Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Hokusai & Hiroshige Print Origami Paper

When I first received the Hokusai and Hiroshige print origami paper packs from Tuttle Publishing, I was just too afraid to fold these beautiful arts.  I didn't want to ruin some of Japan's finest arts in history by folding!  I just wanted to keep and admire them, without folding.

But then I started seeing it as a fun challenging opportunity that will help my creativity flourish.  And well… I needed to review the products for Tuttle!   With some help from my origami friends, and inspired by some of the world's foremost origami artists, I came up with several fun ideas.

Here are some things I folded (in order of me folding).  Note: if you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen most of these photos/video clips below.  You could skip to the bottom of this post that's more of a review of this product, which maybe more helpful.

The model below, called Bird Dish, is designed by Jonathan Miller and was taught by Kayo Kurata at the Origami Tanteidan Convention 2014.  It is based on a traditional paper crane but each wing is like a pocket that can hold little trinkets.  I used a Hiroshige print paper with cherry blossoms.

Traditional mass box displaying three geisha ladies by Hokusai.

Sea turtle reflecting the water that he swam in.  This Hiroshige print is called "Whirlpool and Waves at Naruto, Awa Province."

"The Plum by Garden in Kameido" by Hiroshige, turned into a kimono.  The kimono model's designer is Makoto Yamaguchi.

The next three things that I folded are the type of models that flash open and close.  I took short video clips for these models.

The first video clip, below is a model called Origami Flasher, which was designed by Jeremy Shafer and Chris Palmer.  (The instructional video of this model by Mr. Shafer can be found on Youtube: HERE.)  I thought this would be a fun way to present Hokusai's most recognized print of Red Fuji.

The second video clip was of something I folded while experimenting with different kinds of corrugating "V" shapes.  I used another Hokusai print with Mt. Fuji.  

I love the crease pattern of this symmetrical model.

Last but not least, the third video is of "Miura-fold."  In case you are not familiar with Miura ori, it is a folding method developed by a Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura.  In this method, a flat surface such as a small sheet of paper is folded into a small area, with repeating crease patterns of parallelograms.   Miura-fold is applied for various uses throughout the world, including maps and solar panel arrays.

The photo below is an one-minute Kawasaki Rose, which took me about 30 times more than it should have.  I used Hiroshige's landscape print with a variety of colors and some texture of waterscape.  This is the only model I folded that isn't showing much of the print, but I like the way it came out.

Another origami kimono, from another Hiroshige's print of a beautiful scenery.

The idea of folding the shape below came to me when I was folding some ornaments.  This generic crease pattern, which starts with the traditional lily base, is geometric and versatile, I love it.  I thought that exhibiting this Hiroshige scenery print with this pattern makes it look like a perspective of a special lens.

I could easily keep folding more out of these paper and share more photos, but the main purpose of this post was to review this product, rather than to exhibit what I've folded.  So I better give you more info that would be helpful, in case you are interested in these products.

Hokusai Prints Origami Paper come in the size of 8 1/4" and 48 sheets.  8 different ukiyo-e prints by Hokusai, including Tsunami and Red Fuji.

Hiroshige Prints Origami Paper comes in the size of 6 3/4 and 48 sheets.  8 different ukiy-e prints of Hiroshige's landscapes and sceneries.

The back side of the paper is solid color that is complementary to the art printed front side.  The paper is thin like a full-color magazine page, but not too glossy or matte.  It's something in between.  It folds without ripping or fading on creases very easily.

Each pack comes with an instructional booklet, but they are not models inspired by the types of prints included.  The booklet is just a generic one that comes with all of Tuttle's origami packs.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with these products.  I grew to love them, even thought I was a little intimidated by what they are at first.  As Japanese and and as an artist I inevitably wanted to pay respect to some of the greatest Japanese artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige.  But I am glad that I found many uses of these prints that bring out the beauties in them.

