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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers Kit

There are so many origami books written specifically on flowers these days.  As a woman who loves all kinds of pretty, I, of course love making flowers out of origami and own quite a few books on this topic.  This Origami Flowers kit seemed different from any others that I already own so I got quite excited when I received a pre-published copy from Tuttle Publishing!



It is a complete kit that comes in a nice box with an instructional book and DVD as well as 180 sheets of origami paper.  There are instructions for 18 different flowers, which are all original and unique, except for the traditional lily model.


All of the included models are three dimensional, and about a half of them are modular flowers that use one sheet of paper for each petal.  I must admit that I am not particularly fond of modular origami because I get tired of folding a same model over and over for more than a dozen times.  But I certainly was able to stay focused to fold the same model for only 3-6 times and enjoyed each modular project.

Here are some of the models that I folded from the book.


The first model that I folded out of this book was called Star Flower, which has several variations.  I was going to participate in the Portland Pride Parade on the next day so I decided to fold this flower in rainbow colors and made it into a pin.  I received a lot of complements on it at the parade.


A Maple Leaf model that I folded was turned into a Canadian flag with another sheet of red origami paper for Canada Day.


Plumeria is definitely one of my favorite flowers, and what I love about it is the beautiful gradations of colors.  I did not use the paper that came in the kit for this one, but instead I used 6x6 Harmony origami paper that I cut into quarters.


I used the paper that came in the kit to make this Anne's Orchid, as well as the butterfly, which is also by the same authors' and included in the Origami Butterflies book.  I attached the flowers to a house plant stem with a hot glue gun, and the butterfly is on a floral wire.  Selecting high quality, long-fiber handmade paper to wet-fold this model is suggested in the book, which I'll do next time when I fold this model.



While taking this photo my dog came to photobomb…:-/  This is called Petallunia Moon Flower, and it is a modular design that uses 6 pieces of paper.  I used 3x3 paper from the kit, and it has a depth of about 2.5 inches.  I guess it can hold a little trinkets inside.

There are some simple models but also more challenging, intermediate to lower end of advanced models, included in the book as well so it can attract large populations of origami enthusiasts.  I very much enjoyed LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers kit so far and look forward to fold more from it.  This kit just got published very recently, and you can purchase it directly from Tuttle, or from Powell's, Amazon's, and other major bookstores.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kit Review: One Minute Paper Airplanes by Andrew Dewar

There is something about paper airplanes that always seems to excite boys, even grown-up boys.  I can think of a handful of adult males: fathers, uncles, and teachers who would love this kit to work on with their young ones, or even just for themselves.  I, as an adult female, don't usually get that excited about paper airplanes, but I was certainly delighted to see the cool, unique designs of the paper airplanes when I first opened this kit.



The kit includes 12 pop-out paper airplanes, an instructional booklet, and a catapult launcher.  They all fit in a nice box that comes in, even after building the planes (if you remove the cardboard inside).  The catapult launcher makes these planes fly so much faster and further than hand-flying, which is a big bonus!

Just after receiving this One Minute Airplanes kit I had an opportunity to spend time with a seven-year-old nephew, so we got to try this kit together.  He seemed to love it!  Below is a little videoclip of him flying one of the planes.

video

I should point out that the name of this kit, "One Minute Paper Airplanes" could be misleading.  First of all, I think that the One Minute implies the time it takes to build each airplane, but it certainly takes longer to build one until you get a hang of it.  I realized that diagramming system for building paper crafts is different from origami's so it took me a while to figure it all out.  Even after building all the planes, you would end up spending a lot more time flying them so this is not just a "quickie" kit that you'd get tired in a short amount of time.

I think this kit may be a bit too challenging for a young child without much experience in paper crafting to figure out how to build.  But it would be an excellent kit to build together by a parent-child team.  Building and flying them together could lead to a great bonding experience.

It would be fun to bring this kit to vacations as well.  Just be sure to bring a stapler and a ruler to build the planes with.  A smaller head stapler would work better if you have one, since regular sized staples seem to weigh the planes down.

Also, be sure to test out the planes in a large open area without obstacles, on a calm, dry day.  My nephew and I flew them in the wooded area with a pool, and we ended up losing a plane in a pool, another one in the woods.  Oops.

