Folding Paper origamai exhibit at Bellevue Arts Museum

Folding Paper origami exhibit at Bellevue Arts Museum

Yesterday I travelled by bus across Lake Washington to see the origami exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum, which is an easy stroll from the Bellevue Transit Center.   The exhibit, “Folding Paper: Infinite Possibilities of Origami,” runs through September 21st.  I love papercraft of all kinds, and this exhibit showcases the intricacies and magic of folded paper.  Many of the pieces on display were constructed from a single sheet of paper.  I can’t begin to comprehend the vision, engineering skills, and artistry needed to create such amazing art objects.  I was astounded and delighted by these imaginative works.

Paper dress and shoes

Paper dress and shoes

Pli Selon Pli No. 2 by Koshiro Hatori

Pli Selon Pli No. 2 by Koshiro Hatori

Twirl Rhombuses by Kystuna and Wojtek Burczyk

Twirl Rhombuses by Kystuna and Wojtek Burczyk

The Plague by Siphon Nabone

The Plague by Siphon Nabone

Square Limpets by Polly Verity

Square Limpets by Polly Verity

Giotto's Circle by Andrea Russo

Giotto’s Circle by Andrea Russo

Frog on a Leaf by Bernie Peyton

Frog on a Leaf by Bernie Peyton

Mother and Child by Christine Edison

Mother and Child by Christine Edison

The staircase at the Bellevue Arts Museum is very origami-like, too, don't you agree?

The staircase at the Bellevue Arts Museum is very origami-like, too, don’t you agree?

I learned that paper folding has real-life applications that go way beyond creating art objects.  Scientists who want to transport large objects, like sun shields or telescope lenses, into space might engineer a folded apparatus to save space during the haul, only to be unfolded at its destination in space.  Or doctors might transport tiny folded repair materials through a blood vessel, to be unfolded and applied as a heart stent.  Think of the miraculous properties of the air bags in your car — another piece of origami-like engineering.

You can read more about the origami in this exhibit in a book, Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami by Meher McArthur and Robert J. Lang.

 

There’s no excuse not to write a letter simply because you lack envelopes.  Here’s a short tutorial on how to fold a letter into a self-mailing envelope.  The end result reminds me of those overseas aerograms we used to send back in the days.

First find the exact center of the long side of your stationery and make a small crimp to mark the spot.

First find the exact center of the long side of your stationery and make a small crimp to mark the spot.

Now fold up a bottom corner so that the straight side follows an imaginary center line.  Fold down the opposite upper corner in the same manner.

Now fold up a bottom corner so that the straight side follows an imaginary center line.  (This is where the crimp marks come in handy.)   Fold down the opposite upper corner in the same manner.

Those exposed rectangular shapes are next.  Fold each in half lengthwise, in toward the straight end of the triangular shape.

Those exposed rectangular shapes are next. Fold each in half lengthwise, in toward the straight end of the triangular shape.

Fold up and fold down.

Fold up.

Fold down

Fold down

The ends fit nicely into the little triangular shapes.

The ends tuck nicely into the little triangular shapes.

I like to use stickers to keep the letter private.

I like to use stickers to keep the letter private.

Turn the letter over, address, and add stamp.  Voila!

Turn the letter over, address, and add stamp. Voila!

Humble Keepsakes and Customs

December 17, 2012

“It comes every year and will go on forever.  And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs.  Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.”
— Marjorie Holmes

Handmade paper ornament

Handmade paper ornament

“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”
— E. B. White

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more.”
— Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The largest part of my Christmas doesn’t come from a store.  My keepsakes are handmade, for the most part.  And yes, they are humble, like this paper cut Scandinavian horse ornament I made this year from instructions I found in Mollie Makes Christmas:  Living and Loving a Handmade Holiday.

Or my traditional holiday wreath, made from rosemary sprigs from my garden.  For me, simple is best.

Homemade rosemary wreath

Homemade rosemary wreath

“Snowflakes spill from heaven’s hand
Lovely and chaste like smooth white sand.
A veil of wonder laced in light
Falling gently on a winter’s night.”
–Linda A. Copp

Paper Star Snowflake

Paper Star Snowflake

Several years ago one of the gift wrappers at the University Bookstore in Seattle was making these holiday snowflakes (or they could be stars, I guess).  She gave me a photocopied set of instructions, original source unknown.  I’ve been meaning to make some of these snowflakes for holiday decorations, but until now, I never got around to it.

My finished snowflake hangs in my kitchen window, a lacy wonder that lets in the light.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making your own paper snowflake/star:

Fold each square in half to make a triangle.  Then fold in half again.  And again.

Fold each square in half to make a triangle. Then fold in half again. And again.

You need six square of paper.  I used 5 x 5-inch squares.  Fold each square in half along the diagonal, making a triangle.  Then fold in half again.  And again.

IMG_8523

Cut slits into each triangle.

Now, keeping the little triangles folded, cut four parallel slits on the solid side.  Cut almost all the way across.

Open the paper squares and press flat.

Open the paper squares and press flat.

Open each piece of paper back into a square and flatten with your fingers.

Cutting some of the inner square just to free two corners.

Cutting some of the inner square just to free two corners.