I see on Tuttle website that there are also other types of old Japanese art print origami paper, including: Geisha, Samurai, and Floating World, all of each come in two different sizes.  Those sound really cool too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Travel Origami by Cindy Ng

Travel Origami: 24 Fun and Functional Travel Keepsakes by Cindy Ng is one of those books that were gifted from Tuttle Publishing for me to review before it was published.

To be honest, I probably would not have picked out this origami book personally myself.  But this would be a great book for someone who has never done origami but curious, and wants an out-of-ordinary activity while traveling.  The concept of folding paper souvenirs into fun and functional keepsakes is fantastic.

As an avid traveler I often find myself with a bunch of maps, brochures, tickets, foreign currency, etc. wherever I go.  I'm sure that this happens to all travelers.  This book gives a lot of ideas about what you could do with those paper goodies, candy wrappers and even drinking straws.

Travel Origami actually became one of my travel companions during my trip to Japan this summer.  The photo below is a Postcard Star model that I folded during my bullet train ride, out of 8 postcards that I picked out at a museum.  The model required some double-sided tape for assembling so I waited to put it together until I got home.

Once I assembled it at home I put this Postcard Star over my dog's head and it happened to fit him perfectly.  I couldn't stop giggling.  I often put on things like this on my dog, and this may seem humiliating even for a little wiener dog.  But he always gets some treats for modeling in the end so he doesn't seem to mind.

As the holiday season coming close, I am sure that many of you would be traveling at some point, or looking for gifts for loved ones.  This book would make an unique gift for someone, perhaps a child, who is origami curious and creative enough that is not satisfied by just ordinary activities while traveling (I estimate that would be more than a half of children out there).  With this book, those long airplane or train rides could become not only more fun and creative, but also help bring in more memories from the trip.

My Summer 2014 in a Nut Shell and My Aspiration to Blog Again

Long time no blog…  My excuse is that I had the busiest, craziest and probably the most memorable summer I've ever had in my entire life.  Not only I worked at my annual camp job, which is already a crazy event on its own (just imagine working with hundreds of young, creative souls all day every day making art), but I also traveled to Japan for 6OSME (6th International Meeting of Origami in Science, Math and Education) and the Origami Tanteidan Convention in Tokyo.  Attending these meetings which attracted hundreds of origami enthusiasts, including some of the world's greatest artists was like having electric shocks for nine days straight.

Obviously I have a lot to write, but it has been too much for me to process what I had experienced in the past summer, while going through some life changes right afterwards.   Now that the school started again I got back working there regularly and more hours and responsibilities.  I am still in the process of adjusting myself to find balance between my school job and my work outside of school.

So here I am, I aspire to get back to blogging more in the coming months.  More book reviews, reports on Tokyo/Japan, my recent creative works, and my upcoming event announcements will be on the way.  I admit that I always find myself in a little bit of slump this time of year, but I am trying to put myself to fold and write more.  I will be back soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers Kit

There are so many origami books written specifically on flowers these days.  As a woman who loves all kinds of pretty, I, of course love making flowers out of origami and own quite a few books on this topic.  This Origami Flowers kit seemed different from any others that I already own so I got quite excited when I received a pre-published copy from Tuttle Publishing!

It is a complete kit that comes in a nice box with an instructional book and DVD as well as 180 sheets of origami paper.  There are instructions for 18 different flowers, which are all original and unique, except for the traditional lily model.

All of the included models are three dimensional, and about a half of them are modular flowers that use one sheet of paper for each petal.  I must admit that I am not particularly fond of modular origami because I get tired of folding a same model over and over for more than a dozen times.  But I certainly was able to stay focused to fold the same model for only 3-6 times and enjoyed each modular project.

Here are some of the models that I folded from the book.

The first model that I folded out of this book was called Star Flower, which has several variations.  I was going to participate in the Portland Pride Parade on the next day so I decided to fold this flower in rainbow colors and made it into a pin.  I received a lot of complements on it at the parade.

A Maple Leaf model that I folded was turned into a Canadian flag with another sheet of red origami paper for Canada Day.

Plumeria is definitely one of my favorite flowers, and what I love about it is the beautiful gradations of colors.  I did not use the paper that came in the kit for this one, but instead I used 6x6 Harmony origami paper that I cut into quarters.

I used the paper that came in the kit to make this Anne's Orchid, as well as the butterfly, which is also by the same authors' and included in the Origami Butterflies book.  I attached the flowers to a house plant stem with a hot glue gun, and the butterfly is on a floral wire.  Selecting high quality, long-fiber handmade paper to wet-fold this model is suggested in the book, which I'll do next time when I fold this model.

While taking this photo my dog came to photobomb…:-/  This is called Petallunia Moon Flower, and it is a modular design that uses 6 pieces of paper.  I used 3x3 paper from the kit, and it has a depth of about 2.5 inches.  I guess it can hold a little trinkets inside.

There are some simple models but also more challenging, intermediate to lower end of advanced models, included in the book as well so it can attract large populations of origami enthusiasts.  I very much enjoyed LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers kit so far and look forward to fold more from it.  This kit just got published very recently, and you can purchase it directly from Tuttle, or from Powell's, Amazon's, and other major bookstores.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kit Review: One Minute Paper Airplanes by Andrew Dewar

There is something about paper airplanes that always seems to excite boys, even grown-up boys.  I can think of a handful of adult males: fathers, uncles, and teachers who would love this kit to work on with their young ones, or even just for themselves.  I, as an adult female, don't usually get that excited about paper airplanes, but I was certainly delighted to see the cool, unique designs of the paper airplanes when I first opened this kit.

The kit includes 12 pop-out paper airplanes, an instructional booklet, and a catapult launcher.  They all fit in a nice box that comes in, even after building the planes (if you remove the cardboard inside).  The catapult launcher makes these planes fly so much faster and further than hand-flying, which is a big bonus!

Just after receiving this One Minute Airplanes kit I had an opportunity to spend time with a seven-year-old nephew, so we got to try this kit together.  He seemed to love it!  Below is a little videoclip of him flying one of the planes.


I should point out that the name of this kit, "One Minute Paper Airplanes" could be misleading.  First of all, I think that the One Minute implies the time it takes to build each airplane, but it certainly takes longer to build one until you get a hang of it.  I realized that diagramming system for building paper crafts is different from origami's so it took me a while to figure it all out.  Even after building all the planes, you would end up spending a lot more time flying them so this is not just a "quickie" kit that you'd get tired in a short amount of time.

I think this kit may be a bit too challenging for a young child without much experience in paper crafting to figure out how to build.  But it would be an excellent kit to build together by a parent-child team.  Building and flying them together could lead to a great bonding experience.

It would be fun to bring this kit to vacations as well.  Just be sure to bring a stapler and a ruler to build the planes with.  A smaller head stapler would work better if you have one, since regular sized staples seem to weigh the planes down.

Also, be sure to test out the planes in a large open area without obstacles, on a calm, dry day.  My nephew and I flew them in the wooded area with a pool, and we ended up losing a plane in a pool, another one in the woods.  Oops.

Tuttle Publishing just released the One Minute Paper Airplanes kit just a few days ago.  You can purchase one directly from Tuttle, or also from Amazon and Powell's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parkinson's Disease Patience Finds Solace in Origami

My friend and student Bev copes with Parkinson's Disease, and she says that practicing origami helps settle her symptoms and distract her from pains.  Her story was featured on OregonLive in April: Parkinson's Awareness Month.  Although April had passed, and I had already shared this story on my Facebook page, I thought that I should share it here on my blog as well.  Because a good story deserves more attentions.

