Today is the day E.O. 9066 was signed

One of the most disheartening things people who didn’t mean to offend me have said (directly) to me has been post 9/11 when they express their belief that people of Middle Eastern descent, or those who are Muslim, should be “rounded up” and moved out to a deserted area or shipped back to where they came from.

japanese-american-internment-origami-art

My reply to them is always the same: “It is that mentality that led to my family being imprisoned for almost 4 years during WWII. They had done nothing wrong yet they were uprooted from the West Coast and moved to Heart Mountain, WY where they lived behind barbed wire in an uninsulated shack. It was as wrong, unjust, and unAmerican then as it would be to do it again now to a different group of people.”

stacie-tamaki-japanese-american-internementMy Family

I have also had several people tell me it was for my family’s own good, for their protection from racism, that they were interned, their freedom stripped away from them. My reply to them is always that it that were so it would have been a voluntary choice to be moved into the sanctuary of the internment camps if people felt unsafe.

So if you bring up this subject to me please don’t be surprised when I defend any group from being racially or religiously profiled or stereotyped. Not enough people stood up for my family when they were taken away. I will not be one of the quiet ones if it happens again.

I’ll be presenting at the Grand Rapids Asian Festival this summer

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted to see if I’d want to participate as an origami artist at the inaugural “Grand Rapid’s Asian Festival” on June 10th, 2017. My first thought was: Wow, cool! My second thought: There are enough of us to hold a festival? LOL

The Experience Grand Rapids website lists Asians as 2% of the demographic in Grand Rapids with the most predominate ethnic groups being: “…Vietnam, Korea, China and India.” Japanese are only listed near the bottom of the page as cuisine at local restaurants.

grand-rapids-asian-festival-michigan

One of the most different things about moving from the West Coast to the Midwest is how infrequently I see other people of Asian descents. In Santa Clara County where I lived in California the demographics for Asians is currently 35.6% here in Montcalm County where I now live we are .5% of the population. Note that isn’t 5.0% but 0.5%. In the city of Greenville, according to the Census.gov website, there are X (which I assume means 0… I just looked, it means “not applicable”) percentage of Asians currently living here. So I count for nothing? LOL

At most I see another Asian person every other month (or so) usually at the grocery store. If I drive an hour into Grand Rapids I may see one Asian person while I’m there. But not every time. It’s kind of like being a unicorn, but Asian. In the Midwest 🙂

midwest-montage-culture

I also find myself wanting to promote multi-culturalism. I’ve learned so much about how to be a Midwesterner! For starters I’ve learned how to make Ebelskiver and planted tulips because the Danish and Dutch cultures are well represented in this area. Fred suggested I also needed to learn how to make an entire meat and potatoes meal on a BBQ grill. So I did. I shovel snow like a boss, learned to make creamed corn with the bagfuls our neighbor gives us each year, learned to garden, bake pies, and climbed “The Dune.”

So this is a chance for me to give back and share some of my culturural heritage with the people of West Michigan. I immediately confirmed “yes” I would like to participate. Partly because I know for a fact that many people here in Michigan who come to ArtPrize are avid paper folders themselves. And quite a few people have asked me to teach classes. So to host a complimentary workshop at an Asian Festival seems like a great idea!

Activities that day will include:
– Martial artists
– Lion Dancers
– Singers
– Cultural Dancers
– Karaoke Contest
– Band & DJ line up
– And more…

I hope you can attend. It should be both fun and from what I’m seeing on the Facebook Group’s wall, quite delicious and entertaining!

CLICK HERE to follow the official event page on Facebook.

Click this link to follow Participant’s Group Page which asks:

Participants:
This is where you come in. Help us make the Asian festival become Amazing! Suggest below on unique / great Asian performers/acts plus contact info if you have it.

Also looking for off stage performers. Asian street performers of arts, dance, cultural performance, calligraphy, sports exhibitions (like sepak takraw), etc.

Sponsors:
If you are interested in being a sponsor you can join the GRAF2017 Facebook group and ask to have a packet sent to you.

Save the date: May 27th and July 22nd, 2017

artist-pop-up-market-west-michigan

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve taken another step launching Tinygami as my full time career. I signed up to participate at the:

Made In Michigan Pop-Up Market
Saturday May 27th and July 22nd, 2017
Each day from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
435 Ionia Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

So, if seeing Tinygamis in person is something you’ve been wanting to do just save either of the two dates and come see them in downtown Grand Rapids.

tinygami-miniature-origami-500w

Between now and then I’ll be making lots of items (that you can currently see/purchase in the Tinygami Etsy Shop) to bring with me. My prices for strands of cranes and frogs, jewelry, origami boxes, and individual cranes, frogs, and rabbits will range from $5-$75 for most items.

