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Origami Expert

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It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a piece of paper folded up to look like one -- it's origami! Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. Translated from Japanese, it means Aoru (to fold) and Akami (paper).

Often, young people learn to do origami at school or through friends who already know how to fold different shapes. With enough patience and practice, some youth and adults find origami to be a relaxing and rewarding hobby.

Joseph Wu, an origami enthusiast, says the satisfaction of creating something from almost nothing is very enjoyable.

Origami clubs and associations exist all around the world. They meet in places like libraries, schools, community centers or people's homes. Some clubs are quite large while others consist of a small group of friends who share a common interest in the art of paper folding.

Depending on who is folding and what their beliefs are, origami can be created for religious or purely artistic reasons.

Meetings usually consist of someone leading a fold. Everyone follows the instructor's directions in order to complete the chosen figure. As well, people bring in copies of new and interesting designs to share with others. These meetings are social gatherings where people share their passion for origami.

Origami is believed to have begun way back in the first century AD. In fact, as soon as the Chinese invented paper, people were thinking of things to do with it other than writing a book or sending a letter. The results turned out to be the starting point for a tradition that has lasted until today.

The first written instructions appeared in 1797 with the publication of Senbazuru Orikata, or How to Fold 1,000 Cranes. In addition to Japanese and Chinese cultures, evidence of origami can also be found in Spanish, North African and Arabian cultures.

Origami today (modern creative paper folding) was made popular by Akira Yoshizawa. Starting in the 1930s, he designed not hundreds, but thousands of models of everything imaginable.

He met up with American Sam Randlett, and from there they made easy-to-follow paper folding instructions. This helped to increase the popularity of this hobby in the West.

Interest in origami remains strong, and probably will as long as there is paper to fold. It can be a relaxing hobby for those stressed-out individuals who need something productive to do with their hands.

You don't have to win the lottery to pursue this hobby either! A pack of basic origami paper costs a few dollars and you can sign books out from the library for only the cost of your time to find the right book.

If you'd like to buy a book or two or 10 (if you get hooked), paperback editions can be found for less than $10.

To participate in origami, you must have good dexterity. In other words, if you're all thumbs, you may be in for a bit of a challenge. Patience and concentration are two characteristics that help too. If you would like to learn to be more patient, this may be the hobby to learn!

Getting Started

To get started, you could do one of two things. First, you can go it alone, with an instructional book and some supplies. However, people who are more advanced suggest that beginners would be better off to take the time to have someone show them how to create their first piece.

There are some basics, such as the reverse fold and the squash fold that are the foundation for more advanced moves. Have someone demonstrate these techniques and you will be on your way.

Speaking of advanced moves, check this out...

A square of paper 1 mm by 1 mm was used to fold a crane, using a microscope and a sewing needle at Nigata University in Japan.

At the other extreme, Jim Mockford, a Japanese language teacher in Washington, reports that in the fall of 1995, a class of 20 of his students made a paper crane that measured over 23 feet from wingtip to wingtip. This was made using a very large, single piece of paper.

Origami as a career, you ask?

Some people find employment in this field that allows them to bring together their love of paper folding and their desire to work at something they love. How about these jobs?

Party organizer and decorator Miriam Snell, who enjoys origami, has been hired by companies to decorate tables and to create place settings for various occasions.

Two of her larger clients have been Duracell and Kellogg's. She also runs children's birthday parties, where she teaches the kids how to do folds.

There are many origami books out there, but for those people who have some innovative ideas or interesting diagrams to share, creating a book may be an option. To create diagrams, a solid understanding of geometry and math are good skills to have.

If there is a demand for origami supplies, or other craft supplies in the community, someone with a mind for business might start their own craft store. Of course, a love of the art would have to be balanced with an entrepreneurial spirit and keen business sense.

If you are the kind of person who can imagine 3D images and enjoy art, origami may be for you. There are many possibilities of diagrams to follow, and of course the more time you spend practicing, the more skilled you will become.

You may never use a microscope and a needle to create a piece, but everything that you do make will be something of which you can be proud.




The Japanese Paper Place
An online supplier

Joseph Wu's Origami Page
Excellent info and links

Money Origami
People fold money too!

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