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.
Newspapers, and nearly all sorts of other papers, are made from fiber. So it is fair game for the Daily Fiber manipulations. The invention of paper can be described as one of the great technologic leaps forward for humankind. As far as I can tell, it was invented multiple times independently around the world. The ancient Egyptians made a sort of paper out of the sedge plant Cyperus papyrus. The type of wood-pulp paper we use today was invented by the Chinese around 2nd century BCE.
Thanks to fellow WordPress writer Jill Kuhn https://artjillkuhn.wordpress.com/ for encouraging me to explore stitching on paper. In no particular order, here are the objects out of paper I propose to make this week.
Paper weaving of portraits
Rice paper Bento Box collage
Collage with sheet music and old maps
Quilling with paper
Origami art installation
As a warm-up, I machine-stitched on some Sumi ink drawings that I did many years ago, when I had an interest in painting Chinese characters. The first is a bamboo image done on newsprint. I stitched the central veins on the leaves.
It worked okay. The paper is quite brittle, and the beginnings and endings of the stitch lines tend to pull out of the paper. I’m considering reinforcing them with clear tape on the back of the paper. The next image is painted on rice paper. While this paper is quite thin, it seems a little more resilient than the newsprint paper.
I have high hopes that the rest of the week will bring interesting results using paper.