As markets go this feels like a good place to start. Because I signed up to sell beneath the portico in the photo above I won’t need a big tent/booth to transport and set up in the street. Most likely I’ll show up with a folding table and greeting card stand (the wire kind that spins).

made-in-michigan-pop-up-marketplace

Planning the booth display will be fun! I’m thinking a simple table with a jewelry stand and some sort of miniature shelving for the tiny boxes. And to haul everything there?

tinygami-strands-boxes-earrings

I’ll most likely bring my tiny travel trailer “The Glampette!” I’ll have to measure her from my car’s front bumper to her rear door. If together the car and trailer measure 18′ or less they’ll fit perfectly into the parking spot adjacent to my booth area! I hope they’ll fit. It would be both fun and easy to load her up and bring her to Grand Rapids for the day.

cute-tiny-glamping-trailer-rv-teardrop-size

A handful of ArtPrize visitors know the whole story about The Glampette and how she’s why I first came to Michigan, learned about ArtPrize, and ended up relocating here from Northern California.

So if you want to shop for Tinygamis, take a peek at The Glampette, or want to stop by just to say “Hi!” please do! I’ll be looking for you 🙂

Tiniest Renzuru?

So, here’s what’s been happening over on my Instagram feed. Studio build updates (the ceiling is almost up) and new mini glass cloches that can be used as small decorative items or as pendants for necklaces that I’ll soon be adding to my Etsy shop.

tinygami-valentines-day-origami

One photo in particular yesterday received more attention than my usual posts…

miniature-renzuru-origami-cranes

It’s the tiniest renzuru I’ve ever made, or seen for that matter. It’s two 3/8″ high and wide cranes folded from one piece of paper. They’re connected at their beaks. The paper was a 1.5″ x 3/4″ high rectangle. I didn’t know if it was possible to fold them that small without tearing the paper apart at the contact point. Was thrilled it worked!

As always, for me, folding is less about perfection and more about exploring possibilities. They aren’t flawless, and man I should have used some hand lotion before taking this picture, but that’s ok! Prototypes are rarely perfect but they are, because they were the first attempt, always a bit more precious 🙂

A DIY Faux Weathered Wood Ceiling

My idea for the Tinygami Work Studio is to have the left half of the ceiling bright white as it will be the side I use as a mini photo studio. The walls and ceiling will be plain white and perhaps even part of the floor.

The right side is where my daily work/production area will be. I want it to feel like a private alcove, kind of cozy and comforting, like I’m tucked away from the world when I go there. I guess you could say I’m going for a rustic, Japanese, farmhouse kind of environment.

Since day one as I’ve driven around the Michigan countryside I’ve always been envious of the old barn wood I see on every highway I’ve traversed. How to get that look when I don’t have an old barn to knock down and dismantle to upcycle those gorgeous weathered boards? Make them!

I sifted through a multitude of tutorials on Pinterest and came up with this:

diy-stained-faux-weathered-wood-tutorial

Since I don’t seem to be 100% back in the swing of blogging (the way I used to be) this tutorial is a little under-imaged but contains all the pertinent info you’ll need to try this project yourself.

In a nut-shell I’d say it was both easy and fun. Since you’re going for a worn and weathered look perfection isn’t a requirement. It’s more like a little slap it on, rub it around, wipe it off kind of  process that is quite forgiving as long as you remember to not create hard start and stop lines with the first coat of stain as they’ll mark the wood with straight lines. In order not to do that I discovered two tricks:

  1. The main one I used on each coat was this: Apply the stain in short 2 foot sections (starting at the right end of the board and moving left) by dragging the foam applicator from right to left so that where the stroke ends you have long streak marks instead of a hard solid edge. When I applied stain to the next section I’d zig-zag the applicator a bit then do the same. I constantly went back to the far right end of each board and would draw the applicator down as far as the last section I’d just stained. This kept the application of the stain nice and even.
  2. On day two I did add a touch of mineral spirits to the foam applicator to apply the ebony which made the stain easier to apply. I don’t know that I had to do this but didn’t want to take any chances since the black-color was so dark.