Next you will bring two opposite points of the inner squares together in a sequence.  In order to do this, you will first have to cut the corners free along one long diagonal fold line.  (Leave the other points/corners so that they are not cut all the way through.)

Starting with the smalled inner square, fold two points together and tape.

Starting with the smallest inner square, fold two points together and tape.

Starting with the smallest inner square, fold two opposite points together and tape into a cylindrical shape.

Turn the square over, and bring the points of the next larger square together.

Turn the square over, and bring the points of the next larger square together.

1. Turn the square over.  2.  Bring the opposite points of the next larger square together and tape.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all of the opposing points have been taped in the center.

You've finished square one!

You’ve finished square one!

Your square should now look like this.  You need five more.  Start folding and taping!

Staple three sections together at a point.

Staple three sections together at a point.

Once you have completed all six sections of the snowflake, take three and match up at a point.  Staple at this point.  Repeat with the other three sections.

Finished paper snowflake

Finished paper snowflake

That’s it!  Your paper snowflake/star is complete.

Hanging snowflake

Hanging snowflake

Paper sculpture at Anthropologie’s downtown Seattle store

I wasn’t shopping, but as I walked by the Anthropologie store in downtown Seattle, I was drawn in by the amazing paper sculptures decorating its sales floor.  I wondered whether it was another installation by artist Celeste Cooning (see more about her at this post), but it was not.  This feat of decorating with paper was executed by one of the store’s employees.  I thought it was incredibly creative.

A chandelier of paper feathers

Wall coverings of paper

Looking down onto the Anthropologie sales floor

Ideas for decorating with paper

Folded paper star ornament

I found the instructions for making these folded paper star ornaments on the December 8th post of the Craftynest blog (www.craftynest.com).  I love how they look and plan to make many more.  Here’s how I made mine:

Cutting out stars from paper

Using the pattern I downloaded from the Craftynest blog, I cut out 10 stars from some pretty red speckled paper I had on hand.

Folding the stars

Then I folded each paper star in half.  (After I folded them, I realized that the Craftynest instructions said to fold in half on the points.  Ooops.  It turned out that my mistake didn’t really matter.)

Sewing the paper stars together

Next I stacked all 10 paper stars together and sewed down the center fold line.

Attaching ribbon

Because my folds were in the gutter rather than point-to-point, I was able to just tie ribbon around my stars, covering the sewing.  (At Craftynest, they sewed the ribbon on.)

Finished star ornament

When you open up the leaves of the star, it makes a beautiful symmetrical ornament.

Detail of finished star

Handmade paper stars tied with fabric into a garland

Paper star garland for our Christmas tree

One of our traditional Christmas decorations is a paper star garland that I made years ago.  I painted paper with acrylics, and although the colors are not strictly Christmas-y, it brings a scrappy homespun look to our Christmas tree.

Below are instructions for making the paper stars, which can be used individually for ornaments or strung together for a garland:

Draw a six-sided star on cardboard.

I used a compass and ruler to draw a six-sided star on cardboard.  This will be your pattern or template.  You can make the star any size . . . I set my compass so that there was 3/4-inch between the two points.

Your cardboard star template

Then cut out your cardboard pattern to make your star template.  You can slice across one of the points, as the finished star will have only five points.

Trace the pattern onto your paper

Now trace around the template onto your paper.  I used paper suitable for painting on with acrylics, but you could use recycled paper, too.  The paper needs to be a little stiff, but foldable.  You will need to trace two stars for each finished one.

Fold the stars along all of the lines on your pattern.

After you cut out two stars, fold each along all of the lines on your pattern.

Make a slit along one fold line to the center point.

On the side of your star that is missing its point, cut a slit along one fold line to the center point.

Apply glue to the triangle sections next to the slit.

Now you’ll apply glue or rubber cement to just the two triangles next to the slit — one triangle glue the top (painted side) and the other triangle glue the back side.

Now overlap the glued triangle sections to make a star.

Next you’ll overlap the two prepared triangular sections, gluing them together to make a two-dimensional star with a pyramid-like center.

Apply glue to the points.

Next you’ll apply glue or rubber cement to the back side of all five points.

Glue the two star pieces together at the points.

Matching the points as best you can, glue the two star pieces together to form your finished star.  I sometimes have to trim off small slivers of paper from the points where the paper did not match up exactly.  Your star should look good from both sides.

Make hole(s) to string up the star.

Use a hole punch to make a hole in a point of the star.  Then string ribbon through the hole to hang your ornament.  If you are making a garland, you will need to punch holes in two points, then tie the stars together in a long row.

Finished star ornament, decorated with glitter

Wreath brings a touch of Christmas to our front entryway

My handmade wreaths are very simple affairs.  This year I tied redwood(from a stump in our yard) and rosemary (from my garden) sprigs to a round wire frame (saved from other Christmases).  I embellished it with kusudama flowers of folded paper.   

I think it adds a grace note to our front entryway this holiday season!

Redwood and rosemary wreath

Detail of kusudama flower

I followed the instructions for making kusudama flowers from Playing with Books:  The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing and Reimagining the Book by Jason Thompson. (See my blog post of May 10, 2010 for instructions for folding these flowers.)