Tuesday, February 19, 2008


One of the reasons I decided it was time to start a blog was so I'd be able to share my “stuff” with the online community. That was one of the reasons why I started a DeviantArt page, too, only DA is for... well, art. Illustrations and fine photography, that kind of thing.

Most of what I do these days is either design-related, or one of the many crafts that I've gotten addicted to over the years. For example, my first love: origami.

I've been an origami nut since childhood. There was a Honda plant near our home in Ohio, and Japanese executives who came over to manage the factory brought their families along with them. The result was a relatively large population of Japanese students in the elementary school I attended. They (and their very gracious mothers) shared the Japanese culture with us through snacks, crafts, and toys.

The school library built up a healthy collection of origami books. We prepped our own squares from sheets of notebook paper, or stole sheets of neon pink and orange from the teachers' copy room to get colors.

I remember folding origami on the playground with a Japanese boy named Yoshi. He didn't know any English, and I knew no Japanese, but we could communicate just fine by watching each other's hands working with the paper. He taught me how to make a flapping crane and all sorts of boxes. In fifth grade, a girl named Emi Kida introduced me to modular origami. She shared real origami paper with me and showed me how to put Sonobe units together; the concept totally blew me away. I was hooked.

Since those days, I have photocopied origami books, cover to cover, from libraries in six cities across two nations. I have built up a digital library of origami diagrams that currently stands at 2.4 gigabytes.* I have collected at least 300 different prints of chiyogami and washi, many of them from small shops scattered throughout Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Toyota-shi, Kamakura, and Nikko. Someday, I will join the Tanteidan.

In the meantime, I like collecting the lesser-known traditional models that I come across. This one, taught to me as the orei tsuru (お礼鶴) by a grandmother in Shizukuishi, Iwate, is cute and simple. Orei means “gratitude” in Japanese, and tsuru means “crane.” If you find yourself with a square piece of paper and a few minutes of free time, I hope you’ll download the diagrams and try it.

*If you are looking for the diagrams of a particular model, let me know – If I have it, I’ll send it!


GailM. said...

Thank you for this crain pattern. It's most beautiful. I love paperfolding with my grandchildren. I also love your Alpaca and elephant stuffie. I never tried stuffies before. I like the idea of making a little pin out of the elephant.. I want to make one for all my quilter friends. Thank you again.

Ku said...

Hey Gail! Nice to meet you. ^_^ I'm glad people are having fun with the patterns; especially grandmothers and grandchildren together. Please let me know if you'd like any other folding diagrams -- origami is such a great craft to share.

Thanks for stopping by; hope to see you again!