Artist, Writer, Woman, Mother, Healer, Teacher, Biohacker, Gardener, Friend, Entrepreneur
My youngest son has an amazing ability with origami. He can take a simple piece of paper and fold in into the most amazing creatures, his fingers twisting and turning in deft movements that amaze me every time I see him do it. He makes it appear effortless, fluid, like it is simply a natural extension of his being. I suppose that is how I feel when I pick up my ink pen, or at least I use to. It just flows.
However, the skill of even the most basic origami eludes me. The last time my son tried to show me how to fold a paper crane it took me two hours of careful and considered effort to turn out a floppy winged mess that vaguely resembled a bird. I could not even follow along when he taught his karate class to do simpler folds and even a four year old child turned out a crisp well folded penguin while mine sat, sad and deflated.
It is frustrating when we want to do something but cannot execute it to the skill level we wish. Since my eyesight started failing and my hands became less steady I find it difficult to create what I see in my mind with the level of skill I could in days past. I’ve been fortunate that many things come easily to me with regard to creative pursuits but adjusting to my current limitations is much like folding origami – it eludes me and leaves me feeling like a failure.
I never really understood why other people appreciated my art before. I appreciate what I could do so much more now that part of that has been taken from me. The thing is, with that loss I have received some very important gifts.
Take for example this sketch of a woman. In the past this would have been a five minute effort and I would have probably discarded her. She took me an hour of concentrated holding of the pen. You probably don’t see where I dropped it when my hand spasmed, but I do.
This drawing that I would have trashed in the past I’ve now taken the time to consider, and appreciate the work, the skill, the effort. Instead of taking it for granted, and tossing it aside, I will slowly bring this piece to fruition no matter how long it takes. She isn’t done yet, and neither am I. I have learned patience and discipline and these gifts are immeasurable.
I have no problem drawing origami cranes. I do struggle with self-love in the face of my health struggles and all the ways that dis-ease impacts my life. I struggle with being kind comparing myself in terms of that was then, this is now. However, I have gained hope because discipline and patience are something I never had in my art before, always flitting from one thing to the next rather than truly creating from my heart and my soul.
Today when my son wakes up I am going to ask him to sit with me again, and practice folding the origami crane. I am going to ask him to do this with me daily until I have a good grasp of the process, letting the geometric folds and patterns of senbaruzu merge with my spirit until they become a natural extension of my being, or at least I become able to fold them without supervision and prompts.
It may not be effortless, it may not be fluid, but it will be born of my ability and I will continue to amaze myself.
Things I Love:
Sadako Sasaki was a mile from ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hisroshima in 1945. I don’t love that the even happened, but I do love the story of Sadako’s resilience and grace when faced with leukemia from the radiation exposure. Her journey, and her folding of paper cranes, along with her wish for peace have inspired many around the globe and continue to do so:
Here’s a cool video from Steve Simon as he paints his own version of Sadako’s story.
Eleanor Coerr wrote the children’s book that is often taught in classrooms to help open talks about history, cultural diversity and heal the wounds that opened when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War 2. It has beautifully rendered illustrations by Ronald Hilmer.
Sadako and the Thousand Cranes is available in the following formats:
Although I have never used them for origami, I love my bone folders and have several. I often use them in mixed media paper arts and book binding. These are the two that happen to be handy at the time of this writing. They are both plastic and I am currently hunting down my real bone one because I have a project I need it for. I have both plastic bone folders and real bone folders and my preference depends on the project but in general if you have no aversion to animal products and can only afford one I would opt for real bone.
If working with anything like leather or thicker handmade papers I’ve found the real bone folder scores better. The plastic ones also get dinged up pretty easily if you are not careful about storage and this can affect how well they score especially if you use the longer edges often like I do. The plastic ones are great if you do classes with kids who might stick them in their mouths, or need lightweight tools for traveling art kits. I will also confess that mine often get dinged up because they are a great percussion instrument too.
Here are a couple of bone folders over at Amazon that I have experience with and recommend.