Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Evolution of an Idea -- Part 1

After I finished my first "1001 crane" bouquet, I started looking for another bouquet idea that would also use the same amount of cranes. I knew I didn't want to do roses again, so I chose to do sunflowers. Since it was ultimately supposed to be a sample, and that anyone who ordered it would potentially be the one folding the cranes, I had to make sure that any papers I used would be readily available to the general public.

I designed another cascading bouquet, with two different sizes of sunflowers. The main flowers would be the "regular" sized sunflowers I already made to be sold on the stem. Mini sunflowers would be featured on wire "vines" branching down from the base of the bouquet.

I had created these gold foil sunflowers for the 2006 Holiday Season, and I decided that they would work for this particular bouquet. The "petals" were made from regular gold foil paper, the "center" was made from a textured gold foil paper, called "Hosoyo." I liked the contrast of the two different types of gold, but since the Hosoyo was lighter than the regular gold, it never quite seemed to look right. And I couldn't switch the colors around, because the Hosoyo paper wasn't available in the larger size that was needed for the "petals."

The first change from the original design for the bouquet was for the sunflowers themselves. I decided to go with only one type of gold foil paper, adding a mostly hidden band of green foil cranes so that the center could be distinguished from the petals.

That first alteration made me realize just how different the final product may turn out from my original sketch. Which is why I've decided to document the progress of this project here on the blog.

Next Step: Creating the mini sunflowers on the wire vines.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

ACEO Shadowbox Set
Originally uploaded by origami3d_cranes
Alchemy: A section on Etsy where buyers can request custom handmade items that they are unable to find anywhere else. Sellers "bid" for the job by describing how they would fulfill the request, and the buyer selects the one that best matches his/her wishes.

My very first "bid" on Alchemy was definitely out of the norm for me -- it was a request for three ACEO-sized shadow boxes. Though I'm mainly an origami person, not a woodworker, I had just finished a similar shadow box for the ACEOs in my shop. I wrote up a bid, and was fortunate enough to have it accepted.

I routed out the bottom edge of lengths of 1/2 inch by 1-1/2 inch fir, to create a shallow rabbet (so that the bottom would be completely "flush" with the sides). After putting the boxes together using miter joints, I cut pieces of 1/4 inch plywood to fit into the space at the bottom of the box. The customer requested that they be unfinished, so I didn't stain or paint, only sanded them.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed making these. In fact, I'm now looking for excuses to make them again...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bitter-Sweet Memories

I normally don't like to put anything personal in this blog -- this is a business blog, not my personal diary. But something happened recently that made me realize just how tightly intertwined every part of my life is.

I recently was asked to do a wedding bouquet for a very special young woman I'll forever only know as Wendy. A 20-year old battling cancer, but still determined to go forward with her wedding plans, even if she had to be married in the hospital. Her friends and family were working together to fold 1000 origami cranes for her, and a friend of her aunt had come across my work. She asked me to create one of my origami crane bouquets in Wendy's wedding colors -- cobalt blue and yellow. I was very moved by the story, and excited about working on the project. I thought it was such a beautiful combination, and I couldn't wait to see how it turned out.

Unfortunately, Wendy would never get to see the bouquet. Less than a week ago, I received word that she had passed away, just a month before her wedding.

It hit me hard. Not because I knew her, or would ever know her.

It was the memories.

You see, it was a very near case of deja vu. It was 12 years -- almost to the day, it seemed -- since I'd heard the same news about someone I knew. Yoshio Lamansky was my high school classmate, and an almost-friend. Though we were never close in any way, we had many of the same friends and acquaintances. He plays a starring role in many of my memories.

Yoshi was less than a month away from his 21st birthday when he passed away. I was told he had a brain tumor. Like Wendy, he was engaged to be married at the time -- his fiance was one of the many people he'd left behind.

I have to admit, when I first heard about his passing, I felt guilty. It's funny how the first memories that came that day were the guilty ones -- I used to kick him under the table and helped another friend of mine pick on him during our seventh grade English class. He never got mad, just laughed it off.

He was so shy and quiet back then, but not for long. Going through my memories of him is like a watching a slide show of a flower bursting from being just a dull bud into a dazzling display.

I remember the time he was the one of only two boys at a party. It was the summer before our eighth grade year. When he started cracking jokes about our adolescent experimentations with make-up, we dared him to go through the same kind of makeover, and to "do it better." We did him up in full drag, fixing up his hair, put on lipstick and eyeshadow and all that, and wrapped him in a bed sheet to serve as his "dress." Then we presented him to the parents of the party hosts.

I remember watching his ears turn red when I teased him about his trumpet solo he was going to perform in a concert --- just before we started playing the song. I was a trombone player, and we sat in the row right behind the trumpets. The song was, "Through the Eyes of Love -- The Theme from the movie 'Ice Castles.'" I still can't hear that song on the radio without thinking of him.

He taught me how to read a book for the "good parts."

Then there's a few other stories, stories that would have turned our parents' hair pure white back then if they'd only known. Like that one particularly memorable game of "Truth or Dare" at Leadership Camp . . .

He made so many of us laugh when we were nervous or scared. As the years went on, he seemed to have a knack for finding just the off-beat thing to say to throw us off-guard. Though the outside had become outgoing and almost flashy at times, I think at heart he was still the same guy who took every obstacle in stride, never getting mad. Always viewing life with a laugh.

Yes, I still miss him on occasion. Though I rarely run into classmates (we seem to have dispersed pretty far and wide), part of me keeps thinking one day I'll turn around and he'll be there. I know logically that he's gone -- I attended his funeral -- and yet he really isn't gone.

I think the people who are taken from the world so young, like Yoshi -- and Wendy -- are ultimately like shooting stars. The time we see them is all-too brief, yet their brilliant beauty will stay etched into our hearts and memories forever . . .