Tuttle Publishing just released the One Minute Paper Airplanes kit just a few days ago.  You can purchase one directly from Tuttle, or also from Amazon and Powell's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parkinson's Disease Patience Finds Solace in Origami

My friend and student Bev copes with Parkinson's Disease, and she says that practicing origami helps settle her symptoms and distract her from pains.  Her story was featured on OregonLive in April: Parkinson's Awareness Month.  Although April had passed, and I had already shared this story on my Facebook page, I thought that I should share it here on my blog as well.  Because a good story deserves more attentions.

Bev has encouraged and inspired many others who cope with this disease, including my family member.  She has done that not only by sharing her story on  local media, but also by connecting others with PD, starting a Parkinson's support group and leading it.  Despite her chronic pain and limited mobility, Bev is always optimistic and has a good sense of humor.  She keeps herself busy with physical therapy, gardening and all kinds of art and craft projects.  Her quote, "our bodies change, but our spirit does not have to."  I admire Bev's creative passion and am grateful to have gotten to know her through origami.

Below is a "sneak peek" video clip of Bev folding an origami ring in my class, originally posted on OregonLive.  There is also a whole article where she and another local PD patience was featured on OregonLive (here is the link).  


Parkinson's Disease patient finds solace in origamiBev Mickelson, 59, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2008. She discovered origami after moving to a senior living center in Southeast Portland. When she's focused on art, she said, she forgets she's sick.

If you suffer from Parkinson's Disease, know someone who does, or want to find out more about PD, here is a link to Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Origami Animal Sculpture by John Szinger

Origami Animal Sculpture book by John Szinger comes with an instructional DVD and will be released from Tuttle Publishing on July 22, 2014.


As it's implied by the title and the photos, this book is not meant to be for origami beginners.  It is for intermediate to advance folders who are looking to tackle some challenging models.  If you like to wet-fold your origami models, I think most of the models in this book would be fantastic as wet-folded sculptures.

I must admit that I do not usually challenge myself to advance models or wet-fold just for pleasure, but I very much enjoyed tackling the models in this book so far.  The first two models that I folded are Foxy Fox and Narwhal, during an 1.5 hour flight.  I folded both of these out of 10x10 origami paper.  The author gives suggested paper size for each model based on the complexity level, which is helpful.


I had never seen an origami narwhal model before and was very excited to see this fascinating creature in the form of origami!  It's hard to believe that narwhals really exist because they look like unicorns of the sea.

I also folded a Bull Walrus out of 10x10 black origami paper.  I think this photo taken at at the poolside location came out pretty cool.  It makes him look lively, as if he is about to jump in the water.


Here is another photo that I took of the Foxy Fox model, with the redwoods in the background.  Foxes actually do live in the woods around there, so it seemed appropriate.


This Adirondack Chair below is not an animal model, but it is included in the book.  I folded out of a 6x6 brown origami paper and set it in the middle of wild flowers.  I call it a tiny chair for a fairy.  This would be a cute model to put in a dollhouse.


I enjoyed taking the pictures in these appropriate settings, thanks to my family members who live in the beautiful spot.  The models came out looking more lively than just in plain background.

I am still folding more models from this book, but perhaps I will wait to share them until they look more presentable.  I think that each model in this book is aesthetically refined and accurately depicting the characteristics, so they deserve quality paper, precise folds and beautiful presentations.

I would give a 5-star rating on this book!  The models are pleasantly challenging and provide good practice for aspiring folders like myself, who need to work on difficult folding techniques, such as crimp and sink folds.

Lastly, I want to share my favorite photo from this book, below.  It looks like these cephalopods are having a meeting, with the blue Giant Squid being the leader of the group.  It cracks me up.  All of the example models shown in the book are folded by the authors, John Szinger.  Photographs by Bob Plotkin.


You can pre-order this book directly from Tuttle Publishing, and also from most major book retailers such as Amazon and Powell's.  As mentioned earlier, it will come out on July 22nd.

Book Review Alert! Coming up soon...

I recently received several pre-released origami books, kits and packs from Tuttle Publishing, a premier publisher on Asian culture.  Tuttle has published absolutely the best selection of origami books, with easy-to-understand diagrams/instructions.  Needless to say, I was delighted and felt honored to receive these gifts, even before they hit all the bookstores!