Bev has encouraged and inspired many others who cope with this disease, including my family member.  She has done that not only by sharing her story on  local media, but also by connecting others with PD, starting a Parkinson's support group and leading it.  Despite her chronic pain and limited mobility, Bev is always optimistic and has a good sense of humor.  She keeps herself busy with physical therapy, gardening and all kinds of art and craft projects.  Her quote, "our bodies change, but our spirit does not have to."  I admire Bev's creative passion and am grateful to have gotten to know her through origami.

Below is a "sneak peek" video clip of Bev folding an origami ring in my class, originally posted on OregonLive.  There is also a whole article where she and another local PD patience was featured on OregonLive (here is the link).  

Parkinson's Disease patient finds solace in origamiBev Mickelson, 59, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2008. She discovered origami after moving to a senior living center in Southeast Portland. When she's focused on art, she said, she forgets she's sick.

If you suffer from Parkinson's Disease, know someone who does, or want to find out more about PD, here is a link to Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Origami Animal Sculpture by John Szinger

Origami Animal Sculpture book by John Szinger comes with an instructional DVD and will be released from Tuttle Publishing on July 22, 2014.

As it's implied by the title and the photos, this book is not meant to be for origami beginners.  It is for intermediate to advance folders who are looking to tackle some challenging models.  If you like to wet-fold your origami models, I think most of the models in this book would be fantastic as wet-folded sculptures.

I must admit that I do not usually challenge myself to advance models or wet-fold just for pleasure, but I very much enjoyed tackling the models in this book so far.  The first two models that I folded are Foxy Fox and Narwhal, during an 1.5 hour flight.  I folded both of these out of 10x10 origami paper.  The author gives suggested paper size for each model based on the complexity level, which is helpful.

I had never seen an origami narwhal model before and was very excited to see this fascinating creature in the form of origami!  It's hard to believe that narwhals really exist because they look like unicorns of the sea.

I also folded a Bull Walrus out of 10x10 black origami paper.  I think this photo taken at at the poolside location came out pretty cool.  It makes him look lively, as if he is about to jump in the water.

Here is another photo that I took of the Foxy Fox model, with the redwoods in the background.  Foxes actually do live in the woods around there, so it seemed appropriate.

This Adirondack Chair below is not an animal model, but it is included in the book.  I folded out of a 6x6 brown origami paper and set it in the middle of wild flowers.  I call it a tiny chair for a fairy.  This would be a cute model to put in a dollhouse.

I enjoyed taking the pictures in these appropriate settings, thanks to my family members who live in the beautiful spot.  The models came out looking more lively than just in plain background.

I am still folding more models from this book, but perhaps I will wait to share them until they look more presentable.  I think that each model in this book is aesthetically refined and accurately depicting the characteristics, so they deserve quality paper, precise folds and beautiful presentations.

I would give a 5-star rating on this book!  The models are pleasantly challenging and provide good practice for aspiring folders like myself, who need to work on difficult folding techniques, such as crimp and sink folds.

Lastly, I want to share my favorite photo from this book, below.  It looks like these cephalopods are having a meeting, with the blue Giant Squid being the leader of the group.  It cracks me up.  All of the example models shown in the book are folded by the authors, John Szinger.  Photographs by Bob Plotkin.

You can pre-order this book directly from Tuttle Publishing, and also from most major book retailers such as Amazon and Powell's.  As mentioned earlier, it will come out on July 22nd.

Book Review Alert! Coming up soon...

I recently received several pre-released origami books, kits and packs from Tuttle Publishing, a premier publisher on Asian culture.  Tuttle has published absolutely the best selection of origami books, with easy-to-understand diagrams/instructions.  Needless to say, I was delighted and felt honored to receive these gifts, even before they hit all the bookstores!

I had a chance to go through and test out some of these products during my recent 3-day trip to visit my family in the Bay area.  In less than a week I start my annual summer art program, Willowbrook, where I will get to share these with the campers as well.  That being said, there will be reviews and project photos of these titles coming up on this blog in near future!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Origami Earrings photos by Take A Look Photography

Beautiful photos of my origami earrings by Take A Look Photography.  Thank you Ashley and Josh!!

