#OrigamiInMyHand

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A fun thing I was participating in before my dad got sick was an invitation by another one of my favorite Instagram origami artists white_onrice. Ross Symons started the hashtag #origamiinmyhand and asked people to fold something, photograph it in your hand, then tag and share it.

Of course in keeping with my Tinygami name I had to fold things miniaturized. That is the smallest frog, heart, and shrimp I had ever folded.

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The crane in the lower image is only 1/4″ high. I’ve decided to call this size “Micro” because it is my smallest. It goes along with “Itty Bitty” my medium size at 3/8″ high, and my large “Tiny” size at 3/4″ high.

If you’re also a folder I invite you to join in the fun 🙂

Miniature origami: A unique entry at ArtPrize 2015

I spent the better part of yesterday in Grand Rapids and the better part of this year working on my latest entry for ArtPrize 2015. You can view my ArtPrize profile at this link.

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You may recall that I entered the same competition in 2014. I’ve found it’s the one thing that has motivated me to not only begin producing art but to focus on becoming a full-time working artist able to support myself by earning a living wage.

Last year many ArtPrize visitors encouraged me to make larger cranes if I want to be a serious contender to win the $200,000 cash Grand Prize by receiving the most public votes (large scale works have historically been more successful at this particular competition), but tiny is my thing so I’m sticking with it. Call me a rebel 🙂

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This year my entry is titled “4000 Culture Cranes.” I created 4 mobiles ranging in size from 1/4″ to 3/4″ high. The finished mobiles range from 7″-8″ in diameter and from 24″-36″ in length. Three are comprised of 1000 cranes each while one set (Sadako) ended up with 2000 cranes. LOL Last year the first thing people asked was “How many are there?” so I incorporated the number 4000 into the title. Then, 48 hours before the opening day I decided to deconstruct a set of cranes I’d made years ago and incorporate them into this year’s entry increasing the total but too late to change the title of the piece to 5000 Culture Cranes.

The series is hanging in the front window at the Grand Central Market and Deli.

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It’s located at 57 Monroe Center NW right in the heart of Downtown Grand Rapids and less than a block and a half past the Grand Rapids Art Museum (aka The GRAM) heading east down Monroe Center NW.

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Each mobile is themed after a different Japanese cultural tradition. Two are more readily recognizable and two are less well known. From left to right they are:

  1. Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes: World peace
  2. Maneki-neko: Prosperity and good luck cat
  3. Daruma: Goal setting (aka Wish Doll)
  4. Mochibana and Kagami Mochi: New Year decorations both made from the sweet confection mochi

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I’ve created brief photo journals of the build process for each mobile. To challenge myself I decided to try working with air dry clay for the first time. For the larger pieces like the Maneki-cat and the Daruma I used styrofoam to carve base forms then covered them with a thin layer of clay which then had to be painted.

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Other elements were made of paper, wire, and beads. Some of the sushi that surrounds the cat are made of origami and other pieces are sculpted/formed with paper but not technically origami. A lot of prototyping and pattern making was involved for both the sushi and the washi paper doll of Sadako.

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The Daruma and Maneki-cat also required hand-painting fine detail work to the finished sculptures. I don’think I’ve done that type of painting in well over a decade. Was relieved to know it’s (apparently) like riding a bike.

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The 3-D washi paper doll of Sadako was a challenge because I could only find one tutorial online that kind-of showed how it’s done. The designer was generous to share photos of each step but didn’t include size or dimensions of each element so it took a day or two of mocking up the prototype testing each piece over and over until I figured it all out.

Quite a few kids had asked me last year if I was familiar with the story of Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. They had read the book about her so they knew she was a 12 year old girl who suffered radiation poisoning when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Several years later she developed cancer and attempted to fold 1000 cranes so the Gods would grant her single wish to be healthy again. The crane is a symbol of longevity in Japan as a legend says the cranes live for 1000 years. Sadly, Sadako passed away before completing her cranes. The school children of Japan took up a collection to raise money to have a sculpture made of her that stands today in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. I wanted to create a mobile that reflected her story, something with resonance to connect visitors to the cranes in a small way.

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One of the biggest and kind of funny challenges was for the mochibana mobile. A New Year’s decoration the sweet sticky rice confection known as “mochi” is left in its natural white color and some is dyed pink. Small portions are wrapped around willow branches to represent flower blossoms in the winter when there are none. My dilemma? Where to get willow branches. There are MANY huge weeping willow trees all around Western Michigan, but I felt weird knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for some of the tree in their front yard. For months I drove around with willow-envy and was working up my nerve to ask a stranger for some of theirs when a chance visit solved my problem. It turned out my friends have a gigantic weeping willow on their property! Problem solved. The both the kagami and mochibana mochi are also also made of air dry clay.

I can’t convey how happy I am to be creating again. That pushing my limits, trying new things, being able to attend ArtPrize each day to talk to people about my work, it’s all like that Mastercard commerical: Priceless.

I love ArtPrize so much I’m already planning next year’s entry! If you’ve never been to ArtPrize it’s well worth visiting. It’s a fun, and imaginative art experience where you can wander around 3 square miles of Downtown Grand Rapids and view an incredible array of creativity all in public spaces and venues.

#TBT high school art

The cat is made of layers and layers of pencil, smudged, lifted with a kneaded eraser, then drawn dozens more times to create the depth you see in its fur.

Today I picked up a set of pencils and a sketch pad when I went to the grocery store. I hope I can find my way back to creating things like this in the future. . .

Just realizing I want to is a start.

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The other day my very dear friend Kerri inspired me to take out some of my old artwork from high school.

Slowly the realization has taken hold that when you’re an artist you’re one even when you’re not creating art. You’re an artist even if art isn’t your career. The epiphany: It’s not what you do, it’s who you are. Seeing my old work has made me want to create new work again.

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A watercolor fox

I want to paint with watercolors, oils, and acrylics again. I want to take a handful of pencils and draw animals like I did when I was a kid. I’m feeling the urge to create intricate drawings that push me to my creative limit.

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It took months but in this pen and ink of horses running through water I drew every droplet and spray.

I should have gotten out my good camera instead of using my iPhone to take these images, especially the one above and below, as they are mind-numbingly detailed pen and ink drawings made using one of those old fountain pens where you literally dipped your pen tip into a bottle of ink over and over again.

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An acrylic paint wash with a pen and black ink sunset through Spanish moss.

The risk that one stray ink drop could have ruined either picture was ever present. It wasn’t until the following year when I went to college that I learned about Rapidograph technical drawing pens. They would have made both of these projects so much easier! But creativity isn’t about what’s easy, it’s about expressing something. Something about the subject matter? Something about yourself? Perhaps a bit of both.

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As an artist I don’t know that I’ll ever again be as prolific as I was in High School.

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What I do know is that I want to be.

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If nothing else it’ll make my mom happy.

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She’s always wanted me to do more art. When I was a kid she always encouraged my creativity in many different ways. I’m fortunate she did. Thanks mom!