Saturday, June 23, 2018

Playing Origami Detective

I follow someone on Instagram who posted an intriguing picture the other day of a folded origami envelope/box.

URL:  (Click on the right arrow 3 times to get to the correct page.)

She asked if anyone knew how to fold it and I thought, "That's easy, it's just a twist fold but on the back side." I didn't have time to study it that day, but yesterday I decided to tackle the problem. I tried several folds that I thought would work and they didn't. Then I tried something that seemed similar, but wasn't. Then I desperately tried to find the directions online. There were none. I stared at the image and tried to unfold it in my mind and couldn't quite see it. I decided to take a break and come back to it today after finding a YouTube video that made a similar fold called the square tato.

Long story short, after much trial and error I figured out how to fold the envelope called an Ori-Sue used for holding slips of paper that have scent names written on them. This is used in the Japanese tea ceremony from what I could find out. Maybe you would like to try folding this lovely little envelope.


Crease pattern for Ori-Sue fold. Red lines are mountain folds and blue lines are valley folds.

Start with a square piece of paper. Different colors on each side make for a more dramatic final product.

Mark the center of the paper by folding in half and pinching each side. Do not crease. Then fold up one side past the center (so more than 1/4 the paper width) but less than 1/3 the paper width. For example, if your paper is 6 x 6 inches, fold up the side more than 1.5 inches but less than 2 inches.

Left sample has sides folded to 1/4 the length (in other words each side is folded to the center of the paper) and there is no center square. The middle sample has sides folded into thirds and the whole center is the twist triangles with no edges. The sample on the right is what we are trying to make and is folded between 1/4 and 1/3 the paper width.

Fold in the corners creasing very lightly to mark the square. Fold up the two sides to the point where the diagonal meets the edge of the paper. This will give you the same width as the first fold without having to measure.

If you have done things properly the two sides should overlap each other, but not meet at the folded edge.

Rotate the paper 90 degrees. Again fold the corners in lightly to meet the straight fold and mark on the paper's edge. Fold the last edge up to this diagonal mark. Now all for sides are folded. You have a square in the center of the paper and four squares at the corners. Crucially, you have rectangles between the corner squares on the four sides of the paper. 

Next you will fold each side up and fold in the left side corner to meet the vertical line as shown above. Repeat on all four sides, only folding the left corner up. Fold the corner to the back of the paper as well to make the last step easier.

Your paper should now have all of these folds (minus the red and blue lines). It's time to collapse.

To collapse the model, fold up one side then fold back along the diagonal on the right side. Fold in the corner and turn the model 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Fold up the second section the same way, folding in the side then the corner. The center square starts to take shape.

Fold in the third side the same way then open up the first side at the top left corner to tuck in the last corner mountain then valley folds.

Pinwheel the four sides overlapping them to form the final shape.

Here is the final model. You can make the square of contrasting color bigger or smaller depending on how close to 1/4 or 1/3 you fold the first side of the paper. Play around and see which size you like best.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Prospero's Books

I recently spent 5 days in Idyllwild, CA at their Art Center taking a class from Andrea Matus DeMeng , intriguingly titled Prospero's Books. We had an ambitious plan to make 4 different books and decorate a wooden box to hold them all in just 4 days! It was a busy and creative time and I didn't finish everything there. I am still not really finished, but here is my version of Prospero's Books so far.



Prospero's Books: The Book of Harsh Geometry, The Book of Mirrors, The Primer of Small Stars, and The Book of Architecture and other Music.

A different arrangement of the books.

The Book of Mirrors, coptic stitched with folded signatures and single sheets bound together.

A page spread in the Book of Mirrors.

The Canadian binding was used for the Book of Architecture and other Music.

A page spread from the same book.

The Primer of Small Stars is of course a small book bound using long stitch.

The case bound Book of Harsh Geometry resonates with me as Geometry was my most difficult class in high school. I barely passed. I also find case binding difficult so they work well together.

Page spread from Harsh Geometry.

The Book of Water, long stitch binding.