Supplies:

  1. 29 Pine tongue and groove boards for each half of the ceiling. I purposely looked for the boards with knots, swirls, and patterns that were loaded with character. The “perfect” boards I used for the painted white boards or slipped them back into the pile at the lumber store.
  2. 1 coat of Minwax Jacobean oil-based stain applied with a 5″ foam/sponge applicator and wiped off with a lint-free cloth. Allow to dry at least 24 hours until dry to touch.
  3. 1 coat of Minwax Ebony oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  4. 1 coat of Minwax Classic Grey oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  5. I will most likely be using Minwax Clear Brushing Lacquer in the satin finish as my finishing coat because I really want a crystal clear finish, not a topcoat that turns amber over time. ETA: I have now decided I will either leave the wood unfinished or use a finishing wax as I don’t want a shiny surface to the boards. I’d prefer them to look raw and unfinished. Because there is no plumbing in the studio, and during the winter I’ll run heat, and the summer AC I don’t think humidity is going to be a problem as far as moisture damage to the ceiling.

Optional items I used for this project:

  • Rubber gloves. I got the chemical resistant kind at the hardware shop.
  • Foam applicators. I used 6 start to finish. The first color took 3 to, the second color took 2, and the final color only used 1. This was because the more stain that was already on the boards the easier it was to apply.
  • I used 2 lint-free rags total for wiping down the boards. I used the first one until it was so saturated with stain I had to start a second.
  • 3 stir sticks, one for each color of stain.
  • A breathing mask rated to filter out the stain fumes as I was working in a heated garage for 3-4 hours for each color/coat because it’s winter.
  • Paint thinner to clean up.
  • I didn’t until it was too late but I’d say to use lots of cardboard on the floor and at each end of the length of your boards to prevent splatters.

Optional ideas I read about but did not implement:

  • Sand all hard edges before you begin to create a more worn look.
  • Spot sand board edges between colors also to create a more worn and weathered.
  • Beat the boards with random heavy objects to dent and ding them then sand the dents and dings to make them look aged.
  • Use a combination of paint and stain to color your boards.

Some of the many pins I used for inspiration:

Build a Rustic Sofa Table & Make New Wood Look Old on PaperDaisyDesign.com
Wood feature wall on TheRaggedWren.Blogspot.com
MIXED WOOD WALL – EASY & CHEAP DIY on UncookieCutter.com
HOW TO MAKE NEW WOOD LOOK LIKE OLD DISTRESSED BARN BOARDS on RealityDayDream.com
DIY Plywood Plank Floors on CentsationalGirl.com

If you decide to try this and have any questions leave a comment or message me via my website! I’m happy to help if I can.

Oh, and these are the 29 painted white boards. They’re primed then painted with one coat. The second coat will go on after installation. I’ll admit I’m pretty excited to see them all go up!

white-painted-tongue-and-groove-ceiling

Want to fold with me?

I revamped my Tinygami website a bit ago and included this at the bottom of the Home page:

WEST MICHIGAN ORIGAMI FOLDING CLUB
In spring of 2017 I am going to start a West Michigan Origami Folding Club. It will meet monthly and be an informal group session where folders can gather to work on current projects and share (ideas, tips, instructions, paper, paper sources, etc.) as well as mentor new folders into the art of origami. If you are interested in joining please sign up on the contact page for future updates.

This is what my website contact page looks like. If you click the box that says “West MI “Origami Folding Club – Coming Spring 2017 Updates” I will send you an email as soon as I’ve figured out where the meetings will be hosted. I may also send you one other message asking you to share input on how the club can best serve your interests and needs.

tinygami-contact-pageI’m leaning towards finding a space between Grand Rapids (where a lot of people live) and Greenville (where I live). I’m thinking somewhere in or near Lowell, a nice halfway point between both locations. My priorities in choosing a venue are:

  • A large enough venue
  • No or low cost to participate
  • Free Parking
  • Easy access for people coming from both directions

If you’re interested in joining please feel free to add suggestions in the “Message” box at the bottom of the contact page. Once I have a venue and date for our first meet up I’ll send an email out and let you know.

At this point I have no idea what to expect. Will I be folding alone? Will anyone come? I think they will, there are already a LOT of talented folders in West Michigan and many visitors at ArtPrize have expressed an interest in learning so I think a club will be a lot of fun.

I hope you’ll join me!

CLICK HERE to sign up

A space of my own

I think it would be fair to say that most artists and crafters dream of having their own work studio. A space separate from their living area whether it’s a room, the basement, or even better, completely detached from their home.

tinygami-art-studio-1-build-site

Well, that dream is becoming a reality for this origami artist. Earlier this summer the ground was broken (and graded) to accommodate the 16’x20′ build site where I will have not only a work studio but a screened porch (to protect me from the mosquitos, noseeums, deer fly, and black flies) as well.

tinygami-art-studio-2-walls

I am fortunate that some of Fred’s friends (now my friends too) are helping Fred with the build. One has come with a tractor and back hoe, professional equipment to finish the concrete for the foundation, and his invaluable expertise. Oscar has made many long trips out to Greenville to burn and oil the wood siding. He will be a Shou Sugi Ban expert by the time he’s done. Scratch that. He already is 🙂 I cannot thank them each of them enough.

The walls went up…

tinygami-art-studio-3-walls-roof-rafters

And then the rafters and roof over the studio area…

tinygami-art-studio-4-wrap-cedar

The cedar boards and windows arrived. The cedar smells sooooooo good!

My favorite window is this one…

tinygami-origami-studio-moon-window

It’s a 5′ round window to evoke the “moon” windows and doors in Japan. The round shape is used as a frame to create a vignette through which a beautiful garden view can be enjoyed in all four seasons. It is going into the large square framed area below. Basically, I’ll be sitting right in front of it almost level with the bottom of it because my work area will be on an 18″ high platform which accomplishes two things:

  1. The platform will create storage space beneath it because storage space is hard to come by in the 8’x12′ I’ve designated as my work area.
  2. Because even as I type this I am sitting on the couch as if I’m sitting on the floor, and because I even sit at the dining table in a chair as if I’m sitting on the floor (legs tucked beneath or in front of me) I decided to forego having chairs and simply install a dropped foot well in the platform, like in a Japanese restaurant tatami room. Then if I want to sit upright I can. Having a soft cushion to curl up or sit on instead of a chair will save a lot of space!

tinygami-art-studio-5-windows-shou-sugi-ban

For the exterior we are using a Japanese wood preparation/preservation technique called Shou Sugi Ban (pronounced: show-sue-gē-bawn). Everywhere I’ve read about this technique (aka yakisugi) it is said the treatment leaves the wood fire, moisture, and insect resistant and the benefits can last as long as 85 years. The tung oil can be reapplied as needed to further protect the wood. Fred suggested using cedar shiplap siding vs tongue and groove as most of the tongue and groove is beveled on the side edge and wouldn’t look flat like this.

The steps go like this:

  1. Burn board with a propane tank weed burner – Video on Instagram
  2. Scrubbing off the charred wood with a brush
  3. Rinse board with water
  4. Allow board to dry
  5. Brush board with tung oil and wipe with rag
  6. Allow oil to dry
  7. Repeat step 5

It is labor intensive but the results are beautiful. The burnt wood is dark brown and blackish when the sun isn’t shining directly upon it. With direct sunlight the wood becomes almost metallic looking with a rich organic appearance as the oiled finish highlights the natural wood grain and knots.

tinygami-art-studio-6-shou-sugi-ban-siding

Eventually the brown in the boards will fade to grey the way cedar naturally fades and the blackness will soften as the particles of soot still trapped in the wood grain weather off over time.

tinygami-art-studio-7-screen-porch-framing

We opted to leave the porch posts, beams, and rafters unburnt to create contrast with the siding. I didn’t want things too matchy-matchy.

tinygami-art-studio-8-porch-rafters

Right now the warm red color of the cedar provides a sharp contrast. I’m looking forward to when it greys and the contrast isn’t so pronounced.

tinygami-work-area

To date everything I’ve made for ArtPrize the past three years has been made working at this 2’x3’coffee table in the living room with my supplies divided between two upstairs rooms and the basement. It is organized chaos. It will be so nice to have a formal workspace sometime next year 🙂

summer-sandhill-cranes-michigan

But even more important than having my dream studio come to life is that I’ve found a place (The Place) where my creativity isn’t crushed or stifled because of my environment. Instead, or maybe I should say finally, it’s been released in a torrent of ideas brought to fruition.

Above is the pair of Sandhill Cranes that nest in the marsh behind the property I live on. Sometimes they call to each other from the marsh before and as they leave in the morning. When I hear them I rush out to the back deck to watch them fly away for the day.

tinygami-origami-studio-west-michigan

It took my whole life, many mistakes, self-reflection, learning how to let go of fear, and a giant leap of faith but I’ve finally found true happiness out here in this beautiful landscape I now call home ❤