I had a chance to go through and test out some of these products during my recent 3-day trip to visit my family in the Bay area.  In less than a week I start my annual summer art program, Willowbrook, where I will get to share these with the campers as well.  That being said, there will be reviews and project photos of these titles coming up on this blog in near future!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

刑務所で折り紙 その三

このブログポストは「刑務所で折り紙 その二」の続きです。

刑務所へ折り紙指導に行く日時は金曜の夕方に決まっていました。過去二度の訪問も金曜の夕方でしたが、この時間帯はいつも渋滞が酷いです。ポートランドからオレゴン州立刑務所のあるセーラムは片道一時間ちょっとですが、渋滞があると倍近くかかります。私は当日学校での仕事が入っていたので、下校時間にくるみさんと学校で待ち合わせ、私が運転して、途中でジャネッサちゃんを拾って刑務所まで向かいました。



何とかほぼ時間通りに刑務所に到着し、セキュリティーを通過。毎度のことながら、何度もIDチェックをされ鉄格子のドアを幾つも越える時、最高警備の場所だと実感します。ミーティングルームに着くと、参加者の受刑者さんは到着し始めたところでした。水やクッキーを頂き、アジア系クラブのリーダー格の人たちと準備を整えると、ミーティングルームの隣にある、鉄フェンスのようなもので囲まれた小さな部屋(クラブのオフィス?)を指で指され、見ると折り鶴のモービルがとても素敵に飾ってありました。そんなこんなしているうちに、やっとミーティングが始まったのは、予定より20分以上過ぎていました。

最初に教えたのは一番簡単なワイシャツ。これはコピー紙など長方形からでも出来る便利なモデルです。簡単なので割とスムーズにできました。次に教えたのは紙風船ですが、この伝承モデルは英語でウォーターボム、つまり水爆弾という名前で知られています。受刑者さんたちはその名前の場の不適切さに大ウケ。刑務官の顔も引きつっていました。私はペーパーバルーンと名前を直しました。水爆弾という名がこんな事態を起こすとは想定外で焦りましたが、場にふさわしくしましょうと伝え、和やかな雰囲気は壊されず済みました。実は私が刑務所で折り紙指導をすると友人話した時、中には「何を教えるの?手錠とか?ピストルとか?ナイフ?」などと悪い冗談を言う人もいました。受刑者さんの前でそれは、冗談でも言いませんでしたが。

三つ目に教えたのは跳ねるカエル。これは長方形でも折れます。難易度が最初の二つに比べちょっと高い為、そしてこの頃私の疲労感がピークに達していたからか、分かりづらく、ステップの後半でつまずく人続出で、時間がかかりました。ついでに私自身も皆の前で文字通り、ずっこけてしまいました!これは大失態、恥ずかしかったです。それでも何とか皆さん、カエルを完成。その後は予定したより少ない時間しか残っていませんでしたが、グループ毎に分かれ、色々な物を折りました。私は持って来た数々の折り図を見せながら教え、中でも人気だったのは、吉澤章先生のちょうちょ、それから正方形を半分に切った二つの紙で簡単に作れる写真立てでした。写真立ては、受刑者が房の中で家族の写真など飾るのにいいかなあと思ったので紹介しましたが、人気でよかったです。

そのうち皆さん各折っていた物を完成させ、ちょうど良く時間切れで終了しました。来てくれて本当にありがとう、と多くの方から感謝され、握手を求められました。こうして訪問者があるのも新しいことを学ぶ機会があるのも、彼らは限られているのでしょう。終了後、刑務官さんに今回の参加者総人数を聞くと、72人集まっていたそうです!私は最後の方、半端ない疲労感からアドレナリンが出ていたのか、やたらヘラヘラしてナチュラルハイ状態でした。今週ずっと学校での仕事がマックスに入っていて、金曜の夕方、渋滞に巻き込まれつつ二時間弱運転して、刑務所で大人数相手に教えたのだから当然かもしれません。でも無事に終わってほっとして、同行してくれたくるみさんとジャネッサちゃんに、そしてこの機会により狭い視野が少し広がったことに感謝しつつ、帰路に向かったのでした。

私の刑務所での折り紙指導活動に関して、中には「重犯罪、特に女子供に危害を与えた人間に同情はできないから、自分だったら断る」という意見も聞きました。確かに、私や周囲が被害者だったらそう思ったかもしれません。(私が最初に依頼を断ったのは、そんな理由より、犯罪者に対する単純な恐怖感からでしたが。)しかし、重犯罪を犯した人でも、死刑や無期懲役で無い限り、大抵いずれは出所します。再犯を防ぐ為にも、受刑者の更正の手助けは必要です。世の中をより良くしたいなら、まずは一番悪いところが良くならないといけないから。たかが折り紙が、直接更正の手助けになるとは夢にも思いませんが、前にも書いた通り、折り紙を通しての間接的な学習や癒しに繋がれば、と切実に思います。これからも機会があれば、刑務所での折り紙指導を続けたいと思います。長くなりましたが、ここまで読んでくださって、ありがとうございました。

