Origami workshop at MUJI CANADA

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bear and heart

Origami workshop at MUJI CANADA
By Mui-Ling Teh

I was introduced to Creators’ Lounge, and met the founder Toyonori Kato (Tom), in late 2013. I presented my work to Tom-san; and since the start of 2014 I attended several Creators’ Lounge events. Over the year, Tom-san has been telling me he would like me to do something for Creators Lounge.

At the time I had only started exhibiting and selling my work publicly; although I have been doing art for a long time. I do several kinds of art, but what I tend to be best known for is creating miniature origami. It was something I started in 2008; at the time I was only using my origami as photography props. As I began vending in 2014, I started producing pieces incorporating my miniature folded creations to sell. Overtime I also met several other artists, some who showed interest in doing collaborations with me; and whenever I could, I continued attending Creators’ Lounge events, where sometimes Tom-san, or another CL staff, once again said they would like me to do something for them someday.

Months went by without any request from Creators’ Lounge, but probably for the better since I was very busy anyways; 2014 was after all my first time to get involved with the art community in Toronto – and heavily so. The other artists who wanted to collaborate with me were also very busy. The summer of 2014 was especially busy; and I had several events booked until September. By the time it was all over, I decided it was time to take a break from vending.

During my events, customers sometimes asked me whether I teach origami. I didn’t at the time, but thought there maybe a possibility in the future. I didn’t know where to begin however, as I was still overwhelmed by the big step I took in my art career that year; vending alone took up a lot of my time. In the beginning, perhaps due to excitement, I wanted to be involved in everything; and by the summer, I was involved in too many events. By the end of 2014 however, I was able to look back at my experiences, and was at least able to have a better idea of what opportunities were worth continuing, and which ones I didn’t mind letting go of in order to allow myself time for other things.

As 2015 rolled in, Creators’ Lounge finally asked me if I could teach origami for a Valentine’s Day workshop at MUJI CANADA. After I agreed, CL met with MUJI CANADA; and as MUJI posted about the event asking interested participants to register for the workshop, seats were filled up immediately. For the workshop, I was asked to teach participants how to fold a bear holding a heart – a model I have never done before. The heart was very simple. The bear, on the other hand, was a bit challenging. The challenge was not so much about being able to fold one myself, but thinking about how to effectively instruct participants on how to fold one; for many steps were not straightforward.

As an elementary school student I once taught my classmates how to fold the paper crane, and it was very easy. Commonly in origami, the first couple of steps involve folding an edge right up to another edge, a corner right up to a folded intersection – one way or another there would be a reference point, and it wouldn’t be until the last step of folding the head, a pair of ears, a pair of hands etc, that there would be arbitrary folds. With the bear however, even in the middle of the process, there were arbitrary folds that would greatly affect the final outcome of the bear – one of them during the most difficult step. After practicing the bear a few times, I determined what distances were the best for the arbitrary folds (“fold this corner about 1/3 of the way in”, “Fold this end in such that this part is just a little bit longer than this part” etc.), and what kind of guidelines to create to get through the most difficult step.

With the challenges involved, I was worried about whether I would be able to run the lesson effectively; but thankfully the day went by smoothly. During the event I had extra material prepared to help me present the folding process of the bear more easily. Meanwhile, a few of the CL staff were present to assist participants as necessary while I was instructing; and they did a great job despite that they only learned how to fold the bear on that very same day! Without a doubt, with so many arbitrary steps involved, everybody’s bear looked different, but it was interesting seeing all the different outcomes; especially with all the different colours and different faces each bear had. Later, each participant produced their own unique Valentine cards with their bears, using MUJI’s materials. Although I was nervous throughout the day, it was all in all a successful event; and what mattered most was that everyone had a good time. MUJI also loved the displays I made using their acrylic frames that they asked me if they could keep them in the store for a while. After the event was over, Creators’ Lounge told me they may ask me to do more workshops in the future. I feel like 2015 is going to be an interesting year~

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