Hina Matsuri 2014 Recap

Hina Matsuri at the Japanese Garden this year attracted a lot of visitors despite the rain.  My student helper did super awesome, for the second time since the last event that we did together at the Oregon Historical Society.  He is only an 5th grader, but growing up in Montessori environment he must know exactly how to be helpful.  I am so proud to have him help me.

7-tier hina doll donated by Dozono Family

Close-up of the dolls...

My display area with my helper on the left,
getting ready for the workshop

My diorama hina dolls in the center,
greeting card nina dolls  on right and left

My helper teaching the visitors

Japanese sweets for sale by Yume Confections

In front of their pavilion

Looking down their sand garden

I love the Doll Festival; it really makes me appreciate being born as a Japanese girl.  The garden was so beautiful as always, even in rain.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hina Maturi, the Japanese Doll Festival at the Portland Japanese Garden 2014

I will be offering an origami workshop at the Japanese Garden, once again from 1 to 3pm on Sunday, March 2, 2014!  I'm very excited to be able to work at one of the most beautiful places in Portland!

"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. 

Yuki will be offering a simple origami Hina doll making workshop in a drop-in setting. It will be made into a greeting card which can be used for Hina Matsuri or a wedding.

Free with Garden Admission."

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to make FURIKAKE, Japanese condiment to sprinkle over cooked rice

This blog post is not at all about origami, but I wanted to share this recipe of furikake.  Furikake is a dry Japanese condiment that is typically sprinkled over cooked rice.  The word "furikake" actually means "sprinkle" in Japanese.  You could purchase packets or bottles of pre-made furikake at Asian groceries, but most of them contain additives such as MSG and preservatives.  By making your own, you can avoid these additives, and it's actually very cheap and easy to make.

Recently, I made furikake as a cooking project with a group of Montessori pre-schoolers that I teach weekly, and they loved the process of making it, which involved stirring, grinding, tearing, shaking, etc.  They also loved eating what they just made.  It was so rewarding!  By sharing this recipe here, I hope that my fellow teachers, friends with children as well as blog readers will get to enjoy making and eating furikake.

So here is the recipe... The ingredients are very simple: sesame seeds, sea salt, and seasoned seaweeds.  Use the best ingredients that you can find.  I used about 2 tablespoons of organic white sesame seeds, about 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt from Okinawa, and 2 small packs of seasoned seaweeds without additives (purchased at People's Co-op).  I used white sesame seeds but black ones are good as well.  As for sea salt, there are so many varieties but use one that you like the best.  Instead of Japanese seasoned seaweeds you could use Korean ones, if you like.

First, roast sesame seeds in a frying pan.  Do not use oil.  Use high heat, for 3-4 minutes, constantly stirring the seeds.  You will start to hear the seeds pop, and that is when you turn off the heat.

Next, put the roasted sesame seeds in a mortar.  Grind up the seeds using a pestle.  My students loved the movement of hand-griding seeds.  If you don't have a mortar and a pestle, you could grind them in a food processor.  

Tear up seaweeds to small pieces (about the size of a thumb nail) and put in a food processor.  If you don't have a food processor you could tear the seaweeds to tiny pieces by hand or by a pair of scissors instead.

Grind up the seaweed in a food processor.  Press the "Grind" button, one second at a time, for 10-20 times until the seaweeds are in tiny pieces.

Put all the processed ingredients into a container with a lid.

Once all the ingredients are in the container, put the lid on and shake!

Now furikake is done!  Sprinkle a small amount on top of rice.  Itadakimasu!

You can also modify this recipe and add more ingredients, such as dried bonito shavings, dehydrated umeboshi (picked plum), dehydrated shiso (Japanese mint), dried salmon flakes, chili flakes, nutritional yeast, etc.  Instead of sprinkling it over rice, you can season popcorns and other things, too.  Enjoy!