刑務所で折り紙 その二

このブログポストは「刑務所で折り紙」の続きです。

最初に刑務所で教えたのが去年2013年の7月。その後、今年に入って間もなく二度目の依頼があり、5月に再び教えに行く予定を組みました。その依頼と同時に、刑務所のアジア系クラブ主催で彼らの家族や友人、サポーターなどを呼んで行う食事会にもくるみさんと私は招待されました。くるみさんにそのことを伝えると、是非行きたいとの返事でした。私は一人では行くつもりはないけれど、くるみさんが一緒なら、ということで、お誘いを受けることにしました。

食事会は二月にあり、その時の様子は、くるみさんがブログポスト、「刑務所で晩ご飯」にも書き記してらっしゃいます。見聞きしたことはくるみさんと同じなので、ここでは大半を割愛しますが、食事会で受刑者さんたち数人との会話を通して、刑務所内での生活や、生い立ち、家庭環境など理解を深め、考えさせられることが多々ありました。ある受刑者さんの生まれは某貧困国、戦争から逃れる為家族と隣国へ避難し、更に難民として渡米したそうです。渡米後、家庭内暴力を振る父親と別れた母親はシングルマザーとして彼と兄弟を育てました。学校での授業には付いて行けず、ギャングに入り、独特の価値観で善悪の判断力が麻痺した状態にいた為、犯罪を犯してしまったそうです。彼はもう10年程塀の中で過ごしたそうですが、刑期はまだ約半分残っているとのこと。偶然にも、彼は私と同い年でした。そこでつくづく思ったのは、日本という平和な先進国に生まれ、不自由なく育ち、大学も行かせてもらい、今までずっと住む家、家族、仕事があり恵まれた環境にいる私は、彼とは全く違う状況だということです。だからと言って、辛い環境で育っても全うに育つ人は沢山いるし、彼が犯した犯罪が正当化されることは決してありません。でも受刑者の背景を少しでも理解しなければ、更正や再犯防止には繋がらないと思うので、そういった話を聞けたのは貴重でした。彼らに、きちんと罪を償い、更正して社会復帰してもらいたいですし、自分の活動がそれに少しでも役に立てたらと思いました。

食事会では、私の前回の折り紙指導から発展して、毎日折り鶴を作っている、などの嬉しい報告もいただきました。次回に作りたいもののリクエストも募り、中でもある受刑者さんから「面会にやって来る子供の為に、遊べる折り紙モデルを何か作りたい」とのリクエストを貰いました。そういったリクエストや、刑務所では折り紙用紙が手に入りにくいという状況も考慮して、コピー紙、雑誌、新聞など周りにある紙でも手軽に折れるものなどに今回はフォーカスして案を練ることにしました。あとは馬、タツノオトシゴ、アルファベット、ライオン、ドラゴンなど具体的なリクエストもあり、難易度が高いものもある為、出来る範囲で対応することにし、そうお伝えしました。

そうしてレッスンプランを練るうちに、あと一人でもお手伝いに来てくれる人がいればグループ別に違うものを教えられると思い、お手伝いを募ったところ、地元の折り紙同好会での知り合いで18歳の若き将来有望な折り紙作家ジャネッサちゃんが行きたいと言ってくれました。彼女はドル札を使って創作折り紙をするのが好きな子ですが、刑務所に現金もしくは偽札を持ち込むのはいけないと思い、残念ながらディスプレイは断念しました。でもお手伝いには意欲的で、若いのに度胸あるなと思いました。


上のリンクは彼女のドル札折り紙が特集された地元公共放送局のビデオです。

最初の一時間は私が全参加者を相手に、ワイシャツ、紙風船、跳ねるカエルの三点を教えることにしました。ステップごとにくるみさんとジャネッサと私が参加者を見回って出来ているか確認というシステムです。残りの時間は、参加者が作りたい物を選んでグループ分けし、くるみさんが折り鶴、ジャネッサがタツノオトシゴ、私はその他幾つか選んできたものを教えるということにしました。折り図もプリントして持参し、準備は整いました。



また長くなってきたので、当日の話は、次のポスト「刑務所で折り紙 その三」にて。