No joke. On April 1st I’ll be on Patreon

What is Patreon? It’s a website where I can offer the video classes and blog tutorials people have been asking me to create for, well, years!

Just like back in the days of the Renaissance, the idea was to develop a way for “Patrons” to support artists not by donating money to them, but by paying them to create things that their patrons wanted.


Fast forward to modern times. The platform is used by artists and creators (fine artists, writers, actors, musicians, etc). Basically, it’s like paying for an online class/education/entertainment but you receive it and so much more! Because instead of like a real world class where you only receive what is taught that day, you receive the class you came for and every other class I have created on Patreon, all for the same fee. If you pledge a monthly amount then you’ll always have access to all of the content for as long as you’re subscribed.

The fees are in tiers so the higher your pledge amount the more content you’ll have access to learn from for a minimum of one month if you pledge on the first of a month.

Below are the answers to questions you may have directly from my Patreon page currently under construction.

Why am I joining Patreon?
I truly enjoy sharing information. Having been self-employed in creative fields since 1997 people have (for years) asked me to create videos that clearly illustrate my creative processes. Almost as often, I’m asked to share how I became an entrepreneur and the ways I approach running my own small businesses. When I learned about Patreon I realized this is a place where I can share information on both topics. Because of the time involved in producing videos I needed a solution that would allow me to do so in a mutually beneficial way. On Patreon I can create requested content (like online classes and tutorials) for my patrons and at the same time generate a revenue stream to cover the production time/costs. I hope you’ll think that’s a win-win too.


What am I offering my patrons?
Inspiration will be included in all endeavors because that’s just how I see life: A place to learn lessons and to embrace possibilities. Each month I will post multiple behind the scenes photos and at least two blog posts (one focusing on my art the other on entrepreneurship), and one video tutorial. I hope to have more than one video per month but since creating videos is new to me, I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver. As I become more adept at video production I’m certain I can increase the number of videos per month in the near future. Higher tiers also have rewards of Tinygami care packages shipped at the end of your subscription year.

How can you become a patron?
Just choose a pledge amount from the sidebar and click on “become a patron.” It’s a monthly subscription based fee billed on the first day of each month. Note: It is not pro-rated so if you want maximum benefits sign up on the first of a month. You’ll receive a monthly notification from Patreon as a thank you and reminder that the pledge has been charged to your account. You receive access to all content previously created as well as new content each ongoing month you are subscribed. Also, you can cancel at anytime with your request taking effect at the end of the most current month for which you’ve already received content for.

So that’s it. Just a little update, a sneak peek at what April will bring. I will be adding a Patreon link on April 1st to my website. If you have a request for a particular online class or tutorial please message me via my website or leave a comment in this post. I’ll let you know if it’s something I can do and add it to my list of future projects to create.


A highly social recluse

That’s me. The post title is how my friend Carl once described me. It just goes to show he knows me well. I may be a bit of an oddity for being adept at both, equally. While I would be perfectly content to hide myself away in the woods in my folding studio, I find that being an entrepreneur demands I leave Greenville (from time to time) and go be amongst people.


Obviously the 19 days I spend each year at ArtPrize is a good example of the “highly social” part. It takes me a day or two to get used to both being around so many people again and talking constantly all day long.

But now I’m also being paid to talk in other ways! It’s part of the many revenue streams now available to me as a working artist if I’m willing to get in my car, drive to a place I’ve never been before, and give a public speaking presentation or demonstration.

For instance, I was recently hired by the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa to come be an entertainer at a party they were hosting for their guests for Chinese New Year. They set me up in a corner of the ballroom and I folded for two hours, giving away each model to a guest after asking their favorite color and if they would prefer a crane or a butterfly.

Because Traverse City is over 2 hours away from Greenville, and because I am no longer able to drive at night due to my photophobia triggering migraines (bright oncoming headlights give me headaches), I stayed overnight at the hotel as a guest. So not my usual kind of Saturday night!


Just two days later I was back in my car to drive to Allendale for the first time. I was invited (as a working artist) to come give a one hour presentation about my 2017 ArtPrize titled “Acceptance.” The entry focused on my maternal family’s experience in a WWII Japanese American internment camp, my father’s experience as an MIA POW during the Korean War and how they overcame all of the racism and injustice they endured to be the loving people who raised me. They all chose love over hate. A timely message given the country’s current struggle to define who we are.

I met Connie Dang, the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Grand Valley State University at the Varnum Law party where I was folding and giving away Tinygamis last September. Since then she has helped me in many other ways such as making introductions and giving me guidance as I launch Tinygami. I am most grateful to her for all of the time and guidance she has given to me.


Four days after visiting GVSU I attended my first session of “Break it Down | Make it Better” in Grand Rapids. I can best describe it as a mini, one day conference for artists, curators, and creatives. Basically anyone working within arts.

