If you’ve got your hands on the latest issue of Homemaker (which of course, we know you do!), you’ll see we sat down and spoke to origami expert Samuel Tsang. We’ve got his full interview here, chock full of hints and tips on how to get started with the ancient craft of paperfolding.
What do you love about origami so much and why do you think it’s so popular? Origami is a very therapeutic, relaxing and peaceful hobby. It’s a beautiful art, a craft, a science and a meditation all in one. When you’re folding paper, there’s a stillness, a calm and an inner peace. There’s something beautiful turning a plain flat piece of paper into an amazing three dimensional object with just your own hands.
It’s one of the simplest art forms in that it just requires a piece of paper and your hands – there’s no need for tools such as pens, brush, inks and paints. Origami is one of those art forms that’s gender and age neutral. I’ve taught men and women, children and adults of all ages and all have found it fascinating.
The popularity of arts and crafts has exploded in recent years, and I believe it’s a reaction to our digital lives. Many of us spend 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen creating virtual document that are read once and never seen again, and I believe the resurgence in the arts and craft field is due to people wanting to create something real and something tangible.
I call origami ‘yoga for the mind’ as it allows you to stretch and exercise the creative and artistic areas of your brain that most of us don’t utilise on a day to day basis in our jobs.
My new book The Book of Mindful Origami focuses on the use of paper folding as a relaxation and meditation aid in the pursuit of mindfulness. Mindfulness is being aware and paying attention to the present moment, with kindness and without judgement or prejudice. Meditation is any act or practise of mindfulness. While folding paper you’re using your hands, eyes and mind. Any activity that makes you concentrate and focus is mindful. It allows you to quiet the mind, block out any distracting and negative thoughts and focus on the present moment.
Each model also has a symbolism. If you’re folding a paper plane, your thoughts might stray to your childhood days of playing in a playground or maybe the plane represents a journey on an exotic holiday. I’ve created some models for my wife and children, and when I fold these models my mind will naturally think about them. Most of these models take over 10 minutes to complete. Ask yourself when was the last time you thought about someone for 10 minutes in positive and quiet contemplation?
How well-received are your workshops and commissions? I started running origami workshops in 2012 and each year they just get more and more popular. I run beginner workshops, corporate team building and wedding/anniversary bouquet workshops. Origami is an art and craft so it’s very popular with creative brands, as well as PR and marketing firms. It’s also an art that’s geometric, scientific and mathematical, so it’s also sought after by high tech companies, architecture firms and educational institutes. Previous commercial clients who have required origami to promote a particular product include Cadbury, Warburtons, Saatchi and Saatchi, Elle, Chophard , Dior and New Look.
My origami bouquet workshops are naturally very popular with brides-to-be and make for great paper wedding anniversaries gifts, with my most popular request is making an origami replica of their original wedding bouquet.
I’ve never met anyone that wasn’t completely happy to receive an origami gift. It may just be a piece of folded paper but everyone appreciates the time, effort and skill required to create it. When people commission an origami bouquet from me, they’re commissioning a unique piece of artwork and it’s a bouquet that will never wither or die − just like true love.
What varieties of paper are out there? Do they each create different effects? Any paper that can hold a crease can be used − there are thousands of different colours, thicknesses, patterns and textures available. Depending on the model you’re making, choosing the right paper can massively increase the realism of your finished model. If you were folding an elephant, you might choose the aptly named ‘elephant hide’ paper, which is greyish blue in colour, slightly thick, has a marble effect and a rough texture which will make the final creation look and feel like real elephant skin. Or if you’re folding flowers, you could choose translucent washi paper to replicate the delicate nature of real petals. Traditional origami paper is handmade from mulberry wood and is usually between 60 and 80gsm as this is the weight of paper that’s easy to crease and strong enough to support it’s own weight.
When creating your bouquets and installations, how do you choose what designs to go for and where do you draw inspiration from? A lot of my art installations are based either on nature or geometry. If the installation involves flowers, insects or animals, I would try to capture the natural motion of the animal. If the installation is a kaleidoscope of butterflies then I’ll try to incorporate a wave structure to the swarm. The other half will be geometric or architectural installations that require very straight lines and regular repeating patterns such as tetrahedrons and cubes.
The majority of models have been designed while meditating on the members of my family. For instance I’ve created turtle and squirrel models for my two daughters and I’ve also made a rose for my wife. Each model has traits that I associate with that person.
Samuel’s Top Tips
• Wash your hands before you start − this will prevent greasy fingerprints all over your beautifully finished model.
• Ensure you read and understand the instructional symbols and practise them before starting an actual model. If you skip this and go straight to folding, it will be like trying to play piano before you’ve learnt how to read music. I often compare origami to playing a piano in that if you want to play something very simple then you could probably learn it in one lesson but if you wish to play a symphony, you will need a lot of practice and patience!
• Start with simple models. If you try to jump straight into creating a beautiful dragon that has 300 steps, you’ll give up. Try a simple model with less than 10 steps and build from there.
Learn more about the art of origami and check out Samuel’s video tutorials on his website, Sesames.
For your chance to win his book, The Book of Mindful Origami, enter our giveaway!