 5 to 7pm.  

Not to be confused with origami.  Orizomegami means folding and dyeing paper.  It is a paper dyeing method that is used to create patterns on liquid absorbent paper.  This art form is relatively inexpensive and easy to learn and achieve beautiful results.  The variety of patterns you can create are as limitless as patterns of kaledoscope.  The finished product can be used as gift wrap, book cover, collage or card making materials, or anything else imaginable.

It is a FREE event, and you can drop in any time between 5 to 7pm to learn orizomegami!

Also, I will be offering Mother's Day themed origami program at 3 branches of Multnomah County Library.  Here is the description of the program:

Delight mom with a homemade gift this Mother’s Day. Artist Yuki Martin will teach you how to create unique origami shapes and decorations to make a card or stand-alone gift. Come transform an ordinary piece of paper into an extraordinary three-dimensional piece of art!
Free.  Target audience: Families, Grades K-5, Kids.

May 4th from 10:30 to 11:30am at Albina Library (first come, first served).
May 4th from 2 to 3pm at Woodstock Library (registration required: HERE).
May 11th from 2 to 3pm at Gresham Library (first come, first served).

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Local Artist Spotlight: Take A Look Photography

A few months ago I was asked to make some origami for an anniversary photo shoot of Stephanie and Peter, clients of my friend Ashley from Take A Look Photography.  The couple used paper cranes for the decorations at their wedding so they wanted to keep the same theme for their anniversary.  What a great idea!  After having some brainstorms and discussions with Stephanie and Ashley, I made an origami bouquet and kissing paper cranes.  

I got really excited when I saw the photos, they were just how I imagined to be, or even prettier, thanks to their beautiful photographic work!

Garlands of paper cranes from their wedding were reused for this shot.

Paper craft versions of the couple themselves... so cute!

The photos and their story recently got featured on Oregon Bride Magazine.  You can read the article from HERE.  Congrats to Stephanie and Peter, Thank you Ashley for collaborating, and Thank you Oregon Bride Magazine for crediting my work!  Although it has not yet planned, Take A Look Photography and I would love to work on another project together in the future.

Here are a few other photos courtesy of Take A Look Photography.  A husband-and-wife team, they specialize in wedding and family portrait photographs in outdoor settings.  They definitely seem to bring out the best of the clients' features.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Upcoming Class: Hina Matsuri, Japanese Dolls Festival

"March 3rd is Hina Matsuri, the Japanese Dolls Festival. One of the five annual Japanese observances marking the changing seasons, this is a day that families with young girls pray for their daughters' healthy growth and happiness by displaying dolls.  Instructor Yuki Martin will teach how this special day is celebrated by making origami dolls to display.  Boys will also enjoy this workshop as Yuki teaches everyone how to make origami boxes to hold Japanese star-shaped candies."

Saturday, February 2, 2-4pm Northwest Library

*As always, this library class is FREE!  It is first come, first served.  Appropriate for school age children and families.  Please note, the date of the festival is March 3rd, but the class is on Feburary 2nd, just so you won't get confused!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Upcoming Class: Orizomegami

I'm offering this super fun program, once again at 5 Multnomah County Library locations this winter!  Wondering what in the world orizomegami is?  ORI = fold, ZOME = dye, GAMI = paper, is what the word means.

"Join artist Yuki Martin in learning the technique of orizomegami, the Japanese art of decorating papers by folding and dipping them into pools of dyes. This art form is easy to learn and creates cool, complex patterns. Your finished paper can be used as gift wrapping, a book cover, collage material and more!"
Wednesday, January 16, 6:30pm-8pm Sellwood-Moreland Library
Saturday, January 26, 3-4:30pm Albina Library
Tuesday, February 5, 4-5:30pm Hollywood Library
Wednesday, February 13, 4:30-6pm Troutdale Library
Tuesday, February, 19, 5:30-7pm Northwest Library

All classes are free.  First come first served, except for the Troutdale Library class, which requires registration  (from here).