A collaborative endeavor by the city of Grand Rapids, Avenue for the Arts based in Grand Rapids, Creative Many based in Detroit, and ArtPrize the day consisted of a keynote presentation followed by three sessions with multiple tracks each attendee could choose from.

A light breakfast spread was set out upon arrival at 8:30 and lunch was served with vegetarian, vegan, and carnivorous options. I learned a lot that day, met many people, and took one step closer towards the local art community here in West Michigan.

Early Bird registration was $20. Day of was $45. It was definitely time (and money) well spent.


In two weeks I’ll be back in Lowell on March 10th (2018) for the monthly origami folding club meetup that I host once a month. You can learn more about it on our Facebook Group or the Tinygami website. Come out and join us if you ever have the interest and the time!

I am a fulltime origami artist


So much has changed in the past 9 months since I last posted. For one thing the studio is done. Almost. Just a few touches that will wait until spring when I can do some staining outside, or at the very least with the windows open. For now I’ve been working away creating Tinygamis each day, hosting the folding club each month, and trying to figure out how to transition from creating a business to running one that has now made the leap from a “someday” goal to happening now!

Earlier this month a video was released online that appears to have been the tipping point that I have been working towards, not just the past few years since arriving in Michigan, but really all the way back to the mid 90’s when I first became self employed.

My journey on the road of self-employment has gone through several iterations beginning first with the couture custom bridal accessories I created as “The Flirty Bride,” followed by years of custom web design and development for small business owners, before veering down my current path of miniature origami art. All of it has been part of a process in which I learned so much about being an entrepreneur and myself. For starters I learned there was so much I needed to learn. I also discovered I am far more tenacious than I ever would have given myself credit for all those years ago.


This video by 60 Second Docs sums up where the journey has led me. A path of self discovery and finding the place where I belong. You can view it at the following links:


A huge thank you to 60 Second Docs and their production team. I am very grateful that you were interested to produce this piece about my art and that you so perfectly encapsulated both who I am and why I fold.

Thank you also to all of you who left kind comments on the videos and sent me messages via every social media platform I have an account on and through my website! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply to each message personally but will do my best to catch up when things calm down a bit 🙂

Thank you also to everyone who has placed an order via my Etsy shop, hired me to speak or do demonstration folding, and to everyone who has shown interest in allowing me to share my work and/or story with them. It’s all (and everything) I ever hoped this business could become.

I did it Elle <3


I lost a friend. She was crazy-smart, very kind, thoughtful, and generous. She was a caring person who I had the good fortune to meet while I was living in CA (before moving to MI). Even after I’d moved we would often post on each other’s walls and  message privately on Facebook. We were going to go camping together, someday. She loved my tiny trailer and envisioned living a simple, downsized, even possibly off-the-grid kind of life someday. I came very close to being able to visit her one last time but was just a bit too late… I was 11 days away from driving through the city she lived in. She passed away unexpectedly last June.

One of the last conversations we had on Facebook was one where she had shared she had found a group of people who were a new community that welcomed her into their fold. When I told her my idea to start an origami folding club, she whole-heartedly encouraged me to do so. She believed being part of a community could be a good thing.

woz-elleOne of her all time favorite pictures, the night she met Woz.

It took about a year but I did it. The folding club’s first meetup was last Saturday. In my heart the club is for the people of West Michigan, but it will also always be a bit of her legacy because even though she’s gone, her support and encouragement will always be a part of it.

I miss our chats and I miss you Elle. You are gone but not forgotten 😦

To see the schedule and RSVP to be a part of the West Michigan Origami Folding Club you can visit its web-page or join the Facebook Group:

Our hosting venue is the:
Kent District Library
200 N Monroe St
Lowell, MI 49331

The dates of the club’s next meetup is:
Saturday, July 15th 9:30-11:30 AM

Art.Downtown 2017, Grand Rapids, MI

tinygami-origami-tamaki-artdowntown-2017Last Saturday I spent the day on Division Ave. S in downtown Grand Rapids for the annual Art.Downtown event. It’s kind of like a mini ArtPrize except there is no voting/contest aspect and it only lasts for a single day from noon to 9:00 PM.

There were four artist’s sharing their work at the venue where I was invited to participate. Our curator, Zahara Avalon, also set up an interactive aspect asking people to write down on a restaurant order pad “What does it mean to be American?” The guests were then invited to hang their responses on string strung throughout the venue. The responses ranged from sobering:

“Despite having already been enrolled at GVSU… I had to provide my birth certificate to take one class at LMU. Why couldn’t they have accepted my transcript?”

To cynical:
“Being American means ignoring the needs of those less fortunate and being self centered. Then I Tweet it!”

To humorous:
“I eat burgers and hotdogs”

artdowntown-2017-public-art-grand-rapids-miFor me, Art.Downtown was quite different than ArtPrize mostly because instead of bringing mobiles of thousands of tiny cranes that represent Japanese traditions and customs I created three small framed pieces (11″x14″ frames) that told a very personal story. Would people like them as much?

