Monday, April 18, 2016

Motifs: Origami (Paper-folding)

Stylized depictions of folded paper, usually cranes, are another whimsical motif that can be found on garments, though they are often reserved for children. As a consequence, the only garment I have immediately to hand for demonstration of this motif is one I made for myself out of a cotton print manufactured primarily for quilting.

Origami cranes on susoyoke
As cranes are the most popular design for this particular motif, it's very hard to not jump ahead of myself and talk more about their symbolism (we're saving that for  4/23). Instead, I can point out that with origami motifs, you can have items that are suitable for any season. The 'paper' of the motif can be used to reflect any number of popular themes, depending on the designer's intent. In the case of the susoyke that I made, it hardly matters what designs the cranes bear as they are not likely to be seen , and if they are, it will be only briefly.

I developed an interest in origami long before I developed my interest in kimono. I was fascinated with the concept of taking a flat square of paper and, with a few strategic folds, creating a tiny bit of art. When I moved to California, I discovered washi paper and what a delight it was to fold. As I worked, looking at the patterns printed on the paper became a part of the meditation of folding. I spend a lot of time folding, cranes in particular, and have quite lost count of just how many I've folded. Have any of my kind readers tried origami? Were you successful or simply frustrated? I would love to read your stories in the comments!

Tomorrow is another decidedly seasonal motif as we have a look at Pine (Matsu).


  1. I haven't attempted paper folding. What part of California do you call home?

    1. I'm in the Valley of the Heart's Delight (so much more pleasant-sounding than 'Silicon Valley,' isn't it?)