Lately we have been hearing unflattering news about China – unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, and so on. Today I want to be grateful for some of the good things we have received from the Chinese, such as Paper! And let’s not omit the art form of folding paper. The word origami is from Japan, but the Chinese were creating objects of folded paper as early as the 10th century. Today I am using The Art of Chinese Paper Folding, by Maying Soong for instruction in making my pieces. She explains that in China, paper objects are made with only a single sheet of paper and one’s hands. No pasting or cutting is permitted. “It is the most interesting, inexpensive and useful art for children and grownups.” For this project, I will be making two forms – pinwheels and birds. The bird form reminds me of seagulls. So my theme for this work is the beach. Here are some of the papers I am using. In addition to colored copy paper, I have 12 x 12 inch scrapbook sheets.
When my husband was a boy, he enjoyed making origami shapes, so I invited him to help. He measured and cut the majority of the paper that I am using. As I began to work, it started to rain. It was so peaceful, sitting and folding, listening to the rain hit the roof and the thunder rumble in the distance. What a satisfying project for a wet, somewhat cold day. After a few hours, I had folded all the pieces and laid them out ready for the installation.
The origami is installed across the east wall of my studio. It measures about eight feet wide by three feet tall. Photography was tricky. Bill took the wide-angle shot which you see at the top. Here are my photographs, including the approach to the piece while entering the room, the left side detail and the right side detail.
Paper week continues with an exploration on turning paper into beads. I like the idea of taking a 2-D substance and making it into a 3-D object. Paper bead making started in Victorian times, after paper had become inexpensive and plentiful. There were so many well-bred ladies needing a large variety of well-bred activities to keep those hands busy. In the 1920s and 1930s the craft had a resurgence. At that time it became popular to use the beads in jewelry-making. I suspect it was the frugality of the craft in a time of scarcity that made it appealing during the Depression. Now in the 21st century, the technology and process of paper bead making has changed very little. All you need to get started is any kind of paper, scissors, all-purpose glue and a double-pointed knitting needle. Additional useful items include a cutting board, grid ruler and some masking or painter’s tape to wrap around the needle. (Check, check, check and check!)
The process seems simple enough – cut wedges of paper, roll around the knitting needle, glue down edge and repeat until you have enough beads. But just in case I’m missing something, I spend an hour viewing U-Tube videos. Would you have guessed that there are crafters making and actually selling these beads? Those folks use some tools and materials such as PC Hardener that I will not purchase for my little experiment. But I did buy a jar of Mod Podge. It is coated on the beads to give them more structure. I guess this acquisition places me firmly in the category of Crafter with a capital C. Here is my first round of beads:
The yellow beads are rolled-up magazines. The red beads are basic copy paper colored with a red Sharpie. The black and cream-color beads are made with copy paper and then a strip of narrower magazine paper. This is the style I like the best. It has a nice barrel shape and a slight shine from the black magazine paper. I made more beads of this style in prettier colors:
The blue paper is a print-out of one of my color wash fabrics. The magazine strips are from a photograph of blooming heather. I really like the color combination. I ended up making eighteen blue-purple beads. Here they are strung up on a silver chain with one of my turquoise pendants.
Some of the professional bead makers add silver spacers between each bead. It gives a much more polished appearance. I might be tempted to make more beads. But I won’t be making enough to use up ALL the Mod Podge.
Here is my little collage, inspired by the Kente cloth of West Africa. I learned about this form of weaving while doing research for my fiber classes. It has captured my imagination. The Asante weavers work in narrow bands on a horizontal loom. The finished weave is under five inches wide. To make the cloth, long strips are sewn together, giving the artist much scope for juxtaposition of colors and patterns. I had the naïve idea that I could learn to make this cloth for myself. Ha! After reading about the process and watching videos, it is clear that Kente can only be mastered by years of practice under the guidance of a master weaver. So I have confined my enjoyment of the medium to collaging (is that a word?) with photographs of Kente.
This cat appears to be floating in mid-air, but I assure you she is solidly on the ground. The jungle is dark, but shimmers with heat and light. A sassy bird perches above her head. To make this image I used photographs of my color wash fabrics, adding black and silver markers, and sequins for eyes. Here is a nice close-up: