There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin

Our house is filled with colorful paper wonders; cranes in all size, prancing horses, and octagonal boxes made from post-it notes. My daughter, Kayla started origami, Japanese folded paper art at a young age.

Crane from church program
Crane from church program

Now, whenever she is bored (for example sitting in church) she folds the paper available to her into cranes.

I love the small wooden chest I received last year filled with four cranes, less than an inch tall ranging in color from dark to light blue. There is a hand-written note inside saying the dark to light cranes represented a mani-pedi, back rub, IOU of my choice, and animal care.

Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.
Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.

 

I was so sadden to hand in my crane after Kayla fulfilled the IOU request; the other cranes remain happily nested in their wooden box unclaimed. I imagine they will stay there until I die since they are small enough to move to a nursing home with me.

When the Community Education Program offered Easy Origami, show off your results with fun Halloween, I immediately signed up. There were ten of us in the class, 2 men and 8 women. Most of the women were over 50, wearing glasses and had free time, growing proportionately to our graying hair and dimming eyes. Our instructor, Jeanette, was enthusiastic about paper folding but challenged as a teacher. We all sat around an oblong table. Jeanette perched at far right corner and I at the extreme far left diagonal. Jeanette explained that the silky, smooth, thin, two-sided kami (Japanese for paper) was too expensive for a class of our size and cranes too difficult for a novice. We were to make our Halloween items from a multi-hued stash of large stiff paper. Participants closest to Jeanette snagged the blacks, oranges, whites, grays and purples before the stack got to my end of the table, leaving four of us to make bright blue bats, yellow and pink skulls and red cats.

3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape
3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape

With our paper in front of us, Jeanette announced that she wasn’t a “purist”. We could use glue and scissors. Then she sat down and began folding a 3-D scull at her seat while shouting, “Fold here, then here!” Glasses perched on the ends of our noses, the three females at my end of table let out a collective protest; “We can’t see! Can you do that again?” Instead of demonstrating, Jeanette scurried over and folded all of our skulls for us.

Up next a bat. The talented, patient woman beside me easily grasped the “mountain” and “valley” folds while making the skull. I remained clueless. She helped fold my orange paper into some semblance of a bat.

3-D Bat-use your imagination!
3-D Bat-use your imagination!

I finally gleaned that every origami starts out with a valley or mountain fold, (folding the paper in half). Paper folded up is a mountain and pointed down is in a v is a valley. While I was still wrestling with the helmet fold, a precursor to bat ears, the man around the corner completed his blue bat without ears and announced it looked like a penguin. To which I retorted, “There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin.” The quick-learner next to me added, “That would be a good slogan for this class.”

Our final form and biggest challenge of the evening was to produce an 3-D cat.

Black model before he was unfurled.
Black model before he was unfurled.

Jeanette told us to fold a basic diagonal, then fold again. Staring at her folds, Jeanette laughed and said, “I have no idea how I made the cat before you.” She unfolded the sample successfully triggering her memory. Alas, while this exercise helped us achieve some semblance of cats, the model’s former cat-like nature was lost forever in a morass of paper folds resembling a smashed fan. Demonstrating my pragmatic approach to life, my cat gleaned its ears from cut out triangles rather than the complex, un-mastered helmet fold.

My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears
My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears

Origami practice led to revolt rather than perfection. As the evening progressed, our fingers got less agile, our eyes tired and our paper projects became less recognizable. Ninety minutes into the 2 hour session, a lady at the far end threw down her mangled cat announcing, “I took this class to find something relaxing and this is the most stressful thing I’ve done in days.” Jeanette blissfully noted that 2 hours was too long to do origami and we were free to go.

Feeling craftier than I had in years, I greedily gathered up my haunted house, twisted tree, orange bat, red cat, yellow skull, extra paper and proudly hauled them home.   These Halloween symbols are strategically placed around the house and have become a source of great amusement to my two cats who bat them around, mistaking them for mice on steroids. My daughter, the origami expert, has not noticed the invasion of the inferior paper projects or is too kind to criticize of the low quality of her mother’s  art.

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