I used plastic sheets to create this book's pages as I wanted the contents to look like water.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mica Book

Making a book with mica pages presents some challenges. If you use natural mica, you can't glue or tape it as the top layer will simply pull away and leave the rest of the mica sheet unattached.  There is also the issue of binding a single piece of mica without a center crease to sew into. One solution is to use Keith Smith's Sewing Single Sheets method, but I don't like sewing if I can fold instead. So, to make my book I used Beauty in Use's slot binding method shown in Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner's  Woven and Interlocking Book Structures. The pages vary in size and width, with the bound edge and bottom squared up. This gives the book an irregular top and fore edge, which I like.

Hope you enjoy!


Preparing the binding strip.

Mica ready to have the corners cut.

In the middle of adding the mica to the binding. This method uses slits cut into the paper as well as the corners of each page. They go in opposite directions and make a perfect fit when bound.

The finished book. I love this kind of mica with red, blue and black inclusions. It looks like ancient writing or a secret star map.

A top view of the book.

The end.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lila's Watercolors

I mentioned in a previous post that my daughter, Lila has an Etsy shop selling watercolors. She has no formal training, but loads of talent. She has just created a Patreon account to raise funds for creating webcomics. As a proud mother and fellow artist, I want to support her endeavors. If you check out her offerings and want to support her artistic journey as well it would be much appreciated. Here are some samples of her latest paintings.



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Shows to See in SD

I am honored to be included in the Mesa College Gallery juried show "Art That Cuts" opening April 12. There was a write-up in the San Diego Union Tribune that you can read here. I created a new piece for the show that went through some revision before making the cut. Below you can see some of the missteps I took along the way to the finished piece.

And now for a bit of art philosophy... When I make a piece of art, especially something new, I have to make lots of decisions about size, color, structure, etc. Yesterday I finally started working on a book structure that I have been putting off. It occurred to me that the decisions I made were probably not the same decisions I would have made had I worked on it sooner or later. In other words, the art I make is time and place dependent. I make certain decisions today that I may not make tomorrow or yesterday. Making a specific piece of art is temporal as well as physical. Okay enough philosophy. Onto pictures...


My first idea was the branches at the top of this image. Then I tried the curving shapes in the foreground. I didn't like either one.

Next I tried the curve running across the folds instead of being defined by the folds. I didn't like this either.

Next I sketched ideas for cutting the triangular sections above. I finally decided on the shape on the left that looks kind of like a dragonfly wing. This is a cut out that I have used before on a different spiral and I was trying to avoid repeating myself, but I couldn't come up with a better way to fill the space.

My final cut paper has the wing shapes cut out along the central spine of the piece.

Here is the finished folded and sewn piece titled "What Remains."

It looks best in motion.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Embossing Adventures

I don't often do mixed media, but when I am in the mood I like to use Seth Apter's techniques for painted backgrounds. I recently bought some of his new embossing powders. They will emboss stamped images, but that isn't what he made them for. I have been playing around with the Vintage Beeswax which gives you the look of an encaustic finish without using real wax. Seth says the only difference is that real encaustic pieces are matte finish and embossing powder is shiny. To create that matte finish, he recommends covering your finished piece with matte medium. This works well, but what if you don't own matte medium or you want some of the shine back in your piece?

I was playing with the Vintage Beeswax over the weekend and wanted to edge my piece with Staz-On ink. I got carried away with the color and wanted to knock it back a bit. I thought of using rubbing alcohol since Staz-On is solvent based and something unexpected happened! The alcohol removed the ink but it also made the embossed layer go matte! It turns out that the alcohol removes some of the embossing and turns it matte as well. To get the shine back just reheat the layer, but it you want a quick, inexpensive way to get the matte look, just use rubbing alcohol.

Here are some pictures of the results.


Matte finish from applying rubbing alcohol.

Shiny finish using Seth Apter's Vintage Beeswax embossing powder.

My ATC made with Seth's background painting technique and one of my dress forms. The bottom of the dress is shiny and the top is still matte from the alcohol. I just reheated the bottom half to bring back the shine.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Talent Runs in the Family

My daughter Lila just launched an Etsy store. She just started using watercolors a few weeks ago and has no formal art training, just a mom with a fully equipped craft room and lots of innate talent. It doesn't hurt that her grandparents are animators, her maternal grandmother is also talented and I will take a little credit as well. Of course, I have little talent for painting. Mine, as you know, is all about folding paper. Here are some pictures of her work. I hope you will take a moment to check out her store.




This one is mine, so back off!