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 3 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

tamaki-enemy-origami-crane-artdowntown

ENEMY

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.

tinygami-japanese-american-internment-family-portrait-heart-mountain-wy

INTERNED

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 3 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!

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).

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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?

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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 🙂

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

Origami Iris Crane

There’s a saying if you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait 10 minutes. LOL. But in the past week we have had unseasonably bizarre weather. It was 19º (F) out just a week or so ago and a few days later it was 70º (F).

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Yesterday I noticed the new bulbs I purchased at Hollanders last autumn were breaking forth and pushing up through the softened, warmed dirt. “Hmmm” (I thought to myself) “I wonder when the iris’ will make their first appearance?”

 

origami-iris-practice-prototypes

Which got me thinking about flowers and the traditional Iris origami model. I’d always wanted to make one and add the yellow beard to the petals but just never got around to it. But last night, just as I was falling asleep, I saw a picture in my head of a dark purple origami crane with finely cut yellow paper attached to the wings, neck, and tail to create the beards. So this morning when I awoke I made it.

I have no doubt the inspiration and gumption to actually make it came from following Cristian Marianciuc (aka icarus.mid.air) on Instagram. Cristian creates the most incredibly creative embellished origami cranes you can possibly imagine. If you’ve never seen his work CLICK HERE to go take a peek, I’ll wait.

I did make a couple of large iris decades ago but none since then. I went on Google to find instructions and took two practice runs (they aren’t very pretty but they are what they are) before creating the final piece.

tinygami-miniature-origami-iris-flower

Gluing the beards, made of finely snipped paper, down was fairly simple.

It kind of made the crane look like a horse with a mane. Or a really funky crane wearing a mohawk. Either way, I loved the way it turned out. I’m always so happy when the pictures in my head are brought to fruition. It’s a very good feeling. This morning I said to Fred “I think my creative mojo is back!” After showing him this piece he agreed.

To show scale (2 5/8″ high) I used a wine cork as my planting medium. So cute! It even stands up on its own. The leaf and stem combination is an original design. It’s true what they say about necessity being the mother of invention.

You can expect to see a field of theses little beauties incorporated into one of my ArtPrize mobiles this fall. I’m very excited to make more of them!

Surprise! It’s a box!

After sending out a dozen or so Tinygami gift boxes I realized there was a perception problem. . . Or is there? I came up with a solution for what I now think may not be a problem at all.

I’d given my tiny boxes cute and clever little names like “Littly Lily Box” and “Bunny Box” when I should have just called them “Accidental Surprise Boxes.”

tinygami-origami-surprise-gift-boxes

My friend Mark calls it “The curse of knowledge” when you assume others know what you know. Turns out unless people had been following my Tinygami Instagram feed or Tinygami Facebook page they most likely weren’t going to realize that the origami box they received was, in fact, a box. I think most assumed it was a display stand and the tiny model on top was a decoration I had sent them.

tinygami-stacie-tamaki-origami-gift-boxes

The funny thing is that some even took them places to show people, like a dear friend who took hers to work, never realizing the box was filled with tinygamis! I understand how it happens because even though they’re full of miniature origami models everything is so light you can’t tell by weight there is anything in the box.

Think The Tardis effect. The boxes are so small expecting there’s more inside just isn’t the natural conclusion one would jump to. It’s rather fun really. It’s like they’re little magic boxes.

tinygami-inside-miniature-origami-gift-box

And one of the first patrons to my Etsy Shop messaged back to say the person she had me send a filled Bunny Box to as a gift had no idea there were more surprises inside. Which made it all a lot more fun for her to be on the phone and hear the astonishment in her recipient’s voice when she realized the stand was a box and there were more tinygamis yet to be discovered. LOL

So now there will be two options going forward:

  1. People can order their boxes with a small lift that raises the lid and distinguishes the lid from the bottom of the box. I’ll probably make those in contrasting papers as well like in the first photo.
  2. Or, you can order a surprise style box and call or message your recipient after to ask “Did you look inside?”

 

tinygami-origami-gift-box-instagram
This photo was posted on Instagram by my friend Shellie after she received her Tinygami gift box 🙂

Because the tinygamis are so small the boxes can be filled with an incredible number of items even though they are only 1″x 1″ or 1/2″ x 1/2″ in diameter. The one that surprised me most was this Little Lily Box. It held 6 tiny origami frogs, a tiny paper heart, an Itty Bitty 3/8″ crane tucked inside a menko to protect the crane, and a fortune cookie style banner with my website address on it. All inside of the 1″x 1″ x 1/2″ box!

What I have learned is regardless of whether people realize they boxes are boxes (or not) the one thing that has been 100% is that they’ve brightened the day of everyone who has received one. Which means a lot to me to know my work is out there in the world making people happy 🙂

If you’re curious you’ll find the boxes and more are now available at my almost complete Etsy Shop.

Renzuru

tinygami-renzuru-origami-cranes-frogs

Years ago I purchased a book that featured the Japanese art of “Renzuru” which is to fold multiple, connected, origami cranes from a single sheet of paper. When I saw @kenji_kujime‘s Instagram feed it reminded me how I had experimented with renzuru in the past but that was many, years ago.

stacie-tamaki-renzuru-crane-frog-origami

I was inspired to try again but this time to be a bit more creative and combine two of my favorite folds being the tiny 3/4″ origami frog with a paper crane. The smaller (1.5″ high crane) on the right was my first attempt which led me to try a second time making a larger crane (2″ high) and suspending the frog by its front leg rather than its rear leg. Am quite happy with the result. Not sure how this will factor into future designs but it’s always fun to challenge myself with things I’m not certain can be done.

The finished models remind me very much of when I used to visit the Colusa Wildlife Refuge in California and Monterey Bay and would see herons and egrets catching their meals in shallow water.