There are few things in my life that catch and (mostly) hold my attention over the course of many years. One thing that I picked up in my 6th grade math class and haven’t been able to put down since is the fabulous art of paper folding; ie. origami! There is an addictive quality to folding, unfolding, and refolding a simple piece of paper until it becomes something that is anything but boring and plain.
When I was first introduced to origami, my class in middle school was studying Japan and we had to read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes; the story about a little girl stricken with leukemia as a result of the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima. Sadako tries to ward off her illness by folding a thousand paper cranes; an act she believed would grant her a wish from the gods. I was both incredibly saddened and inspired by this story- How hard would it be to fold a thousand paper cranes I wondered?
Evidently, folding 1,000 origami cranes is near impossible—- especially considering that I was most likely in my undiagnosed ADHD prime. My first attempt I made it to about 30 before I gave them away to friends and relatives. I never attempted to do a thousand at once again— but I most likely have folded a thousand cranes over the last 20 years. On my last count, I could do about 12 cranes an hour (with tiny 1″ square paper). I think someday I will fold a thousand at once as a tribute to Sadako— but I most likely will need to procur a prescription for Ritalin first 🙂
During my crane-folding sixth grade stint, my cousin Sean purchased for me my first origami book as a Christmas present. He probably doesn’t realize this, but this book has been a sort of “origami bible” for me over the years. It is a very well-written book and gives introductions to a multitude of origami techniques that I probably would not have even know existed otherwise. I still have this book— one of the few things that I have kept with me since childhood. It’s available on Amazon still
Over the years, origami definitely became a stress-relief tool for me. It seemed as my interest evolved into more complex paper folding models, I was able to lose myself more fully in my folding projects. I folded many objects over many hours; mostly oblivious to the passage of time or happenings in the world around me. There were several difficult personal times in my late teens and early twenties that I credit paper folding with getting me through.
I have been paper folding again recently in an attempt to make products for my future Etsy store. I’m not sure if I could ever fold enough to quit my day job, but it’s not such a bad pipe dream for me to hold onto. I figure even if I don’t sell a single thing, I still enjoyed making all my tchotchkes so it’s not a total loss. And who knows, maybe this will evolve into my true calling– if there ever could be such a thing in my attention-deficit-addled mind.