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was in a pop-up space, a former (and future) restaurant that is currently unoccupied. That’s it to the left in the picture above. Would there be 20 visitors? 200? 2000? I didn’t count but can say I spoke to more than 20 and less than 2000 people and they were all great! I knew some, met many new art lovers, and had the most fun I’ve had, well, probably since ArtPrize last fall 🙂

avenue-for-the-arts-origami-artdowntownThe thing that made me happiest was that quite a few people who had seen my past ArtPrize entries commented they recognized me or my work and said that this exhibit was “so different,” “more personal/powerful/heartfelt,” and that they loved the framed format, that it “suited” the miniature scale of my work. I truly couldn’t have hoped for a better response. That people connected with my work and appreciated that these pieces had required more thought and vulnerability made me glad I took the chance and strayed outside of my ArtPrize-mobiles-comfort zone.

If you wanted to come but couldn’t make it, here is the exhibit and the words I printed onto small signs to set above each framed piece along with my artist’s statement and a renzuru diagram so that people would understand that the strand of cranes in the “Interned” piece was folded from a single sheet of paper.

art-show-business-cards-tamaki-grand-rapids-miNEVER FORGET
(Artist’s Statement)

This collection comes from a more personal place than the sets of 1000 miniature cranes I’ve made in the past. When people I know say “We should round them (people of MiddleEastern descent and/or Muslims) up and put them in a camp in the desert” or that my family was interned to “keep them safe,” I am reminded that I need to continue to speak out about the injustices imposed on American citizens when 75 years ago President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 leading to the incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans.

My reply is always that they are perpetuating the same fear and/or hatred that led to my family being placed behind barbed wire, with armed guards who would have shot them if they tried to leave, and losing over two years of their freedom. It was as wrong then as it would be to repeat the same injustice today.

My dad (a Private First Class in the United States Army) was also held behind barbed wire after his company was sacrificed to protect two retreating companies during the Korean War. He was captured on January 1, 1951 and held until August 6, 1953 after the signing of the Armistice. When he returned he faced racism even as a decorated POW-MIA veteran because he looked like the enemy, even though he was neither North Korean or Chinese.

And yet my parents saw past what they had each endured and held no racism in their hearts. They passed their tolerance and shared belief in treating people as individuals (not labeled groups) on to me. As a result my life is wonderfully rich, filled with a wide range of friends more diverse than they could have ever expected or hoped for me to have.

Never forget. Speak out. Be kind. Have faith.

– Stacie Tamaki



American? This is how Japanese American citizens were commonly viewed by the government and public after Pearl Harbor. Instead of seeing individuals, they were reduced to (and judged by) the color of their skin.



Families were given less than a week to vacate their homes and report to a “relocation center” bringing only what they could carry in a single suitcase per person. This is my family in the camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming where they were held for more than two years.

tinygami-stacie-tamaki-miniature-origami-artistBLENDING IN

As a child I wanted to blend in. I often felt conspicuously Asian. Now? I look around and see people embracing diversity rather than tolerating it. Over time I’ve reached a point where I’m more interested in being authentic and sharing my heritage rather than ignoring or hiding it. There is beauty in every culture, my art is my way of expressing mine.

avenue-for-the-arts-origami-made-by-guestsAnd just like ArtPrize, because I was making a few cranes to put on the display table thanks to the suggestion of a guest, several other guests asked for paper and made me things! I love that I always go home with more art than I arrived with when I participate in public events 😀 A huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared their talent with me!

avenue-for-the-arts-grand-rapids-miTo be honest I don’t really know that much about the Avenue for the Arts, the host of Art.Downtown. I will have to learn more about them on their website.

Thank you to Avenue for the Arts, my curator Zahara Avalon, and all of the guests, volunteers, and the artists I shared space with Carlos Gomez, Abigail Yoo, and Erick Picardo who made Art.Downtown such a fun and special event!

This weekend: Art.Downtown 2017

Coming to Grand Rapids, MI this Saturday? If you are maybe I’ll see you. I’m participating in the Art.Downtown one day event hosted by Avenue for the Arts and will be at my venue (122 Division St S) from noon until 5:00 PM though the exhibit runs until 9:00 PM

“AMERICAN” The exhibit asks: “What does it mean to be American? The space focuses on intersections of Asian and Hispanic/Latinx identities especially in a political climate of anti-culture/color/immigrant.”


My contribution to the installation will be three framed pieces depicting my maternal family’s experience during the Japanese American internment and how I see myself as an American. The timing was impeccable. It felt as if no sooner had I posted the image above on Instagram to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, the next thing I knew curator Zahara Avalon was contacting me to see if I’d like to be a part of the installation she was producing.

So I’ll be there. Not with thousands of cranes, just a handful that came from a different, deeper place in my heart ❤

Facebook Event Page
Saturday April 8, 2017
12:00-9:00 PM (I will be attending from noon until 5:00 PM)
122 Division Ave